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After the CONFIG.SYS is loaded the AUTOEXEC.BAT runs next. Here you load up your TSR's and network drivers. There are some important tricks to be used here as well.

First of all, never load your network shell from your AUTOEXEC.BAT file. Always have it branch to another batch file called LOADNET to load the network shell. Use the AUTOEXEC.BAT only to load special TSR's and the IPX. An AUTOEXEC.BAT might look like this:

 @Echo Off

The two SET commands are very important. The first sets a variable called NET to NETX.COM. This will be used later in LOADNET.BAT. By using this variable, you can have users running many different versions of DOS and still use the same LOADNET.BAT file. You could also use a command SET NET=LOADHI EMSNETX.EXE to take advantage of advanced memory manager software.

Another trick is to run BESTNET from the Network Survival Kit. BestNet will automatically pick the best network shell and set the NET environment variable for you. You would use the command BESTNET instead of SET NET=NETX.COM in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file.

The SET COMSPEC=O:COMMAND.COM is important if you are booting off of either a floppy drive or a diskless workstation. This assumes that O: will eventually be mapped to a directory on the network that has a valid COMMAND.COM in it.

It is important to set the comspec BEFORE loading your NET shell. This prevents a problem where Netware wants to go back to the boot disk even after you change the COMSPEC. We don't know why this works but it does. Trust Me. If you are going to use COMMAND.COM on drive C:, ignore this paragraph.

Now we go to the LOADNET.BAT file.

 @Echo Off

The big concept behind LOADNET is that this file is NEVER CHANGED. You put it on all your workstations and in the LOGIN directory and it is EXACTLY THE SAME for every computer in your network. Any changes to individual computers are made in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file.

So why is this important? Because if you are running diskless workstations what happens is that while you are booting you have a mythical drive A:. As soon as your NET shell loads this drive disappears out from under you and you end up in F:\LOGIN. If you are running LOADNET.BAT when this happens you drop out of A:LOADNET.BAT and land in the middle of F:\LOADNET.BAT. And if your LOADNET.BAT is exactly the same file as the LOADNET.BAT in the \LOGIN directory, you take off running like the transition never occurred.

Even if you are not running on diskless workstations now, you might go to it someday. It also creates good programming habits and helps you boot up cleanly.

Let's see what LOADNET does. The first line is @ECHO OFF, that's easy. The second line %NET% executes the network shell that you specified with the SET NET=NETX command. This actually loads the network shell. The third line clears the NET variable freeing up space for other environment variables. F: switches you to drive F if you aren't there already. And finally STARTUP is the name of yet another batch file you jump to.

The STARTUP.BAT file controls what happens after LOADNET runs. This file can be freely changed so that LOADNET.BAT can stay the same. This lets you modify what happens AFTER the network shell is loaded.

If you are using Novell's login program STARTUP.BAT might look like this:

 @Echo Off

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