Would there ever be an open source NetWare?

* Would Novell spin off an open source version of NetWare?

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Back in 2000, the Timpanogas Research Group announced grandiose plans to release open source versions of Novell Directory Services and, yes, NetWare. The company made up of ex-Novell execs claimed it had released what was called the Metropolitan-Area Network Operating System, but it never saw the light of day.

At the time I quibbled that MANOS could hardly be called a NetWare clone because it didn’t run NetWare Loadable Modules (NLM). And that was a quibble, since there never was a product. It’s likely the announcements from TRG were simply a reaction to Novell successfully suing TRG execs Jeff Merkey, Darren Major and Larry Angus for misuse of Novell’s proprietary information in their plans to release a clustering product (“Wolf Mountain”) for NetWare.

But couldn’t Novell spin off an open source version of NetWare? After all, there’s OpenSuSE, and open source versions of iFolder and NetMail – why not NetWare?

Sadly, it’s almost certain never to happen. While it would be fairly easy for Novell to spin off the NetWare kernel and possibly even the NetWare Core Protocol (the communications protocol from server to client and back), the heart and soul of NetWare are the utilities and services that ride on top of the kernel. And most of those are alive and well – and being sold for profit – in Open Enterprise Server. Many have been successfully migrated to SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). Whatever revenue Novell has these days is coming from those operating systems and their services. So there seems little likelihood that Novell would ever release them for others to develop and maintain.

So if Novell won’t continue to improve NetWare nor open source it, and if no one else can create a NetWare clone – what’s a NetWare lover to do?

I’ve got some ideas, but I’d also like to hear yours. But please send them in quick – there are only a few issues left!

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