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Novell Hardware

NetWare 3.12 Server Taken Down After 16 Years of Continuous Duty 187

An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica's Peter Bright reports on a Netware 3.12 server that has been decommissioned after over 16 years of continuous operation. The plug was pulled when noise from the server's hard drives become intolerable. From the article: 'It's September 23, 1996. It's a Monday. The Macarena is pumping out of the office radio, mid-way through its 14 week run at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, doing little to improve the usual Monday gloom...Sixteen and a half years later, INTEL's hard disks—a pair of full height 5.25 inch 800 MB Quantum SCSI devices—are making some disconcerting noises from their bearings, and you're tired of the complaints. It's time to turn off the old warhorse.'"
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NetWare 3.12 Server Taken Down After 16 Years of Continuous Duty

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  • Netware 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @10:49AM (#43324275)

    Netware 3 ruled.

    Netmare 2 on the other hand earned the name.

    By version 5 it was back to Netmare (for different reasons).

    I once walked into a dusty environment, remote location and could hear the drive bearings from 100 feet away through a fire door. Backed up successfully but never spun up again.

    • Re:Netware 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cyberthanasis12 ( 926691 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @02:32PM (#43325755)
      The thing that I liked most with netware 3.1* was the fantastic undelete it had. It never really erased anything unless it was out of storage. Once I remember I undeleted a file I had erased one month before. And the undelete was no hassle at all. You just looked at a list of the "erased" files and chose whichever you wanted. It's the only thing I (still) miss since I migrated to Linux in 1999.
      • Re:Netware 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @04:51PM (#43326497)

        Salvage was one of the best new features of Netware 3. That and not having to gen sys from 360K floppies.

        On netmare 2 the first thing you did when you got your first one up was put a copy of the install images on the share. Linking up (IIRC they called it genning sys) a copy of the server required you to feed it each of about 20 floppies three times each in apparently random order. Get one interrupt wrong and you get to start over (better to reset the interrupt jumpers to match the config you had).

        I should not remember any of this crap.

      • Re:Netware 3 (Score:4, Interesting)

        by MavenW ( 839198 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @08:29PM (#43327501)

        I got a call from an acquaintance who was a low level runner for a law firm. He asked if there was any way to resurrect files that had been deleted by a disgruntled employee who was laid off. She deleted a ton of important stuff. They didn't have any backups and were in a panic. I told him salvage might work, and explained how to get to it.

        He was a hero that day.

        • A law firm?

          You should have made a huge deal out of it and charged them $50K or more to run Salvage. Sell them a whole new server while you take the old one to recover the files.

          Fucking lawyers would do it to you without hesitating.

    • Actually I'd say by version 4. I used to run a Netware 3.20 server. The thing was a workhorse - in fact it served as an IP briding router in addition to being our main files server.

      If I were those guys I'd just image the drives and get new ones. Maybe port the whole thing over to a bit more modern hardware.
  • 1989 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @11:00AM (#43324341)
    Last year, I worked next to a system with DOS and IBM BASIC that has been up continuously on a production line since 1989, mind you, it was in a protective box with special filters and 90% of it's "functionality" is no longer used.
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @11:06AM (#43324371)

    16 years and they did not run of space on it?

    also good hardware not to fail in some way other that time. Did they hot swap UPS batteries over the years as well?

    • by zyzko ( 6739 )

      The guy has replied to this in Ars forum:

      "The only thing it's been connected to since 2004 has been my personal computer (laptop)." - so while impressive, for the last 9 years it has not seen production use.

      He also says that he works in a big financial institution with big-ass central UPS system and that explains the lack of reboots due to power outages.

    • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

      16 years and they did not run of space on it?

      also good hardware not to fail in some way other that time. Did they hot swap UPS batteries over the years as well?

      The batteries, obviously, needn't affect the operation of the server, but that's some impressive record for the utility service in the area. Unless the location had a backup generator, no outages longer than UPS run-time over a sixten year stretch is incredible. As for the disk space issue, I strongly suspect that the server was the platform for some specific legacy application that "just worked, and was thus never messed with, while all the actual file and print service duties were shifted to newer platfor

    • If all it was doing was serving print jobs, and it had enough RAM on it, the netware server should never have needed to access the drive after being booted.

      Netware 5 products had some silly issues where if the SYS volume became full, the server would panic and halt, but NW3 didnt have such an issue. When I was forced to take that NW5 class so many years ago, I spent ample amounts of time poking holes in the NW server's supposed security. Oh, the joys of getting the server to create printer spool objects on

  • by archer, the ( 887288 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @11:07AM (#43324379)
    Novell asked people to send screen shots of their uptimes. [] The winner then had an uptime of about 6 years.
  • You know those little squiggly red lines under words you type? I think they're trying to tell you something.

  • by artbristol ( 904315 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @11:15AM (#43324433)
    From the linked thread:
    "When I began work here in 2004, this system was completely orphaned ... The only thing it's been connected to since 2004 has been my personal computer (laptop)."
    Way to spend (by my reckoning) 10,000 kWh of electricity.
    • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @12:34PM (#43324975)

      Kids nowadays. No sense of adventure and wonder. Best use of 10,000 kWh ever.

  • "are making some disconcerting noises from their bearings"

    Rule 1 about hard disks.

    When the hard disk starts making funny noises it hasn't made before(especially after 10+ years), its time to start looking for a new hard drive, failure is imminent.
    • Rule 1 about hard disks.

      You can probably extend that to any electrical or mechanical system :)

      • except there is no good way to really repair hard disks.

        I'm pretty sure its possible, but I'm also pretty sure you'd need a clean room, and companies don't exactly sell spare parts for hard drives.

        So you'd need a clean room, and a supply of same or similar disks.
        • by chill ( 34294 )

          Considering they were 800 Mb disks in 5 1/4", full-height form-factor, there are options.

          Like opening the case up, ripping everything out and replacing it with a SCSI to USB adapter, hub and a multi-terabyte RAID array of USB memory sticks.

          • by gagol ( 583737 )
            NEVER use USB for any mission critical, 24/7 hardware. Failure to comply will be hurtful.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I bought the 'spare parts' for the hard drive I most recently repaired on Ebay.

          I had a failed 200g Maxtor drive. It had a lot of important stuff on it that I wanted back. It failed in such a fashion that it just quit spinning entirely so I gambled that it was an electrical problem on the logic board. I went on eBay and searched until I found exactly the same Maxtor drive, even down to the firmware version. It's nice that they have the zoom-able pictures on eBay and that many sellers post high resolution

        • except there is no good way to really repair hard disks.

          There are many electrical and mechanical systems that aren't worth repairing these days. When's the last time you put new brushes in a motor? Ever try to solder new surface-mount caps onto a piece of modern electronics?

    • Re:Time to go indeed (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bert64 ( 520050 ) < ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Sunday March 31, 2013 @01:13PM (#43325247) Homepage

      Once a drive starts failing like that, the worst thing you can do is reboot the box... The drive may continue running for years, but if you shut it off it may never be able to spin up again.
      Best thing is to get any important data off the drive without shutting it down.

  • ...sixteen years of operation is ordinary. It's sad that this considered outstanding for a router.

    • Pumps generally have a less varied workload - they usually have to do just one thing. Also they are based on old, well understood and highly mature technology that doesn't see double efficiency every few years.

      By the way, my wifi router is about ten years old, and still working.

  • by NormAtHome ( 99305 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @12:08PM (#43324777)

    Put that old war horse down easy, it did it's duty and then some, it deserves some respect.

    I loved Netware and worked on 2.x, 3.x and 4.x, it's a real shame what's become of Novell.

    • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

      Put that old war horse down easy, it did it's duty and then some, it deserves some respect.

      I loved Netware and worked on 2.x, 3.x and 4.x, it's a real shame what's become of Novell.

      Agreed. Netware "just worked". It was a pain in the ass to set up, but even that could be overlooked because the result was so solid. While they were the only game in town, the price for that performance was reasonable. Unfortunately, the marketing geniuses at Novell pretty much missed to the coming tsunami that was Windows networking. The effect was apparent after Windows for Workgroups 3.11 (the first one that actually sort-of worked) came along, causing an immediate dip in Netware sales. By the time NT c

    • Windows 2000 (Active Directory) is what did Novell in. No question about it.

  • Is the order of magnitude these heads have traveled (in a circle).

    8000rpm x 60 x 24 x 365 x 16 x (5.25/2/2)*pi x 12 x 5280

    • by 6ULDV8 ( 226100 )

      So, no hope of catching Voyager?

    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      8000rpm x 60 x 24 x 365 x 16 x (5.25/2/2)*pi x 12 x 5280

      Check me. Should be 3600rpm x 60 x 24 x 365.25 x 16 x (5.25/2/2)*pi / 12 / 5280 = 1.97 million miles.

      Actually the heads don't "travel" at all except back and forth with every seek, but that's the average linear distance that the disc directly under the head traveled.

      • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

        Circumference is 2*pi*r, or pi*d, and the platters on a 5.25" drive were around 5.1" in diameter, so it should be:

        3600rpm * 60 * 24 * 365.25 * 16 * 5.1* pi / 12 / 5280 = 7.66 million miles []

        But only on the outside of the disk, if the heads were on the inside, maybe around 1" diameter, then it's:

        3600rpm * 60 * 24 * 365.25 * 16 * 1* pi / 12 / 5280 = 1.5 million miles []

        So the heads have ridden over somewhere between 1.5 to 7.66 million miles of platter travel

      • Where's the factor for football field length?

  • This was a NetWare 3.12 box and...

    • It was running IPX/SPX not TCP/IP.
    • My guess is that it was not exposed to the Internet in any way.
    • Netware was for all intents and purposes 100% secure unless you had physical access to either the server itself or the cable.
    • Netware 3.12 was THE fastest file and print server on the market, and I don't think anyone ever beat it.
    • Netware 3.12 was architected by Drew Major and was pretty much bomb proof.
    • I doubt it was running any VAP's ( value added Processes )
  • by TheRealHocusLocus ( 2319802 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @12:30PM (#43324945)

    It's slower but more than fast enough, supports printers too although you'll really miss those Novell print queues. And Lantastic has evolved too, you are no longer limited to Arcnet, it supports the *new* 10baseT half duplex cards! Patches are available for the DOS stack to accommodate just about any combination of hardware IRQ and base IO PORT. Just be sure to load the network TSRs BEFORE you run Borland Sidekick.

    Whoa! I was having 1984 flashbacks for a moment.

  • âoeNetWare 3.12 Server Taken Down After 16 Years ...â

    Required a wooden stake.

  • Software outliving it's hardware... sigh.

    There's something innately human about that which strikes me as... odd.

  • ... How many nines is 16 years of continuous duty? And how many times your beloved "six nines" is that?
    • 0 downtime per year. That's a perfect score, 16 years in a row. This is assuming the system was available all that time.

      But if the network burpped once for 300 milliseconds, then it would only be eight-9s.

      If you don't like the per year limitation of the calculation, let's say that the system was up for 16 years, but should have been up for 17 years (arbitrary). Then that's only one-9.

      • Indeed, 300 msec per year would be eight nines. Of course in this case we need to figure out how much time it was down over its entire operational life - we know it ran continuously for 16.5 years, but we don't know when it booted for the first time or why it was rebooted 16.5 years ago. Netware 4 was introduced in 1993 [] - earlier than when this system booted prior to running 16.5 years - so we can conclude it likely wasn't rebooted for a Netware upgrade.
  • What ever happend to the Open source NetWare [] ? I was never clear if it was a clone or not [].

    Now the other question I have is, why would anyone run it?

  • by Dyolf Knip ( 165446 ) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @02:34PM (#43325763) Homepage

    I always was rather impressed with those Quantum drives. I had a Quantum 1.2GB hdd in my computer when we suffered a house fire, and that drive was the only piece of electronics to survive in usable condition. Indeed, it lasted a good 4 or 5 years beyond that.

  • All of these replies about Novell Netware, and yet I haven't see one single mention of where Novell is today, how NDS came to be known as eDirectory, how Netware was ripped out and slapped on top of Linux under the name SuSe Enterprise Linux, which is totally free to download almost every product they ship and use on your own home network in an uncrippled fashion (so long as you don't want to security updates via a 30 day trial).

    Anyways, cheers Novell, you will be missed o/ ;|

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury