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Network Client Administrator


One of the greatest headaches in setting up a network, any network, is getting your clients connected to the network. If your clients are running Windows NT Workstation, Windows 95, or Windows For Workgroups, getting them onto a Microsoft Network is not quite as difficult, and usually just require a little tweaking; however, the workstations that are still running DOS, DOS/Windows 3.x, or OS/2 require a lot of time and configuration. A lot of that time is spent installing the client software that is necessary to make that network connection.

The Windows NT Server Network Client Administrator is a tool that can help the administrator ease the installation of Windows- and DOS-based clients onto the Windows NT Server domain.

These tools include the means of copying all of the client software contained on the Windows NT Server CD-ROM to a network share, the creation of disks that can be used to have a client attach to the network and access that share, and copy administrative tools that can be used on PCs that are not running the Windows NT operating system.

It also has features that can be modified to give you even more functionality than is explained in the documentation. Toward the end of this chapter, I will explain this.

Starting the Network Client Administrator

The shortcut for the Network Client Administrator is located in the Administrative Tools folder on the Windows NT Server Start menu.

This simple yet very effective application gives you four choices of functionality (although one of them is nothing more than an instruction to refer to a section of the Windows NT Resource Kit).

Figure 21.1

The Network Client Administrator.

The first two choices on the available tasks depend on the existence of copies of the Microsoft Network client installation software. The Windows NT Server CD-ROM contains a directory structure, located under the \CLIENTS directory, that contains Microsoft Network client software for MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, and OS/2. In addition to these, installable copies of Microsoft's 32-bit TCP/IP for Windows For Workgroups and Remote Access Services (RAS) for MS-DOS are included.


At the time of this writing, the pre-release Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 CD-ROM did not contain the full version of Windows For Workgroups. A full version was included on the Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51 CD-ROM. The full copy of Windows For Workgroups included on the Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51 CD-ROM contains updated files that are not found in the shrink-wrapped copy of Windows For Workgroups. If you are working with workstations that are already running Windows for Workgroups, you need to copy the files located in the \CLIENTS\UPDATE.WFW directory, which is on both copies of the Microsoft Windows NT Server CD-ROM.

Sharing the Network Client Installation Files

When starting either "Make Network Installation Startup Disk" or "Make Installation Disk Set," you will be prompted to configure the network share that the client software can be copied from.

If this is the first time you have run either of these options, you can choose to create a new share on your server or specify another server that already has the client software share established. In Figure 21.2, the PATH field refers to the location of either the Microsoft Windows NT Server CD-ROM and the path where the client software can be copied from, or you can specify another location, such as a share on another server that has that same directory structure. Copying the client installation files to your server is optional. It can be very convenient, however, to not have to dig out the Microsoft Windows NT Server CD-ROM whenever you need client software.

Figure 21.2

The Share Network Client Installation Files dialog.


Unless you have another server on your LAN containing the Microsoft Network Client Software that you will access for the purpose of making client installation disks, you need to specify the PATH.

After filling in the PATH field, you need to specify whether you want create a share that points directly to the source for the files, or you can create a new share. In Figure 21.2, I have opted to use the default setting of creating a new share called CLIENTS in the C:\CLIENTS directory.

Twenty-eight megabytes of files are then copied to the new directory. (See Figure 21.3.) After the copying has been completed, however, unneeded parts of the directory structure can be deleted. The subdirectories in the C:\CLIENTS directory are shown in Table 21.1.

Figure 21.3

Copying files from the NT Server CD-ROM to a network share.

Table 21.1. Network client software directory structure.

\CLIENTS\LANMAN Microsoft LAN Manager for MS-DOS
\CLIENTS\LANMAN.OS2 Microsoft LAN Manager for MS OS/2
\CLIENTS\MSCLIENT Microsoft Network Client for MS-DOS
\CLIENTS\RPL Remoteboot Service for Microsoft Windows NT Server
\CLIENTS\SRVTOOLS Client-based network administration tools
\CLIENTS\TCP32WFW Microsoft TCP/IP-32 for Windows for Workgroups
\CLIENTS\WDL Windows Driver Library containing additional network card drivers


The LAN Manager client is available because LAN Manager servers can be incorporated into a Windows NT Server domain.

Making a Network Installation Startup Disk

Installing Microsoft Network client software to a workstation that is running MS-DOS or Windows 3.x can be accomplished by either creating a Network Installation Startup Disk or by using disks created by the Network Client Administrator.

Sometimes it is more convenient to create installation disks in advance, and keep them handy for future installations, however the option "Make Network Installation Startup Disk" is geared towards a specific workstation, and can not be reused.

This option will copy the necessary software to a single floppy disk, that will load the appropriate network interface card driver, attach to the network, connect to the share that has the Microsoft Network client software, and execute the setup program for the type of client that was specified when creating the disk.

The Target Workstation Configuration dialog (see Figure 21.4) lets you choose which type of network client software you want to install on the workstation. By default, only the MS-DOS/Windows 3.x client software is available for installation. I have illustrated here adding another choice to this dialogue, but I will explain how to do that later. The two choices shown here, MS-DOS/Windows 3.x and Windows For Workgroups, are based on the existing configuration of the workstation, and whether or not you want to upgrade from MS-DOS/Windows 3.x to Windows For Workgroups.

Figure 21.4

Target Workstation Configuration dialog.

The client software for DOS and Windows 3.x does not need to be licensed and is included for part of the cost of the Network Access License that should have already been purchased.

The other option, Windows for Workgroups, is not included as part of the Network Client License and requires separate licensing. If the workstation is currently running Windows 3.x, there is upgrade pricing, known as the Workgroup Add-On for Windows. If the workstation is running DOS only, a full copy of Windows for Workgroups must be purchased to properly license the Windows for Workgroups installation.


Whenever possible, install Windows 95 or Windows For Workgroups. The built-in networking components of Windows 95 and Windows For Workgroups more than justifies its price. A Windows 95 or Windows For Workgroups workstation does not require the Microsoft Network full redirector, which is a 100KB hog. The navigation tools, when connecting to a network printer or network share, are worth the price by themselves.

Usually only a computer running on less than 4MB of memory, and/or has a 286 CPU should be excluded from being a Windows For Workgroup workstation. 8MB is sufficient for Windows 95. And, of course, Microsoft Windows NT Workstation is the best client of them all.

From a pick-list of available network interface card drivers, choose the workstation's network adapter card. This setting must be accurate, as the startup disk will attempt to load this driver

The Network Startup Disk dialog (see Figure 21.5) asks for a unique Computer Name for the client workstation. Any user account can be used to access this share, so a pre-existing account must be entered into the User Name field. Enter the name of the domain that this workstation will join, and the initial protocol that will be used for the Network Client software installation.

Figure 21.5

The Network Startup Disk dialog.


If there is a Windows NT Server in the entered domain that is running DHCP Services, you can opt to install TCP/IP and check the box that says "Enable Automatic DHCP Configuration." If this option is used, then the IP address and subnet mask for the DHCP server need not be entered.

The last field is specifying a target for the files that will be copied. This should be a drive letter associated with a floppy drive, however you may wish to copy these files to a local hard drive or a network share for future use.

The floppy disk that is used as a Network Installation Startup Disk must be formatted and bootable.

On this disk, a CONFIG.SYS and an AUTOEXEC.BAT files are created, along with a directory called NET.

As shown in Listing 21.1 and 21.2, the necessary drivers are loaded in CONFIG.SYS, the appropriate bindings are created in AUTOEXEC.BAT, a connection to the network share is made, and the SETUP.EXE program from the Windows For Workgroups directory is run.

Listing 21.1. A sample startup disk CONFIG.SYS.


Listing 21.2. A sample startup disk AUTOEXEC.BAT.

a:\net\net initialize
a:\net\net start
net use z: \\SERVER\Clients
echo Running Setup...
z:\wfw\netsetup\setup.exe /#


Although there are a limited number of network interface card drivers that can be chosen from the Target Workstation Configuration dialog, it is possible to edit some of the files on the startup disk to reflect a driver that comes from a third-party driver disk. This is accomplished by editing files from the NET directory that have the extensions INI and INF. These files make references to the specific network interface card driver that was chosen during the Target Workstation Configuration dialog. To determine the appropriate changes, perform a manual installation from disks of the client software and indicate that you want to use another driver, rather than an included driver. Use the hardware manufacturer's driver disk, and once the installation has completed, note the netcard= entries made in SYSTEM.INI and PROTOCOL.INI. It will also be necessary to install the manufacturer's version of PROTMAN.DOS to the NET directory on the Startup Disk.

Once the necessary entries have been made, the Network Client Administrator will confirm your settings with a dialog (see Figure 21.6) that explicitly explains the type of disk that will be created.

Figure 21.6

Confirm Network Disk Configuration dialog.

Making Network Installation Disks

When you choose Make Installation Disk Set from the Network Client Administrator dialog, you will first be prompted for the location of the Client Setup Installation files. If this has been previously set up, those settings will be retained and shown for confirmation.

The available disk sets that can be made through this process is

  • Microsoft TCP/IP-32 for Windows for Workgroups
  • Microsoft Network Client for MS-DOS
  • Microsoft LAN Manager for MS-DOS
  • Microsoft LAN Manager for MS OS/2
  • Microsoft RAS for MS-DOS

The Make Installation Disk Set dialog (see Figure 21.7) lists these items and allows you to choose the letter of the floppy drive you want to create the disks on. The number of disks required is also displayed (one disk each, expect for the LAN Manager options , which are four disks each), as is a choice for the Network Client Administrator to format the disks before copying the chosen files to them.

Figure 21.7

The Make Installation Disk Set dialog.


Although you might want to have a copy of Remote Access Services For DOS or TCP/IP For Windows For Workgroups, once you have connectivity to the server, it is just as easy to directly install these items from the CLIENTS share.

After choosing the drive and product that you want to make disks for, press OK and you will be prompted for the disks required.

Copy Client-Based Network Administration Tools

The third utility available in the Network Client Administrator is copying Windows NT Server administration tools that can run on Windows 3.x, Windows For Workgroups, and Windows 95.

The tools included here are non-NT versions of User Manager for Domains, Server Manager, and Event Viewer. These tools enable a client to administrate certain functions on the server. The missing administration tool, Disk Manager, is rightly kept as a local tool that should only be used by a user at the server's console.

The minimum requirement on the workstation that runs these tools is 8MB of RAM and 3MB to 5MB of hard drive space. The extra 2MB of disk space is for the Win32s extensions, which may already be installed on the client workstation.

Figure 21.8

The Share Client-based Administration Tools dialog.

The Share Client-based Administration Tools dialog (see Figure 21.8) is similar to the Share Network Client Installation Files setup. A source path for tools needs to identified. On the Windows NT Server CD-ROM, this is in the \CLIENTS\SRVTOOLS directory. If the tools had already been copied to another directory on a network share, click the radio button next to Use Existing Shared Directory, and type the server name and share name. This utility can be used to create a share that points directly to the CD-ROM or to create a share for a pre-existing directory on a network drive[md]or it can create a new directory on a network drive.

If one the latter two methods are chosen, the files are also copied to the new share.

The final function of the Network Client Administrator is actually not much of an option. As Figure 21.9 shows, choosing this option merely tells the user to refer to the Windows NT Resource Kit.

Figure 21.9

View Remoteboot Client options.

Modifying The Network Client Administrator

One of the great features of the Network client Administrator is its capability to be modified to extend its functionality.

Because it can create a disk that will enable an over-the-network installation of Windows For Workgroups or the MS-DOS Client For Microsoft Networks, why not make it a way to implement an over-the-network installation of Windows 95 or Windows For Workgroups?

Actually, Microsoft must have planned to allow us to modify this file because there are entries in some of the sections of file NCADMIN.INF that show that an over-the-network install of Windows For Workgroups, Windows 95, and Windows NT Workstation was on their mind.

The driving force behind the Network Client Administrator is a file that is placed the shared directory. The NCADMIN.INF file looks like a standard Windows INI file, using bracketed sections with values within each section. The only noticeable difference is that Microsoft uses the pound sign (#) for commented lines instead of semicolons (;).

Listing 21.3. The OTN section of NCADMIN.INF.

# list of sub dirs of the client tree that should be presented
# for creating an Over-The-Net install disk
# SubDirName=DisplayName
wfw=Windows for Workgroups v3.11
msclient=Network Client v3.0 for MS-DOS and Windows
winnt=Windows NT Workstation
winnt.srv=Windows NT Server

In Listing 21.3, the section called OTN (for Over-The-Net) lists the subdirectories that could be included in the share that contains the client software. The first two entries in the OTN section name directories created by the Network Client Administrator when you originally create the network share. The last three entries in the OTN section name directories that are not created by the Network Client Administrator but can be manually created by you, and then the contents of the respective products can be copied to those directories.

When you use the Network Client Administrator to create an Network Installation Startup Disk, it reads the OTN section of the NCADMIN.INF file, but then it checks to see which of these directories are available in the share. If it doesn't find a directory, it does not list the item in the list of possible client software installation to run.

For instance, if your network share is in the C:\CLIENTS directory on the NT server, and you manually create a directory called Win95 and copy the contents of the \WIN95 directory from the Windows 95 CD-ROM into the C:\CLIENTS\WIN95 directory, Windows 95 will be a choice in the Network Client Administrator Target Workstation Configuration dialog. (See Figure 21.10.)

Figure 21.10

A Customized Target Workstation Configuration dialog.


I previously mentioned that the best choice for DOS workstations is to upgrade to Windows For Workgroups. Using this method, however, you can give your clients the other options of other excellent Microsoft Network client software, Windows 95, and Microsoft Windows NT Workstation.

The next section that pertains to the Over-The-Net installation is the Warning Clients section. (See Listing 21.4.) This contains the text that will be displayed whenever network client software is chosen for Network Installation Startup Disk. This text may be modified, such as adding additional instructions. See Figure 21.11 for an example of the resulting dialogue, created by a modification to the Warning Clients section. If any of the OTN values are not represented in this section, then there will be no dialog shown.

Listing 21.4. The Warning Clients Section of MCADMIN.INF.

# ClientDir_n = text string
# where n is a decimal number
# more than one string can be displayed in the warning popup by
# adding more lines, each with an incremented decimal digit. The
# strings will be concatenated before display.
wfw_caption="MS Windows for Workgroups Installation"
wfw_1="You have selected the option to install Windows For Workgroups on your target workstation.\r\n\r\n"
wfw_2="You must purchase a separate license for Windows for Workgroups prior to installing and "
wfw_3="using Windows for Workgroups.\r\n\r\nThe license accompanying Windows NT Server does NOT contain a "
wfw_4="license to install and use Windows for Workgroups.\r\n\r\n\If you have already acquired a separate "
wfw_5="license for Windows for Workgroups, select OK to continue. Select Cancel to return to the Target "
wfw_6="Workstation dialog."
win95_caption="MS Windows 95 Installation"
win95_1="You have selected the option to install Windows 95 on your target workstation.\r\n\r\n"
win95_2="You must purchase a separate license for Windows 95 prior to installing and "
win95_3="using Windows 95.\r\n\r\nThe license accompanying Windows NT Server does NOT contain a "
win95_4="license to install and use Windows 95.\r\n\r\nIf you have already acquired a separate "
win95_5="license for Windows 95, select OK to continue. Select Cancel to return to the Target "
win95_6="Workstation dialog."
winnt_caption="MS Windows NT Workstation Installation"
winnt_1="You have selected the option to install Windows NT on your target workstation.\r\n\r\n"
winnt_2="You must purchase a separate license for Windows NT Workstation prior to "
winnt_3="installing and using Windows NT.\r\n\r\nThe license accompanying Windows NT Server does "
winnt_4="NOT contain a license to install and use Windows NT Workstation.\r\n\r\n"
winnt_5="If you have already acquired a separate license for Windows NT Workstation, "
winnt_6="select OK to continue. Select Cancel to return to the Target Workstation dialog."
winnt.srv_caption="MS Windows NT Server Installation"
winnt.srv_1="You have selected the option to install Windows NT Server on your target system.\r\n\r\n"
winnt.srv_2="You must purchase a separate license for each Windows NT Server system prior to "
winnt.srv_3="installing and using Windows NT Server on that system.\r\n\r\nThe license accompanying Windows NT Server does "
winnt.srv_4="NOT contain a license to install and use additional Windows NT Servers.\r\n\r\n"
winnt.srv_5="If you have already acquired an additional license for Windows NT Server, "
winnt.srv_6="select OK to continue. Select Cancel to return to the Target Workstation dialog."

Figure 21.11

The Result of a Modified Warning Clients Section.

The next relevant section in NCADMIN.INF for the Over-The-Net installation is the SetupCmd section. (See Listing 21.5.) This provides the generated AUTOEXEC.BAT for the floppy disk, its final command, to kick off the setup program for the installed network client software. You might want to examine the different command-line switches included here, because they might not apply to what you want to accomplish.

Listing 21.5. The SetupCmd section of NCADMIN.INF.

msclient=setup.exe /$
wfw=setup.exe /#
winnt=winnt.exe /B /S:Z:\WINNT\NETSETUP
winnt.srv=winnt.exe /B /S:Z:\WINNT.srv\NETSETUP

The other sections in NCADMIN.INF should be examined as well. You will see that depending on the protocol stack selected for use on the Over-The-Net installation, there are different commands added to the AUTOEXEC.BAT on the floppy disk. You might want to add additional commands to this AUTOEXEC.BAT based on the topology of your network, or to adhere to certain standards.


For instance, you might want to have an anti-virus program scan the client's hard drive at the time of installation. By adding an anti-virus program to the list of files copied to the floppy disk, and adding the command to kick off the anti-virus scan, you can make a customized version of the Network Installation Startup Disk.

When properly utilized, the Network Client Administrator program can be one of the best tools a Microsoft Windows NT Network administrator can have.

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