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Novell’s Ximian Connector: Let’s Play Fact or Fiction

Just saw the news from Novell that the Ximian Connector’s been released under the GPL. For the non-Linux geeks out there, Connector is a piece of software that allows Linux users to access content on Exchange 2000 and 2003 servers through Ximian’s Evolution email client. I wanted to jot down a few quick thoughts, and just for fun I thought I’d rip off ESPN’s “Fact or Fiction.” So without further adieu, let’s play.

Fact or Fiction – Novell’s a good open source community member?

Fact. They’d already demonstrated this with their donation of SuSE’s YAST and Novell’s iFolder, but the connector announcement further backs up Novell’s promise to give back to the Free and Open Source Software (F/OSS) community, following on the heels of the YAST and iFolder GPL. While Novell’s motives here are hardly altruistic – not that they would claim them to be – these are not minor packages being GPL’d, but important applications.

Fact or Fiction – Exchange connectivity is the last major roadblock to Linux desktop adoption?

Fiction. For many, it’s true, Exchange Connectivity is a big obstacle to adoption of the Linux desktop. But the question is more complex than any one platform or application – even one as vital as Exchange. We expect this to open up new avenues of attack for many distros, to be sure, but Linux has other challenges besides messaging connectivity. It’s close to being ready for prime time – in our view anyway (subscribers only, sorry) – but this isn’t the one release that puts it over the top. Nor is there one package that can do that.

Fact or Fiction – Novell knows how to win friends and influence people?

Fact. Ximian and SuSE already had substantial support from the open source community for their respective product lines – not to mention development staffs – but this move, much more so than either iFolder or YAST, is likely to delight developers. Connector’s functionality has always been in demand, as many developers work in Exchange shops, but unless you were running very specific versions of Mandrake, Red Hat, Solaris or SuSE, you were out of luck. Running Gentoo? Sorry. Java Desktop System? Same deal. This is why so many developers out there have been running Outlook in VMWare. Even developers running on supported platforms were often not excited by the near $70 price tag. But with the source code available, we expect Novell to have some new friends soon.

Fact or Fiction – Ximian Connector is a perfect solution for Exchange customers?

Fiction. Ximian’s Connector works through Microsoft Outlook Web Access components, meaning a.) that your admin needs to have that service enabled, and b.) it’s not quite as fast as the real thing. But given the alternatives – the aforementioned VMWare, or CrossOver Office type solutions – Ximian’s package has a lot of fans.

Fact or Fiction – Today’s announcement is a significant one for the Linux desktop?

Fact. While the GPL of Connector may not the straw that breaks Microsoft’s back or the ideal solution for Exchange customers, the barriers to Linux on the desktop are falling, one by one. Microsoft still is way out in front, but at least Linux can now play nicely beside Microsoft in Windows IT shops on a messaging as well as print/file basis.

And that’s all the time we have for now, thanks for playing.

Categories: Product Announcements.

  • Late

    Over one year later and YaST is still not GPL'd and
    iFolder server is still not GPL'd.

    Fact or Fiction – Novell’s a good open source community member?

    Fiction!