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Novell yields to Linux

Apr 21, 20032 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinux

* NetWare to run on two kernels: NetWare and Linux

Novell last week said at its annual users conference that the next version of its flagship NetWare operating system – the operating system, which practically started the client/server revolution – will run on two kernels: one based on the traditional NetWare code, and the other based on the Linux kernel.

Novell officials said they would continue to develop and support applications for NetWare, but added that an overall shift to Linux was in motion. Applications such as Novell’s GroupWise messaging platform and other software will run on Linux over the next 18 months. Tools such as Novell’s eDirectory and ZENworks products have already been ported to Linux.

Whether you call it an embracing of, or a submission to Linux and open source, the development is interesting. The company certainly has seen the writing on the wall. While many industry watchers have focused on how the Linux revolution would hurt traditional Unix and possibly threaten Microsoft in the server market, Novell quietly took the brunt of the damage in market.

While once the dominant network operating system as little as five years ago, over Windows NT and all the Unix flavors combined, NetWare now only has around 12% of the market for new shipments, according to IDC, behind leaders Windows and Linux. And while Linux has become a standard menu item for most major server vendors, demand for NetWare on servers is dwindling, and the NOS is not even offered on some new platforms, such as blade servers. 

Ultimately, the onslaught of Windows in the server market, and the emergence of Linux as the lower-cost, more stable alternative (a title Novell briefly held), were just too much for the company to handle.