Need for Novell Client Eliminated

Zenworks for desktops upgrade eases remote software distribution.

Novell Inc. at brainshare Europe in Barcelona, Spain, last week took another step away from its proprietary roots as it announced a new release of its Novell Zenworks for Desktops that no longer requires a Novell client.

Version 4.0, which formally entered beta testing, simplifies remote software distribution to mobile users by eliminating the requirement to have a Novell client installed on a target laptop.

In addition to freeing administrators from having to install the Novell client before distributing software or performing other management tasks, Zenworks can now operate in a more streamlined manner for remote users connected over the Internet.

"The traditional client runs over [NetWare Core Protocol], which could run over the Internet, but it was clunky," said Matthew Krieger, associate director of global network architecture services at The Readers Digest Association Inc., in Pleasantville, N.Y. "The new client they run is HTTP. Its now basically built with Web standards, so it extends to people outside the corporate firewall."

That can be especially useful for managing desktops with initial software configuration that isnt managed by central administrators and for bringing other acquired environments under the Zenworks management umbrella, Krieger said.

The latest release also adds support for the PXE, or Preboot Execution Environment, which allows a managed desktop to be booted and managed before its operating system starts. That support can reduce the cost and simplify the process of rolling out Windows XP or another new operating system, compared with manual methods of operating system updates.

Krieger also applauded Zenworks enhanced support for mobile users connected over slower-speed dial-up connections. The new release adds checkpoint restart functions, allowing a software update to resume where it left off in the event of a dropped connection. Novell enhanced the Zenworks agent so it can adapt to varying connection speeds.

Novell officials would not say when Version 4.0 will be generally available, and they have not yet announced pricing for it.

Also at BrainShare, Novell unveiled Version 3.1 of its NetMail e-mail server. In this version, formerly known as Novell Internet Messaging Server, platform support has been extended to Windows NT and 2000.