Updated September 21, 1999

Extreme Data Loss Danger...

Novell Fixes Potentially Devastating Bug in NetWare 5 Update

NOVELL TODAY provided a hasty patch to counter its latest NetWare 5 patch, Support Pack 3, which demonstrated the regrettable habit of eliminating NetWare volumes, data and all.

Support Pack 3 was released in late August with the aim of resolving existing bugs within NetWare 5. Ironically, as confirmed by Novell last week, the patch unexpectedly destroyed NetWare Storage Services (NSS)volumes. NSS was introduced with Support Pack 1 for NetWare 5 as a high-performance file system capable of supporting Terabyte-sized files and billions of directory listings.

According to a source within Novell, the bug does not affect non-NSS volumes. However, systems administrators utilizing NSS often lost their NSS volumes upon rebooting from the Support Pack 3 installation routine. These volumes would need to be recreated from scratch, and their data recovered from a recent backup.

To fix this problem, Novell originally posted a warning on its Support Pack 3 download page, asking administrators to first install an NSS-specific patch to reduce the risk of data loss. However, in hopes of removing the cause of the problem, while providing a more reliable solution, Novell today made available Support Pack 3a on its Support Connection Web site. The new release contains the original bug fixes found within Support Pack 3 as well as the necessary NSS update software, all within one patch.

This comes as great news for NSS-dependent administrators who have not yet installed Support Pack 3. But for administrators who have already taken the Support Pack 3 plunge, the peril remains, says Novell. "If you've installed Support Pack 3, don't do anything; immediately call Novell technical support," explained the source. "They can walk you though the necessary steps to avoid data loss or recover lost data."

You can learn more about the problem from Novell's Support Connection. For self-help support, you can download Support Pack 3a directly. Or to get in touch with Novell technical support, just dial 888-321-4272, but be sure to have your credit card handy -- this call will cost you. Lastly, to follow the saga, try any of the following Novell newsgroups: news://news.novell.com/novell.netware5.abends, news://news.novell.com/novell.directoryservices.nds and news://news.novell.com/novell.netware5.installmigrate.

-- Brad Shimmin

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