I am in the process of moving a business' servers to a virtualized solution; so far so good, but the main problem is an old novell server (v4.something, from 1999)

it seems to me that its functions are more like active directory's --> auth users, map shares depending on group membership, fileserver

are there any other functions of this ancient program which I should be aware of ? can it be replaced with AD or a samba deployment ?

supposing I have to keep this solution, is it possible to install a higher version (I have found 5.11 on some torrents) and import somehow the old config ?

(the fact of seeing its ancient-ms-dos-like console makes me stay away from this ... software :))


  • 2
    I've seen people kicking Netware 5 down the road on virtualization platforms. I wouldn't actually recommend it, but you may well be able to get such a scenario to fly. Sep 24, 2010 at 21:39
  • This question brought a smile to my face -- we had an old Netware fileserver (v3.12) that we replaced in 1999 that had just been plodding along as far back as anyone remembered. We moved to SBS 4.5, which seemed so cutting-edge! I still had the Novell install floppies (all 27) around until a couple years ago.
    – nedm
    Sep 24, 2010 at 21:41

4 Answers 4


netware was pretty cool, actually.

unfortunately, it is no longer used (much) in the SME environment it sounds like you're in - so a change to active directory makes more sense. the process of setting up the netware server again is going to require resources that aren't going to be that cheaply/easily available...

  • I'd rather use a samba solution instead of microsoft's AD ... either way, I will definitely discontinue using novell; it's only feature which I liked was the auth method - a standalone program, not win user auth
    – quaie
    Sep 25, 2010 at 20:36
  • Novell most definitely uses windows authentication for the client machines - it uses a GINA, the NT method for pluggable authentication. If you're going to pass judgement on a technology (netware and NDS, novell is a company) you should really strive to understand it a little better.
    – mfinni
    Sep 25, 2010 at 23:16
  • If you're familiar with Linux, as it sounds you are, you might want to try Novell's OES... as Johnnie Odom mentioned it is essentially a "port" of all the NetWare services over to SUSE Linux.
    – user62491
    Feb 4, 2011 at 20:41

There is a good upgrade path to this technology. While Netware as an OS is EOL, the services it provided included eDirectory (which provides great user management and authentication plus very solid LDAP services) and NCP file sharing have been migrated to Linux. They are part of a product called Open Enterprise Server (OES) that is very much a going concern.

The marketing materials are here: http://www.novell.com/products/openenterpriseserver/

I would recommend taking whatever the Netware 4 server is used for, and migrating those services to an OES server for the following reasons:

  1. An upgrade preserves the existing server services better.

  2. OES and eDirectory is easier to support than openldap.

  3. It is more cost-effective than AD.

Who knows? You might fall in love with the technology.

  • We're planning on making this move, from NetWare 6.5 to OES 11, here on campus where I work. We've been extremely happy with NetWare and Novell and with new offerings like Filr and iPrint Enterprise we are looking forward to moving forward with Novell and their Linux-based offerings. Sep 9, 2013 at 14:27

If you're the support guy, and you know nothing about it, my first advice is to stay away from it. My second advice is to learn it well enough to migrate off of it.

Novell Netware and NDS was great, it was better than AD, but it's not the wave of the future. But it does what you asked - centralized user auth, fileserving, printing (you forgot that), even database and applications. Make sure you know what you're doing - you could find out that they have an accounting application that depends on BTrieve after you've migrated the fileshares and print queues and turned off the Netware machine.

  • unfortunately, your first advice (and my first choice :)) is ruled out by the fact that the hardware is quite old (almost 10 years) and the danger of a physical failure is increasing every day; I don't like to work with things I don't know, but also learning an ancient app doesn't tempt me too
    – quaie
    Sep 24, 2010 at 21:04
  • +1 for do some digging (and asking around) before decommissioning.
    – nedm
    Sep 24, 2010 at 21:29

How much data, how many users? You may find it easier to start over :)


  • ~30 workstations; as for data, I guess it only is a fileserver which mounts shares depending on group membership; there is a dos app (or foxpro, maybe) which is run from one of those shares
    – quaie
    Sep 24, 2010 at 21:01
  • 1
    In that case, the equivalent to a standalone NetWare server is something like a Microsoft Small Business Server. This technology is old, really old. The nails are finally being put into Novell's coffin. I'd look at migrating off of it. Sep 24, 2010 at 21:06

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