Installing NetWare 4.1 on VMware (Updated x 2)

02.19.09 | 2 Comments

(UPDATE: After giving it a try I have determined that this method DOES NOT work with NetWare 4.1, only with NetWare 4.11. Some of the modules in 4.1 are not new enough to support the updated disk drivers. So if you have to install 4.1 this method won’t help you.)

(UPDATE #2: All versions of NetWare can experience disk failure due to extreme sensitivity to SAN path changes. See the end of this article for a solution.)

Here at my job we’ve got an old Novell NetWare 4.1 server (actually 4.11, but whatever). We need this server for a couple of legacy applications that are tied to the old NetWare serial numbers, or require the Novell IPX stack, so we can’t get rid of it, but the hardware is getting pretty old and drivers for newer hardware are hard to come by. So instead of waiting for the system to fail in spectacular fashion, we’ve decided to move it to VMware. Which turned out to be more of a challenge than I had expected.

The problem is that the drivers included in the installation for NetWare 4.1 (or 4.11) don’t support the BusLogic disk controller that VMware emulates. Sure, it will tell you it’s going to work, but when the time comes you’re going to be disappointed. After much trial and error (well… a couple of days) I finally found a procedure that works.

Before you get started, you’ll need a couple of things:

  1. A DOS boot disk, including the files FDISK, FORMAT, MSCDEX, and an IDE CD-ROM driver.
  2. The latest NetWare 4.1 or 4.11 support pack, downloadable from NetWare. Burn this to CD or create an ISO image.
  3. Updated BusLogic disk drivers. The file you want is called dskdrv.exe, and is available here. Or just go to Novell’s download page, specify “NetWare” for the product and “NetWare 4.11″ for the version, and seach on keyword “BusLogic”. You will need to extract these files and copy all of the files that begin with “BLMM3″ to your floppy.

You’ll also need some knowledge of DOS and NetWare, because I’m only going to hit the highlights.

Once you’ve got all that, create yourself a new virtual machine. Make sure you use the BusLogic SCSI driver (natch). Boot from your floppy and use it to create and format a boot partition. Once that’s done connect the NetWare installation disk and launch the install.

You want to run through the installation process normally until you are asked to select a disk driver. Novell will suggest the IDE driver and the default BusLogic driver. REMOVE the BusLogic driver; only install the IDE driver at this time. A few screens later you will be asked to select a network driver. REMOVE all of the drivers from this list. Continue the installation normally.

Before NetWare begins copying files, you will be presented with a summary of the drivers you have selected. At this point you will be able to add drivers from disk. Do this and use A:\ as the driver source. NetWare will find the updated BusLogic driver; be sure to select the PCI version of the driver. Don’t select a network driver, and continue the installation.

Since you don’t have a network driver, you won’t be able to join an existing NDS tree. Just create a new one for now. After installation is complete you can remove NDS and then reinstall it into an existing tree.

Everything should complete normally and bring you up to a server console. Edit the autoexec.ncf file and add these lines:

load pcntnw name=PCNTNW_1_E82 frame=Ethernet_802.2 slot=3
bind ipx to PCNTNW_1_E82 net=<IPX network number>

Restart your server to load the network drivers. You can then run INETCFG and migrate the network configuration from AUTOEXEC.NCF if you want.

Once that is complete you will need to install NetWare 4.11 Support Pack 9, then install the VMware tools. Finally, NetWare is very sensitive to SAN path changes on the VMware host, which can disconnect your volumes. This will result in a “device deactivated by driver” error. To prevent this, you can download and install an updated SCSIHD driver. See this VMware knowledgebase article for more information.

I have tested these procedures on VMware Server 1.0.8 and VMware ESX 3.5. I haven’t tried it on ESX 2.x, so I don’t know which options you should select in that version.

(I’m indebted to this document for guidance. My main contribution was finding the updated BusLogic driver.)


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