Is Hula a good idea?

I have a confession to make: I hate "groupware." Well, maybe "hate" is too strong a word, but lord knows I don't enjoy it.

I have a confession to make: I hate "groupware." Well, maybe "hate" is too strong a word, but lord knows I don't enjoy it.

The Hula announcement is going to bring in lots of press for Novell, and discussion about how groupware is so necessary for the "enterprise" and so forth. I'm sure that it will make the usual suspects all excited, management types who actually like LookOut Outlook and Microsoft Exchange. And, if it helps people migrate to Linux, then I'm all for it.

That doesn't mean I'll like it, or use it, though. I've always found "groupware" to be annoying and somewhat painful to use. (It doesn't help that using "groupware" means using a mailer that I find annoying instead of being able to just use Mutt.)

I find it annoying, but it's not something I've devoted a lot of thought to. Apparently, Jamie Zawinski (formerly of Netscape) has. In fact, Zawinski has concluded that groupware killed Netscape:

See, there were essentially two things that killed Netscape (and the real answer is book length, so I'm simplifying greatly, but)

...But the other one is that Netscape 4 was a really crappy product. We had built this really nice entry-level mail reader in Netscape 2.0, and it was a smashing success. Our punishment for that success was that management saw this general-purpose mail reader and said, "since this mail reader is popular with normal people, we must now pimp it out to The Enterprise', call it Groupware, and try to compete with Lotus Notes!"

Go and read the rest if you have time, it's well worth it. Small note of caution, as often happens on blogs, Zawinski doesn't censor himself -- so if you're the type to be offended by a bit of language, give it a miss.

So, is Hula going to be as bad as Exchange, or is there a shot that the open source community can produce something that managers will hate, but users will love?


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