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Novell Software Linux

Novell Dumps the Hula Project 440

asv108 writes, "On the Hula general mailing list today, it was announced that Novell is no longer providing full-time developers to Hula. While the project will continue, it appears that Novell is not committed to developing a viable open-source alternative to MS Exchange. The Hula project was announced in February 2005 with much fanfare."
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Novell Dumps the Hula Project

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  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @05:53PM (#17024784) Homepage
    Hmm, I wonder if Microsoft had anything to do with that decision?
  • Hm, I wonder why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RagingFuryBlack ( 956453 ) <> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @05:54PM (#17024794) Homepage
    Wow, I wonder how much pressure MS exerted to get Novell to pull developers off of this?
  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:03PM (#17024962) Journal
    Remember when the deal between Microsoft and Novell was to "encourage interoperability"?

    Here's that "interoperability" at work, folks...
  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by penguinrenegade ( 651460 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:03PM (#17024968)
    Looks like Microsoft money helps ward off competing developers as well. Novell sold out - plain and simple.

    Novell could have gotten large cash infusions, but instead they let Microsoft intimidate them. This is just plain wrong.

    It's pretty obvious what happened from the timing of the event. I'm certain we'll see more of this in the future.

    Apparently it was easier for Microsoft to buy off Novell than to fund SCO.
  • Calendar Sharing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:07PM (#17025050) Homepage
    For business users, I think the lack of an integrated way to share calendars is a real shame. I realize that such things probably aren't that glamorous -- but I'd love to be able to edit my calendar and have my secretary edit my calendar. Maybe there is something that lets that happen right now and if so, I'd love to hear about it. I do recall being excited by Hula when I heard about it before because it seemed like "finally" something would happen. So I'm dissapointed by this news.

    My present solution is for my secretary to manage my calendar with korganizer -- I then just overwrite my calendar on my mac laptop (ical works fine with the korganizer files). But it would be nice to not have to call her up and say "please put ____ on my calendar." I'd rather just do it and have the calendars sync up. The ics files are understandable text files and I've thought of trying to make a sync system by comparring the files on my computer and my secretary's, but I just dabble at computer stuff -- I'm not a real programmer and I can't risk my calendar to my low quality skills. So still I wait.
  • by Brandybuck ( 704397 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:14PM (#17025188) Homepage Journal
    I don't think there's anything illegal about Novell dropping its support for the Hula project

    You don't think?!?! Last time I checked there was no law forcing them to pay for Hula development. If you don't like Novell, just don't use their products. No need to pull a Redhat and imply that they're criminals.
  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by leonmergen ( 807379 ) * <lmergen&gmail,com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:17PM (#17025238) Homepage

    It's pretty obvious what happened from the timing of the event.

    Explain to me then, why is it so obvious and not just some random conspiracy theory ?

  • If you don't like Novell, just don't use their products.

    Telling me not to use Novell's products if I don't like them ignores the fact that I'm one of the guys who wrote "their" products. I doubt you can install that system without using my software. And thus I'm one of the people who just got screwed because Novell and Microsoft colluded to engineer a way for Novell to welsh on the agreement that comes with my software.

    No need to ... imply that they're criminals.

    Except that they've just chosen to ally with an authentic convicted anti-monopoly law violator, found so by more than one jurisdiction. And their collusion with that law violator is engineered to reinforce the monopoly.


  • by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:25PM (#17025358) Journal
    > Okay, hate Microsoft all you want, but will someone tell me just what is so wrong with Exchange Server that makes it such a target for Open Source replacement?

    It only runs on Windows? Duh.
  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drDugan ( 219551 ) * on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:31PM (#17025454) Homepage
    to everyone: it's about connections, stupid. connections (communication) between people is the most important thing we do, and it is why the Internet is important.

    Exchange is the MS communications gateway, allowing people to connect on MS the proprietary platform with the single most popular online communication tool.

    An open source alternative to Exchange is the single most important project the open source community could develop to allow IT managers to migrate away from Microsoft.

    Now, only days after a deal between MS and Novell, the open source project to build an exchange alternative is hurt by Novell removing support.

    No theories needed here, just look at the facts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:33PM (#17025510)
    There's something to be learned here, I think. If MS subverted Novell to (among other things) kill the hula project, It means MS thinks hula could have provided real competition to MS exchange. That makes it important to continue the hula project elsewhere, if possible.
  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:36PM (#17025578) Homepage

    Yes, because Microsoft was seriously on the verge of having Hula overtake Exchange.

    Yes, that's sarcasm.

    I liked Hula, or at least the idea of it, but there are quite a few of these sorts of applications around, I don't find any of them quite satisfying, and I doubt Hula has much of that market anyway. Besides, it's FOSS. Novel can't kill it if it wants to, so long as there are programmers willing to work on it.

  • by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:40PM (#17025678)
    I'm not suprised they're dropping Hula, or at least support in the form of developers for it. Hula was released simply because Novell had a ton of crufty Netmail code, didn't know what to do with it and couldn't make any money out of it.

    Netmail was repackaged into Hula with a logo, snazzy graphics and a lot of pretty meaningless hype. The project didn't really do anything because everyone already had a POP/IMAP and SMTP server, and there were countless open source groupware and calendaring solutions around such as eGroupware, OpenGroupware and Kolab. Novell should have invested their time and effort into one of these and bit the bullet over Groupwise in order to really try and take the ubiquitous Exchange head-on in corporate environments and make some headway. However, Novell still seem to be flogging that rancid and long deceased horse called Groupwise for some reason. Every Novell using company that I know (Netware, Groupwise etc.) is using Exchange, and Novell were going to need to do something different to change that - remove licensing costs at the server and CAL ends, ensure trouble-free Exchange migrations, ensure there was a free and working Outlook plugin etc. etc. Basically, remove the barriers to actually moving away - something Novell is hopelessly poor at. All of their customers (apart from Suse) they have now are basically historical from the eighties and nineties, as you have to literally fight to buy anything from Novell.

    Novell strikes me as a company in a spot of real bother, especially with financial results around the corner. Linux (Suse) revenue has not increased in any way that is going to sustain them as a company by itself, Red Hat is miles off in the distance, the Netware userbase is continuing to shrink which it was before Novell's Suse move, and worse, there is still no sign whatsoever that Novell is creating a Linux distribution with open source software that will replace Netware, functionally speaking, and completely satisfy their existing customer base and stop them leaving. Novell talks a lot about choosing a Netware or Linux kernel in OES (Open Enterprise Server) or virtualising Netware, as is, under Linux via Xen. That's the extent of their support of Netware and the roadmap that they have for it, and by all accounts their customers are less than impressed by it.

    It seems as though Novell really needed that $300 million from Microsoft, and I would expect many more cutbacks on lots of open source projects and even the proprietary software that isn't making any money in the run up to the next round of financial results.
  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:47PM (#17025802)
    Okay, hate Microsoft all you want, but will someone tell me just what is so wrong with Exchange Server that makes it such a target for Open Source replacement?

    For many open-source idealists, it is a major target because it is (1) commonly used, (2) in a business-critical role, and (3) close-source.

    I would like someone to honestly tell me either that Exchange has problems that need fixing, or that Exchange must go for Linux to gain more share in the Enterprise space.

    Since Exchange server doesn't run on Linux, clearly the perceived need for Exchange is a barrier to Linux advancement, whether or not Exchange also has functional problems, but many people who want Linux to advance (probably virtually all of them that don't have a financial stake in some Linux-oriented business) are open-source idealists that want open-source software to become more dominant, and Exchange is, simply by its own dominance, a target for that, besides any barrier it poses to Linux adoption.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:59PM (#17026016)
    The real issue isn't that Exchange is good or not, but that it is a proprietary standard (oxy moron I know) and there are no other options (specifically other platforms) you can use to interface with it professionally (ie seamless). The MS solution is to run your entire enterprise on Windows, which as a company I can understand. But there are other people using other operating systems for workstations, and for good reason. So just interfacing with Exchange is a basis for the "OS War".

    There is no great alternative to exchange in the OSS realm. To some degree that does show that MS did a good job with Exchange, since it seems to be difficult for the OSS community to reproduce such software at the same calibre. But the real story is that Exchange has so much of the market, and is already doing an effective job, that the OSS community is instead trying to interface with exchange instead of replacing it. And in lots of shops, Exchange + Windows is fine and working for 100+ workstations but for the 20+ or so that can't be Windows, they are SOL.

    What I (and I would think lots of other people) would like to see is MS develop a *nix client to interface to an Exchange server (even if the server had to be MS based). Those of us who haven't totally sworn off MS, or don't think they are inherently evil, would buy said software, and implement it in our systems where needed. What pisses this sys admin off is when something like an e-mail client/server issue has to dictate several hundred OS purchases.

  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by onescomplement ( 998675 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @07:19PM (#17026300)

    I think it's Microsoft looking at the Hula code and going to Novell and saying "well, we kinda looked at this and did you notice this copyright infringement here and trademark infringement here, not to mention likely patent problems..." (dull thud of Exchange-related patents hits table.) ...and oh by the way, to work nicely together we need to show you our extended roadmap for Exchange and .NET (dull thud of NDAs hits table) and particularly your engineers to ensure we work well together. Did we mention we have free soft drinks on our campus?

    At least, this will serve as a case study, as does SCO. Too bad it has to be Novell. I still uncover Novell Netware networks chundering away, no backups, nobody left who remembers anything about it. It's The Server and accorded near-holy status. One, last year, still hooked up with coax. They'd violated every ethernet topology rule and it was still working.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @07:33PM (#17026530)
    doesn't anyone see this as a good thing???

    if novell takes developers off this project they can't pollute the code with ms IP

    my hope is they saw this possibility and decided to move people off the project before they really did some damage
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @07:41PM (#17026622) Homepage Journal
    Too bad Novell didn't prioritize the development of the MS Exchange network APIs first. By now the protocol implementation should have been done. So Outlook and the rest of MS Office, as well as other Exchange servers in clusters, and Active Directory, all could have connected to a Hula shell as if connecting to a real Exchange server. That's the key competitive feature best done by an org like Novell. Which, as OSS, the rest of the community could use for our own apps.

    Which we could still use now, even though Hula itself is dead.

    It really looks now like Novell doesn't get "open source", and never did. Its management understood that it was the new buzzword, the only way to compete with Microsoft, somehow. So they bought a Linux distro (SuSE), and a desktop (Ximian), and announced a groupware (Hula). But they never really opened their projects, and left the source open mainly as a way to keep developers interested in developing for the "Novell" brand, long after there was any other reason left.

    Meanwhile, SCO's lawsuits showed the power of open source, both threatening markets and defending from patent suits, as part of an organized effort by the global developer public. Even a way to work with a competitor like IBM without directly coordinating, just keeping the open content out in the public.

    But they learned nothing about open source, its community, its culture, it's true value. They learned only that Microsoft so fears Linux that it will pay huge money for cross-licensing a single Linux run by a clueless, decrepit old competitor MS has already beaten every time, for 20 years. So MS can just crush it last, after MS has used Novell to attack Linux.

    I really don't care about Novell. Their Directory Server will be a loss, but the LDAP servers will improve when they have to serve its demanding market. SuSE's SW and ecosystem will convert to other Linux distros, probably mostly Ubuntu. Ximian will be replaced by other GNOME developers, or just a different brand on the same team members.

    And Hula will sink into the sunset, an empty promise by a senile old sellout. I just wish we could pick its bones clean for the next competitor to Exchange, without the Novell execs of limited vision getting in the way.
  • by munwin99 ( 667576 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @07:43PM (#17026658) Homepage
    This is exactly the argument I was making on the Ubuntu boards a while back. We need some "complete" sets of packages, ready to go, that have the hard work of integration done. Stuff like a Groupware server based on existing programs (Sendmail, Postfix, iCal Server, some AntiVirus, Spamassassin), yes, I know there are eGroupware, et al - this is an example.

    Ubuntu has gone some of the way with their Ubuntu Server - just select LAMP, and there you go. What about others for OpenLdap, some sort of SharePoint replacement, etc, etc. I'm sure the individual programs exist, they just need to be packaged together in a single apt-get install (sorry for the Apt bias) integrated package...

    See the below thread for some more info. []
  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @07:48PM (#17026714) Homepage Journal
    We really need a full active directory replacement. LDAP + KRB5 integrated compatible with Windows, with a schema compatible with Windows 2003 Server or such, and a management console that doesn't involve writing up text files and then using some command line tool to parse them.
  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by marcello_dl ( 667940 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:08PM (#17026960) Homepage Journal

    It's pretty obvious what happened from the timing of the event.

    Explain to me then, why is it so obvious and not just some random conspiracy theory ?

    I'm no statistical expert, but call event A "Novell pwned by M$", call event B "Novell pulls devs from a project which is a direct competitor of M$ stuff". Now, armed with patience and google, calculate the probability of those events in meaningful time intervals (3 months?). Now calculate the compound probability of A and B in the same period. Very unlikely huh? A preceding B is half of it. Does it open your mind?

    Your random conspiracy theory is called "cause and effect" :)

  • by Oliver Defacszio ( 550941 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:20PM (#17027116)
    The only language Novell understands is the language of money.

    Yeah! Those assholes! You'd think they're trying to run a business or something.
  • by LibertineR ( 591918 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:42PM (#17027882)
    "Is it commonplace for Microsoft employees (and former Microsoft employees) to develop the attitude that market competition is the equivalent of terrorism?"

    Come on, dude.

    What I was getting at, is that maybe Open Source needs to not try to compete with Exchange, and come up with a whole new thinking behind Messaging\Calendar\Scheduling instead? As for market competition, that is exactly what I am asking about; Where is it with respect to Exchange? Why do so many think that Microsoft should just play fair and give up? You would have to be some kind of nut to think that Microsoft would not use every advantage available to them to stomp competition. That is BUSINESS!

    Why cant Microsoft stomp Google? Google changed the game, and didn't try to fight on Microsoft's turf. I think Open Source needs to do the same thing. What stops Open Source? Lack of a profit motive. Sorry to play the old "Greed is Good" line, but when it comes to motivating disparate entities to cooperate and collaborate effectively, Singing Kumbaya(lets all code for nothing but joy) wont do, my brother. Microsoft doesn't stop Open Source from competing more than Open Source stops itself.

  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CaptainTux ( 658655 ) <> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @10:04PM (#17028066) Homepage Journal
    Personally, I think that Google Applications is going to help change that though. Email, calandaring, and document sharing all branded with your domain or company name.
  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:22PM (#17028724)
    We have 10+ dedicated Exchange servers that handle mailboxes for many thousands of users

    That's probably why your systems don't crash often. 4000 users served by 12 dedicated Exchange servers is 333.33 users/server. That's PATHETIC!!!!! No wonder it never crashes.

    A turn of the century Unix/Linux server (server means: fast SCSI disks) can handle thousands of users with ease.

  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:26PM (#17028746)
    It's been dead for months, even before the MS/Novell deal.

    MS & Novell have been talking for months.

  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @12:11AM (#17029066)
    Yeah... because most companies want Google to have all their confidential information on their servers... Right.

    I don't think every company is going to be ditching their own Exchange servers quick for that option. I certainly won't be recommending that.
  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @12:30AM (#17029170)
    but it's all those Add-ons to Exchange that Executives HAVE to have that are the killer to migrating away from it. All the office apps, sharepoint, Active directory, all expect to tie back to an Exchange server and simply have no other way to use the "must have" collaboration tools without it. That's the deviousness of Microsoft.. all sorts of other apps that use MS development tools like .Net expect to tie to MS tools. Many third party apps use that "one piece" you've got no control over when it MUST run a special machine custom for your industry.

    I'm not knocking the OSS solution, not at all, but the "Exchange" problem isn't JUST an email server.. it's all the third party stuff all over the company that just assumes you've got Microsoft... In many cases you've got no way (profitable) to chase down all those loose ends... and when you finally DO, some middle manager pulls in ANOTHER must have app you have to fight over.

    What's needed is more SOLUTIONS and not just pieces. The modularity of OSS is a strength and a weakness. The strength is in rapid integration of modules.. the weakness is the problem that every geek expects THEIR favorite module to work with every other module... we need to start thinking in STACKS of features rather than individual apps. The issue for geeks is that their favorite apps may not end up in the same feature "stack"... in order to round out the feature set easily without duplication. I think Google building it's own apps helps break the "must have MS" syndrome.. but Google's stuff is still their own.. and much doesn't translate to something that's feature COMPLETE in OSS right now. That's the next step for Linux distros.... to offer turnkey solutions, and not just parts. Ubuntu is on the right track, but they're not nearly ambitious enough at promoting STACKS of functions "ready to go"... but the users in the forums are definately on the right track... witness Automatix. Now do that for domain/email/groupware setup and you'll have something interesting for business.

  • by idlake ( 850372 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:50AM (#17029604)
    I'm really just curious at this point what is driving the anti-Exchange bandwagon, because I don't see a real, viable competitor out there.

    Yes, and that is exactly why there need to be competitors for Exchange. Maybe in Microsoft group-think, a single proprietary product from Microsoft is the way the world should run, but in reality, we live in a free market and buyers should have a choice. And they need a choice so that the client access license costs of $67/client are driven down.

    Of course, the reasons buyers don't have a choice right now is because Microsoft has largely killed all the commercial alternatives through anti-competitive behavior like bundling, tying, and proprietary protocols. Open source is the only entity still capable of challenging Microsoft and giving users a choice.

    I would like someone to honestly tell me either that Exchange has problems that need fixing,

    You know, this question coming from someone on the Exchange team just leaves people speechless. To answer your question, apart from its anti-competitive design, yes, Exchange has technical problems.
  • Re:Oh, come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @05:32AM (#17030592) Homepage
    Could it just be that Novell found themselves with two projects aiming to achieve the same goal, and figured the suse one was better to concentrate their development effort on?

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