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Novell makes iFolder open source

Apr 01, 20043 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsOpen Source

* Novell to release core parts of iFolder as open source

One of the more interesting announcements at last week’s BrainShare, at least to me, was that Novell was going to open source its iFolder technology.

Novell will release to open source the core parts of iFolder, including the synchronization engine codenamed Simias, and the address book derived from eDirectory technology to handle identity issues. Novell will retain copyright and will continue to commercialize the technology, further developing iFolder as a major stand-alone product as well as a component part of NetWare.

I’ve always been a big fan of iFolder, the system that allows a user to keep files on different platforms (say an office desktop and a home PC or a laptop – or all three) automatically. It ensures you always have access to the current version of the files you deem to be important while ensuring that the crash of a single system, an inadvertent “delete” or the loss of a laptop won’t cause you to be totally out of business.

I’ve used iFolder many times to synch files on my desktop and my laptop so that I always have the references I need to write a newsletter easily accessible. It enables me to consolidate all of my writing activity and keep important e-mails and new reference materials in one place. Having a 100M-byte white paper locally available is much easier for reference than having to load it over a low-speed dial-up connection (or the intermittent connection I’m using in my hotel room to write this).

The open source version of iFolder will be developed using the Mono framework that Novell inherited when it acquired Ximian. Mono is a community project to develop an open source version of the Microsoft .Net development platform. That should mean smoother and easier development of iFolder for Unix, Linux, Windows, Macintosh as well as NetWare. Open source iFolder will also include client- and server-side application programming interfaces to enable integration with other applications.

Novell has released some earlier (and largely no longer developed) applications as open source (see “The return of something good,” link below). It has also included open source software (Apache, rSync, MySQL) in the shipping version of NetWare. It has adopted open source items (such as Mono) when acquiring businesses. But this will be the first time that a viable, still-being-developed Novell product will be released to the open source community. Its success (or lack thereof) might determine the direction Novell takes with other technologies.