I’ve been using

Novell products for almost 20 years now since I got the chance to play with

NetWare in college. There, in the Business Computing Lab at the University of

South Florida, we had a small network of 30 IBM PC XTs networked to one XT

running NetWare 2.15. From there I’ve both worked with and written about

NetWare and Novell through all of it’s various stages and changes.

During the late 80’s

and into the 90’s, Novell ruled the networking landscape through the power of

NetWare. But then Novell stumbled in a misguided effort to take on Microsoft in

it’s own backyard – the desktop – with the purchase of DR-DOS and WordPerfect.

The combined steamroller of Windows 9x, Office, and Windows NT on the network

(along with some questionable business tactics on Microsoft’s part) quickly

wrote the history we’ve come to learn.

Even though Novell

included innovations in NetWare years ago that Microsoft is only now starting

to put into Windows such as federated directory services, Novell struggles to

maintain viability. The NetWare kernel is stalled with version 6.5 and doesn’t

seem to have a future. Novell is quickly moving NetWare services to Linux with

Open Enterprise Server, and is again trying to challenge Microsoft on the

desktop with SuSe 10.

The problem is Novell

can’t seem to get a break. RedHat has an estimated 70% of the Linux market and

the bet on Linux as a savior for Novell is looking dubious. Pundits ridicule

Novell’s vision of Linux challenging Microsoft on the desktop. And now

News.com points out that most of Novell’s own employees haven’t

made the switch from Microsoft products to open source ones.

Yeesh. Novell has a great history. And for

companies considering making the migration to Linux, it would seem to be the

best bet because it understands how business works through years of selling

NetWare. For

several months now, I’ve been pointing out how SuSe Professional 10 makes a

great desktop environment. But does

that matter anymore? Is Novell still