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IBM's Ubuntu deal favors the server

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LinuxWorld Ubuntu is the latest Linux distro to fall under the loving gaze of systems giant IBM, in its endless march to unseat Microsoft from business desktops and servers.

Canonical, the commercial sponsor of the people-friendly Ubuntu, has done a deal with IBM that'll serve Ubuntu well in the enterprise - running business applications.

As reported, Canonical will re-distribute IBM's Lotus Symphony, based on OpenOffice.org, with its Ubuntu repositories. Deconstructing the twisted language IBM used to make this announcement, Canonical told The Reg it would have Lotus Notes install with Symphony using the Ubuntu two-click process.

Canonical expects testing to be done in September and general availability with the release by IBM of a Lotus Notes client for Debian this autumn.

The question is whether Canonical will also provide support for Symphony, a free product from IBM that the systems giant supports. Canonical is likely to turn to a third-party to provide this although it's likely to resell Symphony support, the company said.

Canonical and Ubuntu are finding growing favor with IBM, which wants its applications running on Linux distros against Microsoft's Windows and business applications. So far, for example, IBM's DB2 has been certified on Ubuntu.

IBM's endorsement is great for Ubuntu, which - with Red Hat and Novell both conspicuous by their absence - was the Linux distro that owned this year's LinuxWorld. It re-enforces Canonical's long-term objective of running more business-critical applications.

For IBM, it was the same old story: a search for a new source to power its never-ending battle to unseat Microsoft from the enterprise. No consumer will ever use the Ubuntu work on Notes.

IBM's deal with Canonical, along with Red Hat and Novell, is to partner with local hardware providers - as yet there are none to announce, IBM told press at LinuxWorld - for a "Microsoft-free" PC. The deal is therefore, so far, on software - Open Collaboration Client Solution (OCCS) and Symphony.

We've been here before with IBM partnering around, and talking up, the possibilities of the Linux desktop. Yet it's never really caught on.

This time, though, the director of cross-IBM Linux strategy Inna Kuzetsova believes things are different. Linux on the desktop is "much more user friendly, plus there's the ability to exchange documents and messages," she said.

Fortunately for Ubuntu, there are still hundreds of thousands of Lotus Notes seats out there sitting inside businesses that want to cut their server costs using Linux. Better to focus on this, rather than wait for IBM's Linux desktop dream to materialize.®

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