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NAS disk init issues ASE 12.5.x, 15.0.x on Windows XP, 2k, 2k3, Vista

I opened a case with Sybase Technical Support that basically went like this:

When the access to the NAS device is accessed solely through a \\nas-device\ type, ASE will fail saying the device is invalid. While I can understand Sybase not wanting to support network drives, allowing a disk init on a NAS drive is necessary in lab/test/etc environments where the machine is maxed out on internal devices or other situations where there isn’t enough space on the local disks – inexpensive SAN devices that provide ‘\\nas-device\’ access is often the only way to go due to price or time constraints. Remember that months may pass between the purchase of a SAN array and having it made available to the dba team.

Sybase TechSupport was able to verify that the disk init actually did work but they weren’t able to reproduce the problem. This caused me to perform a thorough investigation as to why the disk init was failing.

I discovered the root cause. ASE v12.5.4 esd 5 and v15.0.1 esd2 will fail on disk init for some *LINUX* based NAS drives. An example of such a beast is the Western Digital My Book series (Network enabled): http://www.westerndigital.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=318

The problem is that many Linux based NAS drives support only the bare essentials of the SMB protocol and rarely the current CIFS protocols.  As I understand it, when WinXP, Win2k3, Vista attaches to a network drive, it will use CIFS by default and then revert to SMB if necessary.

Ultimately, Sybase ASE requires CIFS for the disk init to work correctly. So, before getting that inexpensive network device, make sure it uses CIFS and doesn’t use the ext2 file system internally.

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