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Network World - Even though all of Novell's network services will not be ported to Linux until late this year, in our testing of the just-released NetWare 6.5, we found that Novell's preliminary open source add-ons are well integrated, complemented by Novell's mature eDirectory services and managed comprehensively by NetWare iManager 2.0.
NetWare 6.5 is driven heavily by Web interfaces, its improved Virtual Office application (see related story), and ties between eDirectory and the open source pieces - Apache, MySQL, and Perl/PHP (AMP) - that ship with it. Also included in the NetWare 6.5 development platforms are TomCat, Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition, Novell's Extend application server platform (from Novell's acquisition of SilverStream) and its DirXML (parser and API set). These pieces comprise Novell's efforts to make NetWare a better environment for building and running Web-based applications.
We installed NetWare 6.5 with various options on a number of servers, ranging from a Gateway 1U to Compaq DL360 and DL580 multi-CPU servers (see How we did it). The installation options mime functionality found in most server platforms, such as DNS, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and certificate management.
Novell's hardware discovery processes worked well across all platforms tested. However, NetWare doesn't try to make any guesses as to the lab's network address infrastructure, unlike Windows 2003 and a number of Linux versions, both of which occasionally misidentified network routers, and other services.
Instead of managing each device (hard disk, tape drive, CD/DVD and so on) separately, NetWare can aggregate storage devices and areas into objects called pools. We created both server-localized (local hard disk) pools, but also pools of storage across the lab's storage-area network (SAN) using various file systems and disk/volume combinations. Although NetWare uses its own filing system for its system storage area, it can mount a variety of filing systems, including the Common Internet File System that we created in the SAN. Apple File System support is also available, and we found no difficulty either deploying or accessing any of the filing systems tested.
NetWare 6.5 doesn't provide a firewall or IP Security VPN services, but network address translation and port blocking are provided. From a value standpoint, this compares less favorably to XServe OS/X and Linux, which contain a slightly stronger firewall and a variety of VPN methods, and somewhat favorably with Win 2003, which contains nominal firewalling and comparatively strong VPN services.
Client logon capability can use many methods from simple password to complex password to certificate-based in combination with biometrics/SmartCard authentication techniques. We used the X.509 certificates with little setup time, but found the process adds about 10 seconds to any logon.
User and group security is strong in NetWare 6.5 because of the highly articulate controls within iManager 2.0, a Web-based central console for almost all NetWare services. While eDirectory ties resources in ways that can establish and authenticate identity, the iManager aggregates the functionality of users, groups, devices and directory contexts well.