Ex-Novell Execs Plan Open-Source NetWare

SAN FRANCISCO (08/17/2000) - A company led by former Novell Inc. executives said Thursday that it plans to build an open-source operating system that will be compatible with Novell's NetWare.

Timpanogas Research Group Inc. (TRG), based in Novell's home state of Utah, hopes to offer its NetWare-compatible OS to Novell customers in the second half of 2001, the company said in a statement.

Dubbed MANOS (Metropolitan Area Network Operating System), the proposed operating system will be based on a software kernel similar to the kernel at the heart of Novell's own NetWare SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) operating system, Timpanogas said.

One of the authors of the MANOS kernel is Jeff Merkey, TRG's chief executive officer, a former chief scientist at Novell. While at Novell, Merkey was one of the engineers who wrote the original NetWare kernel, according to TRG.

Novell couldn't immediately be reached for comment this afternoon, but the two firms have butted heads in court on more than one occasion and Novell will no doubt scrutinize TRG's plans for any signs of illegality.

Novell sued TRG in a Utah federal court three years ago in a bid to prevent the company from developing clustering software for tying groups of NetWare servers together. Novell alleged that TRG -- initially known as Wolf Mountain Group -- had stolen intellectual property from Novell after Merkey left the company.

[See "Thrown to the Wolves," June 28, 1997.]The following year, the two parties settled the lawsuit, with the three founders of Timpanogas agreeing to pay an undisclosed sum to Novell and being barred from using or disclosing Novell's trade secrets, as part of the settlement. [See "Novell, Former Engineers Settle Lawsuit Over Technology Theft," Aug. 28, 1998.]MANOS is a work in progress and isn't expected to be ready until the second half of 2001, TRG said.

To date, the company has created an SMP implementation of the Native NetWare File System for Linux, Windows NT and MANOS, and is completing an Open Source NDS (Novell Directory Services) clone for Linux and MANOS, Merkey said in the statement.

"Our first target shipment is geared to providing NetWare 4.11 NDS and networking capability in an open-source form to Novell's existing customers," Merkey said in the statement. "Our intent is to support existing Linux applications and drivers on an optimized NOS (network operating system) kernel that provides comparable performance metrics to today's NetWare product line."

So far, MANOS contains a fully integrated kernel-level source level debugger, and the ability to load and use Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 Portable Executable and DLL (dynamic link library) formats, TRG said in its statement.

The open-source operating system is not expected to support Novell's legacy NLMs (NetWare loadable modules), but is being enabled for full wire-compatibility with Novell's NCP (NetWare core protocol) client standards and an open-source NDS clone, TRG said.

TRG has posted the kernel and source code for the MANOS kernel at http://www.timpanogas.com/ and ftp at 207.109.151.240. The current open source contains the base kernel and loader only.

The MANOS program is being released under the GNU open-source public license, TRG said.

TRG, based in Orem, Utah, can be reached at its Web site at http://www.timpanogas.com/.

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