Just saw the news from Novell that the Ximian Connectors 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 Ximians Evolution email client. I wanted to jot down a few quick thoughts, and just for fun I thought Id rip off ESPNs “Fact or Fiction.” So without further adieu, lets play.
Fact or Fiction – Novells a good open source community member?
Fact. Theyd already demonstrated this with their donation of SuSEs YAST and Novells iFolder, but the connector announcement further backs up Novells 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 Novells motives here are hardly altruistic – not that they would claim them to be – these are not minor packages being GPLd, but important applications.
Fact or Fiction – Exchange connectivity is the last major roadblock to Linux desktop adoption?
Fiction. For many, its 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. Its close to being ready for prime time – in our view anyway (subscribers only, sorry) – but this isnt 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. Connectors 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. Ximians Connector works through Microsoft Outlook Web Access components, meaning a.) that your admin needs to have that service enabled, and b.) its not quite as fast as the real thing. But given the alternatives – the aforementioned VMWare, or CrossOver Office type solutions – Ximians package has a lot of fans.
Fact or Fiction – Todays announcement is a significant one for the Linux desktop?
Fact. While the GPL of Connector may not the straw that breaks Microsofts 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 thats all the time we have for now, thanks for playing.