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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Understanding NSS

Test Objective Covered:

  • Set Up and Configure NSS

As network users and applications have become more sophisticated in the twenty-first century, so has their insatiable appetite for storage. One of the greatest demands you'll face is the need for more storage, larger files, more efficient file management, and faster volume mounting speeds. NSS is the answer.

NSS is a 64-bit file storage system that enables you to configure, mount, and maintain large volumes. NSS is best suited for networks that need to store and maintain large volumes, numerous files, or large databases. Does that sound like your network?

In this first lesson, we'll explore the sophisticated NSS architecture. But before we dive into the NSS architecture, let's summarize the differences between NetWare 6 NSS and the traditional file system.

NSS is an extension of the traditional NetWare file system. In NSS, storage devices are organized into storage deposits, and partitions are organized into storage pools. Table 3.6 compares key NSS improvements to NetWare's traditional file system.

Comparing NetWare 6's Two File Systems: NSS Versus Traditional


NSS File System

Traditional File System

Architecture Components

Storage device, storage deposit, partition, storage pool, volume

Storage device, partition, volume

Maximum File Size

8TB (terabytes)


Files per Volume

8 trillion

16 million

Volume Mounting Performance



Simultaneously Mounted Volumes



Management Tools

ConsoleOne, Remote Manager

ConsoleOne, Remote Manager

Unfortunately, there's a downside to this wonderful NSS story. With all its power, NSS does not support the following two features:

  • Block suballocation

  • Auditing

Despite these current limitations, you'll want to use NSS as your primary (and maybe exclusive) file system in NetWare 6. NSS provides you with the advances of high storage capacity and increased data access performance.

NSS is designed to make use of storage space regardless of its location. To accomplish this, Novell has added additional abstraction layers to file system management. As shown in Figure 3.9, the primary architecture differences between NSS and the traditional file system focus on two abstraction layers: storage deposits and storage pools. NSS also supports logical volumes that enable you to add storage devices to your system without having to create new volumes. NSS architecture consists of five interface layers that work together to present multiple storage devices as a single, cohesive file system to users. The five layers are illustrated in Figure 3.9 and described in the following list:

  • Storage devices—NSS storage devices are simply hardware components that store NetWare data as electronic bits. Storage devices include hard drives, CD-ROM drives, and offline storage media (such as tape devices). The beauty of NSS is that storage devices are organized independently from volumes, and can therefore be added and removed from your network without adversely affecting volume architecture. Of course, data files that reside on storage devices that have been removed are no longer available to users.

  • Storage deposits—Storage deposits are effectively free space. NSS gathers free space from unpartitioned areas of storage devices or available free space inside existing NetWare volumes. When NSS removes free space from a NetWare volume, the traditional file system acknowledges the reduction in free space and identifies the storage deposit as a file. Storage deposits are further organized into partitions.

  • Partitions—Partitions are pieces of storage deposits that have been configured for a specific operating system. In the case of NSS, partitions are typically configured for NetWare. Partitions are further organized into NSS storage pools.

  • Storage pools—A storage pool is a specific amount of file system space that is obtained from one or more storage devices. Storage pools are created after partitions but before NSS logical volumes. After a pool has been created, you can add storage devices to your server without affecting the volume hierarchy. Storage pools are the primary logical abstraction layer between NetWare volumes and multiple storage devices. Storage pools are further organized into volumes.

  • Volumes—NSS supports three types of volumes: logical volumes, traditional volumes, and read-only volumes. Logical volumes are new to NetWare 6. They're subsets of NSS storage pools that can be set to a specific size or allowed to grow dynamically according to the amount of physical space that you have in your pool. A single volume cannot be larger than its host storage pool because all NSS logical volumes must reside in a single pool. By default, NetWare 6 creates a storage pool named SYS and an equally sized logical volume named SYS:. Traditional volumes are also supported in NetWare 6, but do not reference storage pools. Instead, traditional volumes must be created directly as subsets of partitions, as shown in Figure 3.9. Read-only volumes are physical file system objects that reference CD-ROM storage devices. The cool thing about NSS is that it supports multiple volume types simultaneously.

Figure 3.9FIGURE 3.9 NSS and traditional file system architectures.

Clearly, NSS is much more complex than the traditional file system. The good news is that most of its architecture is transparent to users. The storage pool layer enables you to add and subtract storage devices without affecting the file system hierarchy. This is a critical improvement over the fixed architecture found in earlier versions of NetWare.

This completes our lesson in the basic architecture of NSS. As you've learned, this new storage technology is a huge improvement over the traditional NetWare file system. The good news is that most of this sophistication is transparent to users. The bad news is that network administrators must learn much more about how to configure and manage this new architecture. Fortunately, that's the subject of our next lesson.

Brain Snack

One last time, let's test your ability to "see what isn't there." The man from the country at the top of the Himalayas came by plane to meet the man from the Far East who was wearing a chain around his neck. What was the weather when they met the man from the Middle East?

(Q3-3) (See Appendix C for all Brain Snack answers.)

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