Ximian Duo Makes Linux Connections

Ximian Inc., the open-source desktop company formerly known as Helix Code Inc., will on Monday release its Ximian Connector for Microsoft Exchange and its Red Carpet CorporateConnect products.

Ximian Connector, first reported on by eWEEK in early December, is a proprietary product that bridges the gap between users Linux desktop and their Exchange universe.

Red Carpet CorporateConnect is a Web-based service that gives customers centralized software maintenance and version management for Linux workgroups and servers.

Nat Friedman, Ximian co-founder and vice president of product development, told eWEEK that Connector is a unique client software extension to the Ximian Evolution groupware suite that allows Linux and Unix users to manage personal information and collaborate with Windows-based co-workers using Microsoft Exchange 2000.

"With Ximian Connector installed, Ximian Evolution will function as a Microsoft Exchange 2000 client, enabling users to manage their e-mail, personal calendars, group schedules, address books and tasks lists using existing company Exchange 2000 servers," he said.

Ximian is one of several companies with open-source roots that are selling proprietary products to boost its business and offer corporate customers the products they want. But Friedman stressed that the company is not moving away from its open-source roots and remains committed to developing an open-source desktop.

"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.

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.

Corporate users like Robert Cole, a systems administrator for pharmaceutical firm Zila Inc. in Phoenix, has been evaluating Evolution for use at his company and says Connector is an important product in this regard as all the companys e-mail comes through an Exchange server. "This is something Im really interested in," he said.

Others agree. "Ximian Connector for Microsoft Exchange is the missing piece of the puzzle for our development staff using Linux workstations. It enables us to quickly and affordably integrate these users of the Ximian Evolution groupware suite on Linux with our corporate messaging and scheduling standard, Microsoft Exchange 2000," said Andrew Lozier, vice president of Next Dimension Inc.

Connector will be available for the leading Linux distributions such as Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSE and Debian and will cost $69 for a single user, $599 for a 10-user pack and $1,499 for a 25-user pack.

Evolution is available for download from the Ximian Web site as part of its desktop software. It is also available for purchase on CD as part of the Ximian Desktop Standard Edition and Desktop Professional Edition.

For its part, Red Carpet provides multiplatform support and the updating of systems running a broad range of Linux distributions, including Red Hat, SuSE, Mandrake, Debian and Yellow Dog.

CorporateConnect lets administrators configure and distribute software selections, manage users and create group profiles of target machines for installations and updates.

Jeff Davis, senior systems programmer at Amerada Hess, said in a statement that the firm has been evaluating Red Carpet CorporateConnect from the beginning and "believe it will dramatically reduce our costs in both time and money in managing our Linux systems. Weve been able to utilize key CorporateConnect capabilities to smoothly and automatically update the software deployed on groups of servers and desktop systems running Red Hat Linux."

Red Carpet CorporateConnect is available immediately and features subscription-based pricing of $150 per system per year, with an initial setup fee of $2,500.