Monday, January 12, 2009

Getting Started with IBM Lotus Notes 8.5

IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 got released last week and I eagerly downloaded it on Friday for a quick play. Fortunately IBM seem to have made a few changes to their download site in the last few months and I had no trouble at all finding the software (well done IBM).

I downloaded the Windows 32 bit version, the Mac OSX version and the Debian Linux version.

Ubuntu Linux
Normally I can wait for software releases to become accepted but in this case, I was keen to get my hands on the Linux version. My earlier attempt at installing Notes on Linux had ended in failure and I'd heard that IBM had improved things with 8.5.

I was not wrong. I'm truly a beginner on Linux. I don't even know the commands properly and I've deliberately not read any books or technotes on the subject. How else am I going to figure out how "people friendly" the OS is?

I put my downloaded CD in and proceeded to klutz my way though, simply double-clicking on things. Nothing much seemed to be happening from CD but when I copied the file from IBM onto the desktop, suddenly it all just worked. The installation from this point onwards was smoother than any Windows installation of Notes I've ever had.

I logged in, accessed my work server remotely and started playing with databases. The interface was brilliant. I coudn't see any real differences between the linux and windows versions of the product and my notes applications (some written quite literally under version 3 of the product more than 15 years ago) worked like a charm.

Is there any other product which can run applications written 15+ years ago on not just an older operating system but an entirely different platform entirely. I doubt it. Lotus Notes is unique.

I'll probably do a few more linux installations (and try something using the new Google version of the OS). After that, I'll see if I can post some instructions.

One last comment about the linux install. The laptop I used was very old. It takes 5 minutes to boot into Windows XP and I really didn't expect Notes 8 to work at all. I was surprised. Not only does it work but it runs at a decent speed too. Brilliant. I'm not quite sure why I'd pay money for an OS again.

My windows install of Notes 8.5 went well too. Well, actually it failed a couple of times but that was because I was so eager that I burnt the EXE to the CD before it was finished downloading. Using the finished file made a big difference.

Sadly, I don't have a mac to test this on but I've got a few colleagues at work who do. I'll be trying to get them to test it for me over the next week.

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