At a Glance
Although Mac OS X has made accessing Windows file servers practically seamless, Mac users who need to access Novell NetWare servers still need server-based software, such as Novell's Native File Access, or client-side software. For lone Mac users, a client-side solution is the better option. One such program is Prosoft Engineering's NetWare Client for Mac OS X, IP Edition.
NetWare Client launches like an application but, confusingly, has no user interface. Once launched, it places a small tree icon in the Finder's menu bar, from which users can access login and logout, volume selection, and preferences dialog boxes. This contrasts sharply with Thursby's Dave, which users access through System Preferences, and the Jaguar Finder's Connect To Server dialog box.
Cryptic error messages such as "Invalid IP number detected" appear in the corner of a window for just an instant and then fade away before they can be deciphered or scribbled down. NetWare Client's windows ignore important conventions such as 1-W to close and escape or 1-period (.) to cancel.
Prosoft's documentation assumes that users have a substantial understanding of NetWare and its terminology (such as tree and context), so novices will need the help of a knowledgeable server administrator. We were frustrated that Prosoft's support line, which isn't toll-free, always landed us in a voice mailbox rather than connecting us to a person.
Macworld's Buying Advice
A large group of Mac users in a NetWare network environment would do well to convince their network administrator to install Novell's Native File Access, making the translation the server's job. Prosoft's NetWare Client makes more sense for either one Mac user or just a handful of them.