Notes jumps on SuSE Linux, hurdles remain

Simplified installation process needed

Despite all the announcements IBM made about its intention to port the Lotus Notes client to Linux in recent years, the release for Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) 10 this month passed with surprisingly little fanfare.

The release of Notes 7.0.1 for SLED 10 makes it more cross-platform, with Windows, Mac OS X, and Fedora Linux already supported, and removes a significant barrier to Linux on the enterprise desktop.

IBM's Lotus regional executive for Australia and New Zealand, Jonathan Stern, said while the Domino server has been available for Linux since 1998, moving it to the Linux desktop is indicative of offering flexibility to customers.

Stern is anticipating more announcements surrounding the Notes client, including the introduction of a Notes USB memory stick that allows employees to take the "whole Notes experience" with them.

The next generation of Notes, codenamed Hanover, is in beta testing and will support the Open Document Format (ODF) and also be cross platform.

Stern said in a recent presentation to a Victorian government department, the audience believed it was done with Microsoft's PowerPoint but was actually ODF within Notes running on a Linux PC.

Enterprises looking to make the switch to Notes on SLED 10 may not find it a simple switch, however, as the requirements to get it running involve a number of manual steps.

One IT manager evaluating Notes on SLED 10, who requested anonymity, said while he managed to get the software working well, it would have been easier with a single package.

"I had to install the Mozilla suite to satisfy dependencies, install a patch for SLED 10 from IBM, and change configuration files with a text editor," he said, adding once all the requirements were met the installation was straightforward.

"I can't image a large Notes install base migrating 500 desktops over while it is this complex to setup. A single RPM [RPM Package Manager] package file would be much easier."

On the plus side, once installed Notes 7.0.1 proved to be backward compatible with a version 6.5.4 server so e-mail and calendaring could be used as expected, according to the IT manager.

The next generation of Notes, Hanover, is due for release in Q3 next year.

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