Ximian Branching Out

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2001-12-03 Print this article Print

Connector product ties desktop, groupware to Microsoft Exchange.

Ximian Inc. is the latest company with open-source roots to start selling proprietary products.

Ximian, the open-source desktop company formerly known as Helix Code Inc., this week will announce a new proprietary product, the Ximian Connector for Microsoft Corp.s Exchange, which will bridge the gap between users Linux desktops and their Exchange servers, said Nat Friedman, Ximian co-founder and vice president of product development, in Boston.

Ximian also is announcing this week the availability of Evolution 1.0, its open-source graphical personal and workgroup information management solution for Linux and Unix systems. This system can be used as groupware that connects Linux and Unix users to popular corporate communications architectures and allows users to share calendar and task information.

The Connector is an extension that allows the Evolution application to work as a groupware client for Exchange 2000, Friedman said.

Friedman stressed that the company is not moving away from its open-source roots and remains committed to developing an open-source desktop. "We have already contributed more than 2 million lines of code to the GNOME [GNU Network Object Model Environment] desktop effort and will continue to do so," he said.

"But, at the same time, we are a business, and many of our corporate customers have been asking for a solution like this. Our business plan has always been to provide a mix of free and proprietary software, solutions and services," he said.

Users such as Robert Cole, a systems administrator for pharmaceutical company Zila Inc., in Phoenix, welcome the move. Cole has been evaluating Evolution for use at his company and said Connector is an important product in this regard.

"I have been testing Evolution for some time and am really happy with it," he said. "With all the security problems Microsoft has been having of late, were looking at possibly migrating part of the desktop to Linux, and Ximians products make a good interface for users who are accustomed to Windows."

Zilas essential Windows applications, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, would be retained, while Internet applications such as e-mail and browser would be migrated.

"I want to set up a Linux system running VMware so that users can access their Windows applications in a virtual machine," Cole said. "The base operating system would be Linux, and Ximian the application ware."

Ximians move to include a proprietary component of its offering follows similar moves by ArsDigita Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., which now sells proprietary modules to its once fully open-source product for Web-based e-commerce software. In addition, Sendmail Inc., of Emeryville, Calif., sells a proprietary e-mail application, and Covalent Technologies, of San Francisco, sells its Apache Web page delivery programs—both of which are proprietary enhancements of open-source foundations.

Ximians Connector is due early next year and costs $69 for a single user, $599 for a 10-user pack and $1,499 for 25 users. Evolution 1.0 is now available for download from the Ximian Web site as part of its desktop software. It will also be available for purchase on CD within three weeks as part of the Ximian Desktop Standard Edition and Desktop Professional Edition.

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 www.eweek.com.


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