Novell Unveils Hula Open-Source Collaboration Project

The company will work with open-source partners Netline and the Mozilla Foundation to create a low-end, online collaboration server.

BOSTON—Novell Inc. is forming a new open-source community project to create a collaboration server called Hula, CEO Jack Messman said during his keynote speech at LinuxWorld here on Tuesday.

Hula will be a groupware calendar and mail server. The new program is licensed under both the GNU Lesser GPL (General Public License) and the MPL (Mozilla Public License).

The Hula server will be built on open Internet standards such as SMTP, IMAP, iCalendar and the emerging CalDAV calendar access protocol. It will also include an extensible architecture enabling it to be integrated with other projects such as Open-Xchange and the Mozilla Foundations e-mail client Thunderbird and scheduling program, Sunbird.

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For now, Hulas code base will only run on Linux. In the near future, though, it will also be ported to Windows, Mac OS X and NetWare.

The Hula team is also working on a JavaScript and DHTML-based Rich Web Client, Messman said. However, this client will not be needed to use Hulas services.

At this early development stage, Novells Evolution groupware client and Thunderbird can use the programs mail and contact services. The Hula project also plans to expand its functionality to the open-source Chandler PIM (personal information manager) and Microsoft Outlook.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about Evolution.

Novell already has a proprietary, high-end groupware program: GroupWise. Messman explained in his keynote that Novell and others in the Linux community believe that users and open source need a lightweight collaboration server. GroupWise, however, will not be going away. After the upcoming Sequoia release of GroupWise, slated for later this year, Novell is planning two more updates for the groupware program.

"There will always be a need for a heavy-duty groupware server program like GroupWise or Lotus Notes," Messman said. "But theres also a need for an entry-level program."

Messmans hope is that Hula "will become to collaboration software what Apache is to Web services."

To get the ball rolling, Novell is opening up 200,000 lines of code from its NetMail collaboration server program.

"Hula is starting from a strong position," Nat Friedman, vice president of collaboration and desktop engineering for Novell, said in a statement.

"Novell has already created a server that provides the necessary basics. Our job now is to bring to Hula the innovative ideas, plug-ins and patches that will make the server really useful and compelling to large numbers of people.

Novell isnt plotting this course on its own. The company is inviting open-source developers to bring their own ideas to the project. "We believe Hula is a project the Linux community can rally around," Friedman said.

Conference attendees, however, guardedly greeted the news of Hula, with many voicing suspicion that Novells code contribution is little more than a bid to get people onto GroupWise.

"They still have objectives of their own—to put [code for Novell software] into their solutions," said Jason D. Runyan, an IT specialist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "[Messmans] here, and hes doing this presentation, but there are motivations. He mentioned GroupWise: He obviously wants everybody to adopt GroupWise."

Hula is just Novells way of "being Red Hat [Inc.]," Runyan said. "They can say, Oh, look, were open source with this too, we started this project. "

Additional reporting by Lisa Vaas.

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