Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Windows 7 forces major change

I've said before that you'll have to pry the login-script out of our cold dead hands. The simple Novell login-script is the single most pervasive workstation management tool we have, since EVERYONE needs the Novell Client to talk to their file servers. Its one reason we have computer labs when others are paring down or getting rid of theirs. People can live without the Zen agents if they work at it, but they can't live without the Novell Client. Therefore, we do a lot of our workstation management through the login-script.

The Vista client has been vexing in this regard since it is so painfully slow in our clustered environment. The reason it is slow is the same reason the first WinXP clients were slow, the Microsoft and Novell name-resolution processes conmpete in bad ways. As each drive letter we map is its own virtual-server, every time you attempt to display a Save/Open box or open Windows Explorer it has to resolve-timeout-resolve each and every drive letter. This means that opening a Save/Open box on a Vista machine running the Novell client can take upwards of 5 minutes to display thanks to the timeouts. Novell knows about this issue, and has reported it to Microsoft. This is something Microsoft has to fix, and they haven't yet.

This is vexing enough that certain highly influential managers want to make sure that the same thing doesn't happen again for Windows 7. As anyone who follows any piece of the tech media knows, Windows 7 has been deemed, "Vista done right," and we expect a lot faster uptake of Win7 than WinVista. So we need to make sure our network can accommodate that on release-day. Make it so, said the highly placed manager. Yessir, we said.

So last night I turned CIFS on for all the file services on the cluster. It was that or migrate our entire file-serving function to Windows. The choice, as you can expect, was an easy one.

This morning our Mac users have been decidedly gleeful, as CIFS has long password support where AFP didn't. The one sysadmin here in techservices running Vista as his primary desktop has uninstalled the Novell Client and is also cheerful. Happily for us, the directive from said highly placed manager was accompanied by a strong suggestion to all departments that domaining PCs into the AD domain would be a Really Good Idea. This allows us to use the AD login-script, as well as group-policies, for those Windows machines that lack a Novell Client.

Ultimately, I expect the Novell Client to slowly fade away as a mandatory install. So that clientless-future I said we couldn't take part in? Microsoft managed to push us there.

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