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NetWare adds open source

Oct 21, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* The Reviewmeister got his hands on NetWare 6.5 and shares his findings

The Reviewmeister got his hands on the just-released NetWare 6.5 and 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 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.

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 Windows 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.

By adding AMP, Novell has linked its foundation of mature eDirectory services to one of the most popular open source Web applications engines. This combination has a large number of followers in the open source community, and we found that maintenance of the AMP applications (such as recompiling them) is no more difficult than it is on Linux or Berkeley Software Distribution. We ported several scripts from Linux/Apache and ran them with no difficulty after adjusting the scripts for the differences in file locations. There’s even a server X console to make Unix/Linux/BSD programmers and administrators feel at home.

The AMP combo, often found on Linux applications servers where it’s known as LAMP, has huge popularity with Web and applications developers and a large base of readily available open source code. We were disappointed to find some beta products in the mix, even though the products were at the current release.

NetWare 6.5 is a stepping stone to NetWare on Linux. While the grafted open source applications might not be quite as speedy as we’d like, the combination is powerful.

In some ways, the basic infrastructure to NetWare hasn’t changed in 20 years, but the direction toward NetWare as an open source platform is happening quickly and, in our opinion, successfully.

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