There is a serious lurking problem with the Novell client, which I have identified in both 4.91SP4 and 4.91SP5 at the least.

SCENARIO:
- Windows XP SP3 with all the latest updates
- File caching is enabled on the client
- File caching is enabled on the primary file server
- File caching is disabled on two secondary servers used only for mail and bordermanager, and not general file storage

THE SITUATION:
- Go to a directory of text files with read only access on the primary file server
- Open a text file with Windows notepad, make a change like adding a dash, etc, and close and save the file.
- THE FILE SAVES WITHOUT AN ERROR
- Immediately refresh the directory window in XP SP3
- THE MODIFICATION DATE IS UPDATED IN A READ ONLY LOCATION
- Attempt to open the file
- THE FILE OPENS AND RETAINS THE MODIFICATION.

Here's the real kicker.
- Wait approximately 1 minute.
- Refresh the directory.
- THE MODIFICATION DATE REVERTS TO THE ORIGINAL STATE
- Open the file
- THE FILE HAS REVERTED TO ITS ORIGINAL STATE.

NO ERROR was reported to me throughout all of this.

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Well isn't this grand? With file caching enabled, the client doesn't appear to bother to check if you have access privileges to a given file location. It gives the end-user no warning that they are trying to do something that is not possible.

Instead it "simulates" writing to the directory using local caching, and appears to save the data without any error or warning whatsoever, and for a short time, even simulates the correct saving by allowing the modified file to be reopened again.

The end-user is blissfully unaware that they just did something that the server will not allow, and their data is sitting in a file cache with approximately 60 seconds of lifespan, after which it just floats off into... nothingness.

No errors, no warnings, the end user's work is just gone. Nice one, Novell.


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If I go into the advanced client settings and disable file caching, I am properly given an error upon trying to save, that I don't have write permission

If I go onto the Netware server and type "SET CLIENT FILE CACHING ENABLED = OFF" without changing the client, I am also properly given an access error.

So either of the typical methods of disabling caching prevents this incorrect client behavior.


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However, finding out about disabling client file caching to prevent such weirdness seems to be by word of mouth alone. All default Novell settings on a new server and on the client will set caching to be enabled, so Novell appears to believe that this is the proper course of action.

I don't think the "proper" course of operation for caching is to lie to the end-user about file access permissions and actually hide the fact that the user doesn't have access, and to in fact simulate that they do have access, and then to silently and secretly discard said artificial changes in the background without informing the end user.

And how long has this been going on, exactly?

THIS NEEDS TO BE FIXED.


- Dale Mahalko