Will Novell EVER get OES right?


So you can imagine I am a bit peeved, you might say slightly upset, or you could say, I am just saddened.

Quite a while back I gave OES-1 a spin and it was a awful mess, the tree wouldn't sync correctly, it would forget things we entered the day before, you could just say it was a problem, and you would be correct.

Nothing really worked like it should, it kinda worked but not like it was supposed to, not like Netware does, not even close.

So I put it away for quite a while and just let go and kept installing NW 6.5 spn and life was pretty good, and it still is, well with one little proviso... Pretty soon it is going to be abandoned, heaped onto to the trash mound, a great server OS that will be thrown away like yesterdays dead fish.

There was a glimmer of hope though, it was called Open Enterprise Server ( OES ). It was supposed to combine the best bits of Linux, with the best bits of Netware and we would have a world class Network OS again. I rejoiced in this knowledge and waited patiently for OES/2 to hit the streets...

So just today in fact, I decided, lets take another look and see whats cooking, this is my experience thus far.


Go looking for the OES 2 Installation kit. What fun that was! I go looking only to find that is SLES-10 SP1 and an ADD ON CD?!

Yes, folks, it is an add-on CD, something you glue to something else and what is the worst part about it is that if you miss the little box in the SLES install, you will never be asked for it, at all! Now, I am trying not to be particularly inflammatory here; however, if your AIM is to setup a server that sports the GREAT services that NetWare does, try and convince people to but that thing, dont you think it would be done just a bit differently?

Do you think they boys in engineering would have thought to themselves, "Self, if whomever is installing this wants to do NetWare with a Linux kernel, perhaps it would be good to emphasize the that? Like sticking the damn OES ADD ON cd in FIRST and have it guide the installer through setting up E-Directory, NCP, Printing, file storage, etc. etc. etc. AS it was installing SLES 10 for crying out loud!!!!!!

You might think that, *I* certainly think that, but the folks in engineering or my better bet, marketing apparently don;t think that. You know its one of those things that makes you go, Hmmmmmm...


Ok, I am calmer now, and I will lay out a very simple strategy to help you make this work.

1. Start by getting the install together, and it might go something like this.

- Welcome to OES 2! - Would you like to install the Linux ( default) or the Netware Kernel?

- We ran a quick hardware scan of your machine and we noticed you have 4 drives giving you n disk space. We know the linux kernel and assorted support files will need about x space. How would you like to divide things up? What you don't assign to the linux kernel will be assigned to NSS, ok ready go!

So, ok... So far so good, I swap cd's for a bit, have a late' or something and what things go flying by. Then all of the sudden, up it comes!

-Create a new tree or join an existing one?

And from there you so all the normal other things that one does either joining an existing tree or creating your own.

But of course it does not work like that in the least, its convoluted, its messy, it is not stream line, it is not quality, it is a headache.

And even after all of that, the final insult comes around. I get into iManager and I go straigt to storage, and what do you suppose I am greeted with?


What the **&%^%^@& *&@&*^8(*9898 *(@^%^&@&!!!!! is going on! One Server, One tree, One User, Fresh Install and it is broken out of the box?!

I was commenting in response to Dean Lythgo that all these blasted stacks, Tomcat, Apache, Java are fragile, if any tiny part of it breaks then things just get hosed. So I give it the obligatory look through the knowledge base and it starts talking about LDAP this, Tomcat that, certificates the other and god alone knows what else because I don't. I just shook my head and walked away

I have installed more NetWare servers then I care to remember, and yes I have had a few installs go south, but nothing like this. This my friends is called carelessness and thoughtlessness. You have the Linux heads saying, "What do you need NDS for? What do you need file servers for? peh! The rest of us that serve actual businesses with rank and file employee's, secretaries, accountants, clerks, receptionists know all to well what we need things like login scripts, mapped drives, network printers that you can control access to, resources that can be booked all know what you need those things for.

It is time for you Linux Lovers to get your focus where it belongs. You are th exception not the rule, you are the person who has spent their entire career doing things like "make config", "rpm -i blah" these people do not want to, I don't want to, I want to install a purpose designed server being it a LAMP stack or an NCP file and print server and have the install WORK and the server WORK after that.

And oh yeah, do you have the fix out yet that allows SLED or SLES to run Firefox 3.0 yet? Or does you average user have to go and fetch GK , compile and link it, AND get the other 4 or so bits of cruft that IT needs and build those too?

It is too bad that you guys have missed the boat on this, or have you just CEDED the file and print server business to Microsoft?


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Comment List
  • I must say I have to agree with the general spirit of most of the criticism of OES Linux as a "potential replacement " for Netware.
    There may be errors of knowledge and omission here and there but the gist of the critisims remain valid.
    Somewhat akin to the "Spirit of the Law vs the Letter of the Law"
    I have recently begun revisiting the Migration of an env hosted on Netware 6.5 to OES X (X = an integer).
    The more I dig into what is contained in this can of worms the uglier it looks.
    Of initial attempt at considering Netware to OES Linux was stalled by there being no filesystem audit for NSS when that filesystem type is hosted on Linux. (In hindsight this was a blessing in disguise)
    The transfer of Filesystem Attributes from Traditional Netware FS to NSS was one of the CORE reasons we retained use of Netware. (Hello !!! Just in case anyone at Novell is listening).
    For Novell to suggest OES Linux as a replacement for Netware and not have all the filesystem attributes benefits etc transfer from NSS on netware to Linux means "Your job is not done very well at all !!". The message becomes "Dear customer please relax your requirements OR switch to an NTFS Solution".
    As you work your way through the other services that Netware provided that worked very well you see more of the same - the so called equivalent Linux solution is somewhat half baked or requires relaxed requirements on your part.
    OPEN SLP is not the same as Netware SLP.
    OPEN SSL is not the same as Netware hosted SSL
    There are others as well.
    As these caveats and accomodations start adding up and long time Netware afficionados start to say Lets go to Windows, it's just easier than having to deal with all these exceptions and quirks.
    The issue here os one of ability to deliver or execute.
  • Quote - " Netware is/was slowly dying, Linux was the only chance."

    Every wonder why Netware is dying? I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count. Clue: It's not the Netware OS. That leaves...let me see...oh yes, M&M, Management and Marketing.

    If you are a lousy NASCAR driver, changing cars won't make any difference.
  • You have probably all seen this by now, but just in case you haven't here it is...

  • I would hate to see that happen, that pretty much makes me have to find a new career. I have been working with Novell products for the past 13 years and I see that Novell being sold to someone else as the end. Since if it would be Microsoft acquiring them that would be the end of OES/ SUSE, if Red Hat buys them again death for OES/SUSE , and if IBM buys them.... well lets just say that Novell being bought means I need to find another career. I was just starting to get a hang of OES/Linux and could see how maybe I was going to be moving up to the 64 bit version. Oh well have to see what next week holds.
  • blogs.barrons.com/.../

    "DiFucci noted that he held meetings with Novell CFO Dana Russell yesterday. He writes that Russell “entertained the possibility of breaking out some parts or of selling the entire company in order to maximize shareholder value given the current depressed valuation levels.” DiFucci writes that, while Russell also asserted that management is making progress in unlocking some of the value of the company, the discussion about a possible break-up or sale “could signal the company’s willingness to be acquired.”"

    Maybe OES won't matter much anymore.
  • The new Linux 2.6.30 kernel added more filesystem support, but NSS still sits out there on it's own. This could definitely use some improvement.
  • Novell has made some great strides with SLES 10 SP2/ OES 2 SP1b one thing they still need to improve upon is there interoperability between versions. You have to have a specific version of SLES to work with OES. Also there needs to be greater documentation for using SLES/OES in a XEN or VMWare environment. I am still working my way through this but I think that by mainly trail and error I was able to figure out some of the minor issues that were dogging me throughout, (mainly CD-ROM access). Also the maintenance of the server whether in an virtual or physical environment needs to be better understood. SLES 11 has made some even greater strides in ease of installation, USB functionality, and stability. I have SLES 11 running as my XEN host machine and I have a couple of SLES 10 servers running as guests and for now they have been very steady and access compares very well to a physical machine. The only issue I have with SLES 11 is trying to figure out the patching update engine, and why OES services are not able to run atop of it, still not understanding why Novell does not have the OES services ready at the time of the OS release. Other than that I have still had a great deal of growing pains, but I am hopefully getting those pains handled in a timely enough manner.
  • It's been some time since Flying Guy's initial rant.

    How has Novell addressed these issues? What could be improved?
  • Like many others I have had my shares of frustrations with working with SLES 10 SP1 (soon going to SP2) I have done a great number of installs with several versions of NetWare (I have been using NetWare for the past 13 years) however I understood the need to move onto Linux so as to keep up with the changes at Novell. It took awhile but I have finally learned how to use EVMS right from the start of the installation, there have been improvements with that function in SLES 10, and I have found that NSS volumes work very well for most products (except VMware, NSS volumes are not easily loaded by VMware), iPrint, has for the most part been steady, and has the file structures itself, I did have some unique issues with using the client to connect to a pure SLES environment as compared to having a mix of NW and SLES boxes. Put for the most part I have moved past those issues. I have been working with SLES for about three years now (started with SLES 8) and though there are still issues I am finding that an install and configuration can be accomplished quite quickly. I do agree that Novell needs to improve upon it's documentation and tightening up the integration of NW products to those that are running on SLES now. I would be happy to share my experiences with SLES 10 SP 1 if anyone needed further assistance.
  • But I digress....

    The value of NetWare is not the NetWare kernal, let us be clear on that. The value(s) of NetWare are:

    • NCP ( Netware Core Protocols). This set of protocols makes CIFS look like the POS that it is.

    • NetWare Utilities such as TCPCON, Monitor, FILTCFG, INETCFG, etc. go 1000% above the Linux utilties.

    • NSS is an actual Network File System, extremely fine grain control, exceptional performance and reliability. This needs to be merged into the kernel and made one of the choices for the native file system, just like Reiser, ext2,3 etc.

    No, it is not slowly dying, it is slowly be killed, lets be clear on that. Sadly, what they have replaced it with, while possibly adequate, is by no means as reliable, elegant, trustworthy or agile as NetWare IS!

    Yes, I did mean to end that sentence with a preposition!