Caldera Network Desktop v 1.0
It's slick, It's attractive! It installs on your i486 computer with a minimum of fuss. It does everything it says it will do, and—it's only in pre-release! (Version 1.0, Preview 1 is the version available at the time of this writing. [Preview 2 is now shipping from Caldera, and will be reviewed in a later issue—ED])
OK—back to reality. Though it looks familiar, there is nothing quite like Caldera Network Desktop (CND). It's something new to the Linux community. It includes a number of more-or-less independent packages, but here's the kick: some of them are commercial. That is, they are proprietary—you cannot redistribute them as you can with the usual Linux software. One to a customer, unless you get multiple-user licensing.
The manual puts it this way:
Caldera has included a Desktop metaphor, a NetWare client, a font server, and other commercial software that runs on top of the Linux operating system. Because Caldera has licensed these commercial components from other companies, they cannot be freely distributed, but are licensed on a per-copy basis.... You must have a license for each computer which runs these programs.
Well, that's pretty clear. But just to make sure you are informed, the manual goes to some lengths to include the GNU General Public License, the UC Berkeley copyright, and license terms for pthreads (technology used by the NetWare Client). This may be Linux but it isn't (entirely) free. It's a combination of freeware and proprietary software.
Version 1.0 of the Caldera Network Desktop Preview arrived at my doorstep via UPS from Banta ISG, in Provo Utah. The Caldera box told me I held “The Complete Client/Server Internet Solution;” what you find inside is an excellent 124-page Getting Started guide and one CD, which includes:
Linux 1.2.8 from Red Hat
an attractive X-window GUI
15 fonts in TrueType, Type 1 and SPEEDO formats
a WEB browser and server
a NetWare client (for NetWare 3.x and 4.x servers)
servers for mail and FTP
I noted along the way that CND is English-only (except for the usual Linux internationality).
The Getting Started book was well-organized, and contained everything I needed to know to select a kernel and complete a Caldera Network Desktop installation.
So which is it? Is CND to be one of those software packages you install, but don't tinker with? It's advertised that way. Or is it a package in the Linux tradition—install, but grab your screwdrivers and immediately start modifying? Let's see.
CND is built on top of the Red Hat Commercial Linux distribution. Preview 1 shipped with the 1.2.8 Linux kernel. It was compiled with IPX support and CONFIG_MODVERSIONS enabled, and allows you to disable verbose boot messages.
The standard C and X11 tools and libraries are included. Preview 1 shipped with version libc version 4.5.26 and gcc version 2.5.8. libc version 4.6.27 is also included on the CD.
The documentation discusses some of the differences between the Red Hat Linux file system structure and the Linux File System Standard (FSSTND). And, as with other Linux distributions, your starting kernel has a bunch of stuff you don't need for your particular machine; compiling a new kernel after Caldera installation is, as always, a Good Thing. [Linux Journal covered this in issue 7, November 1994, and it hasn't changed very much since. Just be sure to say “yes” when you are asked about CONFIG_MODVERSIONS—Ed]
On occasion during my trials of CND, I found myself eating Flaming Death at the hands of Caldera support folks, and I was not alone. Slackware users, it seems, should have known better than to use that shady distribution. No matter, I say; if I came from a non-Red Hat environment, CND's purported ease of use should have smoothed the transition. [Preview 2 gives some of this capability—Ed] Curiously, Caldera's Web page (http://www.caldera.com/) hints that it is possible to unbundle the Network Desktop from the Red Hat distribution, and a few information files on the Caldera site actually give you tips on how to do it—on top of Slackware.
CND recognizes the following:
Novell's NetWare 3.x, 4.x (NDS) file server access (no printers yet).
Samba 1.9.00 (an SMB server)
I did not test the Samba server, but can praise the absolutely transparent Novell and TCP/IP services. Applications and X windows are one thing, but it's this sort of functionality that will make Linux a contender at my own workplace.