Our smallish business has been happily using a Novell server for years and years - currently we are on a 5-year old NW6.5 SP5 box and have suffered very little downtime during those years. Lately the need has arisen to move forward to the next hardware, and this is where the big quandry arises. Do we stick with Novell or do we move?

Lets get some big points over

Novell expertise - very little, we switched the server on and (virtually) forgot about it. Maintenance of roughly 50 users is all we do.

Only file and print services are used.

Installing native Netware on new kit is NOT an option. Because (a) certain drivers are not being written, (b) Novell has ceased supporting Netware.

So we look at Susy Linux Enterprise Server 11. Not sure if just using a Linux server is a good idea, we would miss easy user rights maintenance, some of the very useful features of Novell NSS - like file salvage. We know next to nothing about Linux. We assume we would need to run Samba, and maybe CIFS, and stop using Novell client.

Next we think Novell open enterprise server 2 on that Susy Linux. We got that working, but there is now such a huge complexity of things, it just does not look simple any more. We felt we had to put all the users, groups, rights etc in again from scratch, only to find that the Novell iManager is nowhere near as easy to use as the Java remote manager we had before.

This Novell forum seems to have loads of people with incredible problems, most especially with clients for Win 7, some people saying Novell is as good as dead, that Novell has proved unable to solve problems after years of trying. It looks very worrying to us, who just want the server to get up and stay up without any attention. The main thing we run on clients is Visual Foxpro databases, which require faultless caching and files and record locking, yet we are terrified of major things like users suffering untraceable problems with this.

We also put up a new box with MS SBS2008 in a metter of hours, which we needed for a new accounting system. It almost seems far easier to give up on Novell and have MS SBS for file and print serving as well, although that would be very expensive. It would give us access, however to things like email to the desktop, an enormous choice of software vendors for anything we might like over the next 10 years.

Does Novell really make sense any more? Does Linux as a base OS have an future either? We know that OES 2 should be able to offer some of the advantages we would get from a move to SBS2008, but we lack the knowledge of how to do it, and support it.

This is a life-changing moment for our company, and we just cannot get it wrong. What advice can anyone offer? Our gratitude would be huge.