Product review: Lotus ports Domino 5.0 to Linux

Although Lotus Development's Domino makes it possible to use the Notes development environment to develop and host Web applications that offer access to dynamic data and applications residing on a Notes server, it previously required a substantial infrastructure investment that was cost prohibitive for some companies. Now, following up on its recent announcement to port Domino, Release 5.0, to Linux, Lotus has made available a sneak preview download of its popular messaging server for the Linux platform.

Although this is a very early preview release and there is no definitive release date or pricing available, Domino for Linux aims to provide an affordable foray for smaller companies looking to adopt a groupware messaging strategy. Larger companies seeking to inexpensively improve redundancy and reliability through the addition of inexpensive servers will also benefit from this recent porting. In the past, Domino has required either a Sun server or the purchase of extra client-access licences in addition to Notes licences for Windows NT implementations. With this porting to the Linux operating system, Lotus affords businesses a Unix-like stability with the free Linux OS, without imposing costly NT licensing.

I installed Domino for Linux onto a Pentium-based computer running the Red Hat 6.0 distribution of Linux. After making some minor modifications to allow Domino Server to use services such as Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) and POP3, which involved nothing more than disabling the Linux versions, I was off and running.

With Domino for Linux, I was able to publish my Notes data on the Web with basically the same capabilities that I've used on other platforms. This release currently lacks support for some of Domino's services, but Lotus plans to have complete functionality for Linux, such as other platforms offer, by the time gold code is released. Also, because Domino for Linux implements a new version of the database structure, databases created or compacted with this version are not backward-compatible with previous Notes versions unless accessed through a Release 5.0 Server.

The company does not currently have plans to release a Linux version of the Notes client. However, given that Domino offers built-in provisions for HTTP, IMAP, and POP3, virtually any client can be integrated into the fold. Therefore, the absence of Notes for Linux doesn't present a major stumbling block so much as an inconvenience to an otherwise comprehensive, out-of-the-box solution.

All told, Lotus' support is more than just a blue-chip nod to the burgeoning open-source community; it brings with it the efficiencies of large-scale groupware development at a reduced cost.

James Borck (james.borck@industrialart.com) is a regular contributor to InfoWorld and IS Director at Industrial Art & Science, in Connecticut.

The bottom line

Domino, Release 5.0 for Linux, alpha

Summary: Domino Release 5.0 (R5) Server for Linux offers primarily the same groupware functionality available on other platforms, but with this release, groupware development on the Linux platform takes a definite step forward.

Business Case: R5 for Linux is a comprehensive groupware development solution that requires minimal hardware configuration and runs on a free operating system.

Pros:

+ Low infrastructure investment

+ Easy to install and configure

+ Supports a variety of Linux flavors

Cons:

- No porting of Notes client

Cost: Free download

Platform(s): Supports various versions of LinuxShipping: No definite ship date availableLotus Development, Cambridge, Massachusetts; http://www.notes.net

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