Linux clients of Novell NSS servers: the options

Jurjen Bokma

July 2009

We have Novell OES1 SP2 fileservers serving NCP to Windows clients, and we would really like to give Linux users access to those same files.

Using the NCP protocol on the server, we could use ncpfs on the server. But alas, it is slow (up to 100 times slower than Samba and up to 1000 times slower than NFS), it is unreliable (unmounting fails), and integration with eDirectory (which we also use) is lousy.

Then we could use the official Novell Client for Linux. But that is closed source, and made available for Novell Linux only, which means immediate vendor lock-in. And while we could create an OpenSuSE chroot on all of our clients with the Novell Client in it, keeping that chroot alive would be a major PITA.

So what if we would serve another protocol? According to the Novell CIFS for Linux Administration Guide, we could serve up to 1500 clients concurrently with CIFS. But CIFS has issues, in particular the fact that Novell doesn't support cross-protocol file locking between a CIFS daemon and any other daemons. So no CIFS.

How about NFS? It is robust, can handle plenty users... ... but it uses a trusted-client model, which we don't. Exit NFS.

How about SAMBA? Works up to thousands of clients. No file locking issues. This may be viable.