We had originally thought that NetWare 6.5 would ship by June but the schedule was later changed to a possible July date. But now it's official; Novell will ship the new version of its NOS on Aug. 15, with orders being accepted beginning Aug. 1.The two-month delay appears to have been caused by fixes to problems that were reported with the late beta versions, as well as to accommodate services that were also late developing such as Novell Nsure Audit. (I mentioned Nsure Audit earlier this month and I'll be sure to talk about it again in the next issue.)For today, though, let's celebrate what really looks to be the best version of NetWare in a very long time. In particular, Novell has leveraged its new-found admiration for open source software by providing the best array of server-based applications we've ever seen in the venerable NOS.Ever since the days of Windows NT 3.5, the major complaint about NetWare was the lack of server-based applications such as Microsoft's Exchange, SQLServer, Internet Information Server and much more. Novell's GroupWise has always trailed Exchange and IBM's Lotus in the groupware category but the newer, Internet-technology based NetMail has been making some in-roads.Novell has also flirted with Oracle and Sybase over the years in hopes of providing server and SQL-based database services. Pervasive Software's Pervasive SQL (formerly SQL 2000, formerly NetWare SQL and, before that, Btrieve) has been included with NetWare in one form or another for many years. But Pervasive SQL has never attracted the independent developers the way Btrieve did. With NetWare 6.5, the open-source databases MySQL and PostgreSQL are included in the shipping package - with hundreds of real, proven applications already available.Novell has actually shipped more versions of Web servers than NOSes over the past few years it seems, beginning with the Novell Web Server included with NetWare 4.1. This was followed by the NetScape Enterprise Server (NES), the Novonyx Web server and variations on those themes until NetWare 6 which brought us the Apache Web server, the leading open source server in terms of installation numbers.Couple these open source products with Novell's exteNd Application Server, which comes free with NetWare 6.5, and NetWare's always top-of-the-line file handling and you've got the makings of a Web server that's world class. An enterprising reseller could easily integrate this into an otherwise all-Windows network as a secure, robust scalable Web services engine.NetWare 6.5 is something all of you need to consider and most of you need to upgrade to. It's that good.