IBM announced at Lotusphere 2008 plans to offer its Open Collaboration Client -- which consists of Lotus Notes and Domino 8, Lotus Expeditor and Lotus Symphony apps suite -- with support for Ubuntu Linux and in a special marketing bundle with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.
It's the first time OpenOffice played prominently at Lotusphere (now in its 15th year) , and perhaps not the last.
In August, IBM joined OpenOffice.org and revealed plans to offer to customers for download at no charge a newly named app suite called Lotus Symphony, based on existing document, spreadsheet and presentation apps also known as IBM Productivity Tools.
Symphony is based on OpenOffice.org code, supports ODF, as well as Microsoft Office and Lotus SmartSuite formats, and is currently available in beta 3 form. Beta 4 is expected to be available for download at the end of January, the company announced today.
The first Open Collaboration Client on Linux was delivered with Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise in August.
IBM plans to offer full support for Ubuntu Linux with the delivery of Lotus Notes 8.5 in the second half of 2008. The Lotus Symphony office productivity suite is included with Lotus Notes 8 but is also available as a separate download.
The company also announced a marketing pact with Red Hat that calls for the two companies to deliver and support a combined solution consisting of Lotus Open Collaboration Client on Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server and Desktop 5 to small and medium-sized businesses.
OpenOffice folks are glad that IBM is finally standing behind the open source OpenOffice desktop. But many observers question whether IBM's Lotus Division -- which has tried several times unsuccessfully to play in the Office suite market -- has a fighting chance with Microsoft Office still the dominant player and Google apps the rising star in the web 2.0 market.
"We'd prefer them to ship OpenOffice.org to their customers," quipped OpenOffice marketing chief John McCreesh, in an e-mail last September after IBM's Lotus Symphony was unveiled. "However, it's good to have another first grade software product using ODF. Every additional product helps nail the lie that OASIS's ODF is somehow tied to OpenOffice.org the same way that Microsoft's OOXML is tied to Microsoft Office."