By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2005-04-18 Print this article Print

NetWare shops seeking wider support for hardware and software will find Novell Inc.s Open Enterprise Server 1.0 a fairly pain-free migration route to the greener pastures of Linux.

Last year, shortly after acquiring SuSE Linux AG and its enterprise-focused Linux distribution, Novell announced that its follow-on to NetWare 6.5 would ship as a set of network services that run atop the NetWare or the Linux kernel. OES 1.0, which began shipping last month, is the product of that effort.

eWEEK Labs tested OES 1.0 in its SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9- and NetWare 6.5-backed configurations, and we found that Novell has done a pretty good job of executing on its dual-platform strategy.

We configured directory, file and print, and collaboration services on both OES/NetWare and OES/Linux, and each configuration performed well—and, for the most part, interchangeably. We used the same Web-based tools to manage everything, and we could even cluster NetWare- and Linux-based installations for service failover.

Novell has developed for OES 1.0 a technology called Linux User Management that ties in eDirectory users to Linuxs native PAMs (Pluggable Authentication Modules) to work with Linux services such as sshd (Secure Shell daemon) and su (used to run a shell with substitute user and group IDs), which helps in managing a mixed NetWare and Linux server environment.

However, we had to jump through extra hoops initially while configuring services on our OES/Linux machine. For example, to enable users to employ Samba, we had to manually create a home directory for each user by logging in as that user from the command line—a step, according to Novells documentation, that couldnt be carried out with an SSH session or other remote method.

Whats more, the two flavors of OES dont always perform identically, particularly when using NSS (Novell Storage Services). On OES/ Linux, NSS lacks support for volume encryption, Novell Distributed File Services, user space restrictions and volume snapshots.

For more about whether now is the time to move from NetWare to Linux, click here. Even if a shift to OES/Linux proves premature at your site, OES offers administrators an opportunity to dip their toes into the Linux way of doing things without leaving the NetWare kernel. OES/NetWare includes support for the GNU BASH (Bourne-Again Shell) and for the Vim (Vi Improved) command-line text editor, both of which are Linux standards and which facilitate script-based management across both OES platforms.

Along similar lines, OES includes support for Red Hat Inc.s RPM (Red Hat Package Manager) software management system, which is the same facility that SuSE Linux uses for updates and which underlies Novells Red Carpet system update product.

We recommend that NetWare shops at least bring OES into their labs for a run-through—OES evaluation disks are available for free download at novell.com/oes, and Novell has put together a pair of well-written lab guides for both OES versions that we found helpful during our evaluation.

For companies that arent already running NetWare, the OES upgrade story is less compelling, particularly at sites that are wed to competing directory products, such as Microsoft Corp.s Windows Server 2003 and Active Directory.

However, OES does ship with support for migration from or synchronization with Active Directory, and OES could be a good fit for sites running the now-unsupported Windows NT. Administrators can bring OES servers into their NT domain structure right away without disrupting services, thereby getting their security house in order before planning out a directory implementation.

Next page: Prices and platforms.

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at jbrooks@eweek.com.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel