Servers

Do you still support an ancient network OS?

I recently ran across a client who still ran NetWare 3.12 on their production server. Do you still run an ancient NOS or do you keep everything shiny and new? Take the poll and see how you compare to other TechRepublic members.

I recently ran across a client who still ran NetWare 3.12 on their production server. Do you still run an ancient NOS or do you keep everything shiny and new? Take the poll and see how you compare to other TechRepublic members.

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In a perfect world, we'd all be running the latest software on the newest, shiniest hardware out there. Unfortunately, it's not like that. We have to support software that's several versions old and that vendors no longer want to support. And more often than not it's running on servers that could have depreciated several times. Dealing with ancient equipment can be almost as much of a challenge as supporting the new stuff.

I recently got a support call from a friend of mine who does computer consulting for small businesses. He had a client who was running a NetWare server that wasn't running properly. He needed some backup, so he called me.

I didn't know how much backup he needed until I got to the office and discovered the server in question was running NetWare 3.12. The server's NIC had gone out, and the server had also lost power, causing the server volumes to not want to load properly. It took a few minutes of staring at the : prompt until the old NetWare 3.x knowledge started seeping back in. I was able to put in a new (technically an old, but new to the server) NIC in the server and run VREPAIR, and it was done. The server started up fine, and the client was able to get back to work.

I was initially surprised to find such an old server and ancient OS still up and running, but I guess I probably shouldn't have been. I've long advocated the old cliche of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It got me wondering, however, just how much old stuff is still floating around in production.

What's the oldest OS you currently support?

Are you lucky enough to be able to upgrade your servers and NOSs on a regular basis? Or are you still patching and fixing old equipment with bailing wire, staples, and chewing gum? Take the poll below and share with your fellow TechRepublic members the old NOSs you're currently supporting.

I stuck with Windows and NetWare because between the two of them, they've had 90+% of the market since the mid to late 80s. If you're supporting another NOS, select Other and be sure to mention it in Comments.

35 comments
nowakowsky
nowakowsky

We have openVMS running Pathworks, an NT port. We also have a few NT 4 servers. Most of our systems are W2k3 or better but it seems that a small number of server just keep going, and going, and going... :-(

ajshimps
ajshimps

The oldest NOS that we support is MPM (if anybody can even remember it) I wrote the app in 1979 and it has been running w/o problems. Why fix something that works. We also support a large number of Netware 3 & 4 boxes plus NT4

itpro_z
itpro_z

...don't fix it!" has its limitations. At some point, that old Netware server will die, taking their critical apps with it. If they were my client, I would be pushing hard for them to upgrade to something modern before that happens, while they can still make an orderly transition.

andyinlondon
andyinlondon

some clients of mine still run lantastic, yes i know it was terrible back in 1995 so imagine having to deal with it now!

network
network

Wow! I thought I was alone in using WS2K!! What makes my situation worse than just running this ancient beast, it is run on desktops instead of real servers. No redundancy (fan or power supply), no backup. 300GB HD, 1GB RAM, 2.6GHz P4, gigabit NIC (finally), with 95 CALs supporting 130+ desktops, AD, DNS, DHCP, anti-virus, school information system. Another desktop/server runs keyboarding/typing software and fund-raising software. Yet another runs WSUS. And then my administration has the nerve to complain that the network is slow!!

ahm
ahm

I don't have it anymore, but I'm sure others do...

jdclyde
jdclyde

has to be the oldest we have. Just finished updating all of our servers (except that one), or I would have put SCO Openserver 5.06b. Because SCO is no longer a valid company supporting a valid product, it had to go, even though it was rock solid. To bad the Caldera crowd ruined a once great company [i](just a few months AFTER I finished getting my MACE in Sco, damnitallanyways....)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

But the last NT 3.5 server was replaced last year and I understand there's one NT 4.0 server left. :^0

hzmq3h
hzmq3h

The OS of 3.12 is very very reliable. It's right before NDS came out. My point is, that if it "fails" it's because the Network Admin doesn't know how to build RAID correctly. 4 Simple commands, and I'm in, so long as the NIC came with a Netware driver. Sorry to say, Netware 3.12 does not need upgrades, therefore increasing stability. Certified in Netware and MS. I'll take a 3.12 over a top of the line MS anyday.

sam
sam

The best idea would be to replace it with another NetWare server. Then you're set for another ten years....and no monthly outages for patch Tuesday for an OS that can't get it right. (I've got NetWare servers here with more than 1,000 users on them that have been up for 1400+ days, and keep on churning out packets.) Sam

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Ugh. I feel your pain. Actually, in a previous lifetime while working for The Cobb Group, I was the Editor In Chief for the Inside LANtastic journal. It was my first foray into the wonderful world of technical publishing. Artisoft was one of those companies that got crushed by Microsoft integrating their main product into the OS - in this case peer-peer networking for anyone who'd never heard of LANtastic.

Jellimonsta
Jellimonsta

[q]And then my administration has the nerve to complain that the network is slow!![/q] So, is it the network that is slow, or the servers? ;\

ChrisHyche@AlabamaOne.Org
ChrisHyche@AlabamaOne.Org

That reminded me of a box we had setup at my last place about 3 years ago. We had Win2k3S running on a Gateway P166 with 1GB om memory(I think). I actually ran OK. We used that machine for a RRAS gateway with 6 modems attached. It did the job. We also had a Netware 3.12 box there as well but it was running a non-Y2k MRP package for legacy data. We had moved to a AS400 for Y2k. But the 3.12 box had the pre 1999 data on it. I was seldom used.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Yeah, I left VINES off of the list as well as some other ancient ones like XENIX and the various and sundry Unix versions that have been about. I was trying to be as granular as possible with the old Windows and NetWare versions and didn't want the poll to be a mile long. That meant leaving off some of the lesser popular, but still relevant, old systems like VINES. I was hoping that Other would scoop those up, along with a mention here like you just did. Thanks!

elnRTanalog
elnRTanalog

We provide service to migrate users on old systems to current system, so we have NT4.0 and OpenVMS7.1 running Sybase System10 databases.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Geez... that's just about as bad as still running NetWare 3.12. I never actually saw an NT 3.5 server. We ran some NT 3.51 at one place I worked. It was supposedly more than .01 of a version different, but I dont know what the main differences are.

myepals
myepals

I recently had to IML a VM machine that had been running non stop since 1999. It was supposed to be retired in 2002. My old Employer spent a lot of effort tracking me down for the project. The idea was to leave it down and removing it after verifying it was no longer needed. I had to bring it back online, a breeze really a day latter. People still use PROFs on it to submit production batches.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

We'd be constantly upgrading and paying for newest system versions and disrupting users, software. What we really need is: a virtual machine server that supports ANY execution enviroment. Including multiple OSes at same time, or to start the target OS and the VM OS. This should include ANY OS that runs on ANY hardware and version of it. Why should it change regularly? In many cases, such as internal networks, and dedicated machinery, endless patches, and windoze DLL hell (where on earlier versions of windoze, some a** pgmr at M$ would upgrade a .DLL so that previous pgms would 'inherit the good new features' and instead break older software or even newer. While this would slow sales of new OSes, this should have been done from the beginning of the computer age (for practical reasons like processor speed, was not) but now is eminently practical as processors have increased in speed. It is now up to simply capturing and encapsulating the execution envt, and adapting it like a compiler to new hardware as it comes out. Why should a dedicated high speed industrial ink-jet labeler that uses OS/2 as back end ever have to be upgraded? Biz is in the biz of biz (say that fast 3x :) ) to make money not to endlessly upgrade stuff. And if is not connected to the internet, endless security or other concerns (which can be provided elsewhere in the network anyway much of the time) can be ignored. And if you did it this way, newer hardware such as newer NICs or Processors or modems would automatically work with the older devices. Ok, is not as simple as I've made it sound but neither is a virtual machine, that on some systems has copies of dift OSes running at same time (e.g. IBM s/390s running hundreds of linux sessions and IBM OSes at same time)

TonyKl
TonyKl

98/99 vintage. IBM still services it but they don't support an upgrade path. Service people on the phone and here in the store comment on the relatively large number machines with that release still on it. Spotted another 9406 model 170 same specs as ours for $1000 on ebay a few months ago.

tmacpherson
tmacpherson

I don't support it, but I do have clients that still haven't completely finished migrating from OS2. As an ATM engine, it is rock solid, so not really a whole lot to support I suppose.

---TK---
---TK---

hp-ux... yeah we still ALOT these up and running, 1994 was the last update of any kind... We are still fully supporting them (no comment)... I have seen a few VAX machines blowing heat also in our data center, but they aren't supported (thank god)..

GSG
GSG

I won't name any names, but as recent as 5 years ago, I know of a place that was running a very ancient token ring network. Remote access was a 14.4 modem. The "IT Guy" was close to retirement, and he wasn't interested in any new technology. He retired, and they upgraded the whole mess and brought everyone screaming into the 21st century. I know someone who worked there, and when he needed to retrieve a document, he'd read a newspaper while it loaded.

highdiver_2000
highdiver_2000

Application does not like Win XP. Installed VMware server in Win XP, created a virtual Win 98. Now waiting to deploy the config.

jrosewicz
jrosewicz

The oldest that my shop runs is 2003, but I have a feeling that with current budget constraints, we might be stuck with 2003 until it becomes completely ancient.

AV .
AV .

It was just so stable. It wasn't Y2k compliant though. You had to move to version 3.2. AV

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

yeah... the client really should replace the server - preferably with NetWare 6.5 or something like that. I advised that, but the guy who called me in said they like what they have and don't want to change. Some clients are just like that!

eberlyd
eberlyd

Yes, we're still running a lot of NetWare 5.1 boxes and 4.11...NetWare just keeps on ticking...

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I don't directly support them, so I'm getting word of mouth, but I think those old servers are supporting complex functions like RAS or something.

jdclyde
jdclyde

I still laugh at each and every person that is stupid enough to say such a thing. Sure, staying with a working product doesn't keep the sales reps cash flow running, but that isn't our reason for using computers. As the good doctor said, you do not upgrade just because there is an upgrade out there. People that do such never learned that if you spend the company profits, it is the same as if you never earned them in the first place. And then there are the thousands of languages out there that were all going to replace Cobol. Still a lot of Cobol systems out there, and they aren't going anywhere. It doesn't matter if some twit just out of school thinks a new language is "fun".

Jellimonsta
Jellimonsta

That is awesome. Why didn't they still use green screen dumb terminals instead? :p

rk888
rk888

i'm running NEtware5.1 as a VMWARE Machine on Windows2003, except for a couple month hunting for nw5idle.nlm....watching the CPU at 50% constantly and server slow to a crawl...but locate the idle.nlm finally

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

if they hadn't been through three desktop replacement cycles since that server was probably deployed. :D The friend that told me about it is a former co-worker; according to her, the IT PTB where she now works only hear what they want to hear.

Jellimonsta
Jellimonsta

Win2K(+) RRAS works just fine. I doubt they justifiably need to keep NT around for that function.

GSG
GSG

This was a location that was part of a branch of our federal government? OK, to be fair, computers are rarely used in this environment except by the top 3 or 4 people at these types of locations (and their exec assistants). They've definitely upgraded since then.