updated 10/11/01 - 12:23pm EST
Insight is an email program designed to run on Linux and communicate with Microsoft Exchange mail servers. Think of it as a Linux replacement for Microsoft Outlook. Bynari founder and v.p. of technology Tom Adelstein says with the upcoming 3.0 release of Insight, Bynari is giving the 2.6 version to the Open Source community as a gift.Previously Bynari was charging $59.95 for the proprietary version. Now, part of the source code will be available as a part of Tradeclient, and certain modules that give Insight compatibility with Outlook will remain proprietary but will be free like beer. Adelstein says that in addition to getting the proprietary binaries for 2.6 for free, registered users will be eligible for deep discounts on the 3.0 release.
Bynari has a history of donating projects to the community. It LGPLed TradeClient, another email client, in June of 2000, allowing the project to be taken over completely by outside developers. That project had several releases in 2000, but since then has progressed slowly, with only a 0.9 version release in March, 2001.
The 3.0 release of the Insight client will remain closely held by Bynari, at least for the time being. The latest version of Insight features a new user interface that will change the look and feel of the product, says Adelstein. And new calendaring advances will allows users to grant others access to their calendar to view it and make changes, something that Adelstein says is not available with other Linux-based mail clients.
Looking at Insight, one may be inclined to draw comparisons between it and Ximian's much-hyped Evolution 1.0 release last week. "We had our client products before Evolution even started development," says Adelstein. And Evolution provides peer-to-peer calendar services but not the server-side calendaring that Bynari believes is essential to mainstream acceptance of an "other-than-Microsoft" email solution. "Executives want to be able to allow their assistants to enter appointments on their calendars," says Adelstein.
Another benefit of the Insight mail client is its unique ability to communicate directly with Exchange, without the need for a Windows NT proxy. When Insight makes a request, the Exchange server thinks it is dealing with an Outlook client and treats it exactly like one, making all the features of the server available to the client even though the client is Linux-based. It also means that Linux users can get their mail from an Exchange server "out of the box," with no special configuration of the server required.
If seamless communication with Exchange is the prize, it appears that Bynari may win it. On December 3, 2001, Ximian announced it would sell a proprietary "connector," beginning in early 2002, that will provide Evolution users full interoperability with Exchange, while Bynari's Insight 3.0 will be available before the end of 2001.
Bynari has successfully introduced its enterprise-level Insight email server to Fortune 500 companies and government entities this year. Winnebago, a recreation vehicle manufacturer, adopted Bynari on its IBM mainframes, and the now-famous city of Largo, Florida, decided on the Bynari mail server/client package to go along with its KDE desktops.
The free version of Insight 2.6 will be housed along with Tradeclient at Sourceforge.net and the sources will also be freely available for download at the Bynari site.