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IBM reconfigures Lotus Foundations for Linux

Computer giant wants to 'free desktops from Microsoft'

IBM has reconfigured its Lotus Foundations software, which includes Lotus Notes, Sametime and Symphony, to preload on Linux distributions like Red Hat, Ubuntu and Novell's Suse Linux.

The repackaging makes the middleware easier and cheaper to install on Linux PCs and free desktops from Microsoft software, IBM said.

The easy availability of collaboration tools could trigger businesses to switch to Linux, IBM executives said at the Linuxworld conference.

Citing Linux as a low-cost operating system compared to Windows, IBM hopes that preloading the tools on Linux could also help break Microsoft's stranglehold on the small and medium-size business (SMB) market with its Small Business Server software.

"There hasn't been a choice for the space, besides the Microsoft SBS offering," said Jeff Smith, vice president of open source and Linux middleware. IBM hopes its implementation could bring its Domino server products to more SMB infrastructures.

Deployment of the software, which is partly open-sourced and private-sourced, is as easy as a few clicks, especially for SMB's that don't have the IT infrastructure of large organisations, Smith said.

It also saves organisations time and money, said Lou Esposito, president and chief information officer of Stradasoft, which distributes IBM middleware. Making the middleware easy to deploy by preloading it in appliances or virtual environments has brought down install times from days to hours, Esposito said. It also freed up Stradasoft's resources, allowing engineers to focus on other projects.

"Now it's all put together, plug it in, that's what it's all about," Esposito said.

IBM also said it is working with hardware distributors to preload the software on Linux-based appliances, IBM's Smith said. The company will announce hardware partners later this year.

The middleware will also be pre-bundled with Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10 and Ubuntu Linux. Canonical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu, will make the middleware components, like Notes, separately available as downloads, said Malcolm Yates, partner manager at Canonical.

The Linux distributions are not limited to desktops, they could also work on laptops, Yates said.

IBM will also ship the repackaged middleware for Apple's Macintosh OS later this year, Smith said.


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