Ancient NetWare OS/2 Requesters?

Quite a while ago there was a discussion on this site about NetWare support for OS/2 versions prior to 1.3. Finding reliable information is difficult, especially when one doesn’t know exactly what to look for.

Spurred by the discovery of Novell NetWare 2.15 ELS II in my basement (obviously I knew it was some NetWare stuff, but until I learned much more about NetWare 2.x I didn’t realize it was a complete NetWare 286 server kit), I started pondering the question again. The NetWare release I had included a separately packaged NetWare Requester for OS/2 version 1.2 from May 1990.

NetWare Requester for OS/2 v1.2

It is very unclear from the documentation what the version of the Requester itself is, or if it even has one, but it’s crystal clear that it’s for OS/2 1.2 only, not any earlier version (and OS/2 1.3 had not been released yet). It relies on NWIFS.IFS, an Installable File System, which means it can’t possibly work with OS/2 1.0 or 1.1, as there was no IFS support in those versions.

Once I had some idea what I was looking for, I established that the NetWare Requester for OS/2 1.2 survived online in several places, for example here. The NetWare Requester for OS/2 1.3 (February 1991) survived as well.

And when I knew where to look, I found other stuff. Like this document which turns out to be the NetWare Requester for OS/2 manual “For NetWare Version 2.1 and Above and OS/2 Versions 1.0 and 1.1” from January 1989 (shortly after the release of OS/2 1.1 SE).

So NetWare definitely did support OS/2 1.0 and 1.1 clients. It’s unclear how this was distributed; quite possibly it came with NetWare 2.11 or 2.12, which is nowhere to be found. It may have been also distributed electronically through channels that escaped archiving. There are hints that the 1.1 Requester was $200 for unlimited copies, and there are reports that it was released in September 1989. There are mentions of the initial NetWare for OS/2 Requester (for OS/2 1.0 only?) shipping in late 1988.

It’s worth noting that the NetWare Requester for OS/2 v1.2 was a licensed package sold by Novell, but the licensing conditions permitted more or less unlimited redistribution. It’s unclear whether the older NetWare OS/2 Requesters had similar licensing conditions or something more restrictive.

It’s also worth mentioning that the OS/2 Requester always used modular ODI style drivers, while the DOS NetWare Shell at the time used pre-linked monolithic IPX modules.

Someone on this planet probably still has the old NetWare OS/2 Requester disks. But who and where? The best bet may be NetWare 2.x server disk sets older than 1990 (2.15C was available in early 1990), or possibly even original NetWare 386 kits.

This entry was posted in NetWare, OS/2, PC history. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Ancient NetWare OS/2 Requesters?

  1. MiaM says:

    Side track:

    I would really love a similar article but for using DECNET/Pathworks in varios MS/IBM OSes.

  2. Michal Necasek says:

    If only I knew anything about Pathworks. But I don’t, it’s as mysterious to me as Banyan Vines. Never seen them in real life, unlike NetWare and LAN Manager variants.

  3. Chris M. says:

    Banyan VINES used DOS device drivers and programs to connect and log into the network, very similar to NetWare of the time. The admin tools were console based as well. I never had access to a client running Windows 95 though. I know Microsoft included the protocol driver with Windows 95, but I doubt the admin tools and other parts of the client were updated right away.

  4. MiaM says:

    “DECNET for dos” and the later Pahtworks products afaik used SMB as the file sharing protocol, but used DECNET rather than TCP/IP, NetBEUI, IPX or similar as the transport, and might also had used other stuff that had made it incompatible to the standard Microsoft SMB implementations.

    I’ve used it, but only as an end user without having anything to do with the configuration, so I can’t say that I have any experience. From what I remember what I were told, there were some cumbersome procedure for moving files between an office space client (which mainly used Lan Manager) and the DECnet based servers. Production machines in the same site used DECnet/Pahtworks and ran DOS.

    Would be nice to have a look at it some day. It would require some VMS knowledge to set upp the server.

    Side track to this side track:
    3Com also used a variation of SMB/NetBEUI in their 3Server products. If you have NetBEUI enabled on a Windows 2000 machine and connect that and a 3Server to the same network, the hard disk on the 3Server will work constantly for a while and then the 3Server will refuse to boot. Or so I’ve heard…

  5. Chris M. says:

    DEC also had a PathWorks client for Macintosh. It even supported LocalTalk using an encapsulated DECNet protocol (think MacIP but with DECNet instead). The major LocalTalk-to-Ethernet bridges all supported DECNet bridging too.

  6. MiaM says:

    Chris M:

    Too bad that these kinds of setups requires people with special interest in two different vintage computing areas, i.e. DEC/VAX systems and also either PC or Mac.

    Btw, while we’re talking about DECNET: A fairly credible rumour said that there were talks about setting up a skunkwork project within a major ISP by routing DECNET and not only the regular TCP/IP to all customers who by inofficial channels wanted that. It didn’t happen though as the routers closest to the customers didn’t support DECNET. 🙂

  7. Chris M. says:

    There is always HECnet:

    Kinda curious if I could bridge that onto my local network and than use my Shiva Fastpath 5 to bridge a LocalTalk client to it.

  8. Michal Necasek says:

    3Com was for a while (in the late 1980s at least) one of the major LAN Manager OEMs. I wouldn’t say it was a variation of SMB so much as it was SMB because 3Com licensed Microsoft’s software (similar to HP, Intel, and others). 3Com also collaborated with Microsoft on creating the NDIS driver specification.

  9. Rich Shealer says:

    I wish my memory was better, so I may be forgetting a detail or two. I worked for a small PC clone builder in the late 80s early 90s. We did a lot of Netware 286 2.x variants, especially when I first started using OS/2.

    When I started working with OS/2 it was at 2.0, “The Better Windows than Windows” version. I don’t remember ever having an OS/2 requester for it in the NetWare 286 box. I remember being in Baltimore MD thinking that some of the bigger computer stores might have it, but didn’t find it. I had to order a physical copy. In 1992, I don’t think it was available as a download, I would have done that if possible.

    Sadly all that old media and documentation was consumed by a fire in 2008.

  10. Michal Necasek says:

    The NetWare OS/2 Requester should have been available as a download in ’92 (it can still be found now) but I have no idea how easy or hard it would have been to find back then. I don’t know if you had access to CompuServe, beyond that it would have been available on some BBS or other, but you’d have to know which one. Novell had their NetWire but I don’t know how hard it was to get access to that.

  11. Robcfg says:

    Hi Michal,

    Is this what you’re looking for?

    It seems to be the NetWare Requester for OS/2 v1.2.

    Best regards,

  12. Michal Necasek says:

    No, unfortunately not. The v1.2 Requester is what’s in the photo, and in the article there’s a link to a different online copy of it (in ZIP format instead of ZOO). What I’m looking for is anything older.

  13. Andreas Kohl says:

    In 1991 the 4 different NetWare 2.1x products (ELS Level I, ELS Level II, Advanced and SFT) were consolidated into NetWare 2.2. NetWare for Macintosh 2.2 and the NetWare Requester for OS/2 Version 1.2 should be included – OS/2 media order numbers for 5.25-inch diskettes 883-0001342-001 and 3.5-inch diskettes 883-0001341-001.
    NetWare 3.11 (386) from the same time shipped with NetWare Requester for OS/2 Version 1.31.

    Two Novell products offered LAN connectivity for OS/2 1.1 workstations: NetWare Requester for OS/2 Version 1.1 (mentioned in an article “Netware’s Missing Links” by Mark L. Van Name and Bill Catchings from BYTE magazine February 1990) and the NDIS-based solution for heterogeneous environments LAN Workplace for OS/2 Version 2.0.

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