Troubleshooting Novell Login Issues
by Cliff Giddens (01/20/2006)(last updated: 05/19/2008)
About This Document:
This is not meant to be a "quick cookbook" for troubleshooting, but rather a "training" type scenario for troubleshooting Novell client login issues at Valdosta State University.
Feel free to email me anytime with questions, corrections or suggestions that you may have.
"I can't login!"
If a user is having login issues, there can be lots of causes. Troubleshooting is "an art and a science" and to do it successfully depends on your approach (always cover the basics first.)
Scope out the situation
(1) Get an idea of how many people are having the problem and if it's the exact same problem.
If there are multiple users having a simliar problem - there may be an eDirectory, virus or network problem affecting all of them simultaneously. Keep this in mind, but do some basic troubleshooting before making an "emergency" call. You may want to do the ping test documented below and then write down a list of all users (and the department / building / room) that is affected.
Always do a "fresh reboot" of the system in question - upon rebooting, you should see the Novell Client login screen and an Advanced button - click on that and write down the settings for username, tree, context and server.
After writing down the settings, take a quick look at the "Script" Tab:
Be sure that the "Run Scripts", "Display Results Window", and "Close Automatically" are all checked.
Now have the user type in their password to attempt to login. If they cannot login through the network, then try checking "Workstation only" to get to the Windows Desktop. If they cannot do that, then there is a problem that isn't network related (did they forget their password?) You can stop here if that's the case :-) (but still resolve their problem by logging in as Administrator, changing their password to 'temp' - then sending me an email to do the same - then have them login as themselves using 'temp' - and manually changing their own password to something that only they know using CTRL-ALT-DELETE.
NOTE: the user should never tell you their password - this is a security method that we are starting to employ.
NOTE ALSO: in the future, password changes will occur in a different way, so keep this in mind (and this document will have to be modified.)
Assuming that's not the problem, and once you get to the desktop, make a mental note of any suspicious processes that seem to be out of the ordinary (upon loading/startup.) If you note some suspicious activity, then proceed normally, but remember you may have to scan for spyware and/or viruses - if all else fails.
If there are error codes, or other symptoms, then please take note of them (write down the exact error message.)
If the issue seems to be isolated, then more than likely it's a problem with that user's machine. If there are several users having a problem then it may be a network issue (either the network itself is unreliable or the server and/or Directory Service in question is unreliable.)
NOTE: There are rare instances where the network and server are both "up" and working fine - but eDirectory is having an issue. If you hear about eDirectory problems - then there's nothing that can be done on the client side, and more than likely once eDirectory is repaired, the clients will be happy too.
(2) Get an idea if it's a network issue:
Go to a command prompt: (Start, Run, type 'cmd' (enter)) be sure you can do an extended series of pings to the server specified for login.
Example: ping -t -l 1500 steeler (1500 is the packet size-which is the default MTU size for most of the campus switches)
Press CTRL-C (after 20 or more pings) to exit and see a summary of the results.
NOTE: Pings on campus should generally take under 20ms and each ping should be very close to having the same time (in milliseconds) as the last.
Of course, if only one computer is having trouble and NO PINGS are making it through, there's likely a cabling, network card, network driver or jack issue. Check the cable at the PC side and the wall side to see if something has come loose, if it appears to be secure, but you are having the same issue, then the problem may lie in the cable itself. Look for obvious signs of damage to the cable and replace the cable to be sure that it's not a cabling problem.
If the cabling seems okay and you've swapped it, then try checking the settings and updating the drivers for the network card itself. This is as far as I can go in covering the networking issue side of things on the client...since these kinds of issues might take an entire document by themselves.
Assuming some or most pings are getting through - look to see if you have any packets that take more than 100ms to hit the target OR see if the results report more than 2% to 5% loss, this would make it very possible that there's a networking issue and a work order could be entered to check the network on that jack / area / or building. (Depending on the number of users having a problem.)
If you are going to place a work order for network services - in addition to the name, department, building and room# - also copy and paste the information from the ping results as well as the bottom half of the information reported from the below command:
Example of important work order information for Network Services:
User "johndoe" (History) in Pine Hall, Room 337 is having a network issue - detailed information below:
Physical Address. . . . . . . . . : 00-00-J3-5C-B1-2B
Dhcp Enabled. . . . . . . . . . . : Yes
IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 18.104.22.1686
Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 22.214.171.124
DNS Servers . . . . . . . . . . . : 126.96.36.199
Ping statistics for 188.8.131.52:
Packets: Sent = 50, Received = 40, Lost = 10 (20% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 1ms, Maximum = 5ms, Average = 1ms
Assuming that you can ping with a fairly constant range of ping times AND without any significant loss (less than 2% to 5%) then you probably have a Novell client problem (or eDirectory needs to be repaired.)
Problems on the client side are more common, so please verify all client versions and settings before calling me or any other Systems Server Administrator(s).
(3) Check Novell Client versions and settings
Here's a more detailed part - but once you get used to it - you should be able to run through all of these settings in just a few minutes.
Firstly, check the version of the Novell client and be sure that it's the latest version. All of the latest Novell clients should be available for download here.
If the client version is older, then install the latest version (no need to uninstall the older client - all the changes are "automatic."
If the client version is current, then check the settings (properties) as follows:
NOTE: I cannot stress enough how important it is to be sure that if you have to enter any information that all characters entered are entered exactly as they are listed here. Typos in the client settings will make the client behave erratically!
Right click on the "Big Red N" near the system clock (then select 'Novell Client Properties')
Next, verify the information under the Client tab
In reference to Example C (above)- set the Preferred server and Tree according to the environment you are in:
Example 1: Preferred server: steeler, Preferred Tree: vsun
Example 2: Preferred server: plantops, Preferred Tree: plant
Also in reference to Example C - be sure that the "First Network Drive" is set to H: or higher (F: is the default.) If the user has a lot of extra drives (such as 2 hard drives, multiple partitions or multiple CD/DVD drives and a memory card reader) - then the "First Network Drive" may need to be something like J:
Note: Example C also shows the exact Novell Client version.
Lastly, be sure that there are no BLANK entries for either "Tree" or "Name Context" - in other words, be sure that if the "Tree" is listed, then there is also an entry for "Name Context."
This is a rare, but particularly troublesome setting error. Ironically, there doesn't have to be anything in these fields, as they are populated automatically upon login, however, if there's a blank entry for either, it's best to just remove all of the entries completely.
IMPORTANT: Next move on to the "Service Location" Tab
Example D (above) shows one of the most important settings for any Novell client. The Service Location "Scope List" and "Directory Agent" take advantage of the client's ability to do IP unicast communication (multicast is the default) to find services (such as server logins, eDirectory requests and drive mappings.)
Without these settings, the client is almost sure to have "weird" problems.
Make sure the scope is set to vscope and the directory agent is set to 184.108.40.206 and each has "static" checked.
Next take a quick glance at the "Protocol Preferences" Tab
Just make sure that the client doesn't have any association with the IPX protocol - if IPX is in here OR if your screen doesn't look very close to Example E (above) - then try re-installing the client and make sure that "Remove IPX if present" is checked.
Next, take a look at the "Advanced Settings" Tab
Regarding Example F: (above) - a rare, but possible problem could be in the setting for "Bad Server Name Cache Enabled" (this should be set anytime a network issue is suspected because if a server cannot be contacted once, it may be cached as a "bad server" and the client will not try to contact it again for 5 minutes by default.) There is a long Technical Information Document (Novell TID) regarding this but the simple check is to make sure it's Off.
Finally in this area of Advanced Settings, check to be sure that the client has the following settings:
Bad Server Name Cache Enabled - off
Give Up on Requests to SAs - 5
Receive Broadcast Messages - Server only
SLP Multicast Radius - 1
Use DHCP for SLP - off
(4) Last Resorts
NOTE: Keep in mind the possibility of Spyware / Virus issues (so be sure the Antivirus pattern is up-to-date and any Spybot / Ad-Aware scans have been completed successfully.
Physical memory problems, rogue programs clogging up the startup (and ESPECIALLY a buildup of TEMP files under "C:\Documents and Settings\'Username'\Local Settings\Temp") Please get these checked out and cleaned up - on each client.
NOTE: to see the temporary files (which ALL should be deleted) - you may have to check the folder options (at the 'Username' level) and "Show Hidden Files."
If any of these steps still don't help the client issue then Systems / Workgroup Support will need to be contacted for further assistance. Please be prepared to report any error messages or other symptoms that the client is having and the steps that have been taken to resolve the issue.
It may turn out that there is an unknown issue with eDirectory or even the local network that is the culprit - but if these symptoms are focused on one system - it's probably limited to that system and/or account.
As the final resort, you may have to take the machine back to the shop to re-install the client and/or network card and/or even re-image the system (as is the case on very rare occasions.)
Thank you for your time and effort in learning this "art and science." Once again, please contact me anytime with any questions, comments or suggestions regarding this document!