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Archive for June, 2005

GroupWise 7 Beta Impressions

2005-06-30 Comments off

I’ve got a working GroupWise 7 Beta server running in Engineering. I have an OES Linux server configured in VMWare to host the server, and then I have one NLD 9 client and one Windows 2000 client in VMWare sessions for the client side.

I’ve played with several components including the Linux server agents for the MTA, the POA, GWIA, WebAccess and Messenger, all of which we currently use in Version 6.5 on NetWare 6.5. I’ve also installed and used ConsoleOne with the GroupWise snapins on Linux and Windows. I’ve tested the GroupWise and Messenger clients on both Windows and Linux desktops.

First, the Linux agents are dead easy to setup if you have any GroupWise experience and a little Linux knowhow. I expect the NetWare agents would be similar in the installation process as previous versions. I have no experience with GroupWise server components on Windows servers so I can’t comment on them. The server stuff requires that you have ConsoleOne installed for Linux in order to set up GroupWise if you want to run the Linux agents. You can run the agents in interactive mode, so that they have a user interface like they do on NetWare if you want, but the default execution mode for the Linux agents is as headless daemon processes started by the Linux init mechanism. You should enable the web management consoles of the server pieces if you want to be able to know what’s going on with them while running as daemons.

The client on Windows has been modified to look more “Outlook-ish”, which I don’t particularly care for. You can fairly easily get it to look like version 6.5 though, which simplfies a transition for users of previous verions. You can even push this default appearance setting from the server side if you wish. There are a few nice new features of the client besides the silly appearance changes. If you use Novell Messenger, the GroupWise client has Messenger integration including presence detection in GroupWise. You can open a received email and on the From field, there is a little icon that shows you if the other person is online in Messenger. The client now also respects mailbox size limitations in caching mode, which is a welcome change. Previously it only supported size limits in online mode and in WebAccess. A third useful change is that the administrator can configure distribution lists to be managed by end users right in the GroupWise client for Windows. That will make it much simpler for us to manage our engineering discipline distribution lists.

The Linux client looks much the same as in version 6.5 and doesn’t have the silly colourful “Playskool” type interface that the Windows client has. It does get spell checking and rules editing, so Linux users will be happy with that. The Linux client can’t modify system distribution list memberships even if the user has been granted the privileges necessary.

The WebAccess client gets the biggest makeover, with a totally new interface that is much more visually appealing and simpler to use. Following the trend of Google in adding rich client functionality in web applications, Novell has added a lot of functionality in the WebAccess client, including drag-and-drop message filing.

One shortcoming popped up that I noticed: You can’t edit the administrators of a distribution list in ConsoleOne under Linux. That tab of the properties book of distribution lists is missing in Linux. You can do this in Windows in ConsoleOne, so I expect the plugins with that functionality for ConsoleOne in Linux just aren’t ready yet. Also, if you are planning to take any of the GroupWise 7 components for a spin, note that as with previous upgrades of GroupWise, the new client (version 7) can’t talk to previous versions of the server’s post office agent (version 6.5 or older). You must have a version 7 post office to use the version 7 client.

I have a custom tool called MailSaver, which is a snap-in to the Windows version of the GroupWise client that lets users save messages as text files along with attachments in bulk all at once. It’s written with the GroupWise Object API and the C3PO API to integrate directly into the client. I haven’t written anything for Linux to do this because the Object API, which has always been necessary to talk directly to the message store on a GroupWise server, was part of the Windows client. This new version of GroupWise has another access method for third-party software: A SOAP interface in the POA. Using the SOAP interface, you can write software that talks directly to the GroupWise message store without needing custom libraries to be installed locally. That means that I will be able to write a stand-alone version of MailSaver that will run under Mono in both Widows and Linux, with matching functionality for both platforms. I’ve been looking forward to being able to do that since I heard about it in 2004 at Brainshare.

I for one am looking forward to deploying this once it is stable. I expect to be installing it when service pack 1 comes out, just because we are paranoid about stability.

Categories: GroupWise

RSS Reader Blam!

2005-06-30 Comments off

I regularly read various news websites and weblogs about stuff I deal with at work. It can take a fair amount of time and I regularly take about half my lunchtime keeping up with this stuff. When you work in the IT industry you are forced to stay current, and reading websites is a big part of that.

Most sites nowdays that offer periodically updated content like news sites and weblogs have something called a feed. The feed is just a specially reformatted version of the main page of the site usually, that can be easily read by other programs. These feeds are used by news aggregation sites to consolidate articles from multiple other sites, and they are also used with tools called RSS Readers that allow users to collect articles from many various websites and read them quickly without having to use a browser and navigate all over the web.

I’ve started today by setting up an RSS Reader called Immendio Blam!, into which I’ve added all my frequently used sites’s feeds. I’ll try using that interface to do my technical reading and see how it goes. Incidentally, you can subscribe to my weblog’s feeds by clicking one of the syndication links on the right side of the main page. The site is syndicated in RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0 so take your pick. I am going to try to push for the company to integrate RSS feeds into the office main pages when we do our Intranet redesign, so that local office news can be aggregated on a central site, and users can subscribe to feeds they are interested in.

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff

New Novell Client for Linux Beta

2005-06-29 Comments off

Holding true to promises made at Brainshare this year, Novell has released a public beta of a NCP (Novell Core Protocols) client for Linux workstations. The client makes it easier to integrate Linux desktops and laptops into a Novell network with NetWare and OES Linux servers. The client has similar functionality to the win32 client for Novell networks. It allows users to authenticate to eDirectory, and to connect to Novell NCP shared storage, complying with all the same complex rights capabilities that are applicable on the win32 client. It allows users to modify trustees, if authorized to do so, and it parses login scripts to connect the user’s filesystem to the same server-side filesystems that they would have mapped-drive access to under Windows clients. Users can also salvage files (recover deleted files on NSS filesystems) and purge deleted files.

I’d also like to mention that my voice was heard at Brainshare by the Novell client engineers. They demonstrated a client at Branishare that would parse login scripts and essentially create mounted NCP filesystems in your home directory on Linux, named after the drive letters that would be assigned to Windows users. I requested that they allow the mount point root location to be configurable so users would not have to have them in their home directories, but allow them to choose a different location, for example a Novell subdirectory or something. Novell has included this functionality in the client.

I’ve been running the client on my SLP9.3 laptop for a few days, and aside from a few things that Novell indicated in the README that weren’t quite done yet, it has been working rather well. It doesn’t completely faithfully parse our (exceedingly complex) login scripts entirely correctly, but it does pretty well.

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff

New Novell GroupWise 7 Beta

2005-06-28 Comments off

Of course since I just finished deploying GroupWse 6.5 server components on our company’s mail system, Novell released GroupWise 7 in beta today. New and useful features I’ve noticed right away from my perspective include:

  • User Mailbox size limits are respected in caching mode! Hooray!
  • The administrator can grant access to users to modify system-level distribution lists.
  • Runs on OES NetWare and Linux, of course.
  • Comes with a SLES9 server license.
  • Has user presence detection in the client, thanks to integration with GroupWise Messenger.

I’ve got one halfway setup in Engineering already.

Categories: GroupWise

Funniest Thing Said in our IT Group Meeting Today

2005-06-27 Comments off

“The first time Microsoft makes something that doesn’t suck will be when they start selling vacuum cleaners.” –Stuart E.

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff

Burning CDs For Our First Production OES Installation

2005-06-27 Comments off

We have a busted storage server. It loses contact with it’s disk array every once in a while. It’s been running SLES9 without the OES pieces installed. HP has sent us replacement components for every piece between the server and the storage, which we have diligently installed. Nothing has worked.

Just for fun, James and I are planning to reinstall the OS, but this time instead of using bare SLES9, we’re going to use OES Linux, which is SLES9+ with some other Novell goodness on top. That will allow us to see if the problem might be software, and it will also enable us to manage the storage server the same way we manage our other servers, on OES NetWare.

Right now I’m hammering off CDs of the ISO images for OES Linux on my Thinkpad’s CD burner (using K3B under SUSE Linux Professional, of course).

Categories: Storage and Backup

Fun Bug With GroupWise Address Books

2005-06-27 Comments off

We’ve upgraded from GroupWise 6 to 6.5, but we’ve kept the 6.0 client. We run GroupWise in caching mode. We have distribution lists created in the system address book so that users can easily send email to all the users in their own or another office. Since the upgrade some of the distribution lists don’t work anymore in the caching client. They still seem to be OK in online mode or in WebAccess but in the caching client they don’t work.

I’m still trying to figure out why.

Categories: GroupWise
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