Chapter 15. IPX and the NCP Filesystem

Table of Contents
Xerox, Novell, and History
IPX and Linux
Configuring the Kernel for IPXand NCPFS
Configuring IPX Interfaces
Configuring an IPX Router
Mounting a Remote NetWare Volume
Exploring Some of the Other IPX Tools
Printing to a NetWare Print Queue
NetWare Server Emulation

Long before Microsoft learned about networking, and even before the Internet was known outside academic circles, corporate environments shared files and printers using file and print servers based on the Novell NetWare operating system and associated protocols.[1] Many of these corporate users still have legacy networks using these protocols and want to integrate this support with their new TCP/IP support.

Linux supports not only the TCP/IP protocols, but also the suite of protocols used by the Novell Corporation's NetWare operating system. These protocols are distant cousins of TCP/IP, and while they perform similar sorts of functions, they differ in a number of ways and are unfortunately incompatible.

Linux has both free and commercial software offerings to provide support for integration with the Novell products.

We'll provide a brief description of the protocols themselves in this chapter, but we focus on how to configure and use free software to allow Linux to interoperate with Novell products.

Xerox, Novell, and History

First, let's look at where the protocols came from and what they look like. In the late 1970s, the Xerox Corporation developed and published an open standard called the Xerox Network Specification (XNS). The Xerox Network Specification described a series of protocols designed for general purpose internetworking, with a strong emphasis on the use of local area networks. There were two primary networking protocols involved: the Internet Datagram Protocol (IDP), which provided a connectionless and unreliable transport of datagrams from one host to another, and the Sequenced Packet Protocol (SPP), which was a modified form of IDP that was connection-based and reliable. The datagrams of an XNS network were individually addressed. The addressing scheme used a combination of a 4-byte IDP network address (which was uniquely assigned to each Ethernet LAN segment), and the 6-byte node address (the address of the NIC card). Routers were devices that switched datagrams between two or more separate IDP networks. IDP has no notion of subnetworks; any new collection of hosts requires another network address to be assigned. Network addresses are chosen such that they are unique on the internetwork in question. Sometimes administrators develop conventions by having each byte encode some other information, such as geographic location, so that network addresses are allocated in a systemic way; it isn't a protocol requirement, however.

The Novell Corporation chose to base their own networking suite on the XNS suite. Novell made small enhancements to IDP and SPP and renamed them IPX (Internet Packet eXchange) and SPX (Sequenced Packet eXchange). Novell added new protocols, such as the NetWare Core Protocol (NCP), which provided file and printer sharing features that ran over IPX, and the Service Advertisement Protocol (SAP), which enabled hosts on a Novell network to know which hosts provided which services.

Table 15-1 maps the relationship between the XNS, Novell, and TCP/IP suites in terms of function. The relationships are an approximation only, but should help you understand what is happening when we refer to these protocols later on.

Table 15-1. XNS, Novell, and TCP/IP Protocol Relationships

IDPIPXUDP/IPConnectionless, unreliable transport
SPPSPXTCPConnection-based, reliable transport
 NCPNFSFile services
 RIPRIPRouting information exchange
 SAP Service availability information exchange



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