[sf-lug] IBM selling Linux computers

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Dec 8 00:39:48 PST 2008

Quoting Christian Einfeldt (einfeldt at gmail.com):

> Good news --

Not really.

> Here is the /. summary:


> *"According to Information Week, IBM has introduced a line of business
> computers that avoid Microsoft's desktop
> environment<http://www.informationweek.com/shared/printableArticle.jhtml?articleID=212202109>in
> favor of open source software. 

And yet, this is _not_ so -- except for the base OS being Ubuntu.
Pretty much all of the key components above the base-OS level are
proprietary.  Many of them are worse than proprietary -- being both
proprietary and _hosted_, in which model the user has physical custody
of _neither_ the necessary code nor the user's own data:  Both are
reached and validated across the Internet -- the "SaaS" = Software as a
Service sales model.  (To be very clear, the IBM model discussed is part
local and part SaaS.)

The InfoWeek article claims the bundle comes with "IBM's open source
Lotus Symphony desktop package".  However, that is mistaken:  It's not
open source.  (CMP Media wouldn't recognise open source if it bit them. 
What they mean is, it's available free of charge.)

Essentially what happened is, IBM's China Development Laboratory in
Beijing wrote (in 2006) an office application suite in Java called
Workplace Managed Client - word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation
graphics.  Some of that code was rolled into Lotus Notes 8 in 2007.
Then, in 2008, a subset of Lotus Notes 8 was merged with OpenOffice.org
1.1.4 and Eclipse Rich Client Platform, and made available separately
as a free-of-charge download as IBM Lotus Symphony versions 1.0 through
1.2 (so far).  

Please note that this proprietary application has no connection
whatsoever with Lotus Symphony for DOS, which existed from 1985 to 1992.

It's a bit unclear how much of the IBM/Canonical/Virtual Bridges suite
is hosted.  About that portion:

> IBM worked with Canonical and Virtual Bridges to create the platform....

The reference to "Virtual Bridges" (http://vbridges.com/) means that some
key parts of the software being run are run remotely fron a hosted 
(Internet app server, aka SaaS) environment, via VERDE (Virtual
Enterprise Remote Desktop Environment), from the firm that used to be
called Netraverse, publishers of Win4Lin.

   By consolidating these desktop sessions onto centrally-managed servers,
   users no longer have to self-maintain their desktops or put unnecessary
   burdens on the Help Desk. 

Hurrah!  You don't get even proprietary software, any more; you just
rent time, by the month or year, on central computers that run
proprietary software, central computers that are owned and operated by
other people.  And that's where your data live, too.  Isn't that

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