NetWare 3.12: Detailed Information

NetWare 3.12 is a sophisticated, 32-bit network operating system (NOS) that supports Windows, UNIX, OS/2, Mac OS, IBM SAA, and DOS environments.

You should consider purchasing NetWare 3.12 in the following circumstances:
In many cases, you can install a NetWare 3.12 network for thousands of dollars less than a minicomputer or mainframe system and still get comparable processing power, functionality, and reliability.

The NetWare 3.12 NOS is available in a number of user configurations, so you can choose the user capacity you need and stay within your operating budget.


32-Bit High-Performance Operating System

Designed around the 32-bit 386, 486, and Pentium environments, the real-time NetWare 3.12 NOS provides a foundation of speed and reliability.

NetWare 3.12 is a multitasking operating system that provides the high performance necessary for network computing. NetWare 3.12 operates faster and more efficiently than network operating systems that run on top of general-purpose operating systems because it accesses the server's CPU directly. For even higher performance, you can use Novell's 32-bit NE3200 and NE/2-32 network adapters to increase your network's speed.

The NetWare 3.12 NOS's Universal File System provides a variety of features that improve performance. It employs Turbo FATs on large files to substantially improve the speed of disk reads. It also uses directory caching, file caching, and directory hashing to decrease the time required to read and write information. NetWare 3.12 uses a disk access technique called "elevator seeking" to efficiently service multiple disk requests. This technique enables the disk read/write head to pick up files in the direction in which the head is traveling across the disk, increasing disk throughput and reducing wear on disk components. Split seeks, in which data is read from the first available hard disk regardless of whether it is the primary disk, are also implemented automatically. Furthermore, the NetWare 3.12 NOS improves data access and storage speeds by using data-scattering technology to spread data over multiple hard disks.

Memory and Storage

The NetWare 3.12 NOS's disk process ensures that volumes are mounted quickly and enables developers to create drivers for WORM, CD-ROM, and removable media devices. The NetWare 3.12 NOS supports as many as 32TB (terabytes) of free disk space and as many as 4GB of RAM.

NetWare 3.12's Universal File System easily handles large files and volumes, enabling it to support the large database files usually associated with minicomputers and mainframes. The maximum theoretical NetWare volume size is 32TB; the maximum file size is 4GB.

NetWare Loadable Modules

All network services, server-based applications, and server utilities are NLMs that you can load and unload at any time without bringing down the server. NLMs are granted access to system functions through the C-Library (CLIB), a development interface that enables both Novell and third-party developers to create server-based application NLMs for the NetWare 3.12 NOS.

Figure 1: The NetWare 3.12 NOS modular design


With NetWare 3.12, you can design a network with the computing resources that best fit your organization's needs. You can provide connectivity to local area network (LAN) clients as well as to other networks, host systems, and remote and mobile users.

NetWare 3.12 lets you seamlessly integrate specialized computing platforms such as UNIX, OS/2, OSI FTAM, Mac OS, IBM SAA, and DOS. Users on the network can share files, application software, printers, and other network resources, regardless of the desktop operating system they are using.

NetWare 3.12 serves Windows 3.x and DOS clients through either the NetWare Client for DOS/Windows or the NetWare Client 32 for DOS/Windows. NetWare 3.12 supports Windows 95 clients through the NetWare Client 32 for Windows 95 and supports Windows NT clients through the NetWare Client for Windows NT. OS/2 clients are supported through the NetWare Client for OS/2.

NetWare 3.12 also supports UNIX, OSI FTAM, and NFS clients through add-on NLMs. With the AppleTalk Filing Protocol (AFP) add-on service, for example, Macintosh computers can connect directly to the NetWare 3.12 server. The NetWare UNIX Client gives UnixWare clients access to a NetWare 3.12 network. UNIX workstations can connect to a NetWare 3.12 server through the NFS add-on service. The OSI FTAM add-on service enables a wide variety of FTAM systems to access a NetWare 3.12 network. The NetWare 3.12 NOS also supports as many as five Macintosh clients at no extra cost.

The NetWare 3.12 file system supports multiple name spaces to accommodate the file naming conventions of various desktop operating systems. The NetWare 3.12 NOS enables users on all supported workstation operating systems to create files using familiar naming conventions.

Media Independence and Internetworking

NetWare 3.12 is media independent: It enables you to integrate different, even incompatible, types of hardware within a single network.

The NetWare 3.12 NOS provides an internal router that enables a NetWare server to connect as many as 16 different networks and make them appear as one logical network. Because users see and use the various physical networks as one large logical network, fault detection is easier. And, it is not necessary for all subnetworks to use the same media or topology.

You can also run optional routing services outside the server by using a workstation as an external router. You can connect as many as 16 subnetworks to the external router using the same or different media and topology.

Because NetWare 3.12 supports multiple internal and external routers, users on any connected subnetwork can access servers on any other connected subnetwork. The NetWare 3.12 NOS includes a source-routing NLM that enables NetWare IPX packets created by a NetWare network to be routed through IBM source-routing bridges.

NetWare internal router

NetWare 3.12 operates with numerous protocols, including AppleTalk, IPX/SPX, OSI TP4, SNA, and TCP/IP. Through its Protocol Engine, the NetWare 3.12 NOS enables you to provide a wide range of client communications by allowing multiple protocol stacks to operate concurrently.

NetWare external router

Network Security

NetWare 3.12 provides overlapping layers of security to protect your data and network resources. You control access to network resources through user accounts, passwords, trustee rights, file rights, and directory rights. In addition, NetWare 3.12 confirms a user's identification and checks his or her authorization before granting requests for services or data.

You can make NetWare security as simple or as complex as your business requires. You can limit users to operating within specific files, within designated directories, at a particular workstation, or during specific hours of the day. You can require users to periodically change their passwords, and you can use the intruder detection and lockout features to specify the number of incorrect login attempts allowed before the system locks a user out.

In addition to encrypting passwords at the server, the NetWare 3.12 NOS encrypts user passwords on the cable as they are transferred to the server, preventing intruders from using unauthorized cable taps to discover passwords.

To further increase network security, NetWare 3.12 enables the signing of NetWare Core Protocol sessions between the server and a client workstation. This diminishes the possibility of unauthorized users gaining access to secure network resources.

System Reliability

The NetWare 3.12 NOS has built-in system reliability features that safeguard it against network hardware failure. Because these fault tolerance features are built into the operating system, NetWare 3.12 delivers fault tolerance without sacrificing performance.

Two of NetWare 3.12's most basic reliability features are read-after-write verification and Hot Fix. Every time data is written to the network disk, NetWare 3.12 automatically performs read-after-write verification, which guarantees that data is readable at the time it is written. NetWare 3.12's Hot Fix feature finds faulty areas of the disk, lists them in a "Bad Block" table, and then relocates data to a usable area--without affecting normal network operation.

NetWare 3.12's disk-mirroring feature protects your system against data loss caused by defective hard disks. The NetWare 3.12 NOS duplicates the entire physical volume on a second hard disk or disk set on the same channel. It also verifies writes on both volume copies. If an original disk fails, the duplicate takes over automatically, without loss of data. The NetWare 3.12 NOS supports as many as eight mirrored disks.

NetWare 3.12's disk-duplexing feature protects against data loss caused not only by defective hard disks, but also by disk controllers, interfaces, and power supplies. In disk duplexing, all data on one hard disk is duplicated on a second hard disk on a separate channel. This feature automatically detects, corrects, and logs controller and disk channel faults. If any component in a disk channel fails, the redundant channel takes over automatically.

NetWare 3.12 uses a Transaction Tracking System (TTS) to protect multiuser application files from being contaminated by incomplete transactions. For TTS files, the NetWare 3.12 NOS views operations as transactions that will be either wholly completed or wholly abandoned. If a system failure occurs during an incomplete transaction, NetWare 3.12 will back out of the transaction and leave the file as it was before the transaction began. The NetWare 3.12 NOS enables TTS to operate either implicitly or explicitly.

The NetWare 3.12 NOS also monitors an optional uninterruptible power supply attached to the server so that if a power failure occurs, the network is shut down automatically and safely.

Backup and Restore Services

NetWare 3.12's SBACKUP utility enables you to back up and restore all network data. This NLM lets you perform backups on any network server, eliminating the need to perform this task from a DOS workstation. SBACKUP also provides backup for multiple name spaces, such as those used by Mac OS, as well as for administrative information. The NetWare 3.12 NOS also supports a variety of third-party backup and archiving solutions.

Powerful Network Management Capabilities

The NetWare 3.12 NOS includes several powerful management utilities that simplify the job of installing, updating, and managing your network. In most cases, you can manage network resources from a centralized location.

Remote Management Facility

With NetWare 3.12's Remote Management Facility, you can save time and money by managing remote servers from your own workstation. You can install, upgrade, and maintain the operating system and configure network services remotely. Over either a network connection or a telephone line, you can load and unload network services; mount, dismount, or expand volumes; or execute any console command without ever having to bring down a server.

Workgroup Manager Capability

The NetWare 3.12 NOS includes a workgroup manager capability that enables you to delegate the tasks involved in managing a subset of users. A workgroup manager is responsible for a defined subset of users, typically those within a particular department or group. He or she can create users, set passwords, assign disk space, and grant rights to a group of users.

Automated Workstation Software Update Utility

The NetWare 3.12 NOS contains the WSUPDATE utility, which makes it easy for you to update workstation software from a central location. WSUPDATE enables you to update NetWare workstation programs on all Windows and DOS workstations automatically, without physically going to each workstation. You can call the program in the system login script and set it to run as often as necessary.

Resource Management

The NetWare 3.12 NOS's resource management features enable you to check the status of each NLM running on the server and to determine which network resources the NLM is using. With the MONITOR utility, you can track an NLM's use of memory pools, screens, processes, and semaphores. The NetWare 3.12 NOS monitors more than 150 server resources in real time. This helps developers identify and manage the resources their NLMs use and thus create reliable NLM applications.

NetWare 3.12 ensures that NLMs run reliably. When you unload an NLM, for example, the operating system returns all resources used by that NLM to the pool of available resources. The operating system also performs consistency checking on all NLMs to protect against NLMs that hoard resources.

The NetWare 3.12 NOS's accounting features enable you to charge for the use of network resources. You can base charges on connection time, blocks read from or written to disk, free disk space used, or the number of requests made by a workstation. You can vary rates according to the time of day or the day of the week. You can also assign credit limits and have the system log out users who have exceeded their limits.

The NetWare 3.12 NOS also provides dynamic resource configuration, automatically calculating the internal system resources needed for optimum performance.

Open Development Platform

NetWare 3.12's open development platform enables developers to create NLMs optimized to run in the NetWare environment, ensuring that you will have a wide range of server-based applications from which to choose. Novell provides developers with tools and application programming interfaces (APIs) that make NLM development easier. NetWare 3.12 includes CLIB, a set of APIs that developers need to create NLMs.

Support for NetView

NetWare 3.12 includes the NetWare Management Agent (NMA) for NetView, an NLM that supports an interface from the NetWare server to IBM's NetView network management system. Both NetWare 3 and NetWare 4 servers can use NMA for NetView to more fully participate in an IBM host networking environment.

NMA for NetView forwards information about events on the server to the NetView manager. You can use the NetView run command interface on the NetView console to automate the management of NetWare servers from NetView. Commands supported include the loading and unloading of NLM software, directory management, and volume management. You can connect a NetWare server running NMA for NetView to a host system using a direct token-ring connection or through a server that runs NetWare for SAA.

Advanced Print Services

The NetWare 3.12 NOS includes NetWare Print Server, an application that enables you to run multiple print servers on a single network and allow users to share as many as 16 printers.

You can attach printers through parallel (LPT1-LPT3) or serial (COM1-COM4) ports or directly to the network. Network printers may be attached to virtually any node on the network, including a network server, an external router, a dedicated DOS-based print server, or any DOS-based user workstation. You can install multiple print servers on a network or internetwork. Users and printers can be located on different floors within the same building and receive service from a single NetWare Print Server.

The NetWare 3.12 Print Server includes flexible print queue management; you can configure it to have multiple printers serviced by one queue, one printer serviced by multiple queues, or an individual printer serviced by its own queue. Furthermore, you can set the print server configuration so that print jobs are serviced according to specified priorities. For example, the print server can service jobs according to queue priority, mounted form priority, or job position in the queue.

The NetWare 3.12 Print Server includes user alert and user notification capabilities. For example, you can configure it to inform users when print jobs are completed or to notify print operators that the printer needs paper, needs different forms, or is offline.

Improved Menu System

The NetWare 3.12 NOS includes the NMENU utility, which requires less memory than the MENU utility available in previous versions of NetWare. If you are upgrading to the NetWare 3.12 NOS, NMENU will easily convert menus created by MENU.

Simplified Installation

The NetWare 3.12 NOS's CD-ROM install option makes installation fast and easy. You simply load the CD-ROM and type answers to a few preliminary questions. The CD-ROM then automatically installs your NetWare 3.12 system.


The NetWare 3.12 NOS can serve as the platform for many of the network services Novell offers. For example, you can use NetWare 3.12 as a network operating system for many of Novell's connectivity products, which help provide network access to users regardless of their location or computing environment.

In addition, you can use NetWare 3.12 as the platform for GroupWise, Novell's messaging solution, and ManageWise, Novell's network management solution.


GroupWise is a fully integrated messaging system that provides E-mail, personal calendaring, group scheduling, serial routing, task management, rules-based message management, and workflow routing. By adding GroupWise to your NetWare 3.12 network, you can provide users with the tools they need to communicate effectively with each other.


Sold separately from NetWare 3.12, ManageWise 2.1 is a comprehensive, integrated management solution. With ManageWise, you can easily manage NetWare 3.12 servers, analyze network traffic, automate network inventory, remotely control and manage users' desktops, administer network applications, and prevent virus infiltration.

Hardware Requirements


More memory may be required, depending on the number of users, the load they put on the server, the number of NLMs loaded, and the size of the network hard disks. (More than 70MB of free disk space requires additional memory.) The dynamic resource configuration feature of the NetWare 3.12 NOS notifies you when more memory will improve server performance.
The type of network adapter used depends on the type of computer used as a server or workstation. In 32-bit Micro Channel servers on Ethernet networks, Novell recommends using the NE/2-32. The 32-bit bus of the NE/2-32 enables you to gain the full performance potential of the NetWare 3.12 NOS by increasing the amount of data that can be moved on and off the network and into server memory. For EISA servers on Ethernet networks, Novell recommends the NE3200, a 32-bit bus master adapter.


The NetWare 3.12 NOS supports a large variety of both Novell and third-party LAN and disk adapters. For a complete list, contact your local Novell partner.

Software Requirements

The NetWare 3.12 NOS includes all the software necessary to install and operate the network server and to connect as many as 250 Windows, OS/2, or DOS clients to the network, depending on the configuration you purchase. NetWare 3.12 also includes software for connecting five Macintosh clients. The NetWare 3.12 NOS supports the following client software:

Windows Clients

UnixWare Clients

UNIX NFS Clients

OS/2 Clients

Mac OS Clients

DOS Clients

Backup Devices

Many backup devices work with the NetWare 3.12 NOS. These subsystems are produced by companies such as Archive, Cipher, Emerald, Gigatrend, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Mountain, Maynard, Tandberg, Wang, and Wangtek. For a complete list of backup devices, contact your Novell Authorized Partner.


Before buying the NetWare 3.12 NOS, you should carefully plan your NetWare 3.12 installation . This will help you determine which servers, workstations, and network adapters will work best with your system and what level of fault tolerance you will need.


Logical users supported: 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 250
Concurrent open files per server: 100,000
Directory entries per volume: 2,097,152
Logical drives per volume: 32
Maximum disk storage capacity: 32TB*
Maximum RAM: 4GB*
Maximum file size: 4GB
* Maximums listed are individual limits. You may not be able to use these specifications at maximum levels at all times, and you may have to purchase additional equipment to achieve some maximums.