Netline Groupware for Linux Goes Open Source

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-08-02 Print this article Print

Netline Internet Service will announce at LinuxWorld that it is open-sourcing its Open-Xchange Server, the core technology behind its Linux-based groupware, collaboration and messaging application, under the GNU General Public License.

Netline Internet Service GmbH, of Olpe, Germany, will announce at LinuxWorld this week that it is open-sourcing its Open-Xchange Server, the core technology behind its Linux-based groupware, collaboration and messaging application, under the GNU General Public License.

That move will let customers and partners download the code for free and contribute to the project.

Open-Xchange Server, which is also the engine behind Novell Inc.s SuSE Linux Openexchange Server, is a modular, standards-based communications tool featuring a Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning interface that speeds information flow between workstations and the server.

CEO Frank Hoberg said in an interview from Germany that Netlines customers have been calling for an alternative to Microsoft Corp.s Exchange since 2000, when development on Open-Xchange began.

"It was then launched in 2002 with SuSE Linux. Making the source code available under the GPL was clearly the most logical next step in its evolution," Hoberg said. "We own all the intellectual property for the server and have until now had a traditional per-seat licensing and revenue model."

Some in the open-source community are indifferent about the move. Matthew Rice, a partner at Starnix Inc., of Thornhill, Ontario, said the open-sourcing of Open-Xchange Server "makes little difference.

"I will probably have to look at it someday, but it looks like they want to copy the Skyrix [Software AG] play [Skyrix open-sourced its Groupware Server and formed the project], which seems to have worked out very well for them. I guess that theyre hoping that lightning will strike twice in Germany," Rice said.

"Netline runs the risk of becoming an also-ran in the open-source-software mind space. They are going to have to do something big to reach people," Rice said.

Linux vendors such as Novell and Hewlett-Packard Co. disagree.

Officials in Novells Nterprise platform services group, in Provo, Utah, said the GPL release of Open-Xchange is good for both customers and developers. Novell recognized the value of open source in the rapid development of software and its responsiveness to users needs, the officials said.

Martin Fink, vice president of Linux at HP, in Palo Alto, Calif., said that an increasing number of customers are looking to implement both open-source and proprietary software within their IT infrastructures. "Netlines Open-Xchange Server helps address this need," Fink said.

The open-source version of Open-Xchange Server will be available free at and by the end of the month. It will feature most of the code for the commercial product, which runs on major Linux operating systems, including those from Novells SuSE Linux, Red Hat Inc., Red Flag Software Co. Ltd. and Debian.

Check out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

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Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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