Much ado about scripting, Linux & Eclipse: card subject to change


Lotus Notes: A Retrospective

Did a quick, narcissistic self-google tonight and discovered that a number of people have been talking about my Notes 7 installer script.

This got me thinking about Notes through the ages, from the bad old days of 4.x when I first started w/ IBM in '99 and longed for Groupwise or PINE to my days of writing LotusScript and designing database apps (while trying not to curse at Designer for its frequent, and at the very least, predictable crashes) in and around the 5.5-6.0 days, to the days when I first tried to install some flavour of Notes on a linux box.

Notes 6.0 and 6.5 thru WINE were horrible, and painful to set up -- I can't recall if I ever managed to get them working, but I do remember wondering how IBM could invest so much time and money in Linux without making Notes run there.

Notes 7.0b3 with WINE (still with the 6.5 splash screen) was buggy to the point where right-clicking your inbox caused the RSOD (Red Screen Of Death), but was at least a little easier to install, in that I could actually do it on a Debian-based system. Unfortunately, it was pretty temperamental and if you accidentlally upgraded your WINE from a very special patched version available only on internal IBM servers, you broke it. It also came with the unfortunate acronym "NUL", for Notes Under Linux. I'll let you make your own jokes.

Notes 7.0 was certainly an improvement over the past versions, but being a full Eclipse-based Java client, there's a certain amount of memory usage that's unavoidable. That said, there's no more Windows emulation through WINE, so it's more stable. I can now run Notes 7 without random crashes and hangups on Linux (though I do still get some pretty odd error messages thrown at me once in a while -- it just wouldn't be Notes without 'em!). Yes, I'm often annoyed by the fact that modal dialog boxes appear UNDER my main Notes window and sometimes don't appear until I minimize everything. True, my laptop is a T60p w/ 2G or RAM and a dual-core 2.0G processor, so it's got horsepower to burn, but the point is, from a usability standpoint, Notes 7 actually works on Linux. Combine it with a couple Eclipse workspaces and Sametime 7.5.1 and you *do* chew up a lot of RAM, but then, that's why you're running Linux, right? Try doing that on Windows and still getting reasonable performance when your virus scan software starts up. ;-) Of course I still prefer Gmail, but I digress.

It's my fond hope that the folks that package Notes will heed the rants about how much of a pain it is to install on anything but Windows, RHEL and SuSE, and make the experience easier for everyone else, like us SimplyMEPIS / (k)ubuntu folks. Clearly, things have improved substantially. That said, there's still a long way to go before Notes can be installed via apt-get without having to worry about missing fonts, libraries, PATH entries, or which of the several included startup scripts to use to launch Notes.

Notes 8 is now available in beta, and according to fellow IBMer-blogger Chris Aniszczyk, Notes 8 will be even better still. When I go through the process of installing that one, I'll provide a new script or at least blog the experience. Stay tuned.


Dan Kegel said...

If you need to run Notes on Linux,
and can't stand the extra RAM usage
of the Java version, Wine is an
increasingly good option. See

Dan Kegel said...

I should have mentioned: in summer '06,
the Wine team made a pass over
all the Wine bugs that Notes 5,6,and 7
exposed, and fixed most of them,
so it's much easier than it was when
you tried it, I think. No more need
for a specially patched version of Wine.