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Open source iFolder is here

Jul 08, 20043 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsOpen Source

* Check out the iFolder Project

With all the talk in the past few issues about backups and recovery of the directory, there’s a bit of news I’ve neglected to pass on. At Brainshare back in March, Novell announced that it would release its iFolder product as open source. Well, now it’s gone and done just that.

You can head over to the Novell Forge Web site ( right now and download everything you need to set up an iFolder network. There are some differences with this product from the one you might be familiar with on NetWare 6.x, however.

First, the open source iFolder Project is peer-to-peer. Any Windows or Linux PC can be a host and/or a client for iFolder. Any one PC can participate in multiple iFolder groups, all as host, all as client, or a combination of the two.

While you can set up this iFolder in the “traditional” way – syncing files among the various platforms you use – the more likely scenario is as a workgroup solution. As the documentation relates it: a group leader designates a folder as an iFolder, then e-mails invitations to other group members inviting them to participate. If they accept, they follow a link in the e-mail, download the iFolder client and set up their own iFolder folder. Now all the local iFolders are kept in synchronization at all times. Everyone always has the most up-to-date version of files and documents. Simple, easy to set up, and very effective.

Users, by the way, can have read-only, read/write or admin (able to create other read/write or read-only users) access to the iFolder as determined by the originator, called the “Bill owner,” who is the only one allowed to create admin users.

This version of iFolder also contains an “address book,” used in lieu of eDirectory for storage of user contact information. Currently this includes:

* User ID [required].

* E-mail address [required].

* First name [required].

* Last name [required].

* Job title.

* Organization.

* Web page address.

* Blog address.

* Phone numbers.

* Addresses.

In essence, it’s a mini-directory but not called that. Evidently, the thinking was that “address book” was more readily understandable to more potential users. I haven’t examined this address book closely yet, and Novell hasn’t published a lot of detail about it, but I’ll bet there’s a schema that could be extended so that it holds all sorts of useful information. Something to look forward to.

I’ve called iFolder the best new technology to come out of NetWare 6, and I still believe that. Now that it’s available to everyone, we should not only bring thanks to Novell but also garner praise for the quality of the work that the engineers there are doing. The prestige factor should not be overlooked.