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Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Mark Russell

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Posted: 7 Feb 2005
 

For the last couple of years there has existed an evolving web presence that many of you may not have been aware of - the Cool Solutions dot Com advice forum. Whilst not "officially" affiliated with Novell, the forum exists to provide technical support to systems administrators worldwide, the best part of it being that the support is provided by systems administrators themselves; people who do the job day in day out, with a wealth of real world experience implementing, configuring, maintaining and supporting all aspects of the Novell Product base - from NetWare and eDirectory, through BorderManager, GroupWise and ZENworks to the latest technologies available from Novell: Open Enterprise Server and the Novell Linux Desktop.

So who are we? Well, as I've said - we're sysadmins. We're not Novell Employees, we do this because we've been there, done that. Sure - the product developers may know how to use every single option there is in a GroupWise system - but we're the guys and girls who have to roll out GroupWise to 10,000 users and deal with the consequences. We're the people who can tell you how the latest patches to eDirectory will affect your systems, or what the real world benefits and drawbacks might be if you're considering a switch to BorderManager. We know what works best in our environments, so we know what will work best in yours.

The regular contributors to the forum have several hundred years' worth of combined experience in Novell product deployment and support, and more - most of us have a deep and abiding love of the Big Red N; like all relationships it gets sorely tested from time to time, but hey, nobody's perfect right!? We'll tell you where the imperfections are, and how to get along with them; we'll tell you about the features you never knew existed, and point you at places to get further support if you need it.

There's plenty of places to get support and we don't take anything away from that. This isn't a competition, but the official support forums can be a little intimidating to new users - there's nothing at all wrong with them but sometimes people don't want to post there because they're afraid they might be asking dumb questions. Well, in our experience, there's no such thing as a dumb question (well, unless you're asking where the ANY key is, of course!) There's a wealth of support available from the Novell Knowledgebase, but it's no use at all if you can't find what you're looking for; we can help you utilize this resource (and others) to help you extract the information that is most useful and relevant to your operation.

We have an Advisory Board - a hardcore of members who could probably do with getting out just a little bit more, who aren't necessarily the people with the most letters after their names, but who understand the problems that we as sysadmins and techies face on a daily basis. We do it for a love of knowledge, we do it for the love of passing on that knowledge to others; we do it because a problem shared is a problem solved, and sometimes, when it gets right down to it, because Misery loves company!

We have members from every habitable continent, and currently well over 2,000 users, although you can never have enough of a good thing! Every day we help solve problems, discuss solutions and occasionally argue about who's right - but at the end of the day we exist to assist, all in a friendly, non-threatening phpBB style environment. It won't cost you a bean, and we're not employees of either Novell or Cool Solutions. We're not paid for our work, we have no axes to grind, we have nothing to gain from product endorsement, and we'll always give it to you straight. Or occasionally, a bit wonky, cuz that's how the real world works!

So the ancient Chinese curse tells us: we live "interesting" times! a lot of us work in environments where the amount of funding available often seems to be inversely proportional to the demands of the people who think they're in charge - but we are living proof of what can be accomplished in the real world. Point your browser (Firefox, of course!) at www.coolsolutions.com - we're here for you!


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