Summary: Novell vs NT

From: Steve Madden (
Date: Wed Aug 14 1996 - 03:45:36 CDT

This document forms a complete summary of responses from about twenty Systems
Managers and Administrators who subscribe to either/or both Sun Managers and
Alpha-Osf Managers. This document simply summarises the responses given. I
will post another summary with what I believe our solution should be based on
these responses.

The Original Posting (cut down);
I have noticed some questions about system solutions being posted
involving growing Unix servers and such. A slight variation on
that theme.... I would like your opinion on which of the following
network operating system solutions is the best (if either).

1) Unix, Windows95 and Novell4.0
   So we upgrade novell and windows for all.

2) Unix, NT4.0 and Workstation (with maybe a couple of 95

Both of these will be using Unix as mailhosts (POP) and Samba.

Generally their was not much said about Novell, in fact only one person said
to go with Novell and the reason could be summed up with this quote:

  "NT is aiming to take over many of the markets previously held by novell
   or UNIX.....I do not like NT because it comes from Microsoft!"

Fair enough. A couple noted that Novell did file & print sharing better than NT,
but if you were planning on doing anything else --> NT. Also this point summed
up the anti-NT people's comments:

"The only other issue is the religious war about which will survive, MS or
 Novell. My personal guess is that Novell is a better product for file
 sharing, but is going to be clobbered by Bill Gates. I don't think they
 will ever go away, but like Apple, they had a superior product and they
 failed to make the right decisions to rule the universe. Novell will
 become an niche market, also ran type product within 5 years."

Out of the other 19 people, four chose to go with neither and therefore 15
voted for NT and Workstations.

The arguments made by the 4 who chose neither were all slightly different;

The prospect of using OS2 Warp had not been addressed, and as a product OS2 has
been praised by some UNIX review's as being the most complete TCP/IP support

Two believe I should just stick with UNIX and Win95 with an X server and Samba.
One of them further stated that they found that Samba and NT do not get on with
regard to browse mastering and propagation of NetBIOS names over subnets.

The rest are really advantages and disadvantages of NT. Since I still have to
do the last person who chose neither, I will begin with all the disadvantages
as that was basically their response (Things you should consider). I might add
that some people did think I was replacing UNIX (not going to happen) so I left
out NT as apposed to UNIX comparisons. I have tried to be politically correct

What that last person believed are the disadvantages of NT

1: It's proprietry.
   No source code, no patches, no bug fix till the next upgrade
   You can only guess at what the code is doing in there...

2: Incompatible with other multi user OS' to a good degree.
   MS -Mail? sorry, but attachments sent in ms-tnef
   go to /dev/null. No one can read 'em!
   Most mail gateways cough up when they get an MS-Mail message.
   It's the little things, like RFC compliant headers
   (Reply-To: for example) that make an MUA usable.
   No decent news server capability. NT will (as above)
   fall over if you give it a moderate newsfeed, using
   even a decent platform. A much smaller Linux box
   can do far more...

3: The only truly secure NT Box is one with the network removed
   and the floppy disk drive disarmed.
   Try running a CGI WWW server on one, then attack
   it with "latra" You'll see how easy
   it is to "format C:"

The other 15 peoples views on why NT (Advantages)

NT has a massive market penetration. If you are an educational institution,
you'd rather choose to teach technology that students will have more opporunity
to use in the outside world.

Since you use SMB networking with Samba it would only be logical to lean to NT.

Windows 95 is just a stepping stone away from NT, so if an application a user
has to have does not run on NT, it most probably will on Win95.

"We run a lot of NT Workstations with DU and it seems to be a pretty effective,
 easily managed combination. The TCP/IP support in NT is very solid."

Use an Internet mail system like IMAP [best] or POP3 [OK]. Most of our
issues are related to gatewaying MS Mail [used per management dictum] to
the SMTP world [Unix, VMS, Internet].

"We use Hummingbird eXceed to integrate Unix X applications [which we
develop] to the NT desktop. In general it works pretty well, provides a
very basic VT320/Winsock terminal emulator as well."

"Samba is the best thing since sliced bread! We started using it about 3 weeks
 ago, and it is very easy to install, setup, and use. I haven't seen a better
 way of connecting Unix to NT or Win95 machines (or Win for WG, I suppose, but
 we don't have any). We previously used PC-NFS and DiskShare, but Samba beats
 the pants off those products!"

With MS you have to worry about NETBIOS names, which manifests itself in
remote access WINS setup, domain logins, WINS/DNS. I haven't worked much
yet with the NT 4.0 DNS, but if you need to resolve dynamic IP addresses
for NT systems that DHCP assigns [e.g. to display X applications on them],
you will be happier if DNS talks to WINS and vice versa. Not really an adv.
but informing all the same.

It is helpful if you can come up with a pretty standard NT desktop

I would look at NT, but I wouldn't jump on 4.0 immediately knowing MS.

In my experience working in the computer labs of George Mason University, I
would have to say that the security features of NT would have been greatly
appreciated. We used Windows and the students were always screwing things
up. The mildly extra overhead associated with NT would have been offset by
the fact that all the machines would have been configured identically. If
you are looking at machines for the faculty and staff, this may be the
exact opposite.

"I'd go for a mix of UNIX and NT, using as little Windows 3.1, Windows 95
 and Novel as possible. The reason for my choice is that Windows 3.1 and 95
 are unstable. NT is UNIX-LITE (sort of) and has a future of some kind.
 Further, I think the emerging computing model includes the Networked Computer,
 which fits well in UNIX and NT type enviroments but does not fit a Windows
 3.1/95 environment."

"There is no doubt in my mind what I would choose. NT Workstation (for
 it's security and compatability with windows programs on desktops with
 UNIX for ALL shared services:
 DISK Printer (w/ SAMBA) - I find that the "other" protocals ie. IPX/SPX
      (Novell) are too chatty for large groups.
 MAIL (running with IMAP & POP3; Let the vendor of my mail client interface
      with the standard protocals... NO more of this propriatary crap that
      Microsoft & IBM (Lotus) keeps pushing.)"

"I have not yet used NT 4.0, but NT is a pretty solid product. 3.5 still has
 the Win3.X interface, which is not very good, but considering the alternative
 is a Win95ish interface, I can deal with it... Networking is very easy with
 NT, and not too bad with Win95. These have almost caught up with the Mac in
 terms of ease of networking; the increased security (a Good Thing) is part of
 what makes NT harder, but there are still driver issues, etc. Plug and Play
 is not a complete reality yet. (You still need to get the right hardware,
 and we have run into, "Oh, you have the wrong chipset; this device won't work
 with your system." issues.) Also, from a security standpoint, Win95 has
 little. Anyone with physical access to the machine can login, and make it so
 they can login as someone else."

"We're avoiding Novell at this point. We've migrated from pathworks
 to using SAMBA and it works very well with w95. We also use NT

We use DEC Unix servers running samba providing print and file
services for both 95 and NT clients. As far as I am concerned this set up
has several advantages:
1) It is easy to configure and maintain (thanks to samba).
2) All backup and file space maintenance is centralised on our Alpha servers.
3) New PC's simply plug into the existing system (no real 95 or NT admin).

"I'm working as System Manager at Linkoping University in Sweden.
 We have here a very mixed environment, we have NT-servers, UNIX-servers,
 VMS-servers, MAC-clients and DOS/Windows/Novell-clients.

 If you plan to have all machines connect to each other NT will do it very

 I can't say that I'm fond of all Microsofts product, but NT is actually
 very good. It can provide services for all common platforms without any big
 problems or drawbacks. Of course UNIX can provide almost the same services,
 but it requires some more work...

 I think that basic networking and network services can be handled by NT, but
 when it comes to mail and WWW, UNIX does a better job.

 NT is said to have better security then any other system and it might be true,
 I haven't had any big problems with my NT-machines."


Well that just about covers it.... Either Novell is a quite achiever or this
just is not much to say.

If you now wish you had put in your two cents worth, I am still willing to hear
additions which I can post as a followup.

Thanks for all the information, I have a clearer perspective than I did before.
We have all of the equipment mentioned in this document, except of course the
new Novell and NT. Thus the reason why so little info was provided in my
question, I was looking for responses that were not based on what I have.



Steve Madden Phone: 61 (069) 332823
Systems Programmer Email:
                Charles Sturt University - Australia
                           Riverina Campus

   "The BEST way to accelerate a Mac is at 9.8 metres/sec (/sec)"

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Fri Sep 28 2001 - 23:11:08 CDT