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Linux Intranet Application and Collaboration Software? 152

_blueboy asks: "I work in IT at a medium-sized Life Sciences company, and we are in the process of developing an intranet. As one of the primary developers, I have been involved in evaluating both development and server software. We are currently using an all Microsoft setup but it has proven to be very finicky, unreliable, and unpredictable. Our director is currently evaluating Domino R5 but several of us would like to move to Linux and Apache. Our director likes the idea that Notes & Domino form a "complete package". I know that Lotus is planning to ship Notes & Domino for Linux soon. Does anyone have any experience with the Lotus software and how well would it likely run on Linux? Are there any similar packages for *nix/apache or any companies that might provide a similar custom built solution? It is essential that the software be able to provide us with easy and reliable document sharing/collaboration tools for a Windows network. "
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Linux Intranet Application and Collaboration Software?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Domino and Zope have lots of similarities:
    - a different way of solving problems that takes some getting used to (Domino is quirkier);
    - an object model (Zope's can be extended);
    - suitability for a range of business solutions (Domino comes with more prebuilt templates but that is changing as Zopistas charge ahead);
    - multiplatform;
    - impressively powerful.

    When I started to design an Domino-based intranet application framework, I realized how all the Zope work I had been doing made Domino seem so restrictive. On the other hand, Domino had already solved issues like rich security model and automatic document conversion to HTML.
    I think that despite the extensive documentation and training available for Domino compared to Zope, after 6 months you would be more productive using Zope, you would have saved a bundle, and you'd have a lot more fun.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sorry for posting anon. First I've built and admin'd both M$ Exchange and Lotus Notes. Both for about 3000 ppl, and across the US. My current employer pays me to maintain Notes. I learned it when I hit the ground running with it. Notes or open source ? I agree with a previous poster. Very carefully consider what you need vs. what you want. Avoid the M$ offering of the week. Compared with Notes, M$ is not just 5 years, but closer to ten years behind on document/knowledge management. Been there, done that, have the scars to prove it. On Notes on Linux. I loaded it, ran it, etc. Not bad for a beta product. However, thier lack of inclusion of a Linux client is a gross, near unforgiveable error on Lotus's part. Don't disregard this. If discussing purely the techno side of Notes in relation to your need, I think you will find it very friendly. However, learn the product. Pay good $$ for the classes, train, get certified ( Lotus' certification does really help you in the real world -- of Notes ). Most ppl who bitch and moan about how crappy Notes is 1: Run it on NT 2: Have insufficient education in the product Cranking out content, securely ( if needed ) and distributing it globally becomes trivial with Notes. Notes may be one of the few products that I have worked with that is an excellent example of groupware. Can it be hard to work with ? At times, yes. Can it suck in comparison with newer more niche products. On occasion Can any software actually touch the breadth of the product? Havent seen it yet. Find a Lotus advocate on the web. Frank Cseh comes to mind. Find some sites/companies using it well. Buy them beer and pizza, and once everyone is half sleepy, start asking questions, ask to poke around. Get good examples, before you give too much credit to the nay-sayers.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Today at Lotusphere Europe Lotus said it would release Domino for Linux V5.02 within 30 days. The full story is here []. Have Fun! Olaf
  • My suggestion is get an NT box with all the Microsft hoo-haa, Notes, etc. but also have a *nix box, with Apache, perl, etc. whatever you *really* like to develop on. This way you get the best of both worlds, and above all - choice.
  • Views are indices, period. They are by nature inflexible, and the selection conditions are static. You can't build up a view design and then change the selection conditions (say, a date range) at runtime. This means that if you need such a thing, you have to replicate it yourself.

    What's more, a formula search, as applied to a database, returns an unsorted document collection. When you apply an FTSearch to a view (basically applying a filter to the view), then the documents are returned according to search relevance -- again not by view order.

    I hear searching has finally been improved in r5, but in r4, there is no way provided to get a dynamically created collection of the documents you want, sorted the way you want. You have to roll your own.

    Obviously my original recursive implementation was dumb even temporarily, and I changed it immediately, but I still think that's a pretty damned small stack.

  • Lotus Quickplace does. Actually, it's quite a cool product, for what it does.

    It's fairly brainless to set up the server, then users can set up their own work environments, with full Notes security.

    I know it has a threaded discussion area and a file repository, which does convert Office documents to HTML with reasonable fidelity. The Office documents are saved on the backend, and can be edited directly through a Windows interface whose name I can't remember, but I know that Domino.Doc and similar big tools use it too. Basically, saving to and reading from the server are transparent to Windows apps. This is key.

    There's also a wysiwyg editor and other goodies.

    I expect it isn't too cheap, though, and I think standard Notes licensing applies.

    Standard Notes is probably not desired, as it requires a fair bit of customization and masochistic wrangling to get it to do many things. Quickplace, OTOH, is a no-brainer for a certain class of requirements.

  • CGI-like applications with Domino agents run slowly and high overhead.

    The degree to which this is true is incredible. We have 4.6x servers at work. This year, I had several occasions to write agents that needed to sort collections of documents. Imagine my surprise to discover that there's no standard sorting method in LotusScript (Yet Another Glorified Basic).

    No problem, I thought, I'll whip up a simple mergesort. My datasets aren't too big.

    Seven levels of recursion down, the damned thing runs out of stack space!

  • A friend of mine works in a company developing with Notes. It must be a true nightmare. Notes apparently is not compliant to major RFCs regarding email, that is well known. But the problems go deeper it seems. That friend described it once with the words: "Imagine you feed data into the system, when the disk is full you put a larger one in and still feed data into the system. But if you try to get data out of it you realize that either the data is gone or that even the administrator does not have the permission to get the data out."
  • Obsidian is under the GPL but they distribute it with a number of limiting clauses which the GPL doesn't allow.
    Nice looking software though.
  • You do not want to get locked into a vendor. That way will lead to pure suffering in all respects: price (both license fees and support) gouging, UI jail, lack of extensibility, slow bug fixes, feature bloat, feature lack, etc. You basically become the vendor's bitch. What are you going to do after you wasted $50 million implementing the vendor's system and then it sucks beyond all belief?

    All the open protocols for groupware exist already: SMTP, IMAP, POP, NNTP, MIME, OpenPGP, LDAP, HTML, HTTP, IRC etc. Find applications that use these protocols and you are set.

    Keep in mind that any company can publish a spec and say their system is open. But if there aren't competing implementations then it is defacto closed.

    Do you want to benefit from all the geniuses at universities? Most cool ideas come from a university, not a company. More likely than not the leading implementations will be free in some sense. They will not integrate into your Lotus Notes monilithic beast easily. Lotus Notes will not copy the feature for another year if at all. Lotus (or IBM) will gladly send a team of $300/hr consultants to come to your site and implement the feature. It will halfway work.

    Do you want to rely on the braintrust at a single company company or do you want the power of the IETF, professors, and hobbyists? Think of TCP/IP or BSD.

    A great new piece of hardware or OS (think Linux) comes along. No port for Lotus Notes exists for it. You are stuck sending email to IBM begging for a port instead of a recompile.

  • We already have the intranet ready for HRM management, things to do email and discussion are easy to implement too, all based on php/apache/mysql.
    If you want to know more, feel free to contact me at my email address, do not forget to remove the n0spam bit..

  • Get a Cobalt Qube/Raq box or a Rebel Netwinder.

    Small, fast, cheap($900-$1000), highly rackable ( 40/rack for the Cobalt and 160/rack for the netwinder)

    Come with groupware applications / doc management apps installed.

    No admin required.
  • It's licensed under GPL and written nearly completely in perl.

    FYI: OCS is *not* licensed under the GPL. It is a commercial product and Obsidian Systems requires you to pay them if it's used in a commercial environment. I do not know the details for the licence, their site is too slow and I'm an impatient person. I invesigated this package as an option for my company, and I found it to be a very decent stable package but a couple of things put me off: 1) it only runs under RedHat, and 2) my boss would never pay. :) It's good points are that, while it is commercial, the source is included (it's Perl!) and you can modify it to your hearts content. I don't know how they plan to support it if you vary too much, but that's their problem....

  • Ok, Ok, I'm wrong. I just did a check at freshmeat and it clearly states it's licensed under the GPL. Sue me. :) In that case, I'd strongly suggest this package. I *do* remember reading somewhere that it was not GPL, and I'd appreciate any clarification as to if they've changed their licencing policy of if I'm simply insane.
  • Actually I have it running quite swimmingly under Debian, and I'm pretty sure it is under the GPL. (Although they do prefer it if you get a support contract from them) Benno
  • I do think there are provisions for sharing the
    load between two or more servers. I think
    it would be worth checking the docs if this is
    a problem for youi.

    However I agree that since it directly reads the
    fs it isn't really the best solution. I am at the
    moment attempting to rewrite _some_ parts of
    it in Zope as a front end and imap and postgres
    as the backend.

  • My company ( uses Lotus Notes and Domino heavily, and I'd say it has essentially created my job (as a build guy). It sucks. Notes and Domino lock you into Lotus' proprietary solution to everything, but arn't capable enough to do what you'll inevitably want someday, and then you'll be stuck like we are. All of my big upcoming projects involve getting some Notes-based system we're using rewritten without Notes so that we can do what we need in terms of automation. I'd rather be using plain old sendmail and apache than Notes and Domino. Notes and Domino form a 'complete lossage' that you can't escape from whereas sendmail and apache's faults can be handled with other peices of software. That's the salient point. Notes and Domino do a lot of what you'll need, but when they don't do something, you're trapped. When sendmail and apache don't do something you need, you can find something else that will, or you can put together a quick hack yourself in many cases.
  • Like all there is is Compaq hardware. If you had said something like decent hardware, i would've believed the story about the clustered Domino server as well.
  • This was indeed true until version 4.5 came out.
    Now Domino is a rather open tool, that allow you to do things that originally it was not able to do.

    The thing is simply that you must know it VERY VERY WELL. There are many dirty hacks that really simplify your programming life under Domino/Notes. It's not pleasant, but now it's workable, and should get better with the next release, since they are shifting the programming focus to Javascript, Java and CORBA. And, on the server, you could use plain old C to do rather interesting things.

    I'd try, however, to AVOID using the client, since it ties you not to Lotus, but to MICROSOFT, and that's never a Good Thing.

  • I have several friends who work in various parts of IBM, where Notes collaboration is a part of every day business.

    I've heard nothing good about the Notes v.5 Win32 client. Mostly I hear reports about crashes, an irrational need for reboots, etc.

    Step carefully.

  • Seven levels of recursion down, the damned thing runs out of stack space!


    The answer to that is you mostly shouldn't use recursion in real-world applications. Design your algorithm using recursion, for sure, but then unroll it into the equivalent iterative version before implementing it.

    That way not only do you avoid running out of stack space (due to pointless re-copying) but you also avoid the overhead of setting up the call frame and of course the time spent copying those local PBV arguments onto the stack.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction

  • I've been hearing whispers from Microsoft that "Next year we'll ship a Notes killer" for five years now. Right now, Microsoft can't even decided what "Tahoe" is exactly, much less when it will ship. Anyways, wake me up when it happens.

    Other than that, your post is entirely full of astroturf crap.

  • The huge caveat with Domino on Linux is the 2 GB file size limit on 32-bit ext2.

    This shouldn't affect 90% of the Notes/Domino applications out there, but the product can certainly support larger databases. This might pose a problem if you are planning to migrate an existing Domino site from NT or OS/2 to Linux.

  • If you're losing data in Notes you either have developers or administrators that don't know what they're doing. Domino might be slow, but it doesn't 'lose' data.

  • The performance leader for Domino on x86 has always been Solaris/Intel. I would expect that on Linux, performance should be similar or even better.

  • Millions of Notes/Domino users are crying for better MS Office integration, and are going to the point of "masochistic wrangling" in the form of OLE Automation to get it.

    Lotus solves the problem, but packages as another expensive product, obscurely marketed and likely to be dropped within a year or two, just like dozens of other interesting but unpopular Domino add-ons they've produced over the years.

    No real point here - just the perils of dealing with Lotus as a vendor.
  • More importantly, do you want to use a non-existing open protocol, suite, or a closed source, properietary now-available one?

    What the guy should really do, if he can't find any open source solutions, is to convince his manager to spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars, and develop their own groupware solution.

    Of course, they would have to GPL it afterward and assign the copyrigh to FSF. Wouldn't want RMS to call them parasites, you know.
  • I took a 5 minute gander over at [] and saw a few interesting features. It's open-source, so perhaps you could use it as a springboard for rolling your own.

    Speaking of rolling your own ... (I see a number of people have already mentioned this route ... it's too bad there isn't a full-blown package out there to give some alternatives to IBM's Lotus ... but I digress) you could check out the resources at []. An application server, like Enhydra [], combined with an LDAP server could fit the bill. There's plenty of other application servers out there; I work with ColdFusion [] on daily basis. Allaire (maker of ColdFusion) has released a CF server stub for linux and a full port is on its way.

    Intranet wants/needs can differ greatly from company to company. Whatever solution you end up with, it'd be nice to have the flexibility to customize. *flex coding fingers*
  • You do have it wrong. There is a reason for those long URLs. Even so, it is not that different from any web based DB application. Notes is different. I am surprised at how many people knock it w/o truely understanding it. I took the time to learn it and am very glad I did. If it is a virus, then for once I am glad I'm sick.
  • If the view/form/document ident is unique, you can leave off the ?BlahBlah too. It also comes with a full url mapping system.

    It may not be the best at anything, but it is 1 product that does almost everything. No need to tie together apps...start doing that and you start acting like MS.

  • I installed R5 on NT the day it came out and havn't rebooted since, and I run a lot more than just domino on that box in only 64mb of ram.

    Just goes to show that its not always the OS/Hardware
  • ahem...domino has clustering built in...
  • Notes is perfect for that. I could have all that up and running in less than 10 minutes. Notes comes with existing templates for address books, discussion groups, etc.

    A rookie can pick up programming new apps is about a month. I wrote an entire ecommerce system in my first 6 months and it has been running for 2 years now.

  • personally, i've never called up tech support and said "Hey my client is working great today!"

    Notes client crashes no more than any other windows app.
  • If there were to be a Linux port of Lotus
    stuff, wouldn't it also run on BSDs, not
    to mention SCO and solaris. That
    may (?) be even more stable.
  • I would suggest Apache/Zope

    I also brought this in to an all-NT environment, and so-far, it was worked out very nicely.

  • Lotus Notes is a virus. I've worked with a few people who have caught it, and they feel compelled to introduce it into every company whether it's suited for the job or not.

    Domino is an abomination. Do you ever email URLs to people from memory? You'll never do that again if you use Domino. The URLs are usually more than 60 chars of hex. There are ways around that, but they break the 'fully automated, luser-updatable' model.

    I am not a Notes admin, so I might have this all wrong. But I've never seen it work any other way. And I'm sorry that I don't have any positive suggestions. I can only advise you to run as fast as you can from Notes and Domino.
  • To remain in PHP you could also use Phorum as "forum" app.

    (The URL is in the site

  • It's not free but have a look at
  • Yeah i checked at freshmeat too before i submitted this comment :)
  • I developed the basic framework of our corporate intranet in about 40 hours using Zope. Know that I went from "ground zero" knowledge of Zope and/or Python to fully functional site in this time. Our intranet current performs the following:

    - Provides dummyproof interface to upload and download files per-department. They can also delete their uploaded files. Security is managed on a per-department basis. Users can manage their own department's user permissions. They can also maintain a private filestore.

    - Allows users to add news items in their respective which are displayed on the home page. Users may also edit and delete their own news items.

    - Allows our "partnership coordinator" to post information about our various industry partnerships (we're an IT consultancy, as such we have relationships with many vendors, etc.)

    - Allows users to search all text-based files on the site for specific words contained in the id, title, or content.

    It's not done, but it's getting there. I posted an analysis of my experiences with both Zope and Microsoft Site Server in this role:

    Zope really shines. It's really just great.
  • Previous posts are very correct to say that if you go Notes, you are locked into a proprietary hole. You are stuck in a world of flat files with a rather poor development tool. The e-mail and calendar tools are not that great either.

    We are currently looking at Oracle and Cold Fusion (both of which run on Linux now)because we are going to do a rather large rollout. I would guess that many of the other solutions listed would work well for an intranet though.
  • >Do you ever email URLs to people from memory? You'll never do that again if you use Domino.

    You can always do:

    You don't *have* to use the 32-bit hex key, it just generates them by default.

    (I develop on some corporate Notes apps for a living)
  • I've been playing with HP's OpenMail [] today and the little I've done says it's very nice. I haven't gotten to do much with it because I have another very large project that I'm working on. The documentation is very nice, and everything can be administrated from the command line. Unfortunately, I hadn't been able to get the omadmin vt100 client to work (the screenshots look cool :-) although the command line configuration utilities worked fine and all the command names seem very logical.

    It will work with outlook (as something like an exchange server) and it comes with a linux client, however it didn't look extremely pretty. What I liked most was the licensing. According to the page, it looks about half the price of an equivalent Exchange setup, however you buy the licenses in bulks of 50. ml []

    and 00/showfile.cgi?100-1458 []
  • Hi

    Jon Udell [] talks a lot about groupware solutions using 'simple' Internet protocols such as NNTP and HTTP. Collaboration tools, examples and discussions of this are available in his new book Practical Internet Groupware - see [] for more details.

    This may help, and fit in nicely with the move to Linux. Good luck

    dj (not related to Jon, just interested in what he has to say).

  • I ca't recommend the book PHP , browser based applications " by McGraw Hill enough . It has a very clear explanation of how ot get theses technologies compiled and set up correctly on your system(s) including iODBC ( for windows database connectivity ) . MySQL is a dream andf PHP really makes mundane tasks easy ( I haven't used it for ultra complex stuff yet ... I am sticking to Java Servlets ) Apache is a snap and integrates seamlessly with both PHP and MySQL . As for the web viewing of Word Documents ... I am not even sure if Microsoft is doing that . Your Squire Squireson
  • the replication of databases across servers is the only arguement that you put forward that means anything . I am sorry but monolithic=robust ? uhhhhh , not in my recent experience . It is true that domino has reduced some of our work ( in hte past ) but it has mainly done so by making us tell people that "that can't be done" . They accept it but , you know ... I don't feel good about saying it . Nowadays we are being a little more flexible . Too many people complained that they would really like services that Domino simply can't provide and are readily scripted by PHP or Java Servlets . Apache really is a joy to work with and PHP has made databasing rather painless ( for someone not too familiar with SQL ) . Well , we are only one office and keep our databases on only a couple of local servers so the database replication doesn't really affect us . Your Choice .
  • We currently have the following on our Intranet.
    Web based email - IMP []
    Global address book - Openldap []
    Search engine - htdig []
    Discussion groups - Hypernews []

    [www.mysql.orgmysql]PHP [] and Apache [] will need to be installed to get things going.

    You can view M$Word documnets with mswordview which is installed with IMP.

    A lot of what you may need is on SuSe 6.2 which may make it easier to be sure that the right libraries etc exist
  • What exactly does pulling up a Word document on a web browser do for you? Why not store the data in HTML in the first place? I guess if I had to store data like this, I would store them in the local filesystem with MySQL maintaining a table of URL's and document descriptions. It would take what, a couple of days to spit out a few web pages with perl that could upload, search and return those docs? Or is there something vastly more complex going on here?
  • Lotus is planning to ship Domino, the server piece, for Linux shortly.

    Lotus has no plans to ship the Notes client for Linux.

    In theory Domino can be used as a POP/IMAP server with other clients without the groupware features that you are choosing Notes for in the first place.


    They have an intranet setup.

    No plug here... just a pointer.
  • No doubt Notes is the greatest thing ever. Certainly EDS thinks so, 'cause they talked Corporate into switching everything over by the end of the year. All of which I might laugh at except ....

    There's no Unix client, which means that my e-mail access is about to go away. This doesn't seem to be part of EDS' roadmap, and I can see that the problems of insignificant engineers might not concern them. I, on the other hand, do at least half of my work via e-mail in one form or another and for some reason don't share their opinion wrt its importance.

    Which raises the question: does anyone know of a way to work around a Notes server and get mail, short of external Webmail services?
  • In addition to the previous comments, you can also use a 4.x client on Solaris, HP/UX and AIX
  • *Actually* it was intiated based on big pushes by the Notes user community. Lotus/Iris (and Iris isn't "the dev. half of Lotus," btw -- Iris has about 400 people and they write *nothing* but Notes/Domino. What they are is a wholly owned subsidiary.) operates several discussions where the developers and marketers get direct feedback from both end users and the Notes Business Partner community. It was the business partners and end-users (meaning developers and administrators of Domino, in this case) who begged, cajoled and screamed for a Linux port.

    I was one of those beggars and screamers 2 years ago when Iris didn't take Linux seriously. I remember a particularly amusing point when one of the Iris developers responded "but what Linux variant would we write for?" and nine out of ten responses shouted "RED HAT!" Guess we called that one pretty well, eh?

    Anyway, IBM has done a lot to encourage the development of the Linux port. The biggest thing they've done is fund the QA effort. Iris produces Notes versions *in part* based on their ability to find funding for the testing of the platform. It's one of the reasons they've dropped SCO and Netware servers in the past. I believe it was IBM who finally ponied up the testing dollars necessary for Lotus to ship a Linux port.
  • I've had a Domino R4.6 server, which was later updated to each rev of R5 that's been released, running POP3 without any problems. That's on NT4, mind you -- and it just don't get any flakier than that. The box is an old Dell PowerEdge -- PPro200 with 128MB RAM. It's *completely* underpowered, yet has run securely as a Domino server for POP3, HTTP and SMTP, along with serving native Notes clients, for over a year.

    I restart it once every three months just for good measure.

    4.5.2 is a *way* old version. There have been some 15 revs since then.

    R5 has an integrated JavaScript IDE, by the way. And if you don't like it, you can add inline JavaScript to any page, highlight it, and flag it as JavaScript just as easily as bold-facing text in MS Word.
  • Though I agree wholeheartedly with most of iarchitect's analysis of the Notes R4.6 UI, it should be pointed out that:

    1) the *entire* user interface was revisited in Notes R5, leading to a tremendous number of changes. The Notes client looks radically different. The Notes community has had mixed reviews of the new interface, but on net, they've been positive.

    2) if they're using Linux clients, the interface will be browser-based, anyway. So criticisms of the client UI are mostly irrelevant -- or at least, only apply to developers rather than end-users.
  • The developers at Iris Associates (the internal Lotus engineering group responsible for writing Notes) publically deny the prospect of a native Linux client. Lotus is wise to do this, since the strategic direction is to phase out the native client for any but design work.
  • I do Domino/Notes for a living, and linux for kicks. The combination is a good one. I fired up the free downloadable on my linux server (p-233mmx, 128MB ram) and had it running in relatively short order. We, as are some of our clients, are about to gnaw our arms off waiting for Lotus to release it in gold form instead of unsupported Alpha code.

    My testing of the linux build (even on this cheap-o machine) have been good. Granted, I haven't had the time to really kick it around thoroughly, but I have had no hangs or crashes once I got it running. I was able to integrate it in short order with my existing Domino Net.

    If your not sure about Domino in general, feel free to drop me a note. The only thing I enjoy talking about more than Linux is Domino (and maybe Java).

    I think they did the port from the Solaris build, which I am familiar with and deem to be pretty tight indeed.

    just my .02
  • You appear to be a victim of an incompetent developer. Notes/Domino is the only thing going if you do it right!
  • If your IT guys permit it, Domino supports POP, IMAP and LDAP for us *nix netscapers.
  • Don't know what company burned you guys, but you've obviously never seen what Notes/Domino can really do... esp when compared to M$'s junk.

    And, oh by the way, Domino/Notes supports just about any internet protocol you can muster up. Natively.
  • No Linux client is in the works. We'll all just have to stick with W32 for now. Although you can do some admin tasks with a java-enabled browser.
  • Man, who burned you? How does Domino lock you into a proprietary solution when it lets you write code in it's own LotusScript and Formula Language, Visual Basic Java/JavaScript, C/C++, and/or CORBA/IIOP?

    Even so, I have only rarely had to jump out of LotusScript (syntax-compatible with VB) to get something done. When I did, I used VB 5/6, Java 1.1.7 or (gulp) Visual C++ if I just HAD to.

    I'm doing something right now that does Live Native Pooled Connection Lookup/Updates into Oracle 8 all from a Notes Client OR a browser. All from LotusScript. Yup, real proprietary allright.

    Someone just didn't know what they were doing.
  • Notes ain't a SQL server. That's your problem! It _can_ do relational stuff, but not very well. That's not what it's designed for.
  • Domino has the ability to do OS-irrelavent software clustering. I have done it successfully with a 5 node Domino cluster with 3 Alphas, 1 Intel, and one Sun Solaris. End users did not know or care which server they hit (except that the intel was an emergency failover and was slooow).
  • Actually I think it was just a bad port to OS/400. Having done Domino installs on OS/400 and getting it working with the Client I have not been impressed. I work on AS/400's for a living and love the machine, but I'm sorry domino just doesn't cut it on an AS/400 IMHO. I like Domino and Notes (better than M$ Exchange & Outlook!) And I am not to fond of Novell's groupwise either. So basically the only choice left for colabrative software IS Notes and since you really have to have Domino their a pair.
  • I had seen an article (don't have URL) awile back that showed Lotus was getting better performance on Linux servers than on NT or AS/400's. (I have worked with Notes/Domino on the AS/400's). I have a "reserve" on testing the Linux server when we get it at work through our "Lotus" box we get every quarter. I want to install it and run it through tests myself. I have the R4.5 & R5 client on my laptop and have the R5 server on our AS/400 at the office. But I am planning on installing the Linux client on a Linux box to play with. (maybe we can get some clients to go to Linux for their Domino servers this way). Save them lots of money on OS licences!
  • For the collaboration part of the equation, HP's Openmail might be worth checking out. Serves Outlook clients, Linux GUI clients, POP clients, web-based clients. MAPI, LDAP functionality, messaging, calendaring, shared directories, yada yada. Full Release 6.0 for Linux is a free download. [] We've been playing with it for a couple weeks, seems very functional, proprietary or no.
  • MS Office 2000 would be a better solution. Document sharing in our envirament ( 35000 desktop users ) helps out a hell of a lot. Group sceduling and calandering is awsome.
  • We have been using OpenText's Livelink [] system for a few year now, and have moved all the database parts to Linux + Oracle (Sybase is also supported), with NO problems what so ever. It's is the leading document management/workflow solution with 49% of the market apparently. And better still is ALL web based, with filters that will convert documents e.g. Word in Webpages!! I only gripe we have is the need to have a NT or SUN webserver running Netscape or Microsoft web servers for the livelink application to run. I understand 'thought' is being given to writing a Linux/Apache module/version at some stage. I wouldn't recommend anything else, as its straight out of the box and VERY, VERY powerful. Tad pricey though :( Give it a try you won't be disappointed.
  • try e-smith!
    I use it! Its excellent!
    and out of the box foolproof!
  • I agree completely... after using Lotus Notes/Domino to implement an extranet for a bluechip, I've become physically repulssed at the software! Now a second project has come up I'm using MySQL/PHP/Apache. But I still like Domino for your basic services and out-of-the-box capabilities. Anyone who wants to know more, feel free to email! james
  • Just a small clarification... The Linux port of Domino was actually initiated as an "underground" project within Iris long before the "papa IBM came down" and main-streamed it.

    Otherwise, and excellent post!


  • It isn't NT...any NT box running notes is going to be unstable...because Notes on NT is unstable. It's bloated and it leaks, consistently. I've got servers that stay up for months and never crash...except for the ones running notes.
  • Runs like yermother on any platform other than AS/400. This isn't flame, I'm being completely honest. It leaks, it fragments horribly on FSes that happen to fragment...
    Don't even get me started...

  • are you looking for true document sharing or just document publishing? Net-It is a GREAT program for converting standard document formats into viewable HTML...very cool stuff.
  • You getting heavy mail usage?
    We have 1400 users on one box for email, another box does MTA and another does just shared databases...the 1400 user box leaks like water in a wiffle ball.
  • I have to agree with the negative comments posted above. I work as a developer for VB, C, HTML, and Notes. Notes is the worst environment I could imagine to develope in. We currently use a 5.0 server with 4.6.5a clients. We have numerous replication problems, lost data, etc. I am not on the admin side, so don't know if this goes back to a admin problem, but doesn't seem to at this time. Seems to be a problems with not using a 5 client on a 5 server. There are many better ways to share information within a company, and I don't feel that Notes is up to the job. It's a great idea in concept, but falls short on execution. Do some serious research before you make the commitment. We got Notes because another person and myself asked for a SQL type server on the network server for a project. Someone forced us into Notes, and we still don't have our orginal project going that started the whole fiasco.

  • I realize Notes isn't a SQL server. My point was that we needed a SQL server for a project and were given Notes instead.

  • Yes, yes, and yes. However, someone just picking up the language is unlikely to.

    Python and Java encourage encapsulation. Tcl... well, let's not go there.

  • Intranet and document sharing are two different things. Intranets can be a carrier for document sharing, but can be alot of other things too, as in our case, for example project planning and other financial things.
    Document sharing is also a difficult topic to comment on, because document sharing can be easily done by sharing directories/folders on a linux machine with samba, so windos users can access them, but if you want more then that, you'll have to built them yourself.
    As for applications like Microsoft's office tools and Notes, they often promiss things like "easy sharing of documents", but wether those functions are really usefull is not proven.
    One can think of solutions like using php, embperl or another scripting language in combination with Apache and samba to share and describe documents, with extra stuff like document history or short comments in a database, for example Mysql or postgres.
    We are currently investigating the document sharing options, looking at the commercial offerings, and will be either building our own system for it, and maybe opensourcing that, or helping out Midgard , which has very promissing plans in these directions too.

    M.Stolte, &Samhoud NetVenture
  • It is very hard to describe to people what it is like to use Domino/Notes in an actual business setting if they have not seen it in action.

    In my opinion, confirmed by several postings here, there is nothing else in the market that provides the infrastructure for groupware applications that Note does. Note how many of the posts say things like "just snip here and patch this there" and you'll have groupware.

    The develi is in the details, and with Notes you will get a integrated platform that can:

    1. Replicate databases across servers. This is very important if you have distributed offices.

    2. Databases can have levels of user access: administrators, read only users, user that can create top level items, other which can only respond to top level items.

    3. Clients which run on many platforms.

    4. I'll endorse the other user post about Notes looking the same across all platforms - it does. Training costs for users are minimized.

    5. A wealth of 3rd party applications - Notes has been araound for a long time.

    6. Since the servers are monolithic, they are robust. No integration problems to test against as you would encounter with some of the home grown approaches suggested in other posts.

    7. Proven software. Many large organizations run their entire groupware on Notes. Seagate Technology, the disk drive manufacturer, uses Notes to diseminate design and test specifications across a world wide organization.

    In short, think very carefully about giving up Domino/Notes, especaily factoring in hidden development costs, scalability, and reliability. Domino may be expensive, but it is very good at what is does.

  • FWIW, a sort-of prepackaged solution could be to go with Philip Greenspun's ACS [], with an Oracle and AOLserver substrate.

    I've got the ACS, AOLserver, and Oracle 8.0.5 running on a Thinkpad (P133) with 48mb RAM/2gig HDD, and it's usable for development. It would only host, probably, 10 users before it became too sluggish for end users, but we're talking a crummy P133 Thinkpad here...

    The Upside: robust, ongoing development (see Philip's []) from MIT educated brains. Any development of modules you might do can be used by other ACS users, and you get the "many eyes, shallow bugs" effect.

    Also, the ADP programming model is very similar to PHP.

    The Downside: you're pretty much restricted to Oracle and Tcl. Some people like Tcl, some don't. Oracle, in a production environment, really needs a 6-figure DBA.

    It's worth looking at -- you can extend the toolkit to suit your needs, or if you have $$$, you can hire ArsDigita to do it for you and support you.

  • I've been using Notes/Domino since release 2.1 on OS/2, I wrote apps, administered a server farm, and wrote server addins using API. After a period of about 2 years of pure hate toward the product and its programming philosophy - around 1994/5 - I've now come to term with it, liking it for what it can do, and trying to avoid things that it doesn't do well.

    - Database replication
    - It's databases are NOT relational (yes, it can be a pro...)
    - Very fast application creation for small to medium complexity requirements.
    - Server available on a lot of OS and architectures (from little NT to Unixes to OS/390).
    - Supports open standards A LOT. No other commercial sw supports so many open standards. You can use almost anything to connect to Domino.
    - Has interfaces to a lot of relational DBs.
    - Integrated HTML mail for V5.

    - Closed and rather poor Developement environment. Almost no code reuse, you can lose the position of your code very easily.
    - Very steep learning curve (brick wall style)
    - Confusion on what tools to use (@Formulas, LotusScript, JavaScript, JAVA/CORBA) to solve a problem.
    - To do complex things you are required to use some Horrible Kludges (of the kind that would never be accepted in open source project, I fear ;)
    - It's databases are NOT relational (... but it's a con, too ;)

    I tried to think on how to get all its good features together using OSS, but I fear now that you cannot, unless you devote yourself to initial project developement for a full year before opening it.
    If you do not have a functional program/system upon which others implement new features and improvements, the Open Source model does NOT work.

    Feel free to contact me for other info/detail about Domino.

  • Domino doesn't automatically render MS Word documents into HTML - you would need to convert them to the Notes storage format.

    Although the Office 2000 server stuff isn't very popular here, considering if that's where your data is, it might be the best bet. Within the next few years, Microsoft is planning to build an entire web groupware system more akin to Domino based on the Office server extentions. Not that you can wait for them, just something to think about.
  • I'm looking at a similar project and I think Zope and Squishdot (with bunches of customization) will fit the bill!! [] []

  • In my admittedly somewhat limited experience with Notes, it tends to be slow. We have Notes at GM (they use it primarily for e-mail and phone number databases right now, but this is changing by March when the company will deploy what it calls its "Notes Restructured project" which includes calendaring and group discussions.

    I've used Notes/Domino at two work places and helped design databases at one, and IMHO, Notes, while a noteworthy solution (there is nothing like Notes/Domino right now), it appears to try to be all things to all people and as a result has some severe performance problems. This *could* be related to network and server configurations (the networking setup at GM has its problems, and they are characterized by three letters [E, D and S in that order], but lets not get started on that shall we? :) but I think that Notes/Domino does have some performance limitations due to its design.

    There are no plug-and-play solutions. Zope is open source and is generic enough that you could create an e-mail/calendaring/group-discussion system between it and Apache/Linux, but this is not as simple as just plugging in Notes and there you go. There are other solutions that are written in perl and python that would work as well, and other people in this discussion area have mentioned those. Again, its not as simple and not as powerful as Notes/Domino when it comes to making it easy, but they are open source solutions that would work.

    Of course, you could always use Exhange Server and Outlook, but let's not even get started on the Evil Empire's braindead solutions...:)

  • Simply:

    Go with Zope.

    ZOPE is _the_ system today.

    Find it at

    It would be appropriate to elaborate on these statements, but I'm busy handling yet another case of ZOPE's strong FeelGoodFactor, so I'm afraid I can't.

    This severe condition is likely to strike 97,6% of all ZOPE users and application developers more than once.

    Best regards,
    Steen Suder
  • As a long time /. lurker, I've finally been moved to post - please keep the "proprietary" flames in check. (See MikeR, you knew you'd get met to post eventually)

    In the days before the web, Notes was a secure, distributed, document database. When the web came along, some said, (mostly Microsoft folks as I remember), this is the death of Notes. If Lotus had chosen to stick to the exclusively proprietary, (ie. their "property") requirements, it probably would have been. Instead they chose to support "open" protocols and turned the Notes server into an HTTP server; aka Domino. With present day support for SMTP, POP, LDAP, IMAP, NNTP, X.400 as well as several other company's proprietary protocols, scripts and languages (SSL, JavaScript, Java, and Perl) Domino is a kitchen sink of acronym support. But, more importantly it still works very, very well at what it was designed to do: securely distribute documents.

    Sure, you can craft together many different, and probably free applications, script languages, security systems, e-mail systems, databases, web servers, directory servers, file servers and other elements to try to do workflow; but why? If it is for the sake of not using proprietary software, why limit your company that way? Why not choose the best tool for the job? Even if you have to pay for it, sometimes buying software makes very good sense for businesses. Consider the long term value. Especially since you can do all of the workflow that Domino is famous for without the Notes client anyway. Unless you need the PKI security and the local replication of data, just use a browser! It really works well and by using the document database you never end up with broken links for missing or accidentally overwritten documents. The Access Control List management simplification alone could save you a lot of time and grief.

    Lest you think I'm an IBM spy, let me assure you, I'm not. I'm a humble Internet entrepreneur that is glad to have some extra time to do real work rather than trying to solve the latest integration headache. BTW - I do run Linux/Apache AND Domino because it is all about using the best tool for the job.
  • by jabbo ( 860 ) <jabbo @ y a h o o . c om> on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @12:54PM (#1585692)
    Running Zope [] on top of Apache [] or using the ArsDigita Community System [] are probably the best options available to a business today. The ACS would need to be hacked a bit if you don't want to use Oracle as the database; Zope comes with its own object database, and has free-as-in-speech Products for calendaring, web mail, discussion forums (Squishdot [] is both a real live site and the distribution point for the software running it -- try it out!).

    Zope is extensible in Python. The ACS is a large package of tcl code that accesses the AOLserver API (AOLserver is now also free as in speech). Both encourage a style of programming that is more maintainable than Perl. If you knew Perl already, I strongly doubt you'd have asked your question. That's actually a good thing -- the same things that make Perl great for simple one-shots make it tough for novices to maintain. Python (and to a lesser extent, tcl) is a great deal cleaner.

    I didn't mention Java or Jserv -- there is a package called JetSpeed which the Java-Apache group has put out, but my initial reaction was that it was very slow. Don't take my word for it, though -- take a look [] and decide for yourself.

    Don't be an idiot and lock yourself into Yet Another Uncaring Vendor. You can get support for Zope or the ACS direct from the developers (Digital Creations [] or ArsDigita [] respectively). If you choose to use mod_perl and postgres, you still can get professional support. With Lotus you can look forward to servers that don't write log files, proprietary APIs, flat file "databases", and other such niceties.

    Don't buy into it.

  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @01:43PM (#1585693) Journal
    Another issue with analyzing Notes/Domino, is that it's suitability highly depends on the type of applications you are using, and if you are planning to run the Notes client or not.

    With the Notes client, it's a proprietary, but pretty effective system for e-mail, calendaring, and the ambiguous "groupware" type applications (generally discussion, tracking, or approval applications that don't require much relational data.) Development is proprietary, but much more rapid and lower cost than your typical VB/Delphi client-server apps. (Most Notes shops are far closer to 'paperless' than places where the only back ends are relational DBs.) The server is certainly stable, and scales better than MS Exchange, although not as well as commodity IMAP and HTTP servers.

    As a pure web server, I have mixed feelings about Domino. It does dynamic server-side HTML, but the development environment is not well suited for that at all. Every HTML document must be dynamically converted from Notes format, so it's slow. It includes web mail and discussion applications, but they are certainly not near the best you can get in that department. CGI-like applications with Domino agents run slowly and high overhead.

    As a web server, the only thing that Domino seems to give you is the built-in document storage engine (which involves no programming overhead.) For some applications, that might be worth it, but for many others (like Slashdot, for example), a simple relational database can do the job just fine, and the programming overhead for storage is mitigated or justified by the use of standard web development tools.

    In short, Domino works great if your organization is willing to commit to using it for your smaller applications, and you're willing to use the Notes client. Otherwise, I'd look around more.
  • by Doc Holliday ( 28129 ) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @12:13PM (#1585694) Homepage
    I would suggest using the Obsidian Intranet package, there you got a base module that you install and then afterwards you can download packages like e-mail, file explorer, shared calendar and many others and install them.

    It's licensed under GPL and written nearly completely in perl. It isn't completely project management system like, but you i guess that with a little bit of perl code here and there you'll be able to customize this system as you like it.

    It's really worth giving it a try, it rules!

    Greetings go out to Eddie for writing this great thing !

    You can test it online on this adress []

    And here you go for the downloads []

    OpenSource 4ever!

  • by Flynn777 ( 56633 ) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @11:44AM (#1585695)
    I've got extensive experience with Notes/Domino, dating back to V2 (OS/2 servers on IPX networks.... [shudder]).

    The feedback coming from the Linux beta has been very positive for Lotus. The server is proving wonderfully flexible. You should be forewarned, though, that they have no plans at the moment for a Linux client. Win32, Mac and 4+ browsers only.

    Check out Iris Associates' (the Domino engineering group) Linux beta discussion at
  • by wmclay ( 107261 ) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @02:16PM (#1585696)
    A basic installation of Domino gives you an address book with your phone numbers, and the default 'templates' allow you to create web-based databases for discussions and postings.

    Another default database template lets you create a "Microsoft Office Document Database" that allows you to create Embedded documents or attach existing Office documents. If you index the database, you can include the text of the documents (Embedded or attached) in the index for searching and retrieval.

    Don't believe the hype about the problems with Domino, I've been a Certified Lotus Professional Developer and Admin for years and if you follow basic system principles, (don't mess with it to see what it does), it will work for you. In my experience, Domino runs very well on *nix platforms, but can even be run on NT, if you are prepared to reboot the box every weekend!
  • Coming up with an alternative to Lotus Notes [] seems to be one of the classic "failed projects;" several attempts have come and gone where groups have brainstormed and not been able to come up with a clear definition of something they could actually implement.

    Several are listed at Text Management Projects for Linux, [] including Gather (aka PINN, aka Sumatra, aka Mediator), Yoga, Citadel, Casbah. Zope is probably somewhat comparable. Some of these are downright failed; others are merely somewhat late.

    The problem is that Lotus Notes can be looked at in several ways:

    • As a glorified email/news messaging system, which knows how to replicate messages from server to server, and filter using ACLs and strong crypto.
    • As a database application platform integrating a DB engine and scripting tools.
    • As a distributed replicating non-relational database management system.
    • As a distributed document management system.

    These are all useful perspectives; unfortunately people see it different ways, and when you put together enough people to have a project team, there are enough perspectives to make the project definition so vague as to be a non-starter.

  • by _blueboy ( 88578 ) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @12:15PM (#1585698) Homepage
    Upon re-reading this, I'm not sure if my question is exactly clear.

    An example of what we'd like to do:
    - Browser-based and database driven apps like a phone list
    - Fully-administered discussion groups, message boards, job postings, etc.
    - Access to company documents (mostly Microsoft Word) through a browser, so that you can view them without having access to the entire network

    Currently, we are using IIS & ASP for the apps and message boards, but we still haven't decided on a solution for document sharing. I'm afraid of the Office 2000 "Intranet Tools"...

    We are looking for either a package or a combination of tools (an answer like "use apache, php, and MySQL..." is helpful).

    Thanks for your help!
  • by tweek ( 18111 ) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @11:43AM (#1585699) Homepage Journal
    Twig []


    Horde/Imp []

    These guys are great for webmail, calendering and contact management.
    A good forum type app would be Sporum []. They are all freely distributable and only require IMAP (not a problem on an Intranet),mysql and perl. Twig uses php as well. All of these are fairly easy to set up (especially with php as a DSO in apache). I've set up all 3 on our intranet as evaluating a few options. They are all easily customizable. Any combination of these with a couple of hacks and snips here and there and you have your own web based groupware. =)
    "We hope you find fun and laughter in the new millenium" - Top half of fastfood gamepiece
  • by PackedBowl ( 62051 ) on Tuesday October 26, 1999 @12:51PM (#1585700)
    I work at a small but rather high-profile consulting company, doing both design and admin/support. We're a M$, IBM and Lotus partner company, so we end up working a lot in multi-platform, multi-this, multi-that environments, and even though Domino is scoffed sometimes by database-minded folks as "flat" and difficult, it is a life-saver for long-term evolving situations (the secret being that this is MOST places...), because data can be indexed and worked with in ways M$ and many other vendors have never dreamed of dealing with. [What I'm skipping here is a dissertation on why the word "Workgroup" strikes fear into the folks in Redmond, because they KNOW they are 5 years behind according to current development models, and why its so often overlooked by the shrink-wrap software world in general, but I digress...]

    The question, then, is given that Lotus is so much better entrenched in the corporate development landscape, what IBM and its daughter company, Lotus/Iris, will do with Linux and vice versa. IBM is farther into Linux than I think a lot of /.'ers might think.... Linux will probably running on the S390 mainframes and RS/6000's midranges (and maybe who knows what this will do to the AS/400 world???) within 18 months. And mix this into the sales push of Windows 2000 next year, with its plethora of bugs and outrageous hardware req's.... wow! Domino and the new R5 client is a blow to M$ companies which have come to realize that they don't want their network infrastructure being designed from the desktop up and out; rather, they need integrated environments with sophisticated replication and access that a PC-centric model does not provide. Companies line-up to hear about the power of Domino/R5... and when you mention that they can subtract the NT or Solaris license fees....

    This is the vector by which a large number of Linux hosts will infect the corporate bioms, in addition to the Apache/Linux combo. The crucial thing to observe, though, is how the linux philosophy might infiltrate into the halls of Iris (the dev. half of Lotus). Right now, the folks at Iris could really care less about Linux -- papa IBM came down and told them to port to yet another Unix... big deal, they say. (there no way in HELL domino is going open source... not yet) But if the number of Domino servers increases because of Linux, then 2001 or 2002 will see headline stories talking about the Sun development model paralleled with the Iris dev. model...

    Linux will not take over the world by winning the desktop -- and it doesn't need to. The flow of the Linux meme into the IBM world is the most significant thing to have happened in the computer world since the advent of the PC. IF you are in the midst of deciding how to built a dynamic enterpise right now, you don't care whether the Linux philosophy is better than some particular companies product... but if you take one of the BEST development environments around and set it on top of Linux, then you know that no matter WHAT happens in the computer world in the next 5 years, you will be guaranteed to be position to pick and choose the best-of-breed options, whether they are open source, gnu, or proprietary.

    To specifically answer the original post: I've installed and run the Linux version of Domino, and if you know anything about Domino, its EXACTLY the same on every platform it runs on (OS/400, NT, Solaris, AIX, etc...) By Q#2 2000, Linux Domino will be stable and ready to starting crushing Exchange/SQL Server setups... and don't forget about DB2 for Linux when Domino needs extra horsepower. This combo could be the smartest path an IS manager could make next year.

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission