In the course of some recent desktop operating system adventuring, I thought I'd give Linux a crack at taking care of business on my desktop machine. I opted for Red Hat 6.2 with the KDE desktop and loaded up Netscape's Navigator and Sun's StarOffice for my Web-browsing and review-writing needs. n But then there was mail. We're a Lotus Notes shop here at eWeek,
so thanks to the wonders of technology lock-in, only Notes could do the job.
Although Lotus has released its Domino server for Linux, Notes has yet to reach the client side. This meant that if I were to run Notes on Linux, I'd have to do it with Wine (www.winehq.com), an open-source implementation of Windows APIs that runs on top of X Window and Unix while avoiding Microsoft source code.
Although Wine is only about 90 percent complete, it's in good enough shape to allow Linux users to run many Windows executables with good results. After installing the copy of Wine that I'd downloaded from Red Hat's Web site, I could run the standard Notes R5 client setup executable without any trouble.
It took some tweaks to the configuration files, but I soon had Notes up and running on Linux.
The performance was similar to running Notes under Windows—the longest lags were in accessing the Notes server. This surprised me, but after all, Wine's name stands for "Wine Is Not an Emulator." Rather than slog through the emulation of a full machine and OS, Wine only provides an alternate implementation of the Windows API.
Performance issues aside, Linux and Notes via Wine have yet to earn a long-term spot on my desktop. For one thing, I couldn't attach and detach files. And although it was cool to see Notes running on Linux, Linux as a desktop OS didn't offer me anything beyond the ability to exorcise Windows from my PC. That's great for frothing zealots, but I need compelling reasons to extend my extra-Windows computing beyond the experimental stage.
This is why I'm rooting for the BeWine project (bewine.loungenet.org), now barely in its infancy. Matched up against Windows, Mac and Linux, BeOS wins points for performance and ease of use, but the fledgling OS suffers from a dearth of applications. However, with Wine running reliably, users could access key applications not soon destined to arrive in BeOS form.
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