back to article Farewell, Novell

The sale of former local-area networking powerhouse Novell to Attachmate has been completed. The $2.2bn sale was first announced in November, and it ends the independent life of a once-dominant network operating system vendor. In later years, its original market snuffed out by Microsoft, the company had become the home of the …


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  1. Anteaus
    Thumb Down

    Novell priced themselves out

    Having been originally trained as a Netware installer, I recall that platform with something of a grimace.

    Basically, Novell had a good product for its time but priced themselves out of the market by way of punitive licensing arrangements. In one case we had to pay over £2000 to add two users to a system, because they refused to sell us two licenses and instead demanded that we buy a (one-point) version upgrade for the whole site.

    It was after this experience we switched to NT.

    Later they switched to Linux, but by that time we were using Microsoft or Debian and weren't interested.

    1. Daniel B.


      Novell was very, very pricey back in the early IPX days. Before the NT days, Novell was probably the only LAN option for PC networks running MS-DOS. Novell took advantage of this and had extortionate pricing for their licenses.

      So naturally, Microsoft release Windows NT with cheap licensing, and everyone moved to NT. By the time Novell reacted, it was too late.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Alas, Netware, I knew thee well, even though the Windows client was crap. Bailed out of network support before MS took over and screwed everything up.

  3. Alan Bourke
    Dead Vulture

    Whine Microsoft moan whine ...

    ... when clearly Novell was far more the author of its own demise. Ropey Windows client support and cavalier disregard for the locking needs of legacy applications, I'm looking at you.

  4. Jon 33

    Tis a shame

    Think there should be a wake for good old Novell...

    I suppose having CNE on the CV in years to come will be a talking point, but maybe not for some of the newer members to IT.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    I wonder how much Netware specific code exists

    As in "Netware Loadable Modules" running apps on the Server.

    It's all about the API.

    IIRC Novell said they were preserving the API's but the underlying sofware was shifting to Linux.

    So dead or simply evolving?

    Always had a soft spot for them against MS. I like to think of them as the Utah Saints.

    1. Jolyon

      Upvoted because of

      Something Good.

  6. MJI Silver badge

    RIP Novell

    Was much better than Windows NT - they had a cheek to call it a server.

    Nothing but good memories of it here.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Who could forget that it was Novell that gave us Randy Bender

    One of Novell's best consultants out there I remember, with much mirth (well if you are on the right side of the pond anyway!), was the unfortunately named Randy Bender.

    I wonder what he is doing now?

    1. Monkey Bob

      Where's Randy?

      You could always google his name you know.

      Heh heh heh...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where's Randy?

        Why not do an image search to see how he's looking these days, too?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Good products, crap marketing and old world business model

    Farewell Novell, you made me a lot of money over the years but as one Novell CEO said:

    If you asked our marketing department to sell sushi they would advertise it as cold dead fish!""

    They tried selling SUSE desktop to one firm I worked for at 200 pounds a seat

    Shame, great products let down by bad sales and marketing

    1. CABVolunteer

      Wrong! It was a description of H-P's sales team

      I heard this first applied to H-P sales in the late seventies (ie well before Novell really made an impact). I thought this description exactly matched my experience of H-P, because it was the philosophy of Messrs Packard and Hewlett. Ahh, if only H-P could be trusted now as they were then......

      PS: Actually, we both could be right - it might have been a quote from Bob Frankenburg, ex-HP, before he took over at Novell.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Not Wrong

        This was definitely from an interview with Novell's CEO (Might have been Frankenburg) in an interview specifically about Novell (I had 4 CNE's for Netware so may have been one of their mails or mag's they used to spam me with lots of stuff), looks like whoever it was, was just recycling analogies.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    A sad day...

    As has already been mentioned, it was largely their own doing:

    - fabulous directory and file/print services, but poor application integration (which is where Windows and AD killed it).

    - Too expensive.

    - Poor client software

    - The company didn't adapt, and when it did, it was too little, too late.

    Sadly, there are certain parallels nowadays with VMware - vSphere blows the socks off Hyper-V, but it's hard to justify the expenditure.

    So raise a pint to another relic of a more civlised age.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I raise my glass at you, sir

      and add two more :

      - total immunity to viruses - you couldn't mount the partition holding OS files even if your whole life depended on that

      - nightmarish backups - those damn failures with SCSI Code Sense something hitting randomly but quite often.

  10. Sammy Smalls

    Ah the joy of ODI.

    Netx, LSL and the like. Scrabbling around for a floppy with the right drivers. Happy days.

    We used to see how long we could leave servers running, - even putting off upgrades - just because we could. I think the highest we got to was about 1 1/2 years, but there were plenty of reports of people getting to 4 years plus, and even one where they 'lost' the server because a wall had been built around the it and noone had noticed.

    It hads its quirks, but give it its due - Netware had stability that it had no right to when you consider the hardware it ran on.

    1. Tony S

      Oh yes

      We had a Novell server (4.2) running for 17 months without a re-boot. A crappy old pentium II 200MHz with 32 Mb RAM. Left in the corner of an office, the MD used to put his breakfast plate on it to keep his bacon, eggs, sausage and beans warm whilst he was on the phone.

      The only reason that I re-booted it, was that I finally managed to persuade him that we needed a proper server room, so I had to move the device to allow them to put up a partition wall. I could have left it, but the guys doing the work were a bit heavy handed and I didn't trust them.

      Happy days. I'll offer a glass in their memory

    2. chr0m4t1c


      Went to install a new server for one customer and they had a NetWare 3 server that had been up for almost 7 years.

      It was a bit of an esoteric OS, but it was seriously robust.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Few years ago

      I found a Netware 3.11 server that had been up for 6 years. Was only serving one old dot-matrix printer and some accounts software but nevertheless.

    4. MJI Silver badge
      Dead Vulture

      Told off a customers IT support once.

      <----- Really for Novell

      Went on line to check ADS users, noticed up time of 560 days. (NW 5.1)

      Went on to update ADS a month or so later and they had rebooted it for patches.

      I was so upset (in a nice way).

      Another customer (sadly gone) used to only switch off over Christmas and take server home. (NW4.2 I think).

      I think one NW6 now left in the wild.

      The simple data server engine we use has gone from a Netware only NLM to multi platform with Windows and Linux.

      (Now do you know what ADS really is?)

  11. Just a geek

    Good Old Days

    I started out doing netware 3.1 support. I thought the system was great but then I never got involved with licensing so just had the technical side to deal with. Syscon, vrepair, pconsole... those were the tools of choice back then.

    It's a real shame to see Novell go this way. They had so much potential which just got sidetracked somehow. They seemed to have a knack for releasing good, solid products that had terrible user interfaces. Zenworks for example....

    A shame but not a surprise.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Times change

    To those suggesting Window Server is not a proper server, yeah, well guess what? It is a proper server, get over it. The world does not operate on ideals; the modern world operates with "just in time" and "fit for purpose" solutions. Perfection and near perfection are not necessary.

    1. NogginTheNog

      Not quite

      The actual statement was that Windows *NT* wasn't a real server. Windows server OSes have come quite a way since then.

      I think Microsoft's genius (and fatal failing in some ways) was to put the same OS on both the client and the server, with just tweaks for optimisation. That opened up the server platform to EVERYTHING the desktops ran, massively increasing the size of the compatible app pool with little extra work. But it also made their servers subject to the same vulnerabilities and coding compromises as every other Windows box, from the netbook to the datacentre.

    2. Pirate Dave Silver badge


      please don't piss on our wake. Some of us remember Novell's Netware fondly, and are reminiscing over the demise of the company, and the loss of a solid Network Operating System that kept many of our kids fed. Sure, we're going to bash Microsoft because, well, it's Microsoft. So please take your evanescent pro-MS bleatings into another thread and leave us to our mourning, OK? Someday it will be your turn to sit around in a forum and mourn the death of Microsoft, and you'll have scant patience for some turnip who comes in and brashly defends whatever it was that killed Microsoft.

      1. NogginTheNog


        Sorry, maybe I should've added at the end: I'm also sad to see the end of the company that once ruled the PC LAN; I only ever used NW3.x a few times but was impressed by what I saw at the time, and of course know of it's legend well.

        And I'm definitely NOT pro-MS! Certainly not the mid-90s one at any rate - a monopoly helps no-one... I was just stating an opinion on where things may have gone right, and wrong... :-(

        Beer, to the memory of another great name now just part of the history of the IT industry.

        1. Pirate Dave Silver badge


          beer is needed. Sorry to have jumped you.

  13. Rovindi


    Do you remeber when Netware was a networking client that shipped (5.25´ disc) with Microdyne(?) 10 base-T network card? My memory is about cloudy on the detail, but think it was some kind of peer to peer doofer, but did the job efficiently. Less tears than IBM´s Token Ring (shudder)...

    Or running Compsurf on 200Mb drive on Netware 2.x - could take 20 hours to do its biz....

    Aaah, the joys of Netware. Still, as many here have said, it was, if done right, a proper "fire and forget" server install.

    RIP Novell

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Why all the RIP Novell comments?

    About blimmin' time they got bought out, chopped the dead wood and paid off dinosaurs that have been waiting for their redundancy packages for decades.

    With a lot of the excess chucked overboard, a split and a focus on the best of their bloated product list, they've got the brightest outlook ahead of them they've had for 20 years.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      No, sir!

      I like your positive thinking but they weren't being bought for that purpose.

  15. Sixtysix

    End of an error^h^h^ha

    Time to bail - taking my org out to MS as I type.

    Stupid support costs soured, sale killed.

    Bye bye, last to the lifeboats please turn out the lights

  16. Pinkerton

    What did I miss?

    Has Novell been wound up?

    I've double-checked the press releases and it looks like Novell is going to be run as its own business unit, alongside Attachmate's other existing business units and a separated-out SUSE.

    You'd never know it judging by the 'Novell is already dead, buried and its grave pissed-on' reports, though, would you?

    1. MJI Silver badge

      It sounded like it

      And a lot of us techies remember it well.

      Sad to see all of our customers move to Windows as their NW servers get old.

  17. Anonymous Coward


    and who could forget Groupwise, or Griefwise as we called it

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Had the best Jollies

    I came to my current role and we were running 3.12 but just about to go to 4.1, which only lasted about 2 years until we went over to AD with win2000. As has been said good file and print but client support was awful! Trying to get Netware running well with NT4 clients was a right pain, and the clients kept getting bigger and slow with every release.

    But they did have the best jollies, Brainshare at Salford Uni was a week long jolly, seminars in the day and piss ups at night even hiring out the bowling ally at Salford quays for a night with FREE everything! Even managed to trap off with a bird I had fancied for ages on the last night of Brainshare 1999, happy days. And Randy Bender was in attendance.

  19. HooHah!


    That's Provo, Utah, not Provost, Utah. Makes me wonder what else is wrong in the story.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Erratum

      > That's Provo, Utah, not Provost, Utah. Makes me wonder what else is wrong in the story.

      Provo was named for Provost

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

        As in Jet provost?

    2. asdf

      good ole Provo

      Not that far from where SCO was headquartered at the end (Linden or whatever). With SLC filling with nonbelievers Provo seems to be more and more important to the LDS (Mormons). The whole area is famous for scams and fly by night get rich quick companies. Not to mention the nasty commute from SLC on the weekends when BYU plays. Not sure why they would setup in this area again.

  20. Sean Kennedy

    Less a wake, more a party

    Novell had an awesome product 15 years ago, I won't argue that. Best thing out there at the time.

    Sadly, not much changed for them in 15 years, where as the rest of the world progessed. Having been forced to work with Novell extensively over the years, I can really only say one thing about this;

    Rot in Hell novell. Your tech was crap, and I was tired of being forced to work with it.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Provost, Utah?

    Surely you mean Provo - most famous for Polygamy Porter (why stop at just one?) and being the home of Brigham Young University.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's doing well

    I know where he's working and he's doing well. Every time I say his name I laugh, and then I have to explain to my colleagues what it means. The only other IT person with a name that comes close is a Nobby Jelly that I happened upon in Lytham St Annes many years ago.

  23. nova5

    Back in the day

    I helped run a famous name FMCG on over 100 Netware servers, even tested BETA code for Novell.

    Great engineering if you had to get stuff to work on time and without fault, I remember my time working on it with fondness,,,,,I only ever had the same feeling about VMS (showing my age here).

    To the guys that desiged Netware back in the day, you did a great job and I hope your working on something interesting now, coz you we're a class act - whatever anyone says!


  24. Alan Bourke

    Then there was Personal NetWare of course ...

    ... the number of lives irrevocably damaged ...

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Novell's GroupStupid

    Novell's GroupWise is in the Top 5 of my Worst-Ever Applications that I've been forced to use.

    It's a well-deserved death; I really hope that it was painful.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Oh well

    Not sure if I still have the Novell 286 book up in the loft, doubt it. We still use Zen to deploy applications, I work at a University and you can guess the different number apps we have. Oh well SCCM here we come !

  27. Handle this!

    Does anyone remember...

    pacwars? - A fantastic early network game that ran on Netware 386?

  28. Ian Cumbers
    Dead Vulture

    Beware - Netware ruins relationships....

    Come on - am I the oldest CNE on there? Remember the v2.12/2.15 installs via floppies, with a setup program that would compile the kernel, based on the detected hardware, at install time??? 25 disks??

    I remember the NLM API was the final nail in the coffin of my relationship at the time. We'd gone on holiday together and she threw a fit when she realised that she'd been lugging the huge/heavy NW3 NLM API in her bag. She threw the manual away shortly after, and we then split up. I still miss the manual.

    1. Bob Foster

      Nope not the only grey beard!

      My first Netware system was running Advanced Netware 86 on an original IBM ATX with two IBM PC's (twin floppy) as workstations.

      To be fair the IT department had told my department it was obsolete before they bought it (1987) but they went ahead anyway, I remember one of my first tasks was getting an upgrade to Netware 286, and a Compaq server with duplexed hard drives (might have been 386 processor, cant remember now but I was really in love with it at the time!).

      I actually got to like the compilation process, it kind of gave you "Dark Art" powers that others would ohhh and ahhh at, the actual process itself I remember was fairly straightforward.

      Installation got silly in later versions think one version had 43 disks in the install set, I remember one re-seller telling me they got calls from users all the time saying "It's asked me to reinsert the same disks about 5-6 times", and he'd reply "that's ok just keep going!" lmao!

  29. Jay Jaffa


    Shurely [sic] not. 2.2M would make more sense. A load of rubbish in it's day - I was a 3.11 expert - whatever the fuck that meant.

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