Get the most out of Novell Open Enterprise Server 11

  • 7003585
  • 10-Apr-2012
  • 23-Dec-2014


Novell Open Enterprise Server 11 (OES 11) Linux


As it was the case with Novell NetWare, Novell Open Enterprise server, when installed out of the box, is tuned for a default environment.
As most environments are not default, it may require some initial tuning to match the setting of core services to your environment.

Considerations for improving and increasing Novell Open Enterprise Server 11 performance and scalability by tuning OES11, to get the most out of Novell Open Enterprise Server 11.

This TID can be considered as a place holder to general tunings and pointers to other TIDs that also focus on the core File services that come with Novell Open Enterprise Services.
This TID does not pretend to be complete or suited for all environments, as each environment is unique compared to an other environment, it merely points to a couple things to consider when installing and tuning Novell Open Enterprise 11 Servers.
Tuning is a constant process, the values suggested in this TID may or may not suit your environment and should be checked for validity on a regular base.

In order to tune the additional services, please consult the documentation, including TIDs and CoolSolutions regarding the specific product.


During the installation phase:

Novell Open Enterprise Server 11 (OES11) is made available only as 64-bit add-on for SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 (SLES11).
However make sure that the versions match each other; OES11 was made available for SLES11SP1, OES11SP1 was made available for SLES11SP2.
When downloading the OES11 add-on, verify for which version of SLES11 it is intended.
It is however recommended to use the latest versions available for download that match each other.

Regarding the choice of file system underneath the services hosted on the Novell Open Enterprise Server 11, it is recommended to think trough if the Novell Storage Services (NSS) rights system and rich metadata is needed or would a POSIX file system be sufficient.
For instance, Novell GroupWise does not need the vast metadata of NSS, the overhead of the file system may even cause delays in GroupWise. Additionally, GroupWise uses several temporary files in it's directory structures, which could cause a large amount of purgeable data, which at it's turn may cause sluggishness in NSS.
When GroupWise is installed on a NSS Volume, it is strongly recommended to disable salvage at least for the queue directories for all agents.

Most databases do not take any advantage of Novell Storage Services (NSS) metadata. Several vendors of Databases have a preferred file system, therefor it is recommended to verify which file system to use with the appropriate vendor.
At the other hand, NSS may be the choice for users and groups home-directories, as it allows controllable, gradient and inherited access levels.

A POSIX file system can be exported as a NCP volume, to the end-user this is presented as a regular Novell Storage Services (NSS) volume, though without the additional functionality like salvage.
A Posix volume can even be used with Novell Cluster Services.

During the installation or lifespan of the server, it is not recommended to create local linux users. Though if it is required to have such a user account on the OES11 server (for a specific service or 3rd party software) make sure to not create a user named 'admin' or the same as the eDirectory [root] administrative account or any other given eDirectory user account.
If such a user is created during the installation phase of the server, it can interfere with the configuration and installation process of the server. Later on it can interfere with the manageability of the OES11 server.
More details on this can be found in TID 7008635 "Several OES services fail, due to failed authentication".

During the lifespan of the server:

As security and performance updates are released over the update channels regularly it is strongly recommended to keep the servers code up to date with the code available on the update channels.

NDSD (eDirectory):

Configure the NDS agent so it preallocates it's cache and not actively allocate memory, as this may cause memory fragmentation and other unwanted phenomena.
This can be accomplished by going trough these steps:

1.  Open Novell iMonitor -- https://[server ip address]:8030
2.  Under "Links", select "Agent Configuration", then "Database Cache".  This is where we will make the adjustments.
3.  At the top of the screen, note the "DIB Size (KB)" value.
4.  Scroll down to "Database Cache Configuration".   There are three sections here.  To hard limit DS, click the "Hard Limit" radio button under the "Database Cache configuration".  In the text field, enter the required limit.  For most environments, double the number obtained from the previous step, round up and use that.
For instance for a DIB of 136456 set it to 280000 (136456*2=272912 ~ 280000, roughly 280MB). However for systems with a small dib, maintain a minimum of 200000 (roughly 200MB).
If your DIB size is 307200 (300MB) or larger, rather than double the DIB size, just add roughly 200000 (200MB).
It is required to use a number greater than the current DIB Size. Increasing that number allows for growth, though do not exceed a maximum value of 1572864 (1,5 GB) as Cache Maximum Size.
Make sure though the server has twice the size of free system memory available. (ie. Setting the Maximum Cache Size to 1GB implies the server has at least 2 GB Free System memory).
5.  Towards the bottom of the page, check the box marked "Cache Settings Permanent", then click "Submit". If this check-box is not ticked, the tuning is not saved, and will be lost with the next restart of the ndsd.
6.  When "preallocation" was not enabled before reconfiguring the nds Cache tuning, it is required to at least restart the ndsd and the ncp2nss

As the DIB size on the servers can grow over time, it is recommended to revisit these pages every now and then to verify if the preallocated cache is still sufficient.
When in doubt in configuring the preallocation for the ndsd, or if the server is also running IDM, it is recommended to contact Novell Technical Service (NTS) or a Novell Consultant.
More information in modifying the FLAIM Cache Settings can be found in the NetIQ eDirectory 8.8 documentation.
More information regarding ndsd (eDirectory) memory consumption can be found in TID 7002714 "How can I tell why ndsd (eDirectory) is consuming memory?"

If the local server does not have a local replica or has only few replicas, so it relies on other NDS servers for it's eDirectory information, it is strongly recommended to enable Advanced Referral Costing (ARC), which is disabled by default.
This can be enabled by loading ndstrace as root, then execute 'set NDSTRACE =!ARC1'

The fewer replicas a server has, the more benefit you gain from ARC, even servers that have replicas can gain from this being enabled.
More on Advanced Referral Costing can be found in "Advanced Referral Costing" of "Maintaning Novell eDirectory" section in the eDirectory 8.8 documentation.

NCP services:

On a Novell Open Enterprise Server 11 the NCP server is a forked thread for the ndsd, therefor it is required to tune the ndsd to match your environment.
The main tuning in this matter consists in making sure that the server can have enough threads. This is achieved by tuning the n4u.server.max-threads.
The basic rule of fist is to have 1 thread per actively reading or writing client connection. Though as this parameter can be somewhat interpreted as the "Maximum Service Processes" of NetWare where you merely limit the amount of threads the server can start, not the amount of threads it initially starts, there is no harm tuning this to the maximum, provided the server has sufficient CPU and Memory available; each started thread uses additional memory.
This value must be a value dividable by 4, and can be as high as 512.

To determine if the server's n4u.server.max-threads is sufficient, execute this command as root:

ndstrace -c threads

This results in a summary, in this screen the Pool Workers will show us a Peak value, this value should not be higher than the value of n4u.server.max-threads.
If the Peak value of the Pool Workers is the same or close to the n4u.server.max-threads, tune this parameter, using this command as root:

ndsconfig set n4u.server.max-threads=[new value]

Using Novell Remote Manager, there are a couple more general NCP server improvements you can implement.
Log into NoRM, via https://[server ip address]:8009. Then in the left hand pane open the "Manage NCP Services" and click on the "Manage Server" option.
After the "Server Parameter Information" page opens you can click on the values in order to tune them.
These are a couple server tunings to consider:
Maximum_Cached_SubDirectories_Per_Volume tuned to 300000 (or higher)
Maximum_Cached_Files_Per_Volume tuned to 120000 (or higher)
Maximum_Cached_Files_Per_Subdirectory tuned to 6000 (or higher)

Since OES2SP2 with the November 2011 Maintenance Patch it is possible to tune concurrent NCP threads. This functionality is also available for OES11.
It is recommended to regularly verify if the server is not running out of concurrent async requests, preferably when the server has a couple days uptime.
This is accomplished by executing this command as root:

ncpcon threads

This results in a screen with the  NCP THREAD STATISTICS
If the value of the "Thread Peak Size" in the "Async (eDir) Threads and Requests Statistics" section is close to or matches the "Max Thread Size" it is strongly recommended to increase the value of the CONCURRENT_ASYNC_REQUESTS to a higher value. OES11 has a default value of 15, 50 would be a descent new initial value.
This is accomplished by executing the following command as root:

ncpcon set CONCURRENT_ASYNC_REQUESTS=[new value]

After increasing the value of the CONCURRENT_ASYNC_REQUESTS it is recommended to check if the new value is sufficient or requires further increasing. The value of this parameter can be as high as 256.
More information on this can be found in TID 7007134 "OES2 NCP Engine upcoming changes and NCPCON new Functionality".

TID 7004888 "NCP performance tuning on Open Enterprise Server2 Linux", although written for OES2 will also be able to shed a light on and assist in tuning NCP. on OES11.

Changing the settings and tuning of NCP should be on the fly, and do not require any process or the server to be restarted. However, if you do not notice the change, you way want to restart the ndsd and ncp2nss daemons.


The logic of tuning CIFS is basically the same as the logic for Tuning NCP, however, when CIFS becomes sluggish over time, these are a couple suggested values to tune Novell CIFS:
  • Maximum Cached Subdirectories Per Volume: 1024000
         This is settable by executing "novcifs -k SDIRCACHE=1024000" as root.
  • Maximum Cached Files Per Subdirectory: 102400
         This is settable by executing "novcifs -k DIRCACHE=102400" as root.
  • Maximum Cached Files Per Volume: 2048000
         This is settable by executing "novcifs -k FILECACHE=2048000" as root.
If you however are experiencing inaccessible CIFS shares, CIFS stops listening or communicating, becomes unresponsive or the novell-cifs daemon hangs or other CIFS or novell-cifs daemon related issues, please check TID 7008956 "Troubleshooting and Debugging CIFS on Open Enterprise Server".


As several services rely on the Novell Authentication Module for their authentication to the eDirectory it is recommended to tune this so it uses preferably the local server if this has a local replica, or a server on the local subnet that does have a replica of the needed tree partitions.
By default the "preferred-server" is set to the first Novell Open Enterprise Server that was installed in the eDirectory tree, so there is a huge chance this parameter requires adjustment.
To get the current namcd configuration execute as root:

namconfig get

If the preferred-server value does not point to the local ip address (which is preferred even when the server does not have a local replica), or an ip address of a server on the same physical subnet, this can be changed with the following sequence of commands as root:

namconfig set preferred-server=[local ip address (*)]
namconfig -k
namconfig cache_refresh

(*) When in doubt use 'ndsconfig get' and use the ip address listed in n4u.server.interfaces without the @524.

Alternatively, if the server does not have a local replica, it is also possible to add one or a couple alternative LDAP servers.
Adding a single alternative LDAP server is possible by executing this command as root:

namconfig set alternative-ldap-server-list=[ds-server01]

Adding more than one alternative LDAP server is possible using a comma separated list and can be accomplished by executing the following command as root:

namconfig set alternative-ldap-server-list=[ds-server01],[ds-server02],[ds-server03]

The usage of alternative LDAP servers for LUM can also be used to make LUM more scalable.

It is also recommended to turn persistent search off and cache-only on.
This can be accomplished by executing these commands as root:

namconfig set persistent-search=no
namconfig set cache-only=yes

As the namconfig cache_refresh includes a restart of the namcd there is no need to restart this deamon to enable these changes.
For the other changes and tunings to be enabled, it is recommended to restart the namcd.


Although it is required to tune Novell Storage Services to the requirements of the environment it is being used, these are some tunings worth considering:
- Increase the NSS IDCacheSize to 128K, this can be accomplished by executing, as root:

nsscon /idcachesize=131072

- Disable the Access Time by executing the following line as root:

nsscon /noatime=[volume name]

- From OES2SP2 onwards the Unplugalways parameter has a default value set to "off". If this is not the case, disable it by executing as root:

nsscon /nounplugalways

More details can be found in "UnplugAlways Command for the Read Queue" in "Cache Management Commands" of the "NSS Commands" section in the OES11 Documentation.

In order to make these tunings persistent they must be added (as by default they are not there) to the /etc/opt/novell/nss/nssstart.cfg, though make sure to make no typos in this file, as they can cause novell-nss to fail to start.
Make sure that all unmarked entries in this file start with "/" and not "nss /".

Using nssmu, launched as root, increase the "read ahead blocks" for all nss volumes from the default value of 16 to 64.
If over time this appears to be insufficient, this can be increased to 128. It is not really recommended to go beyond this value, as it may have a negative impact on the performance.
This change is activated "on the fly", and does not require a server restart.

Furter information regarding tuning NSS performance can be found in "Tuning NSS Performance" in the "NSS File System Administration Guide for Linux" of the OES 11 Documentation.

During the lifespan of a NSS Volume it is recommended to preserve at least 10% to 20% free space. Available purgable disks pace does not equal to true free disk space that is available.
Once a volume drops below these thresholds and there is insufficient true free disk space is available to the system to write data, a background process starts calculating what is the oldest deleted data that can be purged for the system in order to make space available for the new data to be written to disk..When there are large amounts of purgable data, nearly no true free space and large amounts of data is written this calculation process becomes a thread that will cause continuous I/O, performance degradation and other unwanted phenomena up to data corruption or loss.
For this reason it is recommended for NSS volumes hosting services with a high usage of temporary files to mark either the folders used for temporary storage or the volume as "purge immediate", basically disabling salvage for those directories or the volume.

When a volume passes these thresholds it is recommended to either expand the pool and volume, delete obsolete data but a temporary measure may be to manually purge the volume.
This can be accomplished by executing the following command as root:

ncpcon purge volume [volume name]

SMS (tsafs / backup)

In case you are suffering from slow performing back-up, or regressing back-up speed, the documentation for optimizing sms on OES11 can be found in "Optimizing SMS" in the "Storage Management Services Administration Guide for Linux" of the OES 11 Documentation.


All the previous steps should also address most issues seen with OES11 servers running Novell Cluster Services and their cluster-enabled resources.
Non the less, if you are suffering from random split brains, without a physical reason (LAN or SAN outage), it would be advisable to investigate if there are time-jumps (back and or forward) caused by the CPU. Clock Jumps can occur on physical and virtual CPU's and is not restricted to either of those.

In some cases where Novell Cluster Services are not starting up properly at boot-up, it is recommended to alter the /etc/sysconfig/boot  so it reads RUN_PARALLEL="no".
This to allow the Novell services to start in their proper sequence and is the default for OES11.

PKI (Certificate Server)

During the installation of any OES server, a couple default Server Certificates are generated.
These are by default valid for 2 years. After this period, when the certificates expire the server and all servers that use the server as LDAP source will no longer be able to access the required eDirectory information and all services that rely on it will fail.
Therefor it is recommended to validate the Default Server Certificates when some or all services of a particular server fails as one of the troubleshooting steps. If the failing server is using a different server as preferred_server, or LDAP source, that particular server's Default Certificate Material should be checked too.
The LDAP servers that the server might be using are listed under /ets/sysconfig/novell/ldap_servers/ though it is recommended to also check each service to determine which LDAP server it is using, as they may differ.

A method of validating the Default Certificates of a server is via iManager.
This can be accomplished under the "Novell Certificate Access", the "Server Certificates" task.

If one or more certificates is deemed invalid, the next step would be to repair these.
This task can be accomplished under "Novell Certificate Server", the "Repair Default Certificates" task.

More details on this can be found in TID 7000075 "SSL Certificates expire after two years, affecting OES Services"

In case the LDAP server being used is a Novell NetWare server, these tasks can also be accomplished using the pkidiag.nlm

After the Certificates were replaced or repaired, it is recommended to at least restart the ndsd (rcndsd restart) so the server is using the new certificate for it's LDAPS communication and run a namconfig -k to update the certificate that namcd is using.

A more sustainable option might be to enable "Self-Provisioning" for the Certificate Authority (CA) of the tree.
This feature is described here in the Novell Documentation.
Enabling this for the CA of the tree, this feature is enabled for all servers in the tree that use this CA.
As soon as the server or it's ndsd is restarted it will be aware that "Server Self Provisioning" is enabled.

With this feature enabled, the certificates that are expired or about to be expired are extended automatically when executing either:
unload pkiserver
load pkiserver
rcndsd restart

Anti-Virus scanners:

When an Anti-Virus suite is installed, try to avoid the usage of "on access" scanning, as this can create a severe overhead.

The Anti-Virus suite, running either locally or remotely, should be excluded from scanning system crucial directories like the ._NETWARE of all NCP exported filesystems (both NSS and POSIX), /_admin and the Linux System directories.

In case Novell Cluster services is installed,  /admin should also be excluded from being scanned by the anti-virus.

In case Novell GroupWise is installed, all repository and queue directories should be excluded from being scanned by the anti-virus as well. Novell GroupWise stores it's information in an encrypted way, so scanning the physical files stored on disk is unnecessary and can even cause severe problems like file locking or even corruption.
There are several Anti-Virus suites that can scan inside the Novell GroupWise mail storage and / or incoming e-mail.

Additional Information

This information is also available for Novel Open Enterprise Server 2 as TID 7006996.