Using Linux as a Novell File Server

We use NetWare 5.1 as our file server but considering the direction Novell is going, this request almost makes sense. Even more so from a cost point of view.

We're running out of drive space on our NW5.1 server because it is now being used for file storage as well as database storage. I would like to leave the databases on the NW server and move the file storage to a Linux server (I'm currently testing Mandrake 9.1 in order to get familiar with the Linux environment).

Unfortunately all of my workstations are Win32 machines.

Rather than buying an additional NetWare server, I would like to set up the Linux box to share user directories over the network but configure the permissions so that a user is only allowed access to their own folder, plus a number of common folders. (I have this set up quite elegantly using volumes and file permissions in NetWare). Ideally, I would be to have the folders mapped to drives using the NetWare login script, but if I can only do this using Windows login scripts then so be it.

I'm somewhat of a Linux newbie, so go ahead and tell me that this is impossible if that's the case. If not, I'd appreciate it if someone could point me in the right direction so that I can figure out how to set up this particular server configuration.

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The obvious way to do all this is with samba, which should be included in the Mandrake setup you're using. If not, it's available from

As for permissions, you can easily set who can access what shares/drives. See the docs on for smb.conf. Or you can use swat (web based admin tool) if you don't want to fool with the config files. Again, see the docs on

As for calling from the Netware login scripts, I don't see any issue there. You're basically going to do a 'net /use' type command to tell Windows to do the mount.

However, Samba doesn't understand Netware login credentials, and is going to want NT Domain or Active Directory credentials. If you don't have one of these setup already, your users will have to do an extra login to the Samba server.

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SPHAuthor Commented:
I've read about Samba and figured it was going to be the starting point.

I think where this gets a little complicated, and forgive me for not making this clearer, is that some of my workstations are still running Win98SE. That would mean having to set up NT Domain credentials on those workstations, and since I've already spent a great deal of time on setting up Novell just the way I want it, I'd rather avoid setting up the NT authentication.

I think what it comes down to is that I'm not a great fan of Microsoft's network technology. Since I've invested time in setting up Novell to a point where I'm satisifed, I'd like to try and integrate this new technology without duplicating a lot of work.

Any other comments or suggestions are appreciated.
No what you need for your win98se to be the same work group of your samba server and enable the netbeui protocol in the network setting of your win98se will do.
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SPHAuthor Commented:
I'm currently starting the Mandrake 9.1 install from scratch now that I have a better idea of what is going on. Give me a couple of days to work with the suggestions I've been given to see if they work for me.

I'm still open to any other ideas if there are any out there...
It's a beta, but you could try Nterprise Linux Services.

It's the precursor to NetWare 7 - not all services have been ported using this package, but many have been.  Unfortunately, it's to be fully supported on RenDat Enterprise and SuSE Enterprise - they don't mention Mandrake.

You might try posting this in the NetWare TA, too.  Some of us there have been experimenting with Linux integration.
SPHAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your help. I managed to struggle through getting Samba set up, now it's just a matter of getting the file permissions configured properly.
SPH - Not to be obtuse about this, but you asked about using Linux as a Novell file server.

My answer answered your question.

Samba lets you use a Linux server as a Windows file server.  Big difference.
Samba comes from SMB which is Sever Message Block, which is the file-access method Microsoft inherited from IBM and is the basis of the Microsoft CIFS file-system access method.  This has nothing REMOTELY to do with using a Linux server as a Novell file server.
Is there a Single Sign on Utility that could help with this ?  I am not asking for me however our company is using a commercial one now.   If you access your files as M$, you may get around licenceing costs.  It might not get you all you want however it may be an alternative solution.
SPHAuthor Commented:
I decided to go with the Samba solution for a few reasons:

1. Nterprise Linux Services was not a viable option mostly because it is in Beta -- I have had some problems with beta software in the past and I tend to stay away from beta releases for production servers. I would much rather wait for a year and upgrade all of my servers to NetWare 7.

2. Licensing costs are a major issue. If cost wasn't a consideration here, I would have just bought a new NetWare server. Using Samba, although it does act as a Micro$oft device, does allow me to avoid purchasing additional NetWare licenses. Considering that this solution is for what I consider to be a non-mission-critical application, I don't have a problem going the 'cheap and cheerful' route. I'm also trying to prove the feasability of introducing Linux into our environment, since the higher-ups in our company are very Micro$oft-centric and have trouble grasping the open-source concept.

Perhaps I should have phrased my question a little more concisely. At any rate, this solution is only temporary anyway, since if NetWare 7 lives up to expectations all of this will be moot.
You should consider using SuSE at least, since it's the distribution Novell will develop to.  I'll bet you could get eDirectory for Linux going to, to further prove the point.  

Just my $.02
You know, if the plan is to migrate to NetWare 7, why not migrate to 6.5 with upgrade protection?  That way, you get your DS up-to-date, get to start using open-source and web-based tools, and can install as many servers as you want without buying additional server licensing, because NetWare licensing for 6.x is user-object based, not server-based like it is with 5.x.
SPHAuthor Commented:
Upgrading to NetWare 6.5 is something I have considered, but we're a small retail distribution company and I'm a 'one-man IT department', as it were. There isn't alot of room for downtime here, and for the most part everything is in working order. "Don't fix what ain't broke." By the time NetWare 7 is released, they'll have withdrawn support for NW5 and we'll have to upgrade anyway. For us, it's better to do it in one big step when we can create a scheduled window instead of disrupting service with a number of smaller outages. Again, it all comes down to cost...I don't have the resources to throw money at every problem, so sometimes we have to come up with creative ways around the cost factor.

The comment about SuSE is a logical step...I am getting my feet on the ground with Mandrake simply because in my research it was the easiest to install and configure for Linux newbies like myself. Once I have a better appreciation for the ins and outs of Linux it only makes sense to use SuSE if I'm planning on integrating with Novell.
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