back to article IBM's Ubuntu deal favors the server

Ubuntu is the latest Linux distro to fall under the loving gaze of systems giant IBM, in its endless march to unseat Microsoft from business desktops and servers. Canonical, the commercial sponsor of the people-friendly Ubuntu, has done a deal with IBM that'll serve Ubuntu well in the enterprise - running business applications …


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  1. Skinny

    I bloody knew it

    See my comment on the original 'Lotus Symphony' article...

    I so called that IBM would use this to force Lotus Notes out there. Admittedly I also put that I thought I was being rhetorical and just going on an anti-notes binge, but it turns out I wasn't joking after all..

    I bloody hate Lotus Notes.... Why won't it die? Hell even MobileMe is better than Lotus Notes.

    Just when I thought it was safe to go back into the Ubuntu waters, along comes a bloody great white shark with bloody teeth smiling at me, damn you Lotus Notes, damn you, now open wide and bite down on this air canister whilst I fetch my gun....

  2. Anonymous Coward

    @ skinny

    Carefull, do not shoot your self in the foot, nobody is forcing you to use Lotus with Ubuntu or any other distro.

  3. Adrian Challinor
    Thumb Up

    Well I think this is good

    Notes is a very good system for the Enterprise - not for home users, I will agree. But for corporates it scales so much better than Exchange. And if its supported on Ubuntu, the cost of ownership plummets.

    And if you, as an end user at home, don't like it, well - you know what? Don't install it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Lotus Notes still lives!

    I work in an organisation of 11,000 people spread over a very wide geographical area. Lotus Notes is perfect for that organisation. Exchange would just cringe in the corner in fear if anyone ever mentioned it! There are still valid uses for Lotus Notes.


  5. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    Notes is good

    The city council I used to work at uses Notes for all its internal communications - though, notes on Windows, for some godawful reason. They standardised on Win2k. Being government I don't know if they'll be too quick to shift over to an alternative, but that's probably 10,000 or so users, which is a lot of windows licenses to be invested in. they're cutting budgets now, perhaps i should phone up my old boss and make a suggestion.

  6. Goat Jam


    . . . could be good if they open sourced it.

    It's a powerful product that scales well with a horrible, horrible user interface. Let the collective efforts of the OSS propeller heads have a crack at it and it might be possible to drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Microsoft will shit themselves senseless when a viable OSS alternative to Exchange hits Linux.

  7. Ed


    What does IBM get from promoting desktop linux? A few more users perhaps of some free apps, and some users that were Windows Notes users using Linux instead... They're not even going to sell the hardware now that they've sold that off... What actually do IBM do in the desktop space these days?

  8. Skinny

    Notes Still Sucks

    First I would like to say I used to administer a farm of Notes servers spread across a number of sites / countrys (Well ok 2 countrys UK & Netherlands, but that still counts), probably all told handling e-mail and such like for maybe, 2 to 3 thousand users. So not up to the 11,000 quoted above I admit.

    I didn't say it didn't do it's job, I just say that it did it in the most unfriendly, difficult to administer, idiosyncratic manner I've ever had the misfortune to encounter.

    The idea of seperated servers, doing all that lovely replication, not just for e-mail, but data sources (and even applications) wonderful, so I'll give you that, the replication works well, after you've configured it of course (see below).

    Everything else, you can keep it, the client is bulky and slow, the usability is shitty, the end users couldn't grasp more than the basics of send / receive e-mail, ask them to use anything else and your in a sea of hurt.

    The multiple gateways required to do stuff, the endless, pointless farting around in configuration databases to get what should be simple to work, sometimes of course just changing the configuration in the config databases wouldn't be enough, oh no, that would be too bloody simple, no you had to go and change some config files hidden away somewhere (and where they would be depended on the aspect you were configuring, how the server was setup, what the developer was smoking at the time when they came up with that aspect) then go and restart the whole damn thing.

    I do appreciate that some of the above could be levelled at exchange and friends, but I've never encountered the same level of intense hatred that Notes has inspired in me in the past (Just mild hatred, soupled with some annoyance), when something goes wrong, put the kettle on, you're going to be there for a while.

    So for those of you that have to use Notes (I will not argue that there aren't some cases where using Notes makes sense) I'm glad your happy, you've a tougher skin than me.

    Ok I'm done now, please continue with your Notes compliments, I'll be in the corner having vivid flash backs and nightmares.

    * Ok I just read this comment again, and my first post, so er, I did kind of hint that it didn't do it's job, when I compared it to MobileMe, which well, doesn't do it's, but I don't care, Notes still sucks.

    Alien face, because he looks kind of annoyed too.

  9. CTG

    Notes? Meh...

    Having just left IBM, I am now free to say that Notes is a pile of pants. Or at least all versions up to and including 7. Notes 8 is an improvement, being based on Eclipse RCP, but it still includes most of the things that really annoy me. At least it is now multi-threaded!

    Nothing wrong with Symphony, though - it is just OOo with a Lotus silly name ;-)

  10. Hans

    @Graham Dawson

    Still using w2k? Your old boss certainly has a brain that works and did not take productivity crap about xp, he might be the right candidate for this indeed!

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Oh not again!

    Look for heaven's sake, leave it be, just for a little longer, please! I love Ubuntu, use it for work and home, works well for an IT techie like me, but it is simply not as friendly as Windows or OSX, yet. Let it grow a little first, wrenching it out of the cradle and forcing it to grow up fast, it will get corrupted, screwed with and then after 5 years of interference and broken promises, people say it's as bad as <insert name of crap desktop here>, a shell of it's former self.

  12. Eric Van Haesendonck
    Thumb Up

    Notes is still used a lot

    I worked for 2 companies in the last 8 years, and both used Lotus Notes and had developed a significant number of Notes databases (actually small applications).

    Beside at a time where some manufacturers are actively sabotaging Linux ( ) any support from a big company is welcome.

  13. Mark Aggleton
    Black Helicopters


    We use Exchange with double that number of mailboxes - and we were on 5.5 till earlier this year...

  14. Chris Miller

    Notes vs Exchange

    Speaking as someone who's provided support for Lotus products since Organizer 1.0 (anyone remember Threadz? :), here's my 2p-worth. Notes is a very good platform for rapid development of large-scale corporate workflow systems. Using it only for the built-in email and calendar services is a bit like buying a Range Rover and using it only for the school run - it'll do the job perfectly well, but don't expect it to be as cheap as a Mondeo.

    In this case, Exchange is the Mondeo of corporate email, and anyone who thinks it won't scale well past 10,000 seats probably hasn't used a version since 2000.

  15. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Moving On into African Leads with Grass Roots Virtual Support.

    Ubuntu IBM would be just Perfect, or as near Perfect as makes no Difference, for Zimbabwe.

    Would IBM like to XXXXPlore that SAP Application from and in AI Cloud Base?

    RSVP ....amfM ref. Bulawayo Fast Tracking.

  16. Len Goddard

    Notes on Ubuntu

    I've been using notes on Ubuntu for over a year without any significant problems. There were some hoops to jump through for notes 7 (particularly if you didn't use gnome) but notes 8 works at least as well as it does on windoze.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    get a move on canonical!

    Make iTunes work with Ubuntu. Oh, and Steam. Until that works I have to keep a windows dual boot on my machine. I don't mean no half-assed 3rd party botch job either!

    Maybe I should just dump my girlfriend then I can happily just stick to Ubuntu myself! :)

    PH as I'm planning ahead.

  18. ryan

    Linux, the Notes enviroment & Everything.

    Whether people love or hate notes, a lot of the RAAGH!LOTUSHATE! has been brought about by years of sub-standard notes apps knocked up on the cheap to meet a requirement with little attention paid to making them any good beyond meeting the bare bones of a spec. It's entirely possible to create some pretty damn good applications with, for example, out-of-the-box integration into your mailfiles without relying on you using a specific (or buying an entirely new) mailserver.

    The beauty of the Notes platform is that it's an 'all-in-one' solution. it has email, it has a web server, you can write and run native applications, and via Eclipse you can extend it's functionality with java classes to do funky Business2.0 stuff like web-enabled collaborative tools.

    If you're building an industry from the ground up, like we're seeing in China's fledgling middle-class, there is no reason to use Windows since you escape the userbase catch-22 (windows is familiar so it's used in business; people become familiar with windows because it's used in business) so a mature - and most importantly free - OS like Ubuntu makes a lot of sense.

    Imagine then, that you're a 1000 seat organisation and you've saved a metric fuck-tonne of cash on windows licenses by using an opensource desktop/server OS. Spend a relatively small slice of your now burgeoning IT budget on Lotus Domino/Notes and you now have a lot of functionality in one place without having to worry about interoperability.

    It's then upto you whether you take advantage of the simplicity of Form-based data-collection and use it to quickly and cheaply produce applications in-house, or pay a notes software house to create something altogether more interesting.

  19. D. M
    Gates Horns

    Notes is still used by many

    Well, the place I work for, use Notes (but old version 6.xx). We have sites across many countries, and internal users at least 7000 (not include many contractors and external service provider). Notes works okay. However, the client side is pretty bad (slow, buggy, configuration nightmare, etc), the server side must be really hard to manage (I work for IT devision, tech support area for business systems, our networking were out sourced). There are many issues we hate Notes, however, I don't believe MS exchange will be any better. In fact, with our usage, exchange server may never work.

    As far as I know, many large companies/org/dept use Notes, and any support for Linux Notes is good.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ow crap

    Lotus Notes on Ubuntu. I can't think of any reason better to go back to Windows.

    Look, I know Lotus Notes has lots of fans, but until IBM sort out the basic interface, it simply isn't fit for purpose. Yes, I know it looks better on Linux than on Windows. Yes, I know version 8 is a huge improvement. Yes, it might well be brilliant at the job behind the scenes.

    But for most users, the interface is what they see, and the interface is a very poorly polished turd.

    Sadly, IBM have an appalling record at improving software, so I doubt it's going to get any better. From experience, ClearCase was a good system 10 years ago, but is SCM suicide now - no one in their right mind could possibly prefer it to any of it's competitors. ClearQuest can't begin to compete with the simplest open source issue tracker (let's face it, a string of post-it notes work better). I dread to think what they've done to the products I haven't used.

  21. James Anderson

    IBM should drop the Lotus brand.

    The only point of having a brand is that the familiar name and logo should inspire trust and confidence and persuade the punters to fork out more money for a theorticaly equivalent non branded product.

    For anyone victimised by the Notes user interface the name "Lotus" inspires horror and disgust and would persuade anyone to be anything else no matter what the cost.

    For twenty odd years that the lotus developers have been telling people that the user interface is not horrible its just that you dont understand it, and, generally treating the end users with arrogant contempt.

    In those twenty years some of those poor punters managed to work out how to "bcc" a mail, impress thier boss and get promoted --several times.

    They would probably now be open to a low cost UBUNTU/OpenOffice solution as an alternative to the dreaded Vista upgrade except someone mentioned the "L" word. IBM may as well forget the whole thing.

  22. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: Adrian Challinor and Hamish

    I know of several MS Exchange solutions that scale beyond 15,000 users, they just tend to have lots of distributed Exchange servers dotted all over the place. I also know several Domin/Notes solutions that scale from several hundred users up to a 12,000+ instance. Generally, the users I have spoken to in the MS environments are happier, and the email admins are more relaxed. In the Domino/Notes environments, the users are generally p*ssed that management have foisted Notes on them and pray for Exchange, and the Domino admins all permeaneantly look like they need a holiday. My own experience - I loathe Notes with passion, and I used to wish MS would get round to porting Exchange to Itanium so I could get round the old scaling chestnut sprouted by the Domino proponents. I used to wish, but I don't have to anymore as we're currently migrating all our users off Domino/Notes onto Exchange and Outlook! YAAAY!!!

    PS: Thumbs up to Ubuntu, and I don't really care if IBM have mercenary intentions as it shows they think they can make money out of Linux, which means commercial users are more likely to give it a look. But, despite us using Linux for servers, I think there will be little chance of any Linux distro replacing Windoze on our work desktops for years. Still, it could be worse, it could be (shudder) Groupwise....!

  23. Alan Esworthy

    "No consumer will ever use the Ubuntu work on Notes."

    Hah! A challenge! I *will* do this, just as soon as I finish demolishing this brick wall and my head heals.

    Mine is the one with the extra-long sleeves with buckles and ties on the ends.

  24. Andy Silver badge


    Since I'm not a sysadm I don't care much about the relative merits of Domino and Exchange. As a user, I used to think that Notes was the worst email client in existence, until we were migrated to Outlook.

    Outlook is amazing: it makes Notes look good. Maybe not in an eye-candy way, but certainly for functionality. And the UI foibles? You get used to them. Personally, I will never forgive Outlook for re-purposing Ctrl+F to mean Forward. It means Find, dammit! And on that subject, Notes/Domino just pisses all over Outlook/Exchange for doing something useful like actually finding stuff.


  25. Brian Duffy

    Holy clueless!

    There are at least a dozen Exchange environments that I know of with more than 50,000 seats. I've seen a couple with 100,000+. Anyone claiming that "Exchange doesn't scale" has been uninformed for nearly a decade.

  26. Jon Kale

    @Goat Jam

    "[Notes is] a powerful product that scales well with a horrible, horrible user interface. Let the collective efforts of the OSS propeller heads have a crack at it"

    Dawkins wept.

    "We've got the world's shittiest UI. How can we persuade people that Bloats is a great product even tho' it makes them want to gouge their eyes out?"

    "I know, let's get a load of Flosstards to redesign it. That'll work well. After all, compared to Bloats the Linux desktop is only the second biggest crime against usability ever, so it'll be an immense improvement."

    "Great! Trebles and bonuses all round..."

    Breaking News

    This just in: legendary Year Of The Linux desktop postponed again, now expected to begin 90 days after DNF ships.

  27. tony baldwin

    discordant symphony

    But Symphony, despite th pretty interface, is not a complete suite, as OpenOffice, and a bit buggy.

    Including OpenOffice would be a much better option for enterprises.

    We use it here in my company (I'm the owner, make all tech decisions).

    We tried Symphony. It's not ready.

    We prefer FOSS anyway, and Symphony comes with a proprietary license.

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