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IBM To Release Full Notes For Linux

Perhaps hoping to exploit Vista woes, IBM is making a full Notes client available for Linux a bit earlier than expected.

While IBM has long been an ardent Linux proponent and promised full support for Macintosh, Linux and Windows clients in its next release code-named Project Hannover, the company has accelerated the Linux piece. A Notes client for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 Update 3, will be available on July 24, with a version for Novell SUSE Linux Desktop for Enterprise 10 version due within 90 after that, IBM said.

Volume licensees can download the client code from their Passport site. Technically this Linux client is a Version 7 release. The current version of Notes is Version 7.01

Some observers say the company is taking advantage of the well-publicized difficulties Microsoft has had in delivering Vista, its next Windows client operating system. Vista is now due widely early next year, although many expect there will be further delay.

"We said Hannover will have an absolute equal Linux, Windows, Mac strategy. Underlying that is our transition to rich eclipse platform under Notes. With this particular news, we still have native Windows and Mac version but have introduced an Eclipse rich platform-based version for the Linux client now," said Arthur Fontaine, senior offering manager for IBM.

The availability of a full Linux clientas opposed to an existing browser-based client that supports Linux--could spark more partners to take advantage of IBM's "Migrate to the Penguin" program which pays a partner up to $20,000 for moving a customer from Microsoft Exchange to Lotus Domino/Notes.

While smaller vendors like Scalix and Open-Xchange offer Linux-based Exchange competitors, Exchange Server and Domino/Notes remain the two powers to beat among enterprise e-mail users, most observers agree.

"There's a big, mainstream mass market out there and in that market there's just us and Microsoft, two vendors. For us to offer mass market of some 125 million licenses sold, we think is a game changer," Fontaine said.

"One of the problems for folks with a Linux desktop strategy is there's one or more mission critical apps that don't support the platform. We did support for Mozilla/Firefox in iNotes so the Web interface was useable, but many customers want a full Linux client. [They] were maybe using WINE and emulators or dual-boot strategies to get there. But they really wanted a truly supported version of Notes on Linux," Fontaine said.

The Project Hannover itselfthe version number remains a mystery-- is due in the first half of next year, Fontaine said.

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