Novell is officially dead

Networking outfit Novell has officially been declared a Norwegian blue and has ceased to be.

The outfit has completed its previously announced merger, whereby Attachmate bought it for $6.10 per share in cash.

Novell also announced that immediately prior to the completion of its merger with Attachmate Corporation, it had completed its previously announced sale of certain identified issued patents and patent applications to CPTN Holdings for $450 million in cash.

Novell ceased trading on the NASDAQ yesterday and will deregister the company, which is a sad ending for an outfit which was once one of the big names in software.

The outfit was founded in 1979 in Utah. Initially it was a hardware company making CP/M-based gear and it did not do very well. At one point the company was saved from being shut down thanks to a last minute fund-raising effort.

In January 1983, Raymond Noorda headed the firm and introduced the multi-platform network operating system (NOS), Novell NetWare.

It worked on a server which used a Motorola 6800 CPU supporting 6 MUX ports per board for a maximum of 4 boards per server using a star topology with twisted pair cabling.

Novell based its network protocol on Xerox Network Systems (XNS), and developed what it called the internetwork packet exchange (IPX) and sequenced packet exchange (SPX).

NetWare used Novell DOS, a boot loader. It was similar to MS-DOS and IBM PC-DOS, but meant that users did not have to buy an extra licence.

Throughout the 1980s the company expanded its market share by flogging expensive ethernet cards and making its money back by Netware sales. By 1990, Novell was the only choice for any company which wanted to run a network.

In 1993, the company bought Unix System Laboratories from AT&T, with the idea of challenging Microsoft. The next year it bought WordPerfect, as well as the Quattro Pro from Borland to give it an Office package. Taking on Vole did not really pay off and Novell  flogged Wordperfect and Borland off by 1996.

In 1996 it pushed into internet-enabled products and a TCP/IP stack.The result was the brilliant NetWare v5.0, released in October 1998.

But by 1999 Novell had lost its dominant market position, and was continually being out-marketed by Microsoft.

Novell focused on net services and platform interoperability, but products like DirXML, failed to set the world alight.

Between 2002 and 2003, Novell tried to buy its way into new fields, particularly Linux in November 2003, Novell acquired SuSE.

Although Novell did not stop releasing products, it did not do as well as it hoped. While the Linux business grew slowly it was not enough to make up for the lack of revenue from Netware.

It then scored an own goal by signing a deal with Microsoft to cover patents on Linux. This angered the Open Source community, which had seen itself at war with Microsoft.

There was talk of Novell even being banned from flogging Linux.

In November 2010 Novell agreed to be acquired by Attachmate for $2.2 billion. Attachmate said it will split Novell into two units, one being SUSE. Either way, Novell has ceased to be.