Enterprise Linux Log

Sep 17 2008   5:12PM GMT

Novell ZenWorks 10 log-in snafu wipes out non-Microsoft desktops, IT director says

Don Rosenburg Profile: Dkr

Sometimes the latest is not the greatest.

Just ask Grant Nickle, IT director at Louisville, Ky.-based Underwriters Safety & Claims. An avid fan of Waltham, Mass.-based Novell Inc., SUSE Linux Enterprise and ZenWorks configuration management software, Nickle was in for a big disappointment when he finally got around to testing ZenWorks 10, which he’d had for about a year while continuing to run version 7.

Nickle discovered to his dismay that in version 10, ZenWorks’ Dynamic Local User doesn’t cache or save individual desktop settings, files and icons when the machines are turned off or disconnected from the corporate network. Unlike version 7, the desktop and all its settings and data must be re-created with every startup, which is a big problem when your job is to create and manage user IDs for several hundred desktops.

“This is a big problem,” Nickle said. ZenWorks used to be a great work-around for managing users without Microsoft’s Active Directory because it managed Windows users as well as those running other operating systems. Now, ZenWorks is useless, he says.

Ironically, Novell is pitching ZenWorks 10 as a way to encourage businesses to migrate from Novell Netware to Linux, a move Nickle would be only too happy to make since he runs SUSE Enterprise Linux on his servers.

In an Aug. 28 e-mail, Novell responded that ZenWorks does address this problem. The company said that a user can simply leave a Novell eDirectory login credential on the machine to log in the next time without creating a new desktop. But Novell corrected the previous e-mail on Sept. 11, admitting that user caching is not available in the latest version but would be included in a subsequent version.

That’s small comfort to Nickle, who has no way to deal with the problem in the interim and no idea how many months it might be until the next update. Especially since ZenWorks had this working in version 7 and then removed it in version 10.

“We are stuck,” he wrote. “We can either look for another product to manage our desktops” or stay with version 7, but version 7 doesn’t support Windows Vista, he said. Nickle suspects that “somebody just made a mistake,” and noted that other users in the ZenWorks forum have voiced the same complaint with just as much frustration.

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