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NetWare: Physical to Virtual

A quick history: In the beginning of the PC/Micro Computer era, hard drives and good printers were expensive so they got shared various ways such as with File and Print servers. At first as those servers grew in power and capacity, we just added more drive space, printers, and/or users, but then we went on to add all kinds of applications to the mix (email, databases, multiple protocols, routers, custom apps, etc...). Because the different applications didn't always play nice together on a single server, we ended up with many servers, and as the hardware got more powerful, we ended up with many servers that were using just a tiny part of the capabilities of the hardware. Early attempts to deal with this were the blade servers, but even they were becoming overkill for many applications. Virtualization was seen as the next logical step and the first to have a really usable product was VMware, with the Open Source community following with XEN. Eventually even Microsoft jumped in with HyperV. At first you had to build new installs of your Operating System[1] (or OS for short) on the Hypervisor[2] of choice, but soon tools became available to migration existing servers from their hardware and place them on the Hypervisor, with some of them getting very nicely automated for the most popular OSs such as Windows and Linux. For the rest of the Operating Systems, we have to work just a bit harder.

The basic process is simple enough, starting with an OS on an x86 or related CPU, you image the drives and transfer that image into the HyperVisor. Usually you boot the system to be migrated off of a CD and the bare Virtual Machine configured to accept this OS, booted off an ISO of the same CD and somehow get the image from one to the other. The last detail is then to configure the migrated OS with appropriate drives to run on the Hypervisor (virtual disk and NIC drivers to start).

  • Norton/Symantec's Ghost is a well known disk cloning tool that works well for some OS migrations, but for some reason would just hang on the set of attempts I tried to run it in the VM ready for NetWare. If you have it in your kit already, certainly give it a try, but as it does cost, don't buy it for just this purpose.
  • Portlock Storage Manager Was THE tool for storage management beyond what NetWare has built in and works for all versions of NetWare as far back as 4.11 for virtualization and even further back for some other things. You could also P2V without needing a secondary place to put the image, but it does strait from the old to the new system. The Gold standard for P2Vs of NetWare, but of course it did cost some, and we haven't been able to make it work since they closed shop.
  • VMware's Converter coldclone.iso is the tool of choice for a colleage of mine. The catch is that you need to have a login with that has a vSphere license attached to it. While it doesn't officially support NetWare, it does a block-level import of the server that works well.
  • Clonezilla is the free and Open Source option that I use for all my disk imaging needs. For NetWare P2V the only catch being that it has a problem with keeping the DOS boot partition bootable, but that is easy enough to fix with a DOS ISO and the commands 'FDISK /MBR' and 'SYS C:' .
  • For more details
    - using Portlock (R.I.P.), there are plenty of documents that were on their site as well as a CoolSolution.
    - using Clonezilla, this CoolSolution covered it well enough, though do read the comments for more tips and alternate methods. If I can find a copy of it to share, lots in migrations.

    My fellow community KP wrote up an excellent process that has worked for me since.

    Last updated 2021-09-07 Copyright © 1996-2022 Andy Konecny andyweb @