MS Office comes to Linux servers

CodeWeavers and Tarantella are offering software to allow Linux servers to host Office and other Windows productivity applications for hundreds of users

New software from CodeWeavers will allow Linux servers to host Microsoft Office applications, which can then be accessed through a Web browser, the company said on Monday.

CodeWeavers, which sells Windows-emulation software for the Linux platform, has launched a server version of its CrossOver Office that runs with Tarantella's Enterprise 3 server software.

The combination allows administrators to set up a Linux server running applications such as Word and Outlook, which can be made accessible to large numbers of Linux or Unix users without needing any special client software.

Microsoft applications are not directly available on Linux because the operating system is a direct competitor to Windows. However, developers such as CodeWeavers have found ways of getting around this blockade in order to make desktop Linux installations more attractive to businesses.

Other solutions exist for letting Linux clients run Microsoft Office from a server, but CodeWeavers claims that its system is much cheaper. Microsoft sells a version of Windows, called Terminal Server, that can serve applications over a network, and Citrix's software offers similar features, but both are relatively expensive. Those systems also require that the server run Windows, which incurs licence fees for each client, unlike Linux.

CodeWeavers' software is based on Wine, which creates a Windows compatibility layer on top of Linux and Unix operating systems. CodeWeavers has previously sold Windows emulation software for Linux clients, but has not ventured into the server market until now.

The company worked for a time with Lindows, which makes a Linux desktop distribution that can run some Windows applications, and its software ships with Xandros and SuSE Linux distributions of desktop packages.

Tarantella's technology is similar to Citrix's popular software, but -- unlike Citrix -- doesn't require a specialised client, running over a standard Java-enabled browser. CodeWeavers said the system was aimed at Linux and Solaris desktops, with support for Windows and Mac OS X to be announced shortly.

The companies are offering a demonstration version of CrossOver Office Server Edition for Tarantella Enterprise 3, and versions licensed for up to 500 users are available from CodeWeavers.

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