• United States

Mailbag: Why one reader is still using an older NetWare version

Aug 17, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Older NetWare is still adequate for some users

Talking about upgrades, forced upgrades, old versions of network software and why we still run them is a frequent topic of this and the Windows Networking newsletter, which I also write for Network World. The three major reasons for keeping the old network operating systems from going are money, application support, and comfort level.

People don’t have the budget to upgrade. People have to support older applications and services that don’t run on the new NOS versions. And people have finally gotten the older systems to run the way they want, with a minimum of downtime and a good feeling of security.

When I asked recently for you to share stories of older systems still running (and no one was able to point out a NetWare 2.15 server still in production, although there were a few Version 2.2 servers still operating) I got one response that did start me thinking. What this network manager said (and I won’t reveal the person’s name since they work for a public agency) was:

“I still have one 3.12 server, which runs my whole 55-node network. I’m in the process of updating to NetWare 5.1. My reasons are:

“1) Solves the memory leak problem found on some NLMs with 3.x.

“2) I just like NWAdmin – nothing wrong with Syscon or Pconsole, but I like that I can do it one place, and that I can also add my own custom info if I want.

“3) Other vendors don’t support 3.12 anymore (Symantec, Arcserve, etc.).

“Yes, I still have IPX on the wires. Also, I still have a couple of DOS machines that are still working and doing a fine job. What we really need is a NOS that does it all, is stable, fast and runs on a Pentium 133 with 64M bytes of RAM. (Just kidding, and yes, I know Linux will just about do that.)”

Ideally, then, this user would like to keep 3.12, but have the memory leak issues fixed, have NWAdmin rewritten to support it and have third-party vendors continue to run their applications on it. If Novell did No.’s 1 and 2, then the third-party vendors would probably do No. 3. But could this be cost-effective for Novell or any other operating system company?

Well, Novell’s current Linux business model calls for not really selling the operating system, but for selling the support, improvements and add-ons to it. That model could be adapted to NetWare, also, couldn’t it? Heck, that could start a trend. Maybe even Microsoft would decide that fixing and improving existing operating systems was a better policy that rushing to get you to upgrade to a new one. It’s nice to dream, isn’t it?