I have some old Netware 6.5 servers that are being decommissioned, and the hardware disposed or reused for Windows domain servers. I want to preserve the old Netware environment as VMWare Server 2.0 virtual machines on an offline USB external hard drive, in case we ever need to go back and retrieve something.

Here is the virtualization process for Netware, since the free VMWare Converter cannot deal with Netware volumes directly:

1. Copy VMWare Tools onto Netware server before conversion.
2. Boot Netware server with Windows Preboot Environment (WinPE / BartPE ) and RAID disk drivers
3. Run Symantec Ghost32.exe at the Windows command line and capture the Novell disks (DOS/SYS, VOL1) to Ghost disk images on an external USB hard drive, fast compression
4. On another machine, Use VMWare Converter to convert the Ghost images into VMDK files for the virtual machine.
5. Build the virtual machine using the converted VMDK's. Netware will likely fail to mount SYS and VOL1 at first due to the VM disk controller difference, but then start working after fiddling with HDETECT, etc.

Okay, the issue I have here is that the old Netware file server had a huge VOL1, something like 900 gigs, but less than 30% is being used at the time of decommissioning. Both the ghost images and the VMWare disk images can be smaller if the free space is zeroed before imaging. So if there is some way to zero the free space, I would like to do that.

I do not know the technicalities of NSS file purging. When a file is purged what is the state of the purged disk sectors? What do they contain? (If auto-zeroed when purged, then I don't need to do anything.)

Are there any built-in Netware console methods for NSS to write zeroes to free space?

Also, Windows XP and newer have the ability to create files containing zeroes of arbitrary size, but on NTFS these are "sparse files" that don't actually take up any disk space. I do not know what the state is of these files when created on a mapped NSS volume. Are they automatically created sparse by NSS, or do they really take up space?

4.91 SP5 client, Map O: to NSS volume, create 1 gig test file:
C:\> fsutil file createnew O:\zero-test.txt 10000000000

It's not a huge problem if I cannot zero the free NSS disk space. It just would be nice to shrink the virtual machine volumes so they don't have some 600 gigs of wasted space archived in the Netware VMs.

(And actually I'm not sure that writing zeroes is specifically necessary, if VMDK's can use sector data compression. Writing say all 0xFF's to free space would prevent creation of sparse files in NSS, and can still compress very high.)

- Dale Mahalko