Configuring a Server with an NOS

Although we digressed for a moment to discuss network clients and how they communicate with the network server, we can now get back to our discussion of the NOS. Configuring a computer that will be a network server with a particular NOS is now easier than ever. Veteran network administrators love to recount the days when they were knee deep in NOS installation disks and had to wage a bare-knuckle battle at the command line to get a network server up and running.

As with all software now available, network operating systems ship on CD-ROMs (although the day when software ships on DVDs is not that far away, since a DVD can hold more than a CD). Nearly all of them provide straightforward installation programs, many of them GUIs, that walk you through the steps of configuring the NOS and the services that it will provide on the network.

Chapters 8, 9, and 10 look at NetWare 6x, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, and Red Hat Linux, respectively. You will see in these upcoming chapters, which each cover a different NOS, that installing the NOS is very straightforward and takes place mainly in a GUI environment.

Before you actually install the NOS on a computer system, however, you should determine two things: the server's hardware configuration and the client licensing method you will use on your network. These two issues should actually be figured out even before you buy the NOS software. So, let's back up a moment and take a look at these two important aspects of deploying a server on your network.



Network clients can also be added to a computer's configuration using the Select Network Component Type dialog box. Select Client (rather than Protocol) to see a list of available clients.

Server Hardware Configuration

An important part of your "preinstallation research" involves compiling the specifications for your server's hardware configuration so that it will perform correctly when set up with a particular NOS. I'm sure you will agree when I say that the World Wide Web is a great resource. It provides you with a way to quickly research the hardware needs of a particular NOS without even leaving your chair .

All NOS vendors provide a hardware compatibility list. This list lets you know the different hardware deviceseverything from NICs to hard drive controller cardsthat have been tested and found to be compatible with the network operating system you are going to install. Hardware compatibly lists can be found on the NOS vendors' Web sites. Some NOS vendors also supply utilities that allow you to check a system's compatibly for a particular server platform. For example, the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 installation CD provides a utility that can not only determine the hardware devices that are compatible with the NOS but also the software. The Windows Server 2003 compatibility page is shown in Figure 7.5.

Figure 7.5. NOS vendors supply hardware compatibility lists and utilities that allow you to check the configuration of your server in relation to the needs of the NOS.


Not only do you need to configure your server with hardware that is compatible with the NOS, the server must have enough muscle to actually run the NOS in a production environment (meaning a LAN with users, resources, and running services). Each NOS vendor provides a listing of hardware requirements to run its NOS. For example, Windows Server 2003 requires a minimum of a 133MHz CPU, 128MB of RAM, and at least 1.5GB of free disk space. Be advised these are the minimums; Microsoft recommends that you use at least 256MB of RAM and a CPU of at least 500MHz.

The base hardware configuration for a particular NOS can be found on that particular company's Web site. We discuss hardware configuration for the NetWare, Windows Server 2003 and Red Hat Linux server platforms in Chapters 8, 9, and 10, respectively.

Keep in mind when working with a NOS that the basic hardware configurations provided by the vendor really only supply just enough muscle to run the NOS on the server. The amount of additional RAM or disk space (or even the number of processors) that you configure your server with will also be dictated by the type of services you provide your users and the number of users on the network. For example, if you are running both file and print services on the same server, you might need to boost the memory or processor speed to handle all the user request calls placed on the server's processor.



Many NOS vendors will also supply white papers and case studies that can help you determine your server's hardware configuration for your particular network situation. Definitely do your research before finalizing the hardware configuration for your server or servers.

NOS Licensing

Once you have the server hardware issues figured out, you need to determine a licensing strategy for the network. Typically, a NOS will require that you have a server license for your server (a separate license for each server) and client licenses for your network clients. For example, you can buy a Novell NetWare 6x base package that licenses the server and five client connections. To license more clients, you buy what is called a connection additive license . These additive client licenses range from the addition of 5 users to 500 users. NetWare licensing is discussed in terms of installing licenses in Chapter 8,"Networking with Novell NetWare 6.5." Additional information related to licensing NetWare is available at Novell's Licensing site at

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 licensing is similar to NetWare's licensing in that you need to license both your servers and your clients. Just because you buy a copy of Windows Server 2003 doesn't mean you can install the software on 50 different computers. Windows Server 2003 actually provides you with two different possibilities for licensing network clients: Per Seat and Per Server.

Per Seat means that you will purchase a license for each network user on the network. Each of these users can connect to any and all the servers on the network. Per Server means that you are licensed for a certain number of concurrent connections to the server. If you have 50 licenses, 50 clients can connect to the server.

All network operating systems supply you with some type of utility that you use to add server or client licenses to the network. Microsoft Windows Server 2003, for example, provides the Licensing snap-in, which allows you to add licenses to the network. Figure 7.6 shows the Windows Licensing snap-in. This snap-in is used to record client and server licenses that are in use on the network.

Figure 7.6. The Windows Licensing snap-in allows you to record client and server licenses for your network.


Licensing network server and client software is an extremely important part of a network administrator's job. It's important to have the appropriate licenses for all the software running on the corporate network. The legal ramifications of not having the appropriate licenses and getting caught are not pretty at all. Software licensing should be a key part of your overall network plan. Using pirated or unlicensed copies of software is greatly frowned upon in the computer technology world.



Microsoft's two different licensing options can be a little confusing. Per Seat is probably the best licensing strategy for large networks, especially if network resources are spread across a number of Windows servers. Per Server is the best choice when you have a small network consisting of only one server. It also works best for networks when only part of your client base is connected to the server at any one time.

Installing a NOS

Once you've have the server hardware ready to go and have sorted out how you will license your server and clients, you are ready to actually install the NOS on the server computer. As already mentioned, most network operating systems ship on CD-ROMs. Most NOS packages also include some sort of boot disk or provide a utility on the CD-ROM that makes it easy for you to create a set of installation disks.

You can use the boot disk or installation disks to configure partitions on the server's hard drive or hard drives and also load the appropriate drivers so that the NOS installation files can be accessed from the CD-ROM drive. You can also forgo using floppy disks at all and configure the computer's CMOS so that you can boot from the CD-ROM drive. The CD-ROM, then, supplies you with the appropriate setup mechanism for selecting and configuring the hard drive on which you will install the NOS.

Although installing each of the different network operating systems (and there are a bunch) will certainly be a unique experience (we look at NetWare, Windows Server 2003, and Linux installations in Chapters 8, 9, and 10, respectively), there are certain tasks you must perform to get an NOS up and running that are consistent across the different types of network operating systems. Installing an NOS and configuring a server typically require the following tasks :

  • Drive partitioning and formatting . A drive must be partitioned and formatted so that it can serve as the resting place for the NOS itself. Depending on the NOS, you might need to configure other drives on the server.

  • Server naming . The server must be given a unique name during the installation process. The ability to access a server by its friendly name is ingrained in just about every NOS. Each NOS will have its own set of conventions for naming the server.

  • Network naming . The network itself must be identified during the server installation. For example, in the case of a Windows server, the domain (which is basically the network) is given a name. On a NetWare network, you name the network tree, which again is basically the network.

  • LAN protocol installation and configuration . The LAN protocols that will be used for network communication must be installed on the server. Most network operating systems now use TCP/IP as their default network protocol. If you want to use other protocols, such as IPX/SPX and NetBEUI, you can designate that they be included in the server's configuration during the installation process. Configuring LAN protocols such as TCP/IP, where you must provide the IP address and subnet mask for the server, will also be part of the server installation process.

  • Network services selection . The different services that will be supplied by the server must be designated during the installation process. All network servers will offer file and print services by default, but if you also want the server to provide Web services or other services, such as Remote Access Service, you have to designate this during the NOS installation.

  • Licensing . The licensing for the server and clients must be configured on the server. Although licensing parameters can be configured once the server is up and running, each NOS will provide you with the option of configuring server and client licensing during the NOS installation. Clients will not be able to communicate with the server until you let the server know that these clients are licensed.

  • Setting the administrator's password . Regardless of whether the administrator's account is called Administrator, root, or Admin, you must set the password for this administrative account during the NOS installation. Because this account controls the server and the network, you need to select a password that will keep the server secure. Most folks who have done any reading about network operating systems know that the NetWare administrative account is called Admin. Therefore, don't pick a password that can be easily guessed.

  • Peripheral installation . Depending on the NOS, peripheral devices such as modems, printers, and other devices can be configured during the NOS installation.

Although the order of these different NOS installation duties will vary from NOS to NOS, you can see that information such as server and network names and even LAN addressing issues pop up during the installation of the NOS. This means that you hopefully had all this information available during the NOS installation because of the network plan that you put together. How servers will be named and the IP addresses assigned to these servers should have been all mapped out long before you sat down to actually install the NOS on the server computers.



The CMOS is actually the microchip memory that holds the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) settings for your computer. These settings include the boot sequence for the drives on the computer as well as a number of other settings. The BIOS utility that allows you to control these settings is typically reached by pressing a key such as the Delete key or the F1 key during the first few seconds of the system's boot sequence. Each computer manufacturer supplies a slightly different BIOS utility. Most are menu driven and some even allow you to use the mouse to navigate the various settings. In most cases, some sort of documentation related to the BIOS will come with a new computer. Another source of information on the BIOS utility is typically the computer manufacturer's Web site.

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Networking
Absolute Beginners Guide to Networking (4th Edition)
ISBN: 0789729113
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 188
Authors: Joe Habraken © 2008-2017.
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