February 12, 2007 2:40 PM PST

IBM software geared to reduce PC costs

For IBM, it's Linux on the desktop, take 2.

Big Blue on Monday announced software products designed to reduce PC software costs by running the same applications on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The project grew out of the company's attempt to lower software costs through the use of Linux, said Scott Handy, vice president of Linux and open source at IBM.

The software, called the Open Client Offering, combines IBM's Lotus Notes and Sametime software for e-mail, calendar and messaging; WebSphere software for server-based applications; a special version of the open-source OpenOffice.org software suite; and Lotus Expeditor for hybrid applications that can run either when a computer is connected to the network or not.

The work sidesteps some of the thorniest issues of the long-promised but as-yet unfulfilled vision of using the Linux operating system on desktop computers. The open-source operating system is widely used on servers, but it's still a rarity on personal computers where Microsoft's Windows dominates--in part, because of the difficulty of moving a multitude of Windows programs to Linux.

To get around the issue, the Open Client Offering uses software that grew out of the IBM-launched Eclipse project called the Rich Client Platform (RCP). This package includes a "runtime" foundation that lets the same software run on multiple operating systems, presenting the application with a native look.

"One code base runs on Linux, Windows and the Mac," Handy said. "With the Eclipse RCP runtime, a Windows application is rendered with Win32 (the Windows interface). Linux is rendered in GNOME (one Linux interface). The Mac version looks like a Mac native application."

The technology is conceptually similar to Sun Microsystems' Java, which was launched under the "write once, run anywhere" tagline and which also incorporates a runtime component.

IBM rewrote the OpenOffice.org suite--a Microsoft Office competitor that includes a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation package--as an Eclipse RCP plug-in, Handy said.

The software grew out of IBM's attempt in 2004 to move many of its own PCs to Linux, he said. With the Linux move, IBM had hoped to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO)--the cumulative costs of purchasing, supporting and running computing equipment--but instead found that costs rose because the company had to support two separate software suites for Windows and Linux.

"We determined that the TCO savings probably wouldn't materialize if you had to support both environments," Handy said. "We did a hard re-look at the whole thing."

Linux is still widely used on desktop computers within IBM, Handy said. Among those using it are employees at the Linux Technology Center, IBM operations in Brazil and India, Linux sales groups, and the China software development lab, he said. "We have big pockets of Linux users," Handy said.

IBM rewrote the Linux version of Lotus Notes 7 to use the RCP technology, and Windows will get it with version 8, due midyear, Handy said. The Mac OS X ability is scheduled to arrive by the end of the year, he added.

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TCO, IBM Corp., IBM Lotus SameTime, Linux, OpenOffice.org

24 comments

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So, what about OS/2 and eComStation!
It was stated by Scott Handy, IBM's vice president of Linux and open source in this article that "We worked with the open-source community and found a way to write software once that will work regardless of operating system. It will run on Windows, Macintosh or Linux...", so, the question is: since the software is written once and will work "regardless of operating system..." does it holds true for the OS/2 and eComStation Operating Systems?
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
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And AmigaDOS and TRS-80!
What about those?
Posted by realistic1 (36 comments )
Link Flag
I'd expect "All" meant within the scope of conversation
The discussion was on cenralized common management of osX, Windows, *nix. I expect the "All OS" was meant within the scope of the three major OS.

Is OS/2 alive still? I keep thinking I should add it to my OS collection but there doesn't seem to be much activity if there is a FOSS community around it paying for it can't be justified these days.

Either way, common administration tools for the three major OS is a huge step. If someone can develop a FOSS replacement for Exchange Server, that'd be another huge step along side this one.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
OS/2?
OS/2, It's dead Jim.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
Some Cardinal Issues!
Since it is also stated in this article that IBM said that "it will offer an open desktop software system for businesses that puts the cost of managing computers running Linux or Apple's Mac OS on a more equal footing with Microsoft's Windows software, improving the economics of Windows alternatives..."; unlike as it been reported as with the Microsoft Corporation during the development of its software, has IBM sat down with "certain" user communities so that software can be developed to address the way these particular user communities work and not how IBM thinks the user communities work thus resulting in bloated software. On the other hand, it will be interesting to know how this IBM offering will differentiate itself from a similar Google (Google Spreadsheet...) offering.
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
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uh, why the comparison to Google Spreadsheet?
I'm not sure where your getting IBM developing a new desktop OS or the comparison to Google Spreadsheets. There's no mention that they are developing a complete desktop OS, it's just an net admin's desktop application (rather than major server application).

IBM is developing a desktop software system to address managing multiple OS within a network.

I read that as IBM developing "desktop software" as a "system" as a single tool to manage a mixed OS network and user base.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
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Great news
It's weird for me to be saying this since I make my living supporting windows based computers, but it's about time consumers and businesses had a real choice. Remember people, (M$ fanboys included).. competition is good (unless of course you are M$... then it's really bad!). M$'s arrogance towards it's customers has reached a zenith in the last few years as they take their monopoly for granted. Linux should scare Microsoft, especially if businesses can get reliable support for it. If you don't have someone to turn to when the dang thing don't work, that's a big problem for businesses. Also IBM is one of the only technology companies that has DEEPER pockets than M$ (and perhaps as many lawyers). IBM's track record for fairness and customer service is so far superior to M$'s that people may be shocked to actually be treated fairly... Now is the perfect time for this with M$'s high prices, rediculous licensing terms, hyper aggressive activation and auditing, expensive hardware requirement (especially for businesses with a large install base of existing pc's that will never meet the requirements), and overall lacklustre cost/benefit.
Posted by C_G_K (169 comments )
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Remenber "Free WILLIE" the whale!
Given the recent report about the Russian authorities going after those underprivileged school children's teacher in Russia - in one fell swoop with IBM announcing the offering of "an open desktop software system" now is the opportune time to convince the Russian authorities how nonsensical it is to go after a well intentioned school teacher whose goals were to give underprivileged Russian school children the opportunity to be the 1st, 2nd,... place winners at future International Inter-Collegiate Computing Competitions whether or not they started their education in computer technology using "crappy" software. So, like in Free Willie the whale story, all should clamor to free the Russian school teacher and guide him to even less expensive alternative desktop computer usages (waters) coming from IBM)!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
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WHAT!????
You are making less and less sense each post.
Posted by Charleston Charge (362 comments )
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Excellent! What a thought, competition in OSes
It's about time.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
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"It's about time."
The gut feeling is that it is not about the OSes per se; but, the implementation of the OASIS Group's ISO Open Document Format Standards - ODF (within the Microsoft dominated desktop space) that has been adopted by some US States and several countries around the world, particularly in the EU. The use of alternative OSes appear to be merely value added!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
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It already happened!
Windows and OS/2 went head to head in a real competitive environment. Guess what? Windows won.

So is OS/2 coming back for another round? Not yet but it's not a dead as it looked to be a year ago.

For competition, Windows right now is still looking at Linux. Linux came in and took a lot of the market that MS thought they had locked up and has the potential to grow further as more software like this from IBM, the .NET initiative by MS (Mono) and their grandfather Java make the differences between the OSes less relevant.

Patience is recommended though, any action is going to take years to accomplish now since established systems will be replaced now instead of new systems being added.
Posted by HandGlad2 (91 comments )
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Talking about Desktop Space: From An Academic Standpoint....!
To come to think about it; with the US Army, Navy, and Air Force presently engaged in conflict in Iraq... then that superb "OS/2 Maintenance Application" that has been around for some time now may just come in handy for a few companies that have been able to secure a few contracts! $$$$
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
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In For The Money, In For The Pound!
""One code base runs on Linux, Windows and the Mac," Handy said. "With the Eclipse RCP runtime, a Windows application is rendered with Win32 (the Windows interface). Linux is rendered in GNOME (one Linux interface). The Mac version looks like a Mac native application." The bets are off as to whether the "chained/caged up" 800lb GORILLA which is OS/2 can kill three birds (Linux, Windows and the Mac) with one stone!

Free Competition "With the Eclipse RCP runtime" You Say? WOW!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
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OS/2? y'mean eComStation
In any event, eComStation, as you are so fond in pointing out, is based off OS/2, and only has support for Win 3.x apps (it says so on the main page), or Java, and this isn't Java. So no, OS/2 won't run this. "Chained?" Where does that come from? And anyways, it's been replaced. Don't you have a warp drive to die fixing, Commander_Spock? Somewhere relatively near when Kirk yells, "KHAN!!!!!!" and the Genesis device blows up?
Posted by ben::zen (127 comments )
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