John Smart

Linux Client for Lotus Notes

Lotus Notes on Linux is not new. People have been running Lotus Notes on Linux desktops for a while now using WINE and other windows emulators, etc. What is new is that IBM has just announced one, which means that Lotus Notes can now run natively on select Linux operating systems and be supported by IBM, transforming Lotus Notes on Linux from a geekdom realm where you must be your own expert into a viable possibility for the enterprise.

And while there isn't much in the way of experience with this client yet... it was just announced... the very architecture promises to be very stable. The Linux client is based on the IBM Workplace Managed Client which has not only been around for a while but has, at it's base, a very reliable open source application called the Eclipse Foundation's Rich Client Platform ("Eclipse RCP"... or most people just call it "Eclipse").

To quote from a press release, IBM Senior Offering Manager Arthur Fontaine said “What we haven’t done here – and won’t ever need to do, thanks to the power of the Eclipse RCP – is port Lotus Notes to Linux. Eclipse is a very flexible 'client middleware' platform that runs across operating systems and exploits virtually any application development model. Because it handles the integration with the operating system, applications written to Eclipse have a native look and feel but are cross-operating system by default. So today, Lotus Notes for Linux is actually the Notes 'personality' for the IBM Workplace Managed Client. Customers who download Lotus Notes for Linux today will receive code for the Lotus Notes client and the relevant IBM Workplace Managed Client code, and the setup will guide them through installation to create a Notes for Linux client."

Translated: This is simply a packaged subset of Workplace Managed Client that has a Lotus Notes plug-in, which sounds technical but don't worry because we've handled that so you can just install it and go, and doesn't cost anything beyond the average Notes license you'd need to buy regardless of platform.

Again I want to stress that this step is incremental instead of a huge leap forward, and that's what's so exciting about it. IBM already had the Workplace Managed Client. They already had the Notes plug in. They're just packaging it and supporting it now. Think about it.... the Workplace Managed Client is so powerful that Lotus Notes can be a plug-in that the Workplace Managed Client can auto-provision (i.e. "download and install") and guide the user through the setup, regardless of operating system. More exciting is how perfectly this fits in with their future directions, too. Hannover, the code-name for the next version of the Lotus Notes client, is exactly the same thing except for a newer plug-in and a little bit more additional functionality, which the underlying Workplace Managed Client will also auto-provision. Which means that not only is this a simple repackaging, but a stepping stone to Hannover.

Fontaine: “The next release of Lotus Notes, code-named 'Hannover,' will use the Eclipse RCP for all operating systems – like Sametime 7.5 – and will run with complete equivalence across Linux, Windows and, later, Macintosh operating systems.”