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Stephen Shankland

Staff Writer, CNET

BOSTON–Novell on Tuesday launched a new open-source software project called Hula for servers handling e-mail, calendars and contact lists.

Hula is based on 200,000 lines of software from Novell’s NetMail project, Chief Executive Jack Messman said during a keynote address at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here.

Hula is designed to compete not only with Microsoft’s Exchange and IBM’s Domino, but also with Novell’s own GroupWise. Still, Messman said Hula is a more basic, limited product.

Novell also has a partnership with Netline Internet Service, which released its Open-Xchange Server as open-source software in 2004. Netline will contribute to the Hula project, Netline CEO Frank Hoberg said in a statement.

Novell is hoping others will throw their weight behind Hula, too.

“Novell is inviting the open-source community to unite behind this project,” Messman said.

The Hula project will be governed by the Lesser General Public License and the Mozilla Public License, Novell said.

Novell’s top Linux competitor, Red Hat, is also working on expanding from a core operating-system product to higher-level software.

Also at the show, Novell announced a partnership to resell PolyServe‘s software for sharing work across groups of servers called clusters. PolyServe’s Matrix Server software lets one computer take over for another that crashed and makes it possible to manage a group of servers as if it were a single machine.

Novell itself is using PolyServe for its own internal financial servers running Oracle’s database software, Messman said. Other Novell customers using PolyServe products include Wells Fargo, DuPont, Westinghouse, the U.S. Department of Defense and Close Premium Finance.

Novell also announced Tuesday that its SuSE Linux has achieved a new level of security certification under a program called Common Criteria.

SuSE, with support from IBM, was the first version of Linux to achieve Evaluation Assurance Level 3+ certification last year, and it now has passed the higher threshold of EAL4+, Novell said.

And, as expected, Novell announced its Open Enterprise Server product, which combines SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 with Novell’s NetWare software. More than 7,000 beta versions have been downloaded so far, and the software will ship early in March, Messman said.