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Novell does Linux again

Jul 03, 20034 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Some NetWare services have been available on Linux for some time

Novell last week announced that it would – sometime later this year – ship Novell Nterprise Linux Services – integrated file, print, messaging, directory and management running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server. Beta testing should start in the next week or two.

Predictably, the usual Linux-user haunts and rags were filled with joy at this news, which appeared to confirm Linux’s unfettered juggernaut as it moves to replace Windows in the business community. Even competitors of Red Hat and SuSE were wild in their approval of this move.

TurboLinux president and COO Koichi Yano was quoted in Novell’s press release as saying: “Novell’s strategic direction and its Nterprise Linux Services will help feed that demand and provide customers with proven solutions from a proven vendor.” Wonder if he realizes the “demand” will be to scrap TurboLinux and install Red Hat?

So what’s in this package? Initially you’ll get identity services via Novell eDirectory and DirXML, file services via Novell iFolder, printing services via iPrint, messaging services via NetMail, management services via ZENworks for Servers, and a Virtual Office for end-user access and productivity via exteNd Director Standard Edition. In addition, Novell iManager provides a browser-based, single point of administration for Nterprise Linux Services. Sounds exciting?

Here’s the real news – most of these services are already available on Linux! Those that aren’t shipping for the Linux platform today (such as ZENworks for Servers) were identified on Novell’s product roadmaps more than a year ago. The only thing “new” here is the packaging. Well, that and the rest of the marketing efforts.

Dell, IBM and HP have agreed to offer the Linux management bundle to their customers who are buying pre-installed Linux boxes. But if you want to run eDirectory, DirXML, iFolder, iPrint and NetMail on your Red Hat host today – you can do that.

Evidently, the whole Linux/Unix area is somewhat confusing to Novell CEO Jack Messman, who called Novell Nterprise Linux Services, “a natural extension of our proven cross-platform strategy.” (It’s nothing new, Jack!)

Referring to the support announced by HP, Dell and IBM, Messman is quoted as saying “…the support of the major hardware players ensures customers will be able to obtain and run these proven Novell network services on the operating system and hardware platform of their choice.” (Or any other hardware platform that runs the supported operating systems, Jack!)

Of course, Messman was also confused as to what, exactly Novell sold to SCO when it divested itself of Unix some years ago. And he did call Linux that “immature operating system” just a couple of months ago. But I’m sure he can be re-trained before this non-product actually ships later this year.

By the way, if most of these services are already available, exactly what will the beta testers be testing – the installation program? On second thought, that might not be such a bad thing. See the newsletter “Novell offers a way out of ‘DLL hell'” ( from two weeks ago.

The really interesting thing in this press release, though, is the reassurance given to NetWare diehards:

“Novell will continue to develop and enhance NetWare – a premier platform for delivering advanced network services for business – as its impending delivery of NetWare 6.5 illustrates. NetWare 6.5 includes business continuity, open source, Web application development and virtual office features, all of which will also be available and supported on the Linux kernel in the future. NetWare 6.5 and Nterprise Linux Services provide parallel paths for NetWare and Linux users until they meet at NetWare 7, when the complete Novell services set will run on both the NetWare and Linux kernels.”

Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.