Logo: TUG TORONTO USERS GROUP for Midrange Systems
e -server magazine

November 1996: Volume 12, Number 2

Communicating with Sam

Which NOS for Desktops?

By Sam Johnston

From the questions submitted, the selected issue to be addressed in this issue is:


ur company, which is a traditional green screen AS/400 shop, has made a decision to go PC-based at the desktop to enable our end users to utilize PC productivity aids. Management wants all terminals to be converted to PCs for access to the AS/400. Currently our AS/400 does not have any network adapters. Also, we are looking for a file server to service PC-based file and print sharing only. What network operating system would you recommend for our environment?


ou have several choices but the two main ones being used today are Novell's NetWare and Microsoft's Windows NT Server. Both NOSs now provide built in IP and DHCP, and reasonably friendly management interfaces. There is a wealth of knowledge available to run both. Technical and application support is also very wide. NT provides patches in so called Service Packs, which bundle all the patches into one "executable", where as NetWare allows you to pick and choose, depending on what works for you.

While NT provides some performance, reliability and scalability, it is an adequate choice providing you don't put too many demands on any one area. You will have general reliability on your network services, but you won't be able to run great networks or large applications over the wire. Other drawbacks include being very resource hungry, and concerns over Orange Book security. As well there have been reports of so called NT compliant and DOS applications not performing on NT 4.0.

With NetWare on the other hand, you get what it's designed for, very fast network services with minimal hardware demands. If you compare the two NOSs in an area such as messaging, you will find the NetWare is up to four times faster than NT or even UNIX.

The one drawback to NetWare is that if you have a poorly written application, it may crash the network a little faster than NT. The other concern is that to run well on a possibly less then perfect network, NetWare requires more specialized knowledge over NT.

The best analogy I know of is as follows: NT is a station wagon, a little of everything for everyone, nothing too specialized, but no "pick up and go." NetWare on the other hand is a sportscar, lightweight, and compact to maximize acceleration, speed and control, but it needs a knowledgeable hand to guide and tune it.

As to what to put it on, IBM's PC Server 750 is one of the nicest designed servers I know of, but why not use your AS/400 by adding a FSIOP to it? With this in place you can use the high speed DASD on the AS/400, and the tape backup system. You will be able to utilize the fault tolerance of the AS/400, as well as having single security for NOS and AS/400 access. The FSIOP acts as the network adapter for PC access to the AS/400. It currently is available with a 486/66 chip with 64 MB of RAM maximum, (with a Pentium processor version available in the fourth quarter). With the limitation on RAM you are far better off loading NetWare 4.11 onto your AS/400, as the memory needs will be certainly met with this limitation in place. T < G

Note: Any TUG member wishing to submit a question to Sam can e-mail or forward their typewritten material to the TUG office, or to Intesys. We would be pleased to publish your question and Sam's answer in an upcoming issue of the TUG e-server magazine.