Cool Solutions

“what the heck!”


April 28, 2006 9:22 am





was i shouting when novell consulting, about 6.5 years ago, installed and launched consoleone on my admin workstation. at that time i had just filled a position in an nt server engineering group at an international company located in zuerich, switzerland. before that position i was working in a small company as a web and database developer and, on the side, was also managing that company’s netware environment. i was away from the novell business for about 6 months only, and so i expected to get good old nwadmin on my box but in stead: “what the heck!” i got consoleone. a java application that took about 2 minutes to start and offered only limited managing capabilities at that time.


i wonder how many “what the heck!”s went around the globe when, after consoleone had finally matured, it was violently killed and replaced by imanager, a terribly clumsy and slow web application at that time and offering only limited managing capabilities.

and i hope we caused at least as many “what the heck!”s when we shipped designer for identity manager 1.0 mid last year. but this time not because we did a brutal rip and replace of an existing admin tool. instead we added to what was already there. we brought the rich client back onto the novell administrators and developers workstations. the echo so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

so have we finally found the right balance? is designer the answer to all the cry-outs for help: “i want a rich client!”. until my very last day in novell consulting i had console one installed on my laptop but i considered myself a dinosaur. i had the chance to work with a good friend from consulting recently and as i asked him to log into my development tree, i expected him to login using imanager but “what the heck!” this good old friend, in the year 2006, launched consoleone!

so now please tell me: what the heck is it that you really want?

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  1. By:Mike W.

    A single management interface would be nice. By the time Novell came out with ConsoleOne, NWAdmin was showing its age and limitations. Once over the initial development curve, I got used to ConsoleOne and didn’t mind its little quirks. However, I was starting to get impatient waiting to have all of the products ported to ConsoleOne. Alas, it was never to be. Behold the future – iManager! However, once again I am waiting for management capabilities to be ported. Today, I try to do things in iManager, but I have to go back to ConsoleOne for far too many tasks. There are even things that I still need to go back to NWAdmin for. Decide what the management interface is going to be and then get functions moved to it before changing yet again.

  2. By:Flyingguy

    Well this thread seems terribly familiar, but you asked for it, so here it goes.


    USE X-PLATORM COMPILERS, DUMP THAT POS ComsoleOne, rename IManger to iMANGLER because it just DOES NOT WORK!!!!

    Everyone seems to think these web based interface tools are THE thing, well I am here to tell you they are NOT.

    I will state once again, that web based interfaces DO NOT WORK THE SAME browser to broswer, if you dont believe me then try running iManager is the follwoing broswers:

    1. IE
    2. FireFox
    3. Netscape
    4. Opera
    5. Safari

    You will get different Looks, Feels and capabilities depending on which one you use and NONE of them function correctly and for that matter iManager does not function correctly!

    Next Point:

    DO NOT let the various groups each develop their own interface, this will land you in the equivilent of DLL hell. Its a fact, thats the way it is and unless you start slapping people upside the head with a server, they wont change, because you get developer A whos thinks SOAP is just the Best, another who wants to do it in java servlets and yet another who thinks it who thinks it should be done yet another way.

    Next Point:

    Win32, Gnome/KDE and Aqua all have the same set of graphical interface elements for manipulating data. They all have radio buttons, edit boxes, tabs Controls, string lists,etc. etc..

    Are you listening?????

    Next Point:

    ALL of this can be done with a set of text files, be it in XML format, field value pairs ( ini style ) to feed a GUI based tool that will build the forms and fields on the fly to allow an administrator to admin whatever part of the system needs administrating.

    As an illistration:

    Password Restrictions
    Minimum Password Length

    and INI Style

    displayname:System Users

    etc. etc….

    You get the point.

    The ONLY intelligence the tool will need is the ability to read & write NDS atributes,security and the ability to read & write the GW system for things like top down rebuilds and even that could be built this way.

    The bottom line is this:

    We need a tool that works now, that works for the future, that just plain works, that is extensable and flexible. After SysCon NWAdmin was the best thing running, implemented a little strangely, but it still worked well. Use that as a model, update it but dont try and get to fancy with it, because that will inevatably casue things to break.

    – Bill

  3. By:M. Duran

    How about developing something with MONO. It’s cross platform and will work with Windows and Linux. Implement all the right plug-ins. And I think everybody will be happy.
    By the way, make it look like ConsoleOne the look is nice, but ConsoleOne is soooo slow. I can edit 10 users in nwadmin in the same time I edit 1 in ConsoleOne.
    We still use nwadmin to create the users and edit Bordermanager and NDPS. Open ConsoleOne for Groupwise and Zenworks. Goto iManager to edit DirXML properties and printerproperties.

    We want ONE app to do everything not an webbrowser. It’s not like we’re administrating a Linksys Router.

  4. By:Andrew

    I hate to say it but ideally I see TWO clients complementing each other- in today’s terms ConsoleOne ( ConsoleTwo, Designer or whatever ) and iManager.

    I use C1 every day on my laptop, and I still use NWAdmin ( mainly for quick search / changing basic user attributes ), and I use iManager too ( I used to hate it but now I think it is at the very least Ok ).

    I do not think you will ever get a web based client to be as convenient and easy to use as the rich client – but does it have to ? I could be wrong ( in fact I hope I will ). Should it be just an alternative way to manage your network from anywhere, anytime ?

    The rich client should provide a superior UI, perhaps some fancy ( how about 3d-like ? ) controls, intuitive, smart environment .. think xGL vs telnet-like UI ( the latter being iManager :).

    In the end it is plugins ( snapins, whatever it maybe be called for Designer ? ) that makes the console .. I am not sure if Novell can afford maintaining TWO sets for different clients. As we all know it has never been their strong side ..

  5. By:Cybex

    I too said “what the heck” when ConsoleOne was released, I liked NWadmin much better. I don’t know how long ConsoleOne has been released, but it still doesnt support BorderManager for example. Take iManager, still no plugins to admin a Groupwise environment. I don’t understand why Novell chooses to do this, but it’s a big shame.

    I would like NWadmin back anytime, I preffer it above C1 and iManager.

  6. By:-Jim

    I think a single Client peice like designer is the right way to go.
    Still there are times when a WEB Page is all you can get to.

    Keep using the Eclipse interface and do not stray so far the “Designer” is no juet a plug-in to Eclipse.

    Also, PLEASE stop us from having to know if we use LDAP or NDS to login. Give it up either all logins should support both or got to LDAP.

    Of course a WEB Services type of back-end service that can take WS Calls from Designer or a WEB page sounds sweet if the performance a maintainability is there.

    Ok I am rambling.

  7. Obviously this topic is still a hot one. We are listening to everything you have to say.

    Bill Street posted the Identity Application Group’s console strategy a couple of weeks ago in his coolblog ( ).

    We got some rather emotional comments but beside that, the overall opinion seams to be well aligned with our strategy. Did you guy’s see the datacenter demo in the Brainshare Friday keynote ( )? Gotta see that. All Designer-based UI. Designer is like a virus. It will find it’s way into many parts of the company, I’m sure.

    Unfortunately nowadays applications and solutions require more than just a simple name-to-value-mapping as suggested in one of the posts. I firmely believe we need a graphical abstraction layer on top of the underlying technology stack.

    Keep posting and let me know how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking about the direction we’ve taken.

  8. By:Flyingguy

    A graphical Abstraction Layer????

    1St we had a HAL, now we need a GAL???

    Ohhhhhh PLEASE!!!!!!!!

    I dont need *pretty pictures* what I need is a tool that works!!!!!

    Stop listening to *fools* and start listening to the people who use this stuff and have to do *real world work*

    I administer, at last count, 34 different Novell Systems, ALL of them remotely. NwAdmin is by FAR the stable tool. I *cringe* when I have to use ConsoleOne or iMangler. I have NCP connections to all the systems, I light up NwAdmin and its just there, it works, I can handle users, printers everything except for GroupWise ( if its greater then 5.X ) and for that I have to use C1, and I dread it every time!

    Come on guys! Get your heads out of the dark and stop trying to make tools that are pretty, make noise and show movies, make us a stable, well thought out *tool* not a TOY!

    I dont need something bleeding edge that has 4 API layers, all of which are new, none of which are debugged and all of which will give us yet another blasted version 1.00 product that will *kinda* work, because quite frankly and I am the biggest “red box” supporter out there, your 1.00 products just bite the big one.

  9. I’d like to second the poster who said ‘please just settle on one interface and make it work’. We’re mostly still using ConsoleOne, but there are indeed plugins that are not available for C1 and still require NWAdmin. I don’t so much care *what* the administration interface is, but please, please, please, *actually release and maintain plugins for it*.

    Seriously, what’s with that? How can you release a management tool and not let it manage all your products? Novell’s apparent habit of releasing and then abandoning tool after tool after tool has made a lot of eyebrows roll here in the last ten years, let me tell you. And not in a good way. When did ConsoleOne come out? 1997? 1998? That’s a long time to leave a primary management interface unfinished.

    Sadly, I do have some major issues with ConsoleOne itself: mostly its speed (very slow), and the fact that you can’t have multiple views open in different places in the tree. I’m sure there’s nothing unfixable, just that they never got fixed, and then iManager came out so we sighed and waited for the plugins to get ported there… and waited.

    Please, just make *one tool work*. Then start innovating, once it’s *done*.

  10. the comments so far have reached from moderate to aggressively emotional. i encourage the people who are having massive problems with any of our admin tools, to report these problems either through our official channel in the form of a support incident or by email directly to me and i will then make sure they get entered as bugs or enhancements. we need to know what you are suffering from in order to overcome these limitations.

    chances for a not reported problem to get fixed are small.

  11. By:Jared Seth

    I’m not sure how having ConsoleOne installed could make you feel like a dinosaur. I couldn’t do my job without it, and from the other comments it seems most of us still keep a copy of NWAdmin around for certain tasks, since it’s responsive and probably the last tool to feel “finished”.

    To be completely frank, a browser based console is no replacement for a dedicated application, especially when it doesn’t support the full product line. While I appreciate iManager on those occasions where I can’t run one of the other tools, most of my administrative work is done where I have access to them and while I don’t have any numbers to back this up, I’d be willing to bet that’s the case for most of us.

    Honestly I would have hoped that lesson would have been learned from the GroupWise for Macintosh client. Fortunately Novell relented on the “just use WebAccess” strategy…unfortunately it wasn’t in time to prevent the company I work for from planning a migration to Notes.

  12. be reminded that my blog is targeted to the identity management space. administering groupwise, bordermanager or a netware server is only partially related but not the focus of this discussion.

    overall i can feel a big frustration that we have multiple consoles across the board, though.

  13. By:Rob S.

    I agree with two earlier posters: The primary problem with Novell’s administrative interfaces over the years is that they a) have changed frequently, and b) have never supported all of the tools.

    So my dream is that Novell stops changing administrative interfaces until you finally get all your products administered from ONE!

    (note: This does NOT include IDM Designer, which I don’t consider to be a Netware Administrative tool. I would hate to see Designer try to become the replacement for C1 or NWAdmin.)

  14. By:Joakim Ganse

    It doesn’t really matter what the administration tool is as long as it is only one and it works for all things I want to administer.
    I like the web interface for searching and logging.
    The web based remote consoles are so much ritcher.

    What I would like to se is web based “basic” administration which is easy for me to change the layout for my helper administrators who get nearvous in a big NwAdmin/ConsoleOne like app.

    Then to go with that we do need a big standalone admin client where everything is possible to do, including designing the tree/replicas before publishing, version controle would be nice here to.

    Make sure all products support your tool before shipping, at least administrating users/zenworks and groupwise.

    Do not extend Designer to do this as IDM is a totaly seperate product and the only Novell product that really is penetrating the market outside classic NetWare buissiness. (I run it at two Microsoft only customers).


  15. I must echo the thoughts of my collegues. We too have been using ConsoleOne for some tasks, but have to fall back on NWAdmin for NetMail management and custom Snapins prepared in the old Netoria Schemax days.

    Among my coworkers, I am the one most sold on Imanager, mostly because I am the IDM person, but even still, we are still only at Imanager 2.02. That product is simply a tough sell.

    I have taken extreme measures to try and strip the C1 client down to speed it up (removing language files, etc), but still it is slower than all get out.

    If anything, I’d like to see a choice AT INSTALL of Consoleone of languages so that there is NOT a full installation of unneeded files, to conserve memory.

    I also highly recommend Wolfgang Schrieber’s C1x.exe program as a preloader to ConsoleOne….it allows you to preselect the plugins you need prior to a C1 session…if you don’t need LDAP…deselect it and it will temporarily copy it off ….an absolute must have….google for it….

    Pete Fanning

  16. By:David Flax

    I don’t mind C1 but it can be extremely slow even installed locally I can load up NWAdmin32 in half the time I load up C1. Find one interface, something fast, and make everything work through it. I dread opening up C1 and finding out that its locked for whatever reason close out and wait for it to load again. NwAdmin works and has always worked. I don’t want to click thorugh all my different options like in Imanager. I just want it all to be there when I need through one interface that has all the snapins I need.

    Please, please do something. I hate using 3 tools to do the job of one.

  17. My thoughts. Three tools. A web based tool that can be used anywhere, a thick client GUI for administration functions, and a third tool for design/architect functions.

    All three tools should be fast, easy to use, and aesthetically pleasing. The admin tools need to support all products and administrator’s should NEVER have to hunt for plugins. There should be some sort of automatic routine within the app to check for and install all desired plugins and keep them up to date.

    I think currently iManager is fairly good for a web based app that can be mostly used when a fat client isn’t available or for helpdesk functions where you don’t want to deploy a fat client and you only want a certain amount of functionality.

    Console one and NW Admin need to be replaced by something that is fast, and again I’m sick of hunting for plugins, or switching back and forth between NW Admin, C1, and iManager because only one of them supports a particular product. The fat client admin tool needs to be able to do EVERYTHING that the web tool can do if not more.

    Designer is great as a Design/Architect tool. It works very well for the IDM space. I would love to see tree design, schema design, and replica/partition design elements added to it to make it a more robust tool. It would be great to be able to model your tree design from the structure to the schema all the way to the replication and partitioning schem.

    Just my two cents.


  18. By:Bruno Guay

    It is essential to keep Designer and [whatever admin console wins] separate. I’m wary of the “swiss knife” model; please don’t overload Designer with features not related to IDM design and development.

    A client-based, lightweight Designer is definitely the way to go. I have just completed a 2-year, huge IDM development project involving 56 drivers of all kinds with incredible rule complexity. Designer arrived too late to be selected as a dev tool so we had to go ahead with iManager. It was HELL. Most of us ended up using UltraEdit and an LDAP client as our main tools.

    As for the admin console, NWAdmin and C1 will have to disappear because they require client32, and frankly whenever we mention that to a customer they have security throw us out of the building. At least iManager is acceptable to them. Now, an efficient console based on the Designer model would be the best way to go, especially if it’s customizable to the point of having it load only the required subset of tools for a particular user.

  19. By:Frerk Meyer

    My Background:

    I had my first contact with IDM and Novell in my life in a 3 day seminar on IDM.

    We used iManager and Designer and where told about ConsoleOne.

    I’m used to the Sun ONE Console for administrating the Sun Directory Server.

    I must say I’m an Eclipse User since version 2.0 and I was very happy to use Designer. It is well done and impressive. I hate to switch to iManager for some task not implemented yet in Designer.

    As for the different admin tools: You could illustrate the waves of client implementation plattforms that where state of the art with each admin tool from Novell. It’s not Novells fault (alone).

    ConsoleOne is like the Sun Console a java fat client
    iManager is a Tomcat Web App (I’ve written my own on Tomcat until Sun come and provided their own in a service pack)
    Designer is a rich client like the IBM Workplace build on top of eclipse.
    And UserApplication is build as a collection of Portlets.
    I’ve to see it but this is also state of the art. Only critic is: get rid of jBoss/RedHat dependence as soon as possible. It has to run on IBM WebSphere or Geronimo, Tomcat would be a plus.

    It’s good to implement in the state of the art, but migrate every function to the next version. Otherwise on e would need to use 3 and up different tools together.


  20. thank you for taking the time to comment, Frerk! we’re trying hard to cover all the required and asked for features in designer to minimize switching back and forth. i’m glad to hear you like the approach we took and i can promise you we’ll stay on track and keep delivering fixes and new features at a high rate and quality.