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Novell halts its Hula dance

Founder of open-source e-mail and calendaring software project decides to move on while calling on community to continue.

Novell has taken its employees off the Hula open-source e-mail and calendaring software project it launched last year.

In a message to Hula project participants Tuesday, Novell representative Peter Teichman said the company has decided to shift its efforts elsewhere.

"In the end, we had to conclude that we couldn't justify investing at the same level in Hula going forward. So those of us who have been developing Hula full-time will be moving on to other roles and to other parts of the company," Teichman wrote.

Novell launched Hula in February of last year as an open-source alternative to Microsoft's Exchange, IBM's Domino and Novell's own proprietary GroupWise product line.

At the time, company executives said the Hula project exemplified the company's dual approach to software development, melding both open-source and proprietary software.

But Novell has found that nearly every business customer it approached already had an e-mail and calendar server in place, Teichman said.

He said Novell is looking for members of the Hula community to take over Novell's leadership to continue working on the code. The initial release from Hula was slated to come out in a few months.

"I think the Web interface is where we've done the most interesting work, and integrating that with existing mail systems is the key to getting good and usable open-source Web mail out to the public," Teichman said.

By contrast, the project's server, while good, is largely redundant, he said.

"We still really care about Hula and are interested in working on it going forward, but I think we're going to need someone from the community to take a leadership role and continue to move things forward with direction," he said.