This is a joke, right?

by Volker Weber

After all this hype, I just had to look at the "Notes client" for Linux. Here is what you get: a 390 megabyte zip file. Yes, that's right. A zip file. If you unpack the zip file, you get a 170 megabyte binary with the Notes plugin, a 200 megabyte zip file — yes, another zip file — with the Workplace Managed Client and a 36 page readme.

Eight of those pages are for housekeeping (trademarks, coverpage, why have a manual ...), five of the pages describe installation und uninstallation, and the rest contains known limitations and problems. You may call them known bugs. A minor one would be that you cannot enter a Euro sign (€). Yes, that will make the bean counters happy. For those west of the Atlantic, imagine you cannot enter a dollar sign ($). (Read the update) Bigger ones might be "Notes crashes if clicking blank area before sub-directory shows", "Notes may crash if scheduling a meeting" or "Notes hangs if dragging an attachment a few times".

I also find the readme in Workplace Managed Client interesting:

Before installing, copy the desired setuplinux.bin to the \updateSite\features\\bin\linux directory.

I understand why a Windows user would type it this way. On Linux you would want a forward slash.

Somebody wake me up. Is this a product? Or an early beta?

Update: Here is the installation guide for the competition:

apt-get install evolution


Sorry if you know this already - to enter a euro sign in Notes I use... allow entry of special symbols, then "c" and "=".

c and = making the euro sign €

I believe that was a trademark Alan Lepofsky sequence.

This should work on windows and Mac - Can you try that in your Linux install?

john wylie, 2006-07-24 23:58

John, it's on our keyboards. You don't need a secret handshake.

Volker Weber, 2006-07-25 00:03

The good folks at IBM sure don’t like making life easy for themselves and everyone else, what with the Sametime “installer” for OS X. and now this. Very peculiar.

Ben Poole, 2006-07-25 00:44

I'm still sticking to my point that it's not a completely stand-alone application. A developer can package any two pieces of completely separate software into a single install package and label it as standalone. Having to move a binary into another directory is no good. I just posted some more information including some things I wrote in comments along with posts by others:

Chris Whisonant, 2006-07-25 01:57

Welcome to the new era of "WTF, Lotus?"

I hope not. This stuff is still beta so I really hope they fix that.

Scott Gentzen, 2006-07-25 02:00

Volker, I'm reading your post as more rhetorical than not. When I was explaining the Linux Notes Client to a Linux user just last week, they just said, "oh, I only use Pine." Pine. Well, I'm just not going to add much to someone who's needs are met with Pine. You point to Evolution, with is a nifty e-mail client, but it's not Notes, and I don't think you really meant to equate it with Notes.

Should the installation be smoother? Should the Linux Notes Client (LNC) come in an RPM for the Redhat distros, and DEB for the Debian? Maybe. I was on the tail end of the last beta trial for the LNC, and the guidelines were spartan and even a little misleading. What they have now is much clearer.

I think the LNC is sort of a test flight by IBM, to see the response in advance of Hannover. In just a week or so, it's generated some significant press and I can't believe that the LNC is already being used on Ubuntu.

Jack Dausman, 2006-07-25 02:13

Perhaps the team that did the Mac installer moved right on to Linux?

lee davis, 2006-07-25 02:35

I don't mind if it's some sort of "test flight" I think that would be great. However, it's a gold build of a client that's available for any customer to download! I'm not so sure we should think of it as beta but just an extremely buggy release.

After I saw that it was the WMC plugin architecture, I knew right away that it was more intended to work out the plugin model instead of designed to be an enterprise-grade client. I think that's a good thing to test, but the delivery may not have been proper.

Chris Whisonant, 2006-07-25 02:51

I've sent this link and others (Thanks, Chris) around internally.

At least sales and marketing should be recognized for doing a good job.... can we have a worldwide pause in the use of the phrase "lotus marketing sucks" at the moment? :-)

Ed Brill, 2006-07-25 04:39

Time for a new T-Shirt?
I installed the client
but I didn't install the runtime jar
;-) stw

Stephan H. Wissel, 2006-07-25 04:47



Bruce Elgort, 2006-07-25 04:58

Seeing from a slightly sarcastic point of view, I'd say it's one step forward: Now it's "Notes hangs if dragging an attachment a few times". If I try to drag an attachment in my 7.0.1 client on Windows, Notes simply won't let me.

At least we get to drag and drop in RichText a few times (ok, "a few"-1 times ;-)).

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-07-25 09:09

I'm not familiar with Notes, but as a happy Ubuntu user, I tried Evolution as my mail and calendar client for daily use. It's not there yet: Evolution sucks as an IMAP client, while Thunderbird is really snappy. Reading the mailing list, it appears that so many people are unhappy with Evolution that quite a few are asking to have it removed as the default mail client in Ubuntu.

Still looking for a good groupware solution on Linux.

Hanno Müller, 2006-07-25 09:27

I'm with you, Volker. This does appear to be (to put it mildly) a little half baked.

I couldn't resist the temptation to try it on Ubuntu (I know, unsupported), and I couldn't get it to work because it refused to find the version of Mozilla installed (apparently 1.7 is a pre-requisite and it was properly installed on my test system).

Peter Hicks has documented this and the solution - create the file /etc/gre.conf.

I may still give it a try later on if I get time.

Oh and Ed, maybe marketing did get it right (I'm not convinced), but good marketing of a bad product is at best pointless.

Chris Linfoot, 2006-07-25 09:47

Hanno, if you think that Evolution sucks as an IMAP client, you should really try Notes. I think you will like Evolution much better then. :-) But I agree. Thunderbird should be the default mail client on Ubuntu.

Jack, Evolution is the competition on Linux, not Pine. Pine only does email, Evolution does calendaring and scheduling, tasks, contacts. It serves as a Linux client to Microsoft Exchange and Novell Groupwise. And it does things that are impossible in Notes, like subscribing to iCal calendars and displaying multiple calendars alongside. Yes, I know, Notes can do so much more. But you can't do them on Linux. No development capabilities, no Sametime integration. But that was not my point anyway. I was talking about installation.

Volker Weber, 2006-07-25 09:52

Does it appear just to me, that Lotus developed a clunkiness level over the last years which is sticking to their feet like a wet toilet paper?
Some folks don't even notice that it's there – some other folks simply can't get rid of it…

Karsten W. Rohrbach, 2006-07-25 11:46

Seriously, you guys, you are complaining all the time about IBM and Notes - and how ridiculous their business (and technology) is. Why are you still stuck to it? I mean, aren't there any other fine technology you can enjoy?

[OK, don't hit me for that!]

Cem Basman, 2006-07-25 12:41

Why stick with it? There is nothing to replace it. Name one technology which lets you work with the same data on multiple machines, whether they are connected or not*. Why bash IBM? Because they are the only people capable of killing it. And they try hard.

*) Groove plays in that area. But so far Groove has made more mistakes, like being completely closed so you cannot play with open protocols.

Volker Weber, 2006-07-25 12:53

Volker, we can all agree that "collaboration" is absolutely a core feature of office automation. Collaboration solutions are maybe the most vital part of any given work and IT environment. Notes is certainly a very sophisticated solution - widely accepted in the enterprize world. Within the financials domain even it is a de facto standard.

But maybe it is too overloaded with features? It is too integrated? It is too mighty? Maybe they should break it down to smaller pieces and puzzle bits. Maybe its platform and technology is outdated and overaged? Maybe they have to completely redesign it?

And maybe it is not the only solution to collaboration? And if there is none - somebody should design one. Sorry to say this, Volker, I know and respect your opinion very much, but to me Notes is meanwhile somewhat of a dead-end technology. And it is quite expensive ...

Cem Basman, 2006-07-25 13:10

Cem, I agree with many of your points. As you may know, I have put my own Domino server out of production two years ago, after I switched to the Mac. The Notes client on the Mac was abysmal, and it would not let me make even the smallest changes to Domino applications. Today I live in a standards environment, where all my data is accessible from all devices and all kinds of software.

But there are other limitations that you don't see when you live inside a Notes environment. And as stated above, disconnected use of data and very simple and robust replication of data is not available outside of Notes.

Unfortunately, the drive within IBM is away from those core strengths. All the "new" stuff does not build on those core competencies. IBM now has a "religion" of "do it in Java", "use Java application servers", "use SOA" and similar complicated technologies. You will find them implement a great idea (activity based computing) on Websphere and then shoehorn that into Notes via a hybrid client, which runs Websphere and Notes applications. Now assume you organize all your work around activities, and then you cannot access that data while disconnected. And since your Notes calendar cannot syndicate others calendars, you cannot even see your activities in your main calendar.

I don't see Notes as outdated. In contrast it was built on things that are becoming more popular every year. A "Note" can be easily expressed in an XML database, security based on cryptography instead of passwords is becoming more widely used. There are many many more things that Notes has pioneered and perfected which others just start to use. There is absolutely no need to scrap Notes.

Volker Weber, 2006-07-25 13:25

Ed, thanks for passing this along. Consider it constructive criticism - as you'll see from my next statement... :)

Good points Volker. I was going to add that one of the reasons we complain is also to make the products better! And I would hardly say it's a dead-end technology. There is still a lot of road left.

IBM is adding iCal support into 7.0.2, so that is a good start towards calendar syndication. I'm sure a developer will be able to script something to synchronize them more routinely.

Chris Whisonant, 2006-07-25 14:28

Chris, what is "iCal support"? Does it mean I can publish and subscribe iCal calendards and display them inline with my own calendar? Can I have more then one personal calendar?

Volker Weber, 2006-07-25 15:27

As far as the calendar is concerned, I would suggest to go and have a look at some of the more recently introduced web-calendars. I personally like the Google Calendar quite a lot, it supports all of the above. I can publish and subscribe, I can display multiple calendars and select/deselect each of them individually and this is dynamically reflected in the GUI (think of layers here if you can't imagine what it looks like).

Transferring this to Notes, I can think of some very cool features which would make scheduling more efficient. Select other people's calendar to be displayed as layers along with my own (e.g. each calendar's entries in a different color, free time would probably be enough, subject would be nice as an alternative) and by ticking checkboxes I could see whether removing optional people from the list would make a certain meeting time possible or not.
BTW: If I want to open someoneelse's calendar and this person is not in my shortcut list, why do I have to select "Another person's calendar" twice (once in the shortcut list, another time in the subsequent dialog) before I am presented with the directory dialog?

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-07-25 15:49

Volker, you know it's not at that point yet. I'm not certain of the actual implementation, but I understand that you can import/export iCal data with your Notes calendar. That's probably the extent of it, and it's far from a sync! I would think the OpenNTF guys could do something with the appointment form to allow updates to be pushed to an iCal system. I like the Google Calendar as well and would love to be able to sync it to Notes easily.

Chris Whisonant, 2006-07-25 16:49

I believe that iCal support in 7.0.2 extends to being able to import .ics files directly into one's Lotus Notes calendar.

Of course, Notes has some basic iCalendar support now -- for example, if you send an invite to someone via t'internet, it will get to them as an email with an .ics attachment that they can then incorporate in their calendar -- but end-to-end seamless integration is still a way off I agree. If Lotus could really beef up the newsfeed model in Notes, we could easily extend that to calendars and so forth.

However, I wouldn't single Notes out here: no-one's doing proper C&S integration across the piece, hence initiatives like

Back to Notes: if you want to easily export Notes calendar entries to an .ics file, you can do that now. There are some basic databases out there that facilitate that, and OpenNTF will very shortly have a "version one" tool to do this also *cough*

Ben Poole, 2006-07-25 17:17

Can I have more then one personal calendar?

As long as I work with Notes it supports categories for appointments. This would be the Notes way to do multiple personal calendars if it only was a bit more present than just as a field in the appointment form (different colors in the views, filtering by categories etc.). But unfortunately someone at IBM decided to totally disregard that feature.

Oliver Regelmann, 2006-07-25 22:18

Einer meiner Programmierkollegen hat Linux-Notes installiert und gecrashed, sein Statement:

[--- Kollege ---]
Der gepriesene Client scheint nix anderes als der Widows Client unter
Wine zu sein, in ein Eclipse SWT-Frame gesteckt.

Glaub ich zumindest. Ein Crash Stacktrace zeigt sowohl WinMain() als
Entrypoint fuer einen Notes-Thread, ein dickes .so im gleichen Thread
heisst , die GUI ist identisch zu Windows, und man findet
sogar manche Win32-Optionen.

Bissl armselig :-(
[--- /Kollege ---]

Helmut Weiss, 2006-07-26 12:22

Ben - good to hear of the V1 tool... :)

Oliver - The OpenNTF mail template will allow you to add colors to your calendar entries based off the category.

Chris Whisonant, 2006-07-26 14:32

Vote YES for apt-get install lotus notes

marco foellmer, 2006-07-27 06:19

Harkpabst: the Notes client isn't based on MFC. Not sure where you got that information but it's incorrect. Most of the client UI is built on a portability layer called NEM. In the old days, NEM supported Windows, OS/2, Macintosh and various flavors of Unix. Somewhere around the 4.5 timeframe support for OS/2 and Unix clients was dropped.

Bob Congdon, 2006-08-04 18:26

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