• United States

Why it’s hard to praise Novell Storage Services

Sep 16, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* The ups and downs of Novell Storage Services

When I outlined trustee rights for the NetWare file system last week, I probably should have mentioned that what I was talking about was NetWare’s Traditional File System (NWFS) and not the newer Novell Storage Services (NSS) file system. NSS does do things differently, as we’ll see in just a moment.

First, though, one of the reasons why I’m loathe to promote the use of NSS is that while its commendable in theory it’s not quite so praiseworthy in practice. There are still strange occurrences on NSS volumes although it is a lot better now than when first introduced a couple of years ago. The benefits of a fast-mounting, journalled file system are enormous and it’s to be hoped that Novell is employing all of its resources in perfecting this system.

The first clue that I wasn’t talking about NSS when discussing trustee rights was that I mentioned the rights were stored in the directory entry table (DET). That’s true in NWFS but NSS doesn’t even have a DET. Instead, it uses a system called Z-node, related to the Unix I-node method of tracking entries. (See for a fascinating note by former Novell file system guru Jeff Merkey about the relationship between NWFS and Unix I-nodes.) Z-node structure essentially takes I-node and makes it a journalled system while adding hashing to speed up access.

NSS also ties to the directory identifier (the GUID) rather than the local database identifier (the OID) when identifying the owner of a file or folder. This is required for a clustering system (where the file system may be under the control of different servers at different points in time). That’s a big step forward, of course, in terms of the ability to move and restore files to different volumes or servers.

NSS still doesn’t store trustee rights in eDirectory, though – they’re stored in the Z-node. Some future iteration of the file system should make that move, but nothing has been announced quite yet. What will happen when NetWare Services for Linux gets released is still up in the air, also – will Novell attempt to work with the I-node system or will it attempt to impose the (definitely more functional) Z-node system? Too soon to tell, but as soon as I know I’ll pass on the details.

Special thanks (that’s a big “Dziekuje”) to Krzysztof Skibicki, of Warsaw’s Centrum Technik Sieciowych ( but only if you want to practice your Polish) for enumerating the differences between both NSS and NWFS as well as between z-nodes and I-nodes.