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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 Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:01PM (#17024910) Homepage Journal
    Protest the Microsoft-Novell Patent Agreement [techp.org].

    I don't think there's anything illegal about Novell dropping its support for the Hula project, but it's another sign that they've welshed out on their former friends for money. About the best we could do in response would be to continue the project and get it deployed in the enterprise.


  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:16PM (#17025220) Homepage Journal
    What about Zimbra and Kolab?
    Both offer similar functionality to Exchange.
    While an Exchange server killer would be really nice it seems to me as there are already too many clients and ideas floating around with not real direction.
    Novell is a company and it's primary job is to make money by making their customers happy. I could very well be that the majority of their paying customers already have an E-Mail solution in place.
    Of course it is FOSS so if it is worth doing maybe the Ubuntu team will pick it up.

  • by LibertineR ( 591918 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:22PM (#17025322)
    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? Is it that Exchange is basically an anchor for Windows Servers, or does anyone have a problem with Exchange itself?

    When you consider the available alternatives, is their any room here for suggesting that in this ONE case, Microsoft did something right, when it comes to Exchange Server? 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.

    Which is it, and why?

    Disclaimer: I was on the original Exchange team, but no longer work for Microsoft. 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.

    Enlighten me.

  • Re:Calendar Sharing (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:37PM (#17025598)
    I vote for:

    http://www.google.com/calendar/ [google.com]

    and for offline (never used it):

    http://www.calgoo.com/ [calgoo.com]
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:38PM (#17025620) Homepage Journal
    people are free to do things you don't like with it

    Yes, when I wrote the Open Source Definition, I made sure that it would be OK for you to use Open Source even if the author didn't like your politics. This was because of a license I'd seen from UC Berkeley on the Spice circuit simulation program, which prohibited the police of South Africa from using it. And still did, 10 years after apartheid was over and said police were probably Black.

    But this case is different, becuase Novell and Microsoft have created a legal fiction of covenants rather than licenses in order to do what my license prohibits.


  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:44PM (#17025736) Homepage Journal
    Sorry, the agreement that comes with your software requires them to pay Hula developers how, exactly?

    The agreement doesn't require them to do that. That's just walking out on your frends for money. And I suppose you're going to tell me there's nothing bad about that, because it's not breaking the law.

    The agreement does, however, require that they not create a tiered environment of patent rights on my software. Which is what they are trying to do.

    Is "welsh" an ethnic slur? On people from Wales? Sorry. I didn't know.


  • by roca ( 43122 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:56PM (#17025984) Homepage
    Exchange is an expensive disaster. Attempting to replace it with something equivalent that's open-source is a waste of time. The genuinely attractive alternative is Google Apps For Your Domain, i.e., GMail (and GCalendar) for your company. Instead of spending lots of energy and money on IT staff and infrastructure and getting crappy results, Google gives you a better product for free. Who's going to say no?

    "People want to control their data", I hear you say. Actually many companies already outsource this stuff, and more would if it was free and the service was great.

    "Disgruntled Google employee could steal my data", I hear you say. Hello, your OWN disgruntled employees can already do so, and are probably more likely to.

    "GMail doesn't guarantee uptime", I hear you say. Google's already more reliable than than 99% of IT departments. I'm sure they'd be willing to take a little of your money in exchange for a contract that says so.

    "Don't want ads", I hear you say. I'm sure Google would take a little more of your money to make them go away. Thanks to their economies of scale, they can charge far less than the cost of in-house email and still make ridiculous profits.
  • by arkhan_jg ( 618674 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @07:51PM (#17026754)
    You missed one - bandwidth. Some of us out in the sticks have to pay a lot of money for high speed access; we've got 2MB SDSL atm, and can't afford faster. It's already saturated with our number of users, and you want me to put one of our most heavily used apps on the outside of it?

    Google apps for my domain on a box in my server cabinet? Then we'd be talking.
  • by ganhawk ( 703420 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @07:52PM (#17026768)
    Why is "put up or shut up" the only option ?

    This is his way of gathering supporters without spending millions in court. A lot of people on this site care about the issue and making noise by having a pettition with huge number of supporters is a good thing.
  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bl8n8r ( 649187 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @07:56PM (#17026836)
    The internet was built on standards. Open standards at that. If you do not have open standards, then all you have is a closed system that allows for no alternatives. When you have no alternatives, you are locked into a system that dictates everything you do, whether it is broken or not, whether you like it or not. Right now, there are alternatives to Windows, but one day there may not be. Attitudes similar to the above will determine whether you have a choice tomorrow. choose wisely and carefully.
  • by daveb ( 4522 ) <davebremer@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:03PM (#17026910) Homepage
    Yeah sure the MS deal is too fresh to be coincidence.

    But I'm wondering why Novell was going for it at all. Their proprietary system GroupWise is extremely stable and scalable (unless your admin's are monkeys) and makes exchange look sick unless you are talking about things like umm - you know - FEATURES and other fluff. But honestly - it ain't bad.

    Why would they champion an OOS alternative to their own product?

    But then - I can't say I really understand why they would champion Linux over Netware, unless they are acknowledging they've lost the OS battle and want to concentrate on selling the service and application layer/ring.

    I guess they were really buying into the whole OOS thing. Well - up until some manager started to wonder what exactly is left to sell.
  • by tenchiken ( 22661 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:14PM (#17027036)
    Once again, go take a look at Zimbra. There was a article in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago that was front page even that covered the traction Zimbra is getting. It even mentioned that Microsoft and specifically Bill G knew about Zimbra, and were starting to have customers bring it up. That's the kind of product the open source world needs in this space.
  • by invisik ( 227250 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:42PM (#17027374) Homepage
    Novell already has GroupWise. They really don't need another mail system. And they aren't going to stop developing it because MS asks them to--it's a revenue generator. NetMail/Hula is not much of an Exchange competitor IMHO.

    I believe that's why they open-sourced NetMail/Hula in the first place--to start getting it off their plate and onto someone elses who wants to run with it. Novell (and any company in the world) has a finite amount of programming resources and they cannot take on everything, as much as they do or don't want to.

    To my knowledge, NetMail was never really a full-featured desktop mail server anyway. It was a great large-scale webmail system and that's about it. I don't think that's the same boat that Exchange (or GroupWise for that fact) is in.

    Besides, as someone mentioned above, I think Zimbra is the winner here anyway.

  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alienw ( 585907 ) <alienw.slashdot@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:43PM (#17027378)
    You've never used Exchange, have you? Exchange is more like email, calendar, mailing lists, newsgroups, project planning, address book, and collaboration software integrated into one fairly solid package. It's an excellent product, and there is nothing out there that even comes close to being able to replace it.
  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:44PM (#17027390) Journal
    http://tinyurl.com/yhz8az/ [tinyurl.com]

    Novell needed to do some due diligence before they entered this deal. So sad. Where will all their engineers go?

  • by shywolf9982 ( 887636 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:45PM (#17027404)

    Well, apart the fact it doesn't run on Linux, or Mac OSX?

    Exchange is a good piece of software, and is a key part of the overall integrated server system that Microsoft offers. I've been using Exchange 2003 (and administering it) for about an year at my job, and my major complaint is about something that has been added in the most recent iteration: the seemingly impossibility to retrieve a single mail from a backup.

    We used to made daily backups, and one day my boss came up and was like "uh, I think a week ago I accidentally deleted a very important mail, can you retrieve it for me into the backups?" and I was like "for sure!".

    But apparently, the idiot they hired to replace you (I know it was possible to retrieve a single mail from a backup atleast until Exchange 7 or maybe even 2000) thought that this was a very dangerous operation to allow, and I was presented two choices:

    • Restore all the mailboxes to day X (uh yeah, everybody's gonna love it)
    • I mentioned a second choice? Oh my bad, I miscounted

    You probably detected some serious hate surface between the waves of sarcasm, and I hope you can understand why. I mean, that's the only real complaint I have against Exchange, and is probably not too representative, but I somewhat got the idea that the application is now in its descending curb.

    Overall anyway, Exchange offers great features: and from a users' point of view, is a good application. As developer, I might bitch about the lack of support for standards, but yeah, that's a long issue.

    And the OSS community wants to "clone" it in term of functionality because it works, not because we think it sucks. Elseway, we wouldn't bother. Now, it's just a pity that due to IP fears you cannot particicpate to the developement of any open-source alternative...

  • by swerk ( 675797 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:56PM (#17027508) Journal
    I assume you're joking, but for the sake of anyone who's genuinely confused (I do tend to phrase things poorly, after all) I was speaking of Hula.

    I daren't say anything about the Microsoft deal, because I don't have sufficient information yet. The real consequences of that deal will shake out over the next few years. Many a short-term "good deal" becomes a long-term "what-the-crap-were-we-thinking", but I'm not convinced that Novell's "deal with the devil" will turn out that way. Nor am I convinced it won't. In the meantime, I've got code to write and checks to take home, so it's hard to be too unhappy.
  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tenchiken ( 22661 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:03PM (#17027580)
    This is absolutely correct. I have seen more UNIX/Linux shops closed because of the need for integrated mail, documents and calenders then for any other reason. First the execs demand mail, then calender, then wonder why they are paying for both Windows and Linux support... then Linux support goes bye bye, and the microsoft lock in factor hits.
  • by gujo-odori ( 473191 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:38PM (#17027856)
    I work for Microsoft too, for a little while longer, anyway (I'm resigning to pursue other opportunities) and have worked on Exchange. The criticisms people have of Exchange are pretty well founded. E2K7 is a ground-up 64-bit rewrite. Draw your own conclusions as to why.

    Why do people use Exchange despite its problems with the Exchange database, trampling on SMTP standards, security holes, etc.?

    Because as kludgy as Exchange may be, the set of functions it provides together with Outlook are something business find very valuable. There are three main groupware servers in the market: Exchange, Groupwise, and Domino. I'm not going to speculate on which of those three may be the best on technical merit, but the marketplace has generally chosen Exchange over the others.

    Why has no FOSS alternative to Exchange ever gained any traction? Well, for one thing we have a very large installed base and trying to get companies with a large and complex infrastructure to rip it out and replace it with something else is hard as long as what they have is working. Even if the something else is both better and cheaper, getting them to make the switch is hard. If that something else is not better and cheaper, it's impossible. And from the standpoint of businesses where everyone is using Outlook, putting in an open source Exchange replacement, unless Outlook clients could talk to it natively without any extra plug-ins, does not meet the definition of "better."

    Exchange is big. It's complex. It has a huge amount of code in it. Making a true FOSS drop-in Exchange replacement would be very difficult. You can duplicate the functionality pretty well, and many FOSS projects have (Kolab might be the best of those, and it's also very complex, and maintains it's own internal RPM database of its components, which I find just ugly), but AFAIK none of them is really a drop-in replacement for Exchange. If anyone could really make one, it might get adopted widely for its cost savings, but I'm not holding my breath. The alternatives out there are good enough to use in a business that does not yet have a groupware server and is setting one up, but not good enough to drive out Exchange where it's already established

    Meanwhile, Exchange 2007 is a real improvement over previous versions. Faster. More secure. Exchange Edge is aimed straight at shops that are all Exchange except for Sendmail or other *nix-based servers on the network edge. We've raised the bar for how how much any FOSS Exchange replacement has to achieve to displace Exchange.
  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mjm1231 ( 751545 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:38PM (#17027862)
    I recently completed an conversion from Novell's GroupWise (6.0, released in what, 2000?) to Exchange (2003 SP1) for our small network (300 clients). Granted, we don't use all the features of Exchange, nor do we have very many power users, but we lost far more features than we gained, and there are several features which worked smoothly and easily in GroupWise which are clunky or just don't work or don't exist in Exchange/Outlook. Also, the GroupWise server was rebooted about 5 times in as many years, while the Exchange server is rebooted pretty much weekly.

    Most of the users love it though, because it looks purtier.

  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:16PM (#17028664)
    that doesn't make it not a conspiracy theory.

    I know for a fact A and B are unrelated - I work for Novell and wanted to get on the Hula project. It's been dead for months, even before the MS/Novell deal.
  • Re:salt/wound? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by plazman30 ( 531348 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:46PM (#17028888) Homepage
    It's a shame you didn't move to 6.5. It's purtier than 6.0!

    I was on a project for a client once that moved from GroupWise 6.5 to Exchange/Outlook 2003. My job was to walk around the floor and answer people's questions. Every single question involved things user couldn't do any more:

    1. Why can't I get properties on my sent items and see if someone read a message without getting a return receipt?
    2. Why can't I take a category in my personal address book and share it out?
    3. Why can't I share out a folder easily?
    4. Where's my document library?

    GroupWise really is Exchange+Sharepoint. It's a damn good product.
  • by whereareweheadedto ( 959728 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:43AM (#17029918)
    I'm slowly starting to get exasperated by this community over MS-Novell deal. I work for Novell partner shop and wasn't happy with this, but when I read different statements, I got calmer and I'm pretty much waiting the outcome. But some of the statements here are plain nonsense. Conspiracy is everywhere, Novell bad, bad!! I know Hula, as I do many other open source projects. It is in no way a MS Exchange replacement. Could never be, as far as I'm concerned. I realise that it's very hip to complain and yawn about Novell. Don't forget that it was Novell that opensourced their Netmail project and enabled the start of Hula. To think that there were people coding Hula and getting paid is in itself worth a mention. There aren't many companies where you'd see that. While everybody is talking about Hula and how it could replace Exchange, I saw nobody even mention Groupwise. For most of you that do not know the product, it's full colaboration suite, not free or anything, but it runs also on Linux. I find that many times, when Novell name surfaces in discussions, people know only about Netware and that's it. If Novells marketing would do it's job properly, MS wouldn't sleep as calmly as it does now.
  • This is a loss (Score:3, Interesting)

    by horza ( 87255 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @04:56AM (#17030414) Homepage
    Hula was a great solution for those of us sick of configuring and reconfiguring Postfix/Sendmail/Courier/etc. Hula takes minutes to install, and a few clicks to add users and domains. It provided everything out of the box. I am really disappointed and was really looking forward to Hula with complete CalDav and re-enabled graphical admin. I don't really want the mish-mash of apps combined into expensive 'solutions' such as Zimbra. I guess it's time to dust off the HOW-TOs and feel the pain again.

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

    by tenchiken ( 22661 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @05:06AM (#17030452)
    • HULA is C, not C++. It is also built ontop of standards. IMAP, SMTP, etc. I am not talking about standards, I am talking about the open source stack. Use or migrate to what's already proven and out there with mind share as opposed to pushing your own incompatible LDAP system (never integrated AFAIK with other LDAP systems - certainly not with Active Directory) as opposed to continuing a system with a severe case of NIH.
    • Tomcat? Wtf has a java j2ee container got to do with a web server? You seem to be confused. Tomcat is a servlet/jsf container, not just (or even primarily) a J2EE container. Look at JBOSS for that. Tomcat is a primary way to serve JSF files, which puts it squarely in the dynamic web serving category. Hula had (last I looked, which was about 3 months ago) it's own web server for quite a while.
    • Sendmail is not, it is just an, unfortunately, still popular implementation of some standards -- Sendmail has the advantage of being the one true way to send SMTP email for a very long time. Postfix, Q-Mail and others have stepped into that role. The bottom line still is that I don't see anyone here making any kind of argument that somehow Hula's mail stack was a industry leader or as well tested as any of thoose aforementioned packages.
    • A web server is nothing particularly special anyway, particularly when you're serving fully dynamic content. So adding another web server for system admins to learn how to admin on top of what they already do is justified? Requiring all Hula developers to learn a different stack is not a good path for adoption of the technology.
    • The architecture wasn't particularly well documented, but it was simple, about as simple as it can get. But it was different. That's what people fail to understand. Requiring developers and administrators to learn completely new functionality that could just as easily be based off of other much more widely accepted open technologies is a sure way to loose developer interest. Is SMTP + Backing Store + LDAP + Web front end that hard to understand? Yes, if ever piece of it is proprietary, no if it's Postfix + MySQL + OpenLDAP + Tomcat/Apache.

    Why not just say it was too immature for you or you didn't like it, and leave it at that.

    Your right. I didn't like Hula once I got past the "gee-whiz" factor and actually started looking at code. And a year later, the reasons I didn't like the hula code still hold. Here is the rub, as a IT consultant (who has installed several 1000+ user email solutions on everything from Exchange to Sendmail + LDAP) I am out there promoting the daylight out of solutions that are not Hula. As a open source contributor I write code for solutions not Hula. And sadly, I still move people from Linux to Windows because their linux solution can't compete with Exchange.

  • Zimbra (Score:3, Interesting)

    by backwardMechanic ( 959818 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @06:25AM (#17030866) Homepage
    I'm not trying to troll, but what kind of open source project is Zimbra? A quick look over the editions page (http://www.zimbra.com/products/product_editions.h tml [zimbra.com]) makes me think the OS edition is missing some basic features (e.g. outlook sync). Am I missing something?
  • by Nat Friedman ( 31798 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @06:34AM (#17030920) Homepage

    Have you yourself never started a project and decided not to finish it?

    Novell would be *ecstatic* if some of the great developers in the Hula community continued to carry Hula forward.

    Good lord, Bruce, your character smearing of Novell is reaching new lows. To imply that this decision has anything to do with Novell's commitment to the free software community is just offensive.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.