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Farewell to the AppNotes of old

Nov 04, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Novell 'restructures' the beloved "AppNotes" publication

I’ve been really nice to Novell the last couple of issues, haven’t I? But you know that couldn’t last and that the aging networking giant would soon do something to draw my criticism. And it has.

Since June 1990, Novell has published “AppNotes” (previously called “NetWare Application Notes”), a monthly periodical detailing the intricacies of Novell products, along with tips, tricks, oddities, jokes, contests and more. You can read many AppNotes articles online ( and get Novell information elsewhere (such as this very newsletter).

Some 13 years ago, when there was little data available on the Internet, I devoured each issue of AppNotes as soon as it arrived. Soon after, Novell brought out a second publication called “Developer Notes” aimed at developers of network-enabled software. A few years ago, in what looks in hindsight like a poorly thought out cost-cutting measure, DevNotes was folded into AppNotes.

The first article in that first issue was “286-based NetWare v2.1x File Service Processes The Final Word,” by Jason Lamb. It was the hottest NetWare topic of the time, because servers were crashing right and left due to a lack of usable RAM caused by the huge increase in disk drive sizes that was occurring (that year I bought my first one gigabyte drive, because the price had finally dropped to below $2,000).

Over the years, I’d come to know the people at AppNotes very well, especially Publisher Warren Harding, Editor-in-Chief Gamal Hebron, Managing Editor Ken Neff and Senior Editor Ed Liebing. All are now gone. Most were just recently laid off in another one of those “ordered from Waltham” cost-cutting measures.

Indeed, it’s strongly rumored that Novell wanted to simply kill off the publication but major customers (and lots of developers) were quite vociferous in their support so the publication will continue. What won’t continue, though, are the great people who have been associated with its production and publication over the years. Instead, the plan appears to be to re-publish articles from the Novell “Cool Solutions” Web sites (, which are generally unpaid user contributed content.

Now there’s nothing wrong, in my mind, with the Cool Solutions communities. Two years ago, when another ill-conceived cost-cutting move imperiled this at-times disorganized mix of articles, software, Q&A and neat graphics, I urged you all to let Novell know it was worth keeping around (see “Keep cool” Novell listened. But a Cool Solutions tip is very far removed from the insider insights that AppNotes has been known for.

It’s too late now to save the AppNotes many folks had come to rely on. All that’s left to do is to shed a tear, raise a toast, reminisce about “better days” and warily hope for the future.