Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Lotus Notes & Domino Release 6.5.4 and 6.0.5

This week IBM released version 6.5.4/6.0.5 of the Lotus Notes & Domino (LND) software. For those of you who are not familiar with LND, this is one of the most versatile software products in existence. For instance, you can run the server on 8 different server platforms (AIX, Linux for Intel, Linux for zSeries, Solaris/Sparc, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows 2003, or iSeries). LND is the world's leading e-mail platform right above Microsoft Exchange. One thing to note is that LND can STILL run on Microsoft Windows NT and Windows 2000. However, the latest version of Microsoft Exchange can ONLY run on Microsoft Windows 2003. But LND is not limited to running in a 32-bit Windows environment, the other platforms allow companies to host their e-mail on the latest 64-bit Operating Systems. This will suffice for my raving about the Domino server's usability for now.

Regarding the latest release - LND 6.5.4 and 6.0.5, IBM really listened to her customers with improvements to the client and server. Use the following links to view the full Release Notes:

Lotus Notes/Domino 6.0.5

Lotus Notes/Domino 6.5.4

One thorn in IBM's side for years has been HTML-formatted e-mail support. They have stepped up to the plate and made numerous improvements to the way the Notes Client handles HTML e-mail. For a list of these, see this fix list. I have noticed immediate results with these fixes. Oh, and for backwards-compatibility's sake, IBM allows users to turn this setting off via a client Notes.ini setting: "Use60HTMLCode=1".

One other improvement was general improvements for Domino Web Access performance. First of all, they have reduced the minimum Windows system requirements by 50% (you can now use a 400Mhz/128MB RAM PC). They cite an over 40% performance improvement. Secondly a new "lightweight UI" is available for DWA users: "By removing as many GIF images as possible from the default skin, the differences in the resulting lightweight skin are mainly cosmetic and only slightly less esthetically pleasing to the discerning user." I have tested these improvements and I have seen that on a 500MHz PC wtih 192MB RAM that I get the same performance from my cluster DWA server running 6.5.4 (iSeries 270 2-way) as that of my production DWA server still running 6.5.3FP1 (iSeries 820 4-way). I am anxious to see the improvements when I can load 6.5.4 on my production server!

For those of you who would still prefer to use MS Outlook, IBM has made some enhancements to Domino Access for Microsoft Outlook (DAMO). According to Ed Brill the enhancements to DAMO are significant enough that at least a dozen pilot customers trust DAMO enough to use it for production. I tested DAMO back in versions 5.0.11 and 6.0.0. I definitely did not feel that it was production-ready then and IBM even told me that it was just meant to be a catalyst to move users from Outlook to Notes.

Some other enhancements I have seen include many Instant Messaging fixes My favorites are the ones that will retain the last-used state. (Here and here...).

I am really looking forward to the release of LND Version 7.0 later this year (hopefully). Mega dittos to IBM for listening to us customers and continuing to support this platform!

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