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Novell Delays Linux Services for NetWare, Plans Products Using Ximian Code

Sep 18, 2003, 20:00 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jacqueline Emigh)

By Jacqueline Emigh
Linux Today Writer

Novell is delaying shipment of its much anticipated Linux services for NetWare product until the end of this year, due to a decision to integrate software code from Ximian, a recently acquired ISV that is very active in the Linux space.

Ximian code will show up in other future Novell products, too, including a Linux-based interface for Novell's GroupWise, and even possibly a desktop GUI from Novell.

The delayed product, known as Novell Nterprise Linux Services, represents the first step in a plan, unveiled at Novell's BrainShare show last spring, to make the entire NetWare protocol stack available on Linux as well as NetWare. Ultimately, in the forthcoming NetWare 7.0 operating environment, Novell expects to accomplish a port of the Linux kernel to NetWare.

Novell first eyed commercial release of Nterprise Linux Services for November. Now, though, shipment will be pushed back a month or more, so that Novell can integrate distribution and management code from Ximian's Red Carpet software, said Tracy Thayne, Director of Solutions Marketing at Novell, in an interview this week at PCExpo/TechXNY in New York City.

The first version of Nterprise Linux Services is currently in closed beta with some of Novell's customers. An open beta is now slated to start in November. At this point, Novell's product looks likely to include the following: Directory Services; iPrint Services, for printing; iFolder Services, for personal File Management; Integrated Messaging and Calendaring; System Management; and a browser-based "Web Experience" component.

On the Directory Services side, Novell is building DirXML connectors to NetWare Directory Services (NDS). For calendaring, the company will integrate iCal-based calendaring features previously added to NetMail. NetMail, a messaging environment from Novell that is already available for Linux, is lighter but less feature-rich than GroupWise. Virtual Office will be used for messaging and chat.

Thayne said Novell is gearing the new suite mainly to existing NetWare customers, to make it easy for them to work with existing NetWare services on the Linux platform. "Generally, only a very few NetWare shops have used Linux," he acknowledged.

The user interface for the Linux product is almost identical to Novell's NetWare Services, noted a Novell trainer, Ed Schlictenmyer of Cal Data Systems Inc. Also at PC Expo/TechXNY, the trainer led a hands-on workshop using a pre-beta build of Nterprise Linux Services.

"It's mostly the same GUI (graphical user interface) as in Nterprise NetWare Services. There is some command line stuff in the Linux version, but no more than in the NetWare version," Schlictenmyer said, in another interview.

Still, though, Novell seems to targeting the Linux suite at long-time Linux users, too. According to Thayne, Novell's main reason for integrating the Ximian code is to provide Linux customers with distribution mechanisms already familiar to them.

"Linux people understand RPM (packages). So we've pulled all of that from Red Carpet," Thayne said.

Novell doesn't have a projected release date yet for NetWare 7.0. "We just released NetWare 6.5 two weeks ago," he said. "However, we'll probably do several more releases of Nterprise Linux Services, before shipping NetWare 7.0."

Thayne also maintained that major hardware makers IBM, Dell and Hewlett-Packard are taking a serious look at bundling Novell's services for Linux with their hardware.

For further down the road, Novell is now working on several other products that will include Ximian code. The next initiative of this kind will provide a connector between GroupWise and Evolution, Ximian's Linux-based, Microsoft Outlook-like messaging front end, according to Thayne.

Novell, he said, will also try to"deliver on some of the experience and expertise" that Ximian developed while working on two open source projects: Gnome, an effort to build a GUI desktop for Linux, and Mono, a project for enabling Microsoft .NET applications to run on Linux.

"(A GUI desktop for Linux) might not happen right away, or it might not happen at all. But we think it's really important," Thayne added. "Hopefully, we'll (also) be able to get .NET applications to run on Linux."

Judging from reactions at PC Expo, existing NetWare and Linux customers continue to be pleased that Novell is porting the NetWare stack to Linux.

"I can tell you this much. Anything produced by Novell will be well engineered and very scalable," contended show attendee Daniel O'Brien, a Novell CNE (Certified NetWare Engineer) who heads up IT services at a New Jersey law firm called Greenbaum, Rowe Smith.

Greenbaum, Rowe Smith isn't running any Linux applications yet, according to O'Brien. The installation at the law firm is a mix of NetWare and Windows 2000 Professional.

"More power to Novell," said Sean Rogers, an independent IT consultant who runs a company known as The Netamedic in Mississippi.

"Now that there's another big name behind Linux, we ought to start seeing more applications for Linux. Eventually, instead of needing to know three major operating environments--Windows, Linux and NetWare--IT people will only have to know two environments," Rogers predicted.

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