Novell is to port its flagship directory service NDS to the Linux free operating system.
The port is being carried out in conjunction with Linux distributor Caldera, which signed an agreement two years ago to license Novell's network services for integration in its OpenLinux distribution. The deal has already produced a version of NetWare for Linux, which began shipping in July.
That version is based on Novell Cross Platform Services (NCPS), whereas NDS for Linux will be based on Netware 5's implementation, including integrated IP.
It will also include Novell's WAN traffic manager, Catalog Services, and DNS and DHCP services.
Novell is keen to propagate NDS as widely as possible to win as maximum market share before Microsoft's Active Directory ships with NT 5. Also, Novell is pushing NDS as an integrated platform for heterogeneous networks; NetWare 5 promises seamless cross-platform support, allowing network administrators to manage different platforms from one centralised console.
Martin Brampton, senior analyst at Bloor Research, said: "It's a bit early to say how much support there really is for Linux. At the moment, it's a way for people to have something to beat Microsoft with." He argued that Novell's plan to push NDS as the glue for heterogeneous networks was along the right lines and that the company had time on its side.
"Uniformity is not going to come about by one vendor taking over the market, which is Microsoft's approach. I believe Microsoft will be forced to change that strategy - whether it can change quickly enough to stop losing sentiment I don't know. It is becoming very unpopular. Customers are coming across very strongly in support of heterogeneity."
Compaq offers Linux limited support
Compaq joined the ranks of vendors lining up to support Linux last week but closer investigation reveals a cautious "wait and see" attitude.
Richard George, Compaq Alpha Server product manager, admitted: "We will not support it as we do our own Unix. There will be no telephone support and no application support. As and when (industry support for Linux) gathers momentum, this position will change."
What Compaq will do, however, is to "make available through the channel systems without an OS installed," saving users the extra cost associated with pre-installed software. "(Linux) users will not have to pay the Microsoft tax or, for that matter, the Digital Unix or SCO Unix tax," said George.
Compaq will also offer Linux qualification - "meaning we will test our hardware to make sure it runs and supports Linux" - and port selected Compaq software to Linux, such as the Insight Manager XE systems management package.
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