LinuxWorld roundup

It's already two weeks after the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo 2006 in Cologne closed its doors, but I still want to summarize my first attendance at this conference.


The Cologne LinuxWorld is a German spin-off of the better known LinuxWorld conferences in New York and San Francisco. Its goal is to get companies, especially IT decision makers, and Open Source companies and projects together.

Stefan NeufeindI didn't attend the conference part at all, so I will only talk about my experiences with the Horde booth that I had in the exhibition area. Stefan Neufeind pointed me at this expo that he attended in earlier years representing the PEAR project. He was with me this year too and we had the PEAR and Horde booths right next to each other.

It didn't start well for me since I missed the first day completely because I feared to have a flu. Fortunately this was false alarm so I arrived on the second day and could serve the booth for the remaining days.

Marketing Material

Horde PosterThis exhibition was a bit different from conferences like the International PHP Conference and similar summits. Horde is very well known in the PHP world but I experienced that even though a lot of people from the general Open Source or even commercial world have heard of Horde before, they usually don't have an idea what it's about. A few had a light bulb experience when they were told that they are probably using IMP for their everyday webmail and know Horde from the infamous "Welcome to Horde" login screen.

It became apparent that our exhibition material is not sufficient for those people. They stood a few meters from the booth, read the poster at the wall behind me, and then came to the desk with a question mark in their face, asking "What exactly is Horde?" I guess this is not a sign for good marketing. :-)
Since my answer was always the same and basically boils down to "Horde is both a large collection of web applications and a web application framework for developers", it would probably be a good idea to make this crystal clear on a new poster. Or maybe even have two of them for each of the Horde "natures".

At least the new flyer for Horde Groupware and Horde Groupware Webmail Edition was very well received, though I have the impression that it's still too text heavy.

Horde Groupware

This leads me to the new groupware bundles that I presented at our booth. It looks like we hit the nail on the head with these suites. A lot of people confirmed that they are having a hard time installing Horde or even gave up in the past. They very much appreciated that installing one of the suites doesn't take more than 10 minutes now.

Kolab Collaboration

Not Bernhard ReiterI had a nice talk with Bernhard Reiter from the Kolab Konsortium about the current state of the Horde-Kolab-integration and a lot of other things. We agreed that the work that Gunnar Wrobel currently puts into fixing and improving Horde's Kolab support looks very promising. There's hope that Horde can be considered a stable web client for the Kolab server with the next major version (Horde 3.2 etc.), even though the scaling problems are not solved yet and need to be tackled next when the integration works. Bernhard told me that he would like to work closer with Gunnar in the future and maybe integrate him more into the Kolab development process.

We didn't quite agree about the different integration strategies of Kolab and Horde. The idea behind Kolab is to pick certain software components that are developed, tested and proved production ready on their own, to tie them to a new product and make sure that the components integrate seemlessly. Horde's approach in contrast has always been to support as many different backend systems as possible, to make it easier to integrate Horde into existing infrastructures. This is a very strong and important point for Horde and actually made it possible in the first place to add Kolab support without having to write a Kolab web client from scratch, which is what some people like to do at the moment.
But we agreed again that a stable Kolab-Horde-integration could really be kind of a lighthouse solution in the open source groupware market.

eGroupWare Collaboration

When I met Ralf Becker and Lars Kneschke at last year's LinuxTag in Karlsruhe we discussed about collaborating stronger on Horde's SyncML code that eGroupWare forked and integrated earlier. Unfortunately this never took off and both code bases have been improved seperately.

eGroupWare had a booth at LinuxWorld too, so I took the chance to talk to Lars again and to revive the idea of a common SyncML library. We agreed to make another attempt to merge our efforts. Since Karsten Fourmont, who is currently working on Horde's synchronization support almost exclusively, is German too we could maybe even meet to coordinate the development or at least discuss further steps in a phone conference easily.
As a cooincidence someone on the Horde sync mailinglist wrote that he is using the SyncML libraries in his own software project and asked a few question about this integration. This is exactly the intention we had with refactoring the SyncML code to make it backend independant and I agree with Karsten who was very happy to see that someone actually uses this feature. I'm pretty sure that this code is going to be the standard SyncML library for PHP projects in the not-so-far future.