The truth about the NetWare client for Linux

For the past couple of weeks in the "NetWare Tips" newsletter, I've been talking about the soon-to-be-available (or maybe not) NetWare client for Linux (a summary). This is something that fans of NetWare and Linux have been kvetching about for at least the past half-dozen years.

There have been ways to mount NetWare volumes on Linux (and vice versa). An eDirectory for Linux has been available. There have been redirectors for the NetWare Core Protocol (NCP), which provide "translation" services from Linux calls to NetWare equivalents (some of them at least) similar to what was available for early (such as Windows 95) Windows operating systems. But there hasn't been a full-blown Linux client in the same way that there's a Windows client - and used to be DOS, OS/2 and Macintosh clients.

I finally was able to track down the guys at Novell who are responsible for providing a Linux client and spoke to them last week. Hugo Parra, Novell's Open Enterprise Server (OES) product manager, and Charlie Ungashick, director of product marketing for server operating systems, spent some time on the phone with me to try to sort out the facts from the FUD.

The bottom line is that there will be a true NetWare client for Linux (but it will be called the "Novell" client for Linux) early next year. This will be the functional equivalent of the standard "Client32" implementation for Windows desktops. This will include (among other stuff): background authentication, logon script support, an iPrint client, an iFolder client, Linux printer drivers and full NCP support.

I might not have made this clear before, but there also will be full support for the Windows clients when using the Linux host version of the upcoming OES. So whether or not your users are operating Windows or Linux desktops and whether or not they're connecting to NetWare- or Linux-based OES servers, they'll have similar, equivalent experiences.

Novell is trying really hard to make this as smooth a transition as possible. The only drawback is that the Linux client won't ship with OES in February, but will be available within 90 days of that first shipment. I'd rather they got it right than got it early.

Tip of the week

Wired Windows will be back after the holidays with a look into networking’s crystal ball as well as the eighth annual Networking MVP award. 2005 promises to be another exciting year for those who keep the servers and clients humming so celebrate (responsibly) then come back ready to learn. See you next year!

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