Lotus Notes - free and completely legal

by Volker Weber


I never thought of this, but Mario is right. It's perfectly legal to use Lotus Notes at home without buying a license, at least on Windows*. Ever since Lotus changed its licensing and offered a free Designer, you can download and use the latest code that IBM offers**. Lotus wants you to develop Notes applications, but you don't have to. You don't even need to install the Designer components. Just download the package, install and select to only install the Notes client. Perfectly legal, as Erik Schwalb of IBM has confirmed.

You can access your mail account via POP3 or IMAP (which does not work so well) and send mail by SMTP. You would only need a license if you access a Domino Server. If you want to try the heaviest mail client on the planet, you are free to do it. :-)

I mean in theory. In practice, the IBM page is borked:

designer download

designer download

Message code 136e, baby.

*) We are using the Designer client, which is only available for Windows.

**) The download is pretty current at 8.5.1. The new version 8.5.2 hasn't shipped yet. This is also a good source for the latest full download, since IBM is unlikely to time bomb a free software, which they started to do with trial downloads of Lotus products.


Apart from the borked download site and the whopping download size and the lousy IMAP support and the really sexy interface for newbies this really sounds like a sweet deal. In theory.

Jan-Piet Mens, 2010-08-16

Hmm. Add the client version of iFidelity, and it would even look pretty good, coming and going. I'll have to think about adding a single person price for the client.

Ben Langhinrichs, 2010-08-16

Combine this with - as Ben puts it - low cost, user-focused apps... yeah, this could work out quite nicely ;-)

Chris Toohey, 2010-08-16

Interesting. I've always wondered about that. We have many non-notes users that contact us and request to use Notes in order to get the benefits of eProductivity. Unfortunately, most get lost (stopped) in the Lotus Passport buying process. Perhaps this will help.

Eric Mack, 2010-08-16

Perhaps IBM should invest in that new IMAP template, after all?

Stuart McIntyre, 2010-08-16

When IBM told me about the managed DoesNotWorkplace Client, I suggested to make an unmanaged one with kick-ass components. IMAP, iCal, vCard, and give that away so that people would build apps. They weren't interested.

The thing that IBM would need to fix it is the "wizard" that would need to setup a standard mail template and then create the accounts for popular mail servers. Do you want to bet how interested they are in doing that?

Volker Weber, 2010-08-16

Seems Eric you should perhaps look into smoothing out the IMAP experience of the eProductivity template. Other than apps like eProductivity there is of course little reason a non-Domino user would run the Notes client for mail.

Kevin Pettitt, 2010-08-16

Now all we need is those nifty 20 to get users using the "fatest mail client" on earth. It's all about the apps... I first installed Windows because of Corel Draw 1.2. If it would have runned on the Apple computers, I would be an Apple guy today!

Benoit Dubuc, 2010-08-16

I confess: I have been using the Lotus fat client at home since the private Edition - currently I am on version 8.5. (I assume that I am the only person crazy enough to do this for miles around :-) ). But I also confess: I would NEVER EVER install it on a friend's or familiy members PC/Laptop - the support would never end :-) Even my fellow administration colleagues refuse to use it at home. It's just my personal geekyness :-)

Gaby Spaszewski, 2010-08-17

beeing remembered on R5 private edition as well.
What could be the reason to setup a notes client for email instead of a small and fast email client (be cool i do not mean outlook ... ) ? Anyone an idea ?

ingo harpel, 2010-08-17

The full text index is a reason. Leaves other local email clients dead in the water. Also the option of adding automation to your mailbox is a good reason.

Lars Berntrop-Bos, 2010-08-17

@Lars - for home users? Searching is good enough for most and most mail apps have automation if you want it (again, in reality 99% of users dont, with exception of junking)

Paul Mooney, 2010-08-17

Users who cared enough about their interactions with their contacts to manage them with something like ACT or Lotus Organizer would find Notes+Apps potentially very compelling.

Kevin Pettitt, 2010-08-17

If you use IMAP or POP accounts you may want to check out the mail rules project for 8.5.x. It allows you to run mail rules locally (which normally run on the Domino server). So if you don't have a Domino server your mail rules will not run against a generic POP server.

Download here - Mail Utilities

Bob Balfe, 2010-08-18

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