Admin Alert: Three Steps to Mapping iSeries Data to a Windows Network Drive
November 15, 2006 Joe Hertvik
There’s only one problem with using iSeries NetServer to deliver AS/400 Integrated File System (AS/400 IFS) file shares as networked Windows PC drives. The technique is so commonly used that it’s getting hard to find an easy primer for setting it up. As a service to the i5 community, this column focuses on setting up a NetServer environment from scratch on your i5, iSeries, or AS/400 partition.
What is iSeries NetServer?
iSeries NetServer (also called AS/400 NetServer in earlier versions) is an i5/OS and OS/400 server that enables Windows clients to access AS/400 IFS folders as mapped network drives. With an active NetServer running on your partition, Windows PCs can use Microsoft‘s standard Server Message Block (SMB) protocol to map a network drive on the desktop directly to a file share residing in the partition’s AS/400 IFS. The Windows PC doesn’t need any special software to create this network drive, and users can easily map a network drive to a NetServer file share in the same way that they would map a network drive to a file share residing on any other Windows server.
Anatomy of an Example
To show you how easy it is to set up NetServer, I’ll run through a quick example that performs the following three steps that result in a fully functioning NetServer configuration. By following this example, you’ll be able to configure NetServer to allow Windows PCs to map a network drive to a file share that points to the /QIBM folder in your partition’s AS/400 IFS (you can change it to whatever AS/400 IFS folder you want later on). Our three example steps for setting up a NetServer mapped drive are the following:
Here’s how it works.
Setting Up NetServer to Run on Your Partition
If you haven’t set up NetServer yet, you will need to gather the following data for your configuration:
For most other NetServer parameters, you can use the default values unless there is a specific problem with your server setup.
Inside the iSeries Navigator (OpsNav) program that comes with iSeries Access for Windows, NetServer can either be configured manually or it can be set up through a Configuration Wizard. To use the Wizard to configure NetServer in OpsNav, perform the following steps.
At this point, your iSeries NetServer server is active on your system.
Setting up a NetServer File Share
Although there are two ways to set up a NetServer share, I prefer to set it up by browsing the Integrated File System node in OpsNav and then designating my target AS/400 IFS folder as a share by using the Sharing option on that folder. To browse the AS/400 IFS in OpsNav, open the File Systems–>Integrated File Systems node under your target partition. Here you can open several of the file systems that are available under i5/OS, but the QIBM folder that I’m looking for is found under the Root (/) of the AS/400 IFS. To open the Root (/) folder, expand the Root node under OpsNav’s Integrated File System folder. Once open, right-click on the QIBM entry under the Root and select Sharing, New Share from the pop-up menu that appears. This will bring up the iSeries NetServer File Share Properties panel.
Under the General tab of the iSeries NetServer File Share Properties panel, you will see input boxes for a Share name (which defaults to the name of the folder being shared), a Description box, a drop-down for specifying user access rights (labeled Access), and a radio button/input box specifying how many users will be able to access this share at one time (Maximum number of users). You can label the Share name with any name that you want but if you want to hide the share from general network browsing, you should start the Share name with the dollar sign symbol ($). For user access, you can specify either Read only access or Read/Write access, which determines whether users can update files in this folder. For the Maximum number of users, IBM defaults this value to the No maximum radio button but you can set a limit on the number of people who can use this share at the same time; that limit can be set anywhere from zero users (0) up to a ridiculously high maximum of 2147483647 users.
If you’re sharing one of your i5/OS libraries, you may also want to click on the Text Conversion tab off the iSeries NetServer File Properties Share panel. On this screen you can specify parameters for EBCDIC-to-ASCII text conversion so that PC users can view the contents of i5/OS libraries.
Once you’ve entered all the parameters for your AS/400 IFS file share, click on OK from the Share Properties panel and this share will now be available for Windows users through the NetServer server.
Mapping a Windows Drive to Your NetServer Share
The final step is accessing your AS/400 IFS file share as a network drive from a Windows desktop. You can set up this drive the same way that you set up any other Windows network drive. From a Windows desktop, you first open My Computer and click on Tools–>, Map Network Drive from the Windows toolbar. This brings up the Map Network Drive window, which will ask you to define the drive letter that you want to assign to your drive connection and the network folder that the drive will point to. You can also browse the network and assign the folder to your drive letter by clicking on the Browse button. For our example, I would either browse through the network to find my QIBM share on QPart1 (my NetServer name) or I would just designate that the drive letter should point to the QPART1QIBM file share. If I want to make this drive mapping permanent on the desktop, I would click on the Reconnect at logon check box in the window. Once I have designated all my parameters, I would click on the Finish button and then I would have a network drive mapped to my i5 box, courtesy of iSeries NetServer.
And If There’s Problems. . .
While this basic NetServer configuration is simple, sometimes you will run into problems for a variety of reasons. If you’re having trouble with your NetServer configuration, IBM offers a nice Troubleshoot iSeries NetServer Web site at the iSeries Information Center for i5/OS V5R3. You will be able to find answers for common NetServer connectivity problems there.
About Our Testing Environment
All configurations described in this article were tested on an i5 box running i5/OS V5R3. The iSeries Navigator configuration (OpsNav) was tested by using the OpsNav version that comes with iSeries Access for Windows V5R3M0, and the mapped drive was tested on a Windows 2000 PC. Most of the referenced configurations are also available in earlier versions of the i5/OS and OS/400 operating systems as well as in earlier versions of IBM’s OpsNav program, so the configurations should be usable in prior releases. However, you may notice minor variations in pre-V5R3 copies of these features. These differences may be due to incremental command improvements that have occurred from release to release.