OpenLinux OS cleanly integrates NetWare, NT and Unix

It's true that General Services Administration schedule sales of non-PC products have
been trailing those of PC products. And buyers will no longer pay thousands of dollars to
run Unix on a workstation--not when Microsoft Windows NT is available.


Today's growth path for Unix lies in slimmed-down clones that have most of the
functionality of full-blown Unix. But no information technology manager is going to commit
hundreds of computers to freeware Unix that has limited volunteer support.


Enter Caldera Inc., which commercialized the popular Linux freeware with stable
documentation and support. Linux isn't really Unix, but if it works like it and runs the
same applications, who cares?


Caldera's OpenLinux is a 32-bit implementation that acts as a conduit between diverse
operating systems, not as a replacement for Unix in major applications.


Because Caldera was started by ex-Novell Inc. employees, OpenLinux fits in with Novell
NetWare. It gets along with Windows NT, Unix servers and IBM mainframe systems, too.


I've been using OpenLinux Standard Version 1.1 since its May release. Based on the new
Linux kernel 2.0.29, it brings a big bundle of useful software: Netscape Communications
Corp.'s FastTrack Server 2.01, Netscape Navigator Gold, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java
Development Toolkit, Software AG's Adabas D Personal Edition, Star Division Corp.'s
StarOffice 3.1 and Caldera's OpenDOS.


Star Office 3.1 is a complete office suite with StarWriter, StarCalc, StarDraw,
StarChart, StarImage and StarMath applications.


All the OpenLinux Standard software comes on CD-ROMs and installs with the help of
three floppy disks. Caldera also tailors other versions: OpenLinux Lite, consisting only
of Caldera Linux, and a larger release labeled OpenLinux Deluxe.


The Standard version I tested works best for individual users, small networks and small
Internet servers.


OpenLinux Standard 1.1 can run some MS-DOS applications within Linux via Caldera's
OpenDOS. But its most useful feature is its ability to share files easily over NetWare
LANs.


Because OpenLinux is an excellent Internet server platform, users get the benefits of
running apps under Unix and managing server files over the network instead of having to
use the File Transfer Protocol.


Government offices can get value out of the well-integrated links to NetWare, by
building a solid Web server that's relatively easy to configure and maintain.


And they also get mail, FTP and news servers that are themselves easy to configure and
maintain.


The only drawback is that management of these separate but related servers is piecemeal
instead of integrated into a single interface.


Linux has the enthusiastic support of thousands of users as a free Internet program
with constant updates, so why shouldn't you just download a free copy instead of paying
nearly $400 for Caldera's version?


OpenLinux is easier to install and configure than freeware Linux. And although Linux
has support on the Net, individuals aren't directly supported. You need vendor support for
such a complex product in an office.


John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant, has been working with
computers since the early 1960s.


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