Don't forget X
Its not only NDS which b0rk the Netware experience I think, it's also the somewhat flakey way it operated.
Netware 4 finally allowed you to manage your users from the server console, instead of the 3.11 way of demanding that the server would only be able to manage the server, and as soon as you needed to manage the user accounts you just had to find a client and logon.
I always considered that a major flaw; even more so when a friend and me tried to gain 'super' rights on a school network and his "super" program tried to logon as super approximately 4000 times with a wrong password. Effectively locking out an enraged administrator who didn't have a backup account and could now no longer logon for the following 48 hours.
But the thing is, if memory serves me right you needed X to do it. Netware had embraced X on the server, something which immediately struck me as odd because wasn't that Linux terrain? So if Novell deemed X usage worthy, then surely there had to be much more to that Linux stuff then we realized so far...
I think that also opened up a lot of eyes. Because although many people knew what Linux could be capable of at that time, it wasn't exactly as popular as it is now. And here you had a major network company actually using "Linux components".