Microsoft will port Exchange to Linux when penguins fly. Lotus however, has nothing to lose and much to gain by porting its Domino server to Linux, a move that will open new groupware possibilities to large and small companies.
ZDNet's sister publication, PC Week Labs, tested a sneak preview of Domino Release 5 for Linux made available last week. Lotus will not say when the Linux port will be released or how much it will cost but we have little doubt this version of Domino will significantly lower the cost of entry for companies that want to explore groupware with Notes, as well as for Notes shops that want to economically add redundant servers.
Current versions of Domino require an expensive Sun server, which in many cases would be overkill for a small to medium-size company. The other option, running Domino on Windows NT, requires buying associated client-access licenses on top of Notes licenses.
Of course, no such operating system licenses are a factor with Linux, and Domino for Linux' hardware requirements are a paltry 486-based PC and 64MB of RAM. Even the dual 450MHz Pentium server on which we tested the Linux port is inexpensive compared with the hardware required for current versions of Domino.
The Linux version of Domino is so early that Lotus is not even calling it a beta but it was very stable in tests. We evaluated the Domino preview using both the Red Hat 6.0 and Debian distributions of Linux. Lotus has done an excellent job of making Domino easy to install. A simple tape archive command extracts all files, and install scripts set up most of the configuration options. The Linux world would be a much easier place to live in if other Linux-application vendors followed Lotus' lead here.
Lotus has stated that it won't port the Notes client to Linux. However, Domino has built-in HTTP, Post Office Protocol 3 and Internet Messaging Access Protocol servers, all of which can be used with almost any client.
Lotus' Domino Release 5 for Linux can be downloaded from notes.net.