What's coming in Lotus Domino 6.5

Lotus Domino has long served as the main competitor to Microsoft Exchange. IBM has steadily improved Domino after buying Lotus, with the latest updates coming in Domino 6.5. Here's what to expect.

Although not as popular as Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino is the world's second most popular mail server. Just as Microsoft is about to release a new version of Exchange, Lotus is gearing up for a new Domino release. The upcoming Domino version 6.5 is currently only in beta testing, but it's definitely worth a look. Here's what's new in Domino 6.5, and what you'll encounter during the installation and configuration process.

What's new in Domino 6.5?
The new features of Domino 6.5 can be divided into several categories, such as the Domino client and the Domino Server. On the Domino server, the major enhancements are compatibility related. Domino Server 6.5 is designed to be compatible with Windows Server 2003, Linux on zSeries, and iSeries. Multiversioning is also supported on iSeries.

There have also been enhancements to the Lotus Notes Client. Integration between the client and IBM Lotus Instant Messaging (Sametime) has been improved. The client is also designed to set Notes as the default e-mail client. There have also been a number of productivity and usability enhancements, such as quick rules and easy access to unread e-mail. The client also has improved junk mail handling and flags that show when a message has been replied to or forwarded. You even now have the ability to rename a resource.

The majority of the enhancements have occurred within iNotes, Domino's Web access component. Some of the enhancements include support for multiple time zones, spelling and dictionary improvements, the addition of a custom dictionary, and SPAM filters. The Web access component also now supports Mozilla (Linux) Web browsers and has enhancements that make it much easier to print documents or contacts. The Web access component even integrates with the instant messaging component. Of course, you can also now send, sign, and verify encrypted Notes mail.

One other component that has been improved is the Lotus Enterprise Integrator (LEI). LEI now supports installation into multiple Domino partitions. There have also been performance improvements for virtual documents and improved Readers / Authors field security within the Administrator component. You'll also find enhanced reporting for dependant activities. In addition, the LEI now supports Linux RedHat 7.2, United Linux 1.0, and Solaris 9.

Before you begin
Proper planning is essential to implementing Domino in your organization. Without proper planning, you are going to have a mess on your hands, especially if your Domino implementation consists of multiple Domino servers. Before you begin following the steps below, I recommend reading my article, "How to prepare before deploying Lotus Domino." If after reading that article and this article, you still aren't comfortable implementing Domino, try downloading the free trial edition from the Lotus Web site. You can load Windows 2000 Server and the Domino trial onto a spare PC and experiment with the implementation process before rolling out Domino into a production environment.

Selecting your hardware
Before installing Domino, you must make sure that your hardware is up to par. While the Lotus Web site isn't very clear on exactly what Domino's hardware requirements are, if you're running a previous version of Domino, then your server should have no trouble running Domino 6.5. In my test environment, I ran Domino 6.5 on a 2.4-GHz Pentium 4 with 512 MB of memory and 160 GB of hard disk space. The server was running Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition.

For the purposes of this article, I will be installing a beta version of Domino Version 6.5 onto a server that's running Windows Server 2003. You can download this beta here.

Installing Domino
Setting up Domino 6.5 is very similar to installing the previous version. There are a few dialog boxes that have gone through some minor changes, but, for the most part, if you're familiar with installing previous versions, you'll feel right at home with this version.

Begin the installation process by copying the executable file you downloaded to a place on your system's hard disk that has plenty of free space. This will help the installation progress more quickly. Even if you choose not to copy the file to a local hard disk, you should avoid installing Domino from a network share because the network could become congested with installation-related traffic.

When you have copied the executable file, double-click it to begin the installation process. It will take a few minutes for the executable to unzip all of the necessary files and launch the installation wizard. When the installation wizard does eventually start, click Next to bypass the Welcome screen. When you do, the installation wizard will display the end-user license agreement. Click Yes to accept the agreement.

On the following screen, you'll be asked to enter your name and the name of your company. More importantly, this screen contains a check box at the bottom of the screen that says Partitioned Server Installation. You would select this check box if you were planning on installing multiple partitions simultaneously. This does not necessarily refer to multiple disk partitions, but rather to multiple Domino partitions. Having multiple Domino partitions means that you would be able to run multiple instances of Domino on the server. For the purposes of this article, I will be installing Domino on a nonpartitioned server.

After you click Next, the installation wizard will ask you for the path to the Domino program folder and the Domino data folder. By default, the program folder is set to C:\LOTUS\DOMINO and the data folder is set to C:\LOTUS\DOMINO\DATA. If possible, I recommend placing the data onto a different partition or physical disk than the program folder resides on. This will give you better data security and better overall system performance.

Click Next, and you'll see a screen that asks you which type of Domino Server you want to install. Your choices are a Domino Utility Server, a Domino Messaging Server, or a Domino Enterprise Server.

If you choose the Domino Utility Server option, Setup will install a Domino Server that provides application services only. This particular server mode does not support the messaging services. An interesting side note about the Domino Utility Server mode is that it removes the client license requirements that exist with other installation modes and in earlier versions of Domino. The Domino Utility Server Mode is also compatible with Domino clusters.

The next option is to install Domino as a Domino Messaging Server. In this mode, Domino is configured to provide the messaging services, but it does not offer support for the application services or for Domino clusters.

The final Domino installation mode is Enterprise Server Mode. This mode supports both messaging and applications, and also supports Domino clusters. This is the mode that I will be using for this article.

After selecting the Domino Enterprise Server option, click the Customize button. This will allow you to control the specifics of the installation rather than just using a generic, one size fits all, installation.

Upon clicking the Change button, you'll see a screen that lists the individual Domino components and the amount of space consumed by each. You can use this screen to select the components that you want to install and to deselect those components that you don't need. I should mention that although Setup allows you to install or not install components of your choice, it doesn't mean that all of the components on the list are optional.

For example, the Data Files component is an absolute requirement. The only time that you would want to perform an installation without having this component selected would be if you were reinstalling Domino and didn't want to overwrite the existing data files. Other required components include the Program Files and the Template Data Files. Both the Notes Performance Monitor and Help files are optional, but it is advisable to install them if you have the disk space available.

I should also mention that most components include multiple subcomponents that can be enabled or disabled. You can access the subcomponent lists by selecting a component and then clicking the Change button. Once a subcomponent list is displayed, you can enable or disable the various subcomponents by selecting or deselecting the corresponding check box. Again, be careful about deselecting required subcomponents.

Once you have selected all of the desired components, click the Next button to continue with the installation process. Setup will now ask you the name of the program folder into which you want to place Domino. Normally, you would want to use the default selection of Lotus Applications and click Next.

At this point, Setup will begin copying all of the necessary files. When the copy process completes, you'll see a Thank You For Installing Domino message. Click Finish to close the Setup program.

Configuring Domino
After Setup completes, the real work begins. Begin by clicking the Start button and selecting the All Programs | Lotus Applications | Lotus Domino Server commands from the Start menu. When you do, Windows will open the Lotus Domino Server dialog box.

This dialog box asks whether you want to start Domino as an application or as a Windows service. There are also a couple of check boxes at the bottom of the window that you can use to always start Domino as a service and to prevent Domino from asking you the question again.

In a production environment, I would recommend always launching Domino as a service. By configuring Domino to run as a service, you can force Domino to start as the system boots. You would only want to use the application option if you were experimenting with Domino and didn't want to burden the server when you weren't actually using Domino.

After making your selection, there will be a delay as Windows starts the necessary services. On my test server, this delay took about a minute. When Domino is started, you will see the Domino splash screen, followed by the Server Setup wizard. Although Domino has been installed, you still need to configure it, and that's what this wizard helps you to do.

Click Next to bypass the Welcome screen and you'll see a screen asking whether this is the first Domino Server in your organization or if this server will be added to an existing Domino organization. I'm assuming that this is your first Domino server. Therefore, select the Set Up The First Server Or A Stand Alone Server radio button and click Next to continue.

On the next screen, you're asked to provide a server name and server title. Keep in mind that Windows already requires your servers to each have a unique name. Because of this, I recommend using your Windows Server name as your Domino Server name.

The server title is basically a short description of the server. Although the server title is optional, I recommend creating a title that describes the server's intended function. If you decide to use the server for something else later on, you can always change the title through the Domino directory.

The next screen that you will see is probably the most important screen that I have talked about so far because it asks for several critical pieces of information. First, you must enter a name for your Domino organization. This process should not be taken lightly, because the name that you choose here will become a part of each Domino server name and each Domino user name. Lotus recommends using your company name, but stresses that you should keep the name short.

For example, if you work for Acme Corporation, then you would want to set your organization name to Acme and not Acme Corporation. Although it is important to keep the organization name short, the organization name must be at least three characters long.

The other important step that you must take is to set the password for your organization's certifier. Remember that the certifier is the key to Domino's security, so this really needs to be a strong password. It's also extremely important that this be a password that you can remember.

After specifying this information, click Next, and you'll be prompted to enter the Domino domain name. In Windows, a domain is a collection of servers that service a specific user base, usually based on geographic proximity or job function. A Domino domain is similar. A Domino domain is simply a collection of Domino servers that services a particular set of Domino users. You can configure the Domino domain structure to match the Windows Domain structure, but you must understand that the Domino domain and the Windows domain function entirely separately, even if they share a common name.

If your Domino domain structure is going to mimic your Windows domain structure, then I recommend using the same domain name for Domino that you are using for Windows. If the Domino domain is not going to mimic the Windows domain, then you are better off coming up with your own naming structure.

As you go through the domain creation process, you might be tempted to use the same name for your Domino domain as you used for your organization. However, I strongly recommend picking another name because using a duplicate name for the Domino organization and domain can cause a lot of confusion. For example, my Domino test server resides in a Windows domain called TEST.COM.

The first time that I installed Domino, I called my Domino organization TEST because the organization was being created only for testing purposes. When Domino asked me for a domain name, TEST was the default option because my Windows domain name was test. I quickly realized that, if I used my chosen names, I would have a Domino organization, a Domino domain, and a Windows domain all with the same name. Talk about confusion! Therefore, I went back and named my Domino organization DOMTEST and named the Domino domain TEST.

The next step in setting up a Domino Server is to configure the Administrator's account. This differs from Windows. In Windows, the Administrator's account is built in. In Domino, it's up to you to designate a user as the Administrator. Domino asks you for the first, middle, and last names of the designated administrator and then asks you to provide a password for the user.

If you want several people to administer the Domino organization, you can simply specify the last name only. For example, you could set the last name to ADMIN and then distribute the assigned username and password to your administrative staff. Of course, I recommend using something more obscure than ADMIN for security reasons.

The next screen that you will encounter asks which Internet services you want to set up. By default, basic Notes and Domino services will be set up automatically. However, you also have the option of selecting Web Browsers, Internet Mail Clients, and Directory Services. The Directory Services (LDAP services) option is selected by default. Although this option can be disabled, Domino won't work properly unless you install it.

If you select the Directory Services option and click the Customize button, you will see that there are a couple of dozen subcomponents to the Directory Services. Of these subcomponents, four are required for Domino to function properly. Those services are the Database Replicator, Mail Router, Agent Manager, and Administration Process.

The following screen is mostly informational in nature. It informs you of which network port drivers have been detected on the machine. Normally, this list will include TCP/IP and NetBIOS over TCP/IP. Setup will also designate a host name for the machine. The machine's host name follows the format of For example, my server name was Homer and my domain name was Test, therefore my host name was If you need to modify your port drivers or your host name for any reason, you can do so by clicking the Customize button. Otherwise, just click Next to continue.

The next portion of Setup is intended to help you to make Domino more secure. Setup explains that for the sake of security, anonymous access to all databases and templates should be prohibited. Likewise, the LocalDomainAdmins group should be given Manager access to all databases and templates. This screen contains two check boxes that are selected by default. These check boxes are used to implement the recommended security configurations. Normally, you would go with the defaults on this screen unless you had some compelling reason to change Domino's security.

Click Next and you will see a screen that summarizes the various configuration options that you have chosen. If you are satisfied with these options, click the Setup button and Setup will begin to apply the configuration. After a couple of minutes, you will see a screen indicating that Setup is complete. Click the Finish button to close the Server Setup wizard.

That's all there is to it
As you can see, with proper planning, there really isn't anything overly complex about installing Domino. On my test server, the installation process took about 40 minutes to complete. Once you're all done, your Domino server is ready to be used. Configure the Domino clients on your workstations, and you're ready to go.

Editor's Picks