cctalk Digest, Vol 64, Issue 3

Liam Proven lproven at
Sun Jan 5 09:02:16 CST 2020

On Sun, 5 Jan 2020 at 09:56, Jeffrey S. Worley via cctalk
<cctalk at> wrote:
> On Fri, 2020-01-03 at 12:00 -0600, cctalk-request at wrote:
> > On 1/2/2020 1:35 PM, Cameron Kaiser via cctalk wrote:
> > > > > Anyone done anything with Netware *for PowerPC*? Allegedly
> > > > > there was
> > > > > some attempt at Apple to put it on what later became the
> > > > > Network Servers
> > > > > (the codename was apparently "Wormhole").
> > > > I know the people who were working in it (based on Portable
> > > > NetWare)
> > > > AFAIK it never shipped.
> > > Was this based on the Cygnus PowerPC port, or was it Apple-
> > > specific?
> > >
> > Sun did a power? PC? port I think paid for by IBM, which would have
> > run
> > on both the open Apple servers that briefly existed, and on IBM PPC
> > systems.

Hang on, this is getting confusing.

There was a short-lived project to run OpenSolaris on POWER but that
post-dated Apple involvement in PowerPC. I think Sun gave some help.

Sun *did* do a full port of OpenStep to Solaris, but while I know
people who saw it, I am not sure if it got a full commercial release.
Sun also bought a number of NeXTstep software houses, including
Lighthouse, but didn't release the code.

Sun's half-hearted involvement in NeXTstep is a *particularly*
short-sighted move on their part, I feel. It could have given them a
big lead.

AFAIK, pre Apple merge, there was no native OpenStep for PowerPC or POWER.

> > A lot of odd PPC work happened in a group a friend worked for in
> > Austin
> > TX, but not sure if they did Netware work there.? There was a lot of
> > OS2
> > work there as well, but that's off track a bit more.
> I was lead tech at a small computer company in Asheville, NC. in those
> days.  I ran OS/2 from version 2 in the early 90's to Ecomstation in
> the early 2000's.
> Does Talingent Pink sound familiar?  OS/2 was ported to powerPC, and so
> was Netware iirc.

Oh yes.

I saw a demo of Processor-Independent Netware on PowerPC. I don't
remember the make of the box but it had a gas-plasma flat-panel screen
on the front of the case for the server monitoring screen, which I
thought was a nice touch.

PIN was never commercially launched, and quite rightly too, IMHO. What
limited Netware servers wasn't CPU speed or number of cores or

I have read a lot about Netware on OS/2 (on x86). That worked and was
released. It was not pushed hard enough: it had _immense_ potential.

Windows NT 4 Server killed Netware partly because of the ease of
running proper server apps on your fileserver -- notably, things like
email servers, little mini web servers, firewalls/proxy servers,
groupware, stuff like that. You could use your existing Windows skills
and knowledge.

Netware could do some of that too but it faced problems:
* It needed more Netware skills than a lot of Netware admins had
* It could destabilise your rock-solid Netware file/print boxes
* An Internet-connected Netware box had to be kept updated and that
was hard work
* Per-user licensing costs meant it could get expensive fast

NT 4 server bypassed a lot of that. You could use ordinary Windows
Internet apps, often sold for a flat fee, which meant they didn't have
per-user licensing. Nice easy GUI configuration. Stuff like connection
sharing, etc. in the box.

And people often forgot that Netware ran on top of DOS, and you could
still access DOS devices, such as the floppy drive, or the CD-ROM if
properly configured in DOS and one that lacked Netware-native drivers.
Getting it to run on top of OS/2 wasn't that hard, I read.

OS/2 could do the easy GUI setup part, it could in theory run simple
Internet apps like mail servers and proxy servers outside Netware's
memory space. It supported USB and multiple CPUs in its later
editions. Its server edition never got much traction, though.

It was a good upgrade for OS/2 -- Netware's super-fast file sharing,
Netware's superior network directory support, automatic config and
provisioning through the dynamic combination of NDS and Zenworks. And
it was a good upgrade for Netware, giving it a a friendly, modern,
GUI-driven, multitasking multiprocessor OS underneath.

OS/2 + NDS extended the "better DOS than DOS, better Windows than
Windows" thing to "a better server for Windows than Windows Server".

But I don't think either company realised it.

I don't know what it would have changed longer-term -- whether OS/2
could have survived and thrived as a server for Windows boxes.

But weirder stuff has happened. That was a big niche for Linux in its
first decade and a half -- a server for Windows networks.

That's where _all_ my commercial Linux deployments went before I moved
away from support/consultancy work.

In one instance, as an install-media server for an NT4/Netware 4 LAN.
Adding another Netware box would have required a £1000+ server, as
much again on Netware licences, and as much again on RAM to support
the big disk needed for multiple CD images. With Caldera OpenLinux it
took me an afternoon with an old PC and we were in business. It was
actually _cheaper_ than fitting CD-ROMs to all the client machines.

IBM could probably have afforded to just buy Novell and make it
happen, but it didn't. Instead of a potentially industry-transforming
product, extending the reach of both parts... Novell bought SUSE and
turned it into an enterprise product, got hostile with me when I asked
awkward questions at a press conference on the day of the London
Underground bombings, then gave up on Netware, while SUSE became a
significant enterprise vendor and ultimately gave me a job.


> The field was quite busy with hopeful Microsoft
> killers.

True. Few had a good solid plan, though.

>  OS/2 was to be morphed into a cross-platform o/s, to wean
> folks from dos/x86.....

True, but what few remember now is that as well as OS/2 1 (80286) and
OS./2 2 (80386), there was also OS/2 3 (CPU-independent). It was
initially developed for Intel i810 RISC boxes, the N-10 series, so it
was renamed OS/2 NT and later Windows NT... and here we are with it
running on a billion computers.

> Then PPC kills the x86 and we all get a decent
> os.  That was the plan anyway.   I never saw OS2 for PPC or Netware for
> OS/2, thought I know both to have shipped.

Workplace OS/2 got a beta but I'm not sure it was ever _sold_.!

I don't think PIN ever actually shipped.

Liam Proven - Profile:
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