back to article NetWare-Linux love child turned up to 11

Novell and SUSE Linux may technically be separate companies, but they are owned by the same Attachmate conglomerate and they still have to work together on specific products, such as Open Enterprise Server, which bolts NetWare print and file services to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. In the wake of buying Novell for $2.2bn back …

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Silver badge

My experience(s) ?

Professionally speaking I stopped paying attention to NetWare when Linux got more mature, at some point NetWare had even adopted the X environment (around 4 or 4.5 I think).

Don't get me wrong: nothing bad about NetWare, its just that Linux was /way/ more versatile.

And I stopped paying attention to SuSE around the time when Novell took it over. I've been an early SuSE adopter but eventually stopped liking it because it started to apply its own specific configuration schemes.

In other words: people who are highly experienced with Linux would still have a very hard time working on a SuSE based commandline. Simply because SuSE does everything "different"; and not always in a logical fashion either.

It was great while it lasted, now its time to move on IMO.

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Anonymous Coward

Hard?

Personally I find SuSE to be a lot easier than RedHat & clones! To each their own though.

I actually really like SuSE, especially as a server. On the desktop side, they have one of the best KDE implementations around too.

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Pirate

Why Netware is still used...

because it's freaking stable as bedrock. Still have 3 or 4 old Netware 6.5 boxes around here doing various little things, and they just don't crash.

Sorry, but OES2 has proven to be a pitiful replacement for real Netware. I migrated our 5 primary NW and Groupwise servers to OES2 this past summer and have regretted it every since. But the truth is, Netware is dead and has no future, and as an Admin, I have to at least attempt to keep our systems relevant in the modern day, hence the migration to OES2. But as that sucks balls, and with no good alternative, we're heading off into the wonderful world of Windows/Exchange next year. {Deity} help us...

If the alleged in-place upgrade from NW to OES11 is for real, that's really cool. Must be some high-end wizardry to convert NSS volumes in-place. Or maybe OES11 can just mount them as-is.

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"... stable as bedrock."

Yup.

A long time ago, in a county (borough) not too far from where I live, I installed a shiny new file and print server that ran NetWare 3.12/3.20.

A couple years later I paid the agency a visit, because it needed to be migrated to a Win2K Server; the soon-to-be-released "upgrade" to the agency's insurance policy management software couldn't be hosted under NetWare.

Imagine how disappointing it was to shut-down and decommission a NetWare file and print server that, according to the System Console, had accrued *** 782 DAYS *** of straight uptime. (Having the server plugged into a beefy, true-sine-wave UPS with proper grounding also helped.)

At the time, Win2K Server couldn't even come close to NetWare's reliability and security. Win2K3 Server was better than Win2K (it was a lot more stable than Win2K), but still had its share of security issues. Win2K8 Server is better still, and from a technology standpoint has probably eclipsed NetWare in certain aspects regarding deployment and manageability.

But I still have fond memories of NetWare...

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Flame

@Novell: Thanks For Screwing Up SuSE 11

You did a marvellous job in turning people off Linux. It certainly is a good strategy to dump all sorts of half-tested stuff into a linux distro and label it "SuSE 11".

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Novell still works....

ignorance is not always Bliss.

@Sheluser - X Environment existed in Netware 6.5 and actually worked but Netware was never designed to use a GUI and a GUI is not very effective in a server environment except for people that are first learning the trade. GUI for servers is like training wheels for a bike.

@Pirate Dave- Netware was great but OES 2 is so much better. Groupwise on Netware had lots of memory problems in a medium-large environment. Groupwise of OES2 is a work of art in action. I have not have a down system in over a year now. The only reboots my system has had in a year is when I do the patches. The same goes for all my OES2 file and Print servers. NSS volumes would not be needed to be converted, it is the same whether on Netware or OES. Actually when I did the migration I just built the OES server replacement and moved the SAN links to the new server and turned it on. So that has always been available.

OES 11 is where the product needed to be when it was introduced to replace Netware. They needed to have the direct upgrade available from the beginning. OES 1 was a mess, OES 2 was very nice after SP1, so I am excited to see OES 11.

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Anonymous Coward

Novell still works....

To be honest nobody seriously wanted a GUI on Netware, most admins were faster using CLI, I heard the reason X and the Java desktop were put in in version 4 was that they were competing with Windows NT4 Server (lmao server!).

Even though NT4 was a crap operating system by comparison Novell was loosing market share because when Microsoft were demonstrating to know nothing IT directors, they would throw out the "See this is a new up to the minute operating system not like that older, outdated based text based stuff you see from Novell", even though technically Netware was far more reliable and had way more fault tolerance and integration feature than Windows at that time.

I was contracting mostly for financial clients and most stopped using Netware around 2000, at that point Microsoft began making serious inroads everywhere, linux by comparison was only just beginning to make headway in UNIX based companies.

It wasn't Linux that killed Netware it was Microsoft.

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Pirate

And it wasn't NT what killed Netware

it was the "free" file/printer-sharing client in Win9x (and to a lesser extent, Windows For Workgroups). Suddenly the little 3 and 4 person shops no longer needed to send money to Novell or Artisoft in order to share files or printers - they could do it for free when they bought a new Packard Bell. At least that was my experience at the time - there were a LOT of mom-and-pops using WIndows file sharing with Win9x in the mid-late 90's, but only a few using NT. I can't say that I remember many customers leaving Netware and moving to Win9x file sharing, but I do remember quite a few who never even considered Netware because Win9x was good enough.

@John Loy - I would like OES2 much better if Novell had spent some time replicating the interfaces from the old Netware admin programs like dsrepair and nwadmin. It shouldn't have been to hard to create text interfaces for Linux that were comfortable for those of us that liked them. It's like at some point the Linux guys got in charge at Novell and decided "Fuck it, we're going to make this as painful and irritating as possible for the old Netware gasbags because they are old and suck". Stability wise, you're right, I don't see much difference between NW and OES2, although it's still slightly in favor of NW here.

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re: it wasn't NT what killed Netware

No it was MS yet again obfuscating the API calls to wrong-foot their partners, I mean competitors, same thing really :)

"We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger", Microsoft Sep 1991

http://edge-op.org/iowa/www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/0000/PX00948.pdf

"the way to shut out novell in the base is to either ship a full client or make it so there is no network connectivity", Microsoft Jan 1994

http://edge-op.org/iowa/www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/4000/PX04293.pdf

"Microsoft would like cooperative product testing, access to Novell’s SuperLab for Win95 testing", Novell Jan 1996

http://edge-op.org/iowa/www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/2000/PX02208.pdf

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Happy

@John Loy

I remember using XWin in Netware 5 so it was before NW 6.5, but totally agree with the usefulness of it. First job I did on a new server was to remove startx from the autoexec.ncf!

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Megaphone

Future isn't what it used to be

Best irony is that for Windows 8, Microsoft is dumping the Gui as a central component. The standard build will be Server core, and you will be able to install a Gui if you really need to.

For those of us old netware admins with a few miles on who used to shout "A Gui! who wants a Gui on a Server!?", can now start to smile smugly, although I will always remember the swapping of our netware boxes for MS with sadness and regret.

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Silver badge
Linux

So Sad

From what I could tell, it was MS's "good enough" networking which ate the profitable heart out of Novell's excellent networking business.

Once Novell were in a situation where people were buying MS licenses and getting MS file-serving by default they should have seen the writing on the wall and come up with something innovative. Free 5-user licenses would have been a start but while Netware was solid, the lack of memory protection meant that it was hard to put poorly written but critical software on netware. The netware client doubled the cost of client access to file-serving and the economics didn't make sense.

Novell should have used basic user auth, file & print as a loss-leader (free licenses but paid-support) for their other directory products. They should have concentrated on NDS as a tool for server configuration for existing novell servers and for *nix too. They could have had templates for standard items such as smtp/imap, nds, mysql, postgres servers, file and print servers, dhcp, dns and installation/repository servers.

They should have tried to beat MS on ease of use for server management, not just by being technically better. They were too focused on user licenses which MS was bundling with their client.

I had a myrealbox account until it was killed. 200,000+ users on a 4 host mail system with 50,000 active users. Now that is technical excellence. It was built better, but they didn't come.

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re: Novell and something innovative

@P.Lee: "Once Novell were in a situation where people were buying MS licenses and getting MS file-serving by default they should have seen the writing on the wall and come up with something innovative"

Begs the question as to why MS had to expend so much energy in slaughtering Novell ..

http://edge-op.org/iowa/www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/0000/PX00948.pdf

http://www.groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page=20041115070558892

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Happy

Still happily running 25 Netware 6.5 servers over here. We tried OES last year for Zen11, but will be sticking with Zen7 on 6.5 for our production environment for a bit longer.

6.5 virtualises beautifully on VMWare, as mentioned is rock solid, and I doubt we'll ever stop using it while I'm still here.

I would like to have a play with Directory Services to make the client logins more transparent. I think we'll wait for OES11.

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I wouldn't exactly call NetWare "stable"

It was OK-ish provided you used it for its built-in services and didn't fiddle with it too much. From my point of view though trying to develop third-party applications for it was not the easiest thing in the world thanks to the flat unprotected memory model - a userland fault could and regularly did abend the entire server. Oh and having to download updates for CLIB.NLM twice a day didn't help either.

That is really what finished NetWare, the fact that NT4 gave you file and print AND somewhere to run your applications. Novell brought Linux in too late.

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Perhaps numbering in binary: 11 binary -> 3 decimal

that is all

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