Saturday, December 23, 2023

When the Power Macintosh ran NetWare (featuring Wormhole and Cyberpunk)

This entry and the software we'll demonstrate is in large part thanks to an anonymous Apple developer who was part of the NetWare team. Thank you!
Ah, Novell NetWare, the network operating system of the 1990s. Nothing was quite like it. Until Windows NT muscled in on its action near the end of the decade, if you were sharing lots of files between lots of PCs, NetWare was in there somewhere. My earliest memory of NetWare was stealing liberating a copy of Borland Turbo Pascal from a campus NetWare 3.x server around 1993-4, which, because God has a sense of humour, was later the University I ended up working for.

Why, the very mention of NetWare almost certainly caused those of you familiar with it to get an instant mental image of MONITOR.NLM, like this as shown in Bochs:

But Novell wanted NetWare servers to be more than just PCs (and the PC ecosystem to be more than just Microsoft), and in an attempt to gain footholds elsewhere the company accumulated some strange bedfellows. HP, Sun and Data General were on board, and IBM did so in grander form, but surely the most unexpected company Novell tried to court was ... Apple.
Yes, that screenshot is a real Power Macintosh 6100 (actually a Performa 6116CD) in the Floodgap lab running exactly what you think it's running. As a matter of fact, that Apple logo superimposed on the '90s Novell "teeth" I led off with was a real resource image that came from it.

No, I don't mean Macintoshes accessing NetWare servers as clients: we mean Macs as NetWare servers themselves. As proof, we'll take an entire tour of Power Macintosh NetWare on the 6116CD and try to boot it on the Apple Network Server, its actual intended target. NetWare on the Mac really existed as part of the same bizarro universe that ported the Macintosh Finder to Novell DR-DOS — meaning it's time for yet another weird Apple story during Apple's weirdest days.