Windows


I recently had someone ask me about converting from Outlook Express (I nearly fainted, it’s been so long since someone admitted to using OE in front of me) to something more open source (great way to keep from getting a bunch of spam and viruses), and in my research I found a great couple of articles about converting to Open Source mail packages.

The first deals directly with converting from Outlook Express to either Thunderbird or Evolution (which worked great, they told me) and the next is for those converting from that beast from the land of insufficient light, Microsoft Outlook, Converting All Your MS Outlook PST Files To Maildir Format.

Personally, it’s been over 10 years since I was based on Windows email programs, and that only for work. Here’s to all of us who “survived” all those many years on pine and mutt.

Enjoy,

RossB

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It’s been a whole year since the ground-breaking Novell-Microsoft Collaboration Agreement was signed and announced. The one-stop shop for official info is here: http://www.moreinterop.com So far, despite the noise in the press, MANY customers have decided to take advantage of the many benefits that the agreement brings to the table. Here’s a list of all 46 of the customers who are allowing us to mention them publicly. They include some of the largest and most recognizable organizations in the world – Wal-Mart, BMW, Costco, HSBC, Nationwide, Siemens and Southwest Airlines just to name a few…

  • 1blu
  • Abraxas Informatik AG
  • ADIF
  • AFG IT Consulting
  • Arsys
  • Arsys Internet S.L.
  • Baker Hughes
  • BATS Trading Inc.
  • BMW AG
  • State of California, Department of Fish and Game
  • State of California Department of Technology Services
  • Cash Converters International Ltd.
  • CHRISTUS Health
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • City of Los Angeles
  • CompuCom Systems Inc.
  • Conductor Tecnologia S.A.
  • Costco Wholesale Corp.
  • Flagstar Bank
  • Fujitsu Services Oy
  • Gordon Food Service
  • Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.
  • hi5 Networks Inc.
  • Host Europe
  • HSBC
  • iLoop Mobile Inc.
  • Leicester City Council
  • Kent County, Mich.
  • Mercury Insurance
  • Nationwide
  • Pioneer Corp.
  • PRISACOM SA
  • Reed Elsevier
  • Riverside County, Calif.
  • Save Mart Supermarkets
  • Siemens Corp.
  • South Carolina Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole Services
  • Southwest Airlines Co.
  • Swiss Post
  • Synovus Financial Corp.
  • TDC Hosting
  • T-Systems Enterprise Services GmbH
  • Wal-Mart
  • Washington State Department of Information Services
  • Westmont College
  • Zabka Polska S.A.
  • Links here, here and here

On top of all these customers, several other developments in the relationship have occurred during the first year. Novell and Microsoft have completed building out and are now doing real engineering work and interoperability testing in the Microsoft and Novell Interoperability Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. More info on the lab is in the recent press release. Dell signed on as a partner for the agreement as well, working to help Linux customers with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

And most recently, Novell and Microsoft extended the agreement by agreeing to work together to make it easier for all software developers to develop applications for users with disabilities, such as blindness. From the press release:

Microsoft will make available its User Interface Automation (UIA) specification, an advanced accessibility framework that simplifies the development of assistive technology products for people with one or more disabilities, and pledge not to assert any Microsoft patents necessary to implement the specification against anyone, regardless of platform, in the open source and proprietary software communities. In concert, to promote interoperability between leading accessibility frameworks in the market, Novell will develop and deliver an adapter that allows the UIA framework to work well with existing Linux accessibility projects and complement the investments made by IBM Corp. and others. Novell’s work will be open source and will make the UIA framework cross-platform while enabling UIA to interoperate with the Linux Accessibility Toolkit (ATK), which ships with SUSE Linux Enterprise, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu Linux. The UIA solution will ensure interoperability of nonvisual access to the next generation of software applications.

“Microsoft’s commitment to make the specification for UIA freely available to others to implement, coupled with Novell’s plans to develop and deliver an adapter that allows Linux accessibility projects to work well with the UIA framework, are tremendous examples of how industry can come together to tackle interoperability problems for blind persons,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind. “The NFB challenges the entire IT industry to continue to look for creative opportunities such as this to solve longstanding interoperability challenges and reduce development barriers to accessibility.”

Interesting:

Virtual Machine Additions for Linux are designed to improve the usability and interoperability of running qualified Linux operating systems as guests or virtual machines of Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1.

Now with support for SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10
Microsoft is committed to testing and supporting many third-party operating systems for use as guest operating systems on Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 virtual machines. To help make sure that you have a favorable experience when you run third-party guest operating systems in Virtual Server 2005, Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) has created a product support model for these third-party guest operating systems. This support model is consistent with the support model that is used for Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1. Product support for the Virtual Machine Additions will be provided through the normal support channels available for Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1.

More here.

Ok, so my title is a little misleading, there’s not any rivalry between the different areas of Novell and SUSE, other than the usual desire to see your business unit succeed just a little more “betterly” than the other units do. It’s all about friendly competition.

What’s Red vs. Green?

What I’m referring to (with Red vs. Green) is the necessary dividing line between the traditional Novell business units like Workgroup (Netware, Open Enterprise Server, Groupwise etc.) which I think of as “Red”, and the newer and Open Source-centric business unit called Open Platform Solutions (SLES, SLED, SLERT, SLEPOS etc.), which I think of as “Green”. (Get it? SUSE Green, like the Gecko?)

I have come up with the analogy and strategy of Red vs. Green as a way of helping partners, customers and the casual passerby understand that depending on which Novell/SUSE products they have, they will likely benefit most from a particular set of products and growth options.

“I See Red”

My experience has been that if a customer is “Red”, they’re almost always firmly ensconced in and using the Novell services throughout the enterprise, with some confusion as to how and why they might make use of Linux. The first order of business is to determine how much they know about Linux in general, and in particular Novell’s use of SUSE Linux Enterprise in it’s product lines. After hundreds of these discussions, we can get everyone on the same page with a little discussion, some Q&A and a handy whiteboard in short order.

How Does This Work?

For example, in a conversation with faux customer Air America, I find they have a long-standing Netware infrastructure for File and Print, do a little clustering for Groupwise and use iPrint for printing with all account management taking place through an Identity management setup and eDirectory. They have Windows workstations that make full use of the Netware Client and it’s services. I’d already lean toward “Red” strategy with them, but they might be toying with the idea of going “over to Linux”, so I go a little further.

The questions I ask them are very simple and straightforward:

  • Do you have any data on NSS volumes?
  • Do you use any of the advanced features of NSS?
  • Do you have Novell Clustering Services or Business Continuity Clustering set up?
  • Do you have a very large number of printers?
  • Do your people have Novell Client software on their computers for access to the network?

A “yes” answer to any of these questions points to the Open Enterprise Server (with Version 2, OES = Linux base, Novell’s standard services converted to run great on Linux layered on top). Novell has spent a lot of time and effort to make it as effortless as possible to have this type of organization migrate up to OES, there is a very complete and clear path for this customer to begin to use Linux-based Novell services with the least disruption possible and often at a considerable cost-savings.

I will try if possible to help them see where “Green” might fit in, either for hosting Groupwise or other services, such as Mono (Dot Net compatible server), Virtualization (Xen) or any of a host of other possibilities. Usually this type of customer will stay “Red” and for good reason.

“It’s Easy Being Green”

On the other side of this equation, I will find customers who don’t have a lick of “Red” in their environment, and these are usually standard UNIX shops on the server side, usually either a Solaris or AIX flavor, some HP-UX, but they’ll be using mostly Windows on the client side. Usually if they say “No” to my “Got any Novell products or Netware around?”, they will go “Green” easily.

The discussion with this client is much easier, they’re a classic “Green” customer, all the services and tools they are used to using have an analog (equivalent) in the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server/Desktop product line. Once I determine they have no Netware products in the organization, we don’t even talk about “Red vs. Green”, it’s not relevant, they can even run eDirectory and Zenworks Linux Management on SLES, no “Red” needed.

I additionally will probe to see if they have any Terminal Server or Citrix/Ericom deployed for application security and updateability, if they do, it makes the Linux Desktop play much more likely, especially if they make use of TS/Citrix as a desktop solution. How compelling is $50 or less a seat for the presentation OS on the desktop versus $239 or so for the oddly-shaped box o’ Vista?

Got any changes or suggestions to this whole Red vs. Green thing? I’m constantly getting feedback and changing it, let me know and I’ll credit you and update it.

Enjoy,

RossB

What is DOS? I don’t know; I’ve never used it before… until today!

Recently I’ve been working on getting SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop working on a really really old piece of hardware. As one of the troubleshooting steps I had to update the BIOS to the latest version. In order to do this the vendor told me that I had to boot into DOS and run an executable that would update the BIOS.

As I said, I’ve never used DOS before, so I had to reach out to Peter Bowen for help. Here are the steps he walked me through to create a Virtual FreeDOS Floppy disk image on your hard drive that you can boot from.

Make sure the following are installed: dosbootdisk, syslinux. Dosbootdisk is a program that lets you create a FreeDOS boot disk. Syslinux is a boot loader for Linux which operates off an MS-DOS or Windows FAT file system.

Follow these steps to boot into a DOS partition:

  • zcat /usr/share/dosbootdisk/floppy.gz /boot/floppy.img
  • mount -o loop /boot/floppy.img /mnt
  • Copy the appropriate files needed for updating the BIOS into /mnt(remember this is DOS so make sure that the file names are no larger than 8 characters and the file extension is no more than 3 characters
  • I had to remove the the following line from my config.sys file in order for the system to boot DOS=UMB,HIGH
  • umount /mnt (remember that you can’t unmount if have have if it is your current working directory ie. if you have cd’ed into it)
  • cp /usr/share/syslinux/memdisk /boot
  • Next we need to setup Grub so that you can boot into your virtual floppy disk.
  • Edit /boot/grub/menu.lst so that it looks something like this:
  • ###DOS Floppy###
    title DOS
    root (hd0,0) #you may need to change this depending on what partition /boot is installed on. Because this system is so old it requires that /boot have it's own partition that is the first partition.

    kernel /memdisk
    initrd /floppy.img

    At this point you should be able to reboot your machine, choose the DOS option and flash your BIOS.

According to a Silicon.com article… Speaking to an audience at the Gartner Symposium/IT Expo last week, Dell’s CEO Michael Dell said that Linux server sales are increasing faster than Windows server sales. You can view the webcast of the keynote here. I think that helps to validate what many of us have intuitively known for years… that Linux is the fastest growing operating system in the IT market. It’s also worth pointing out that Dell is validating the observation we’ve had for some time that more and more organizations are “trusting” Linux A LOT more and deciding to put more “critical applications” on Linux than in the past.

He said: “On the server side Linux continues to grow nicely, a bit faster than Windows. We’re seeing a move to Linux in critical applications, and Linux migration has not slowed down.”

However, for those customers who might be concerned about whether Microsoft’s claims of patent violation could result in legal action, Dell added that there were “certainly mechanisms if customers are concerned about patents”.

One of those mechanisms he’s referring to is Novell’s own Novell Technology Assurance Program (NTAP). Whether or not you believe MS’s position on IP, there are surely CxO’s within your organization who prefer to minimize all risks for the organization. NTAP can certainly help give those CxO’s the piece-of-mind necessary, and help remove roadblocks for you to dramatically increase the amount of Linux in your shop — (assuming you like secure, reliable, and low cost operating systems… like SLE) 🙂

Find the Silicon.com article here and checkout Michael Dell’s keynote here (Linux comments ~29:30).

Many small businesses and the IT consultants who support them have deployed Linux in some way — hey, it can save a ton of cash! But typically Linux is doing a specific task — maybe a file/print server, web server, firewall, database, etc. The solutions have been done fairly piece-wise, and that can lead to a lack of integration – making things a bit more difficult to manage over time. Alternatively, one might have chosen the Microsoft Small Business product – but we all know where that can lead (security problems, constant patching, IT headaches, excessive software costs, etc.). There really hasn’t been a nicely integrated workgroup suite for small business based combining the best of open source and proprietary enterprise software… until now.

Novell Open Workgroup Suite Small Business Edition has arrived. It works with either Windows or Linux desktops and includes “less expensive” (and arguably EASIER-to-LEARN) alternatives to Windows Vista and MS Office 2007. In addition to a nicely integrated installation, it has a ton of value for a very small price. It includes:

  • File/Print sharing and security – Open Enterprise Server for Linux
  • Laptop backup/file collaboration – iFolder
  • Email/Calendaring – GroupWise
  • End-user general purpose desktop – SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop
  • MS Office-compatible office suite – OpenOffice.org, Novell Edition
  • Backup software – Amanda
  • Network faxing – HylaFAX
  • Anti-spam – MailScanner
  • Anti-virus for email – ClamAV
  • Firewall – iptables
  • VPN – OpenVPN
  • Remote control – TightVNC

… and all this stuff runs on Linux!  Yeah, but how does it compare to the Microsoft Small Business Suite? Look here.

All this for a retail cost of $350 for every 5-users!! Want more info? Check these out… product home page, audio podcast, press release, workgroup team blog

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