A few months ago, the OS/2 Museum obtained a seemingly complete and error-free set of floppies with SFT NetWare 286 Level II version 2.0a. And just recently, a disk set of Advanced NetWare 86 2.0a turned up, though sadly incomplete.
Both releases are from 1986 and share one rather unpleasant feature: The NetWare OS won’t run without a hardware key card:
All or most old NetWare versions sold before circa 1988 needed a custom hardware key which had to match the serial number that was burned into the NetWare disks. I’m not sure what the exact history was, but it is known that the NetWare serial number could be provided by Novell’s DCB, or Disk Coprocessor Board:
I don’t quite understand what was the point of selling a custom disk controller and requiring a serial number match. But NetWare 2.0a could also run on off the shelf hardware using standard AT disk controllers and drives. For those machines, Novell provided a simple key card:
I’m not entirely sure if Novell was more worried about piracy by end users or by unscrupulous resellers. In any case, in 1986, during the era of NetWare 2.0a, a hardware key was required by NetWare.
Needless to say, if you are incredibly lucky and find a complete NetWare 2.0a disk set, and the disks are actually readable, the chances of also having the matching hardware key are close to nil. And even if you did have one, that does not at all help when trying to run NetWare 2.0a in an emulator. So, what do we do?Continue reading