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Alternative to Groove?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the searching-for-another-dance-partner dept.

Microsoft 75

jpmahala asks: "We had been using Groove internally at our company for quite some time (before the Microsoft buyout), and were interested in adding more users to the program. However, after clicking on the link to the store on Groove's website, I find a message from Microsoft that the product is no longer being offered. Following the link provided by Microsoft, I find that it is bundled into the Office2007 product now and it does not seem to be offered as a standalone product. I'm sad to see that sort of thing happen, and I am unwilling to upgrade everyone to Office2007 just for the sake of Groove. Is there any viable alternative out there?"

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Not a standalone product? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18299188)

Microsoft Office Groove 2007 [amazon.com] .

If you've got a volume licence deal with Microsoft you'd do better upgrading to 2007 though: you'll need the Enterprise edition to get Groove bundled. And it is a pretty nice upgrade.

Re:Not a standalone product? (1)

noamsml (868075) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299538)

That has to be the funniest name ever given to an enterprise product.

Re:Not a standalone product? (1)

frenetic3 (166950) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322681)

Check out http://www.getdropbox.com/ [getdropbox.com] . It hasn't launched yet, but is very a similar product: think rsync for Windows that's actually pleasant to use -- integrated into the shell, low-overhead automatic/continuous backup based on filesystem change notifications, compressed binary diffs, etc.

-Drew

Re:Not a standalone product? (1)

frenetic3 (166950) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323459)

Full disclosure: I'm working on the product/service in the parent post -- but I feel the pain of no good integrated team sync/backup tool for Windows that also works with large files, large file sets, and doesn't require a PhD to use :)

Frosty Piss! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18299198)

mmm, delicious. It does go well with the chicken.

why do anything? (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299204)

Keep using the old stand-alone version.

Re:why do anything? (1)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299240)

You can probably even do it legally; buy office 2007 licences and put them in a cupboard labelled "in case of BSA break glass", and install more copies of your current Groove.

Of course, if Groove has copy protection, that might give you some trouble. Though I suppose you can do a partial office install and only select groove...

Re:why do anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18299246)

Keep using the old stand-alone version.
FTFQ:

We had been using Groove internally at our company for quite some time (before the Microsoft buyout), and were interested in adding more users to the program


Your best bet (1)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299248)

Your best bet is probably to call a MS sales associate and tell them your situation. Maybe they can slide some licenses under the door, seeing that you're already a user and I'm sure your office already has full deployment of a suitable (ahem...::cough::) Office product.

That's what you get (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18299256)

for using proprietary software.

Re:That's what you get (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18302508)

Because no open source project has ever dissolved and stopped updating, has it? *cough*RPM*cough*
Still regular updates for the 1.0 Linux Kernel are there?

My boss told me to look into "Microsoft groove"... (1, Insightful)

haakondahl (893488) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299274)

...and he started to describe it. I helpfully pointed out that "It sounds like Micro-Soft wants to charge for rsync".


He just smiled.

So I guess I'll have to look into it.

Meanwhile, perhaps TFA is familiar with rsync?

Re:My boss told me to look into "Microsoft groove" (3, Informative)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299356)

It's exactly like rsync...if rsync was bundled into a browser file-saving interface, chat and web portal tool.

In other words, if you want to keep your job, get that chip off your shoulder and start reading [microsoft.com] .

And to the original poster, there is NOTHING like this in the open source environment unless someone developed an OpenOffice plugin for creating dynamic drupal sites and sharing seamlessly with a Jabber client.

Re:My boss told me to look into "Microsoft groove" (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18299408)

> there is NOTHING like this in the open source environment

There's Gobby for collaborative editing and chat. Would a file upload interface and Rsync'd local store make that competitive? I guess the integration is worth something to unskilled users?

I'm guessing that your home page linking to a google search for anal fissures means your username is not as innocuous as it appears? And no, I didn't click on it.

Re:My boss told me to look into "Microsoft groove" (2, Insightful)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299568)

I guess the integration is worth something to unskilled users?

What do you think? MicroSoft isn't looking for /. people as Users, but as (potential) employees. Or not.
Unskilled users ARE their user base.
Apple is going after unskilled users with money or folks who don't want to hassle with drivers/software/etc.
Linux is great, but very specialized and lacks out-of-the-box integrated tools. Sure, you can write a script or pipe output, but that's besides the point. Most users (think Admin Assistants) want and need nice GUIs.

They're just making it easier for the knucle-dragging, mouth-breathers of the world.
And getting paid handsomely for it.

My boss told me to "Think of the User" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18299774)

"They're just making it easier for the knucle-dragging, mouth-breathers of the world.
And getting paid handsomely for it."

Highlighted and underlined. It's this fundamental disconnect between OSS and everyone else that keeps (and will contine to keep) OSS out of a lot of places. Just look at the list of Ask Slashdot's asking for an OSS solution to proprietary and at best the alternatives are an ill-fit, or at worst there's none at all despite years of asking. Elitism is it's own worse enemy.

Re:My boss told me to "Think of the User" (2, Insightful)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300694)

It's this fundamental disconnect between OSS and everyone else that keeps (and will contine to keep) OSS out of a lot of places.
Really, as an extensive user of OSS software, I couldn't care less whether you use it or not. In fact, if we're ever in competition with each other, I'd even prefer that you didn't. While you're dealing with licensing hassles and BSA audits, we'll just keep chuggin' away.

Just look at the list of Ask Slashdot's asking for an OSS solution to proprietary and at best the alternatives are an ill-fit, or at worst there's none at all despite years of asking. Elitism is it's own worse enemy.
Well, if you want free open-source software that is exactly like some commercial offering, you're being unrealistic. Ditto if you think that OSS means that a corps of dedicated software professionals is supposed to drop everything to focus on your specific needs. Microsoft doesn't do that, either: You eat what they put on your plate, and you do it in the way they proscribe.

Regarding "elitism" though, let's look at the situation here. I listen to people all the time who put up with no end of grief and hassle dealing with proprietary closed-source software, and I see them paying handsomely for the priviledge. When informed that excellent free alternatives exist, they think of every nutty reason you can imagine not to try them out, but what they all boil down to is a fear of having to learn something new (ah, but here comes Vista!). Rather than do that scary thing, they'll just keep dropping their pants and bending over for more of the same. They'll eagerly believe whatever absurd FUD is pitched to them because it justifies their otherwise irrational behavior. They are beyond help because they build and maintain their own cages.

So maybe what you see as elitism over here is really just some of us shaking our heads in dismay...

Re:My boss told me to "Think of the User" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18302974)

"Really, as an extensive user of OSS software, I couldn't care less whether you use it or not."

And I'll tell you the same thing I told the last big mouth. You want to be a minority? Then suffer like a minority. No more free drivers. No more open formats. Your methadology relegated to the back rooms of obscurity.

"While you're dealing with licensing hassles and BSA audits, we'll just keep chuggin' away."

Once again divorced from reality. Here's a free clue. Most of us have no issues with licenses (not all software have them, and the ones that do are reasonable), and not everyone is a member of the BSA (and even if they were that doesn't mean that they're going to be assholes). So you know what you can do with your FUD.

"Well, if you want free open-source software that is exactly like some commercial offering, you're being unrealistic."

I don't want anything. I'm not the one trying to convince companies and individuals to give up their working software for some open-source software that's almost there. The only one being unrealistic is the OSS advocates.

"Ditto if you think that OSS means that a corps of dedicated software professionals is supposed to drop everything to focus on your specific needs."

Ditto nothing. In fact for OSS to be of any use, the adoptee has to do additional work in order to get any use out of it. You should be paying US for fixing your half-baked solutions.

"Microsoft doesn't do that, either: You eat what they put on your plate, and you do it in the way they proscribe."

Pfft! So? Your red herring is a red herring no matter what software model you're talking about.

"Regarding "elitism" though, let's look at the situation here. I listen to people all the time who put up with no end of grief and hassle dealing with proprietary closed-source software, and I see them paying handsomely for the priviledge."

Oh joy! Ditch proprietary so we can enjoy the same experience with OSS. Guess we have the answer to number three (???). Profit!

"When informed that excellent free alternatives exist, they think of every nutty reason you can imagine not to try them out, but what they all boil down to is a fear of having to learn something new (ah, but here comes Vista!)."

Rose glasses indeed if you think that's the only reason OSS isn't going like gang-busters.

"Rather than do that scary thing, they'll just keep dropping their pants and bending over for more of the same. They'll eagerly believe whatever absurd FUD is pitched to them because it justifies their otherwise irrational behavior. They are beyond help because they build and maintain their own cages."

Like I told the last big mouth, not every business relationship is antagonistic, and I'm sorry you were beaten up as a child.

"So maybe what you see as elitism over here is really just some of us shaking our heads in dismay..."

Think you could shake your head quietly? Didn't think so.

Re:My boss told me to "Think of the User" (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303462)

Wow... It's one thing to insist on using closed, proprietary software for everything you do, but you seem positively angry that there are alternatives out there. I mean, someone offers you something for free, lets you and anyone else see the code fro themselves, and allows you to use, modify or customize it any way you want, and you act like you've just been slapped in the face.

Can you say, "Cognitive Dissonance"? I knew that you could...

Re:My boss told me to "Think of the User" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308346)

"Can you say, "Cognitive Dissonance"? I knew that you could..."

Wow! Missed all my points. Can you say rose-colored glasses? I knew you couldn't.

Re:My boss told me to "Think of the User" (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18310822)

I'm not the only one that missed all your points.

I missed them because they're amazingly selfish, short sighted, and yes, angry.

If you don't like OSS, don't fucking use it. We don't want you. We don't need you to bitch about it, or the people that make it. Obviously, a lot of people DO like it, or it wouldn't be (according to them) the single-biggest threat to the biggest tech company in the world.

If it doesn't do what you want it to do, then just don't use it. I mean, I don't use sendmail because it doesn't do what I need, so I use Exchange. I'm a rational thinker, which you obviously are not.

OSS is NOT THERE FOR YOU. It's there to serve the needs of the people who wrote it, and ohh, they just let you do whatever you want with it. DAMNED THEM!

Re:My boss told me to look into "Microsoft groove" (2, Insightful)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300516)

Linux is great, but very specialized and lacks out-of-the-box integrated tools. Sure, you can write a script or pipe output, but that's besides the point. Most users (think Admin Assistants) want and need nice GUIs.
Lacks tools? One of the (many) reasons I switched to Linux is because I use a broad range of software and there's no way I could have afforded to duplicate under Windows what comes "out of the box" with any standard Linux distro. No crippleware, either.

And yes, you'll be surprised to learn that Linux has had pretty GUIs for quite some time now (as long as I can remember, anyway). I'd suggest that you update your FUD, but then it might lose its potency, no?

Re:My boss told me to look into "Microsoft groove" (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300924)

I think the key word here is "integrated." In my experience with Linux (I tried using it exclusively at home for two years, finally giving up and buying a Mac last year), the average distro is over-bloated with software selections and has very little integration. Sure, KDE offers KOffice, and most of their apps are well integrated. But to say that the set of apps that come with a Linux distro are "out of the box" integrated is overstating things at best.

Re:My boss told me to look into "Microsoft groove" (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 7 years ago | (#18301340)

They're there, and they work well. But if by "integrated" you're referring to vendor lock-in and control, then I guess you've got me there...

My boss told me to look into a personality. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18303092)

"They're there, and they work well. But if by "integrated" you're referring to vendor lock-in and control, then I guess you've got me there..."

It's advocates like you that will keep OSS a minority. Integrated means "works well with others", but I can understand your confusion.

Re:My boss told me to look into "Microsoft groove" (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18302424)

You can't afford cygwin? It's free.

Re:My boss told me to look into "Microsoft groove" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18301342)

What the hell is a knuckle-dragging, mouth-breather?

Re:My boss told me to look into "Microsoft groove" (1)

dosquatch (924618) | more than 7 years ago | (#18370179)

I tell ya, I get no fucking respect. [google.com]

Re:My boss told me to look into "Microsoft groove" (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300094)

if rsync was bundled into a browser file-saving interface, chat and web portal tool.

I saw a presentation on Groove a few months ago, and this is actually what I didn't like about it. What's with companies trying to reinvent the wheel? They're never going to build their own chat, messaging, etc tools that are as good as the standalone products. Why don't they focus on making the unique aspects of their product strong?

I did think the P2P file replication thing was a cool idea, although I can't see the company I work for making use of it. In terms of what we do, Groove would basically be a less effective SharePoint.

Oh man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18299328)

Tag article 'funk'!

Re:Oh man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18299346)

done. need more people for the tag to get through.
fyi, tagging is performed by clicking the small triangle by the tags.

Groove 2007 is your upgrade path... sorta (5, Informative)

gregvr (518483) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299416)

We are in a very similar sticky situation as the original poster. We have a LOT of Groove 3.1 licenses and we want to buy more, but can't.

Your upgrade path is Groove 2007-- as a previous poster noted, there is a stand-alone version.

A couple of HUGE BIG ENORMOUS caveats:

1. If you migrate your existing Groove account over to Groove 2007, it will completely disable your Groove 3.x account. You _CAN_ get it back by re-activating (like you did when you FIRST got Groove), but then that deactivates your Groove 2007!

There is ABSOLUTELY no way to have a single Groove account coexist in 3.x and 2007.

2. I am absolutely unsure about the way that Groove 2007 is licensed w.r.t. the way it was in Groove 3.x days. In 3.x, your license was for YOU-- you could install it on multiple machines, provided that they were all logged in as you. So, for example, my coworker would have Groove installed on his home machine and his work machine, and they were set up to share folders, etc. That was part of the point.

In Groove 2007, I believe that you have to buy a copy for each computer, and at $250 a pop, that's not cheap!

3. Groove 2007 DOES appear to be able to participate in Groove 3.x, unlike some other reports I've read. (it worked for me).

However, Groove 2007 is unable to CREATE a 3.x workspace, so your new Groove 2007 users will not be able to make workspaces that your Groove 3.x users can access. They would have to ask a 3.x user to create a workspace for them.

4. (this is the deal killer for us) Groove 2007 is completely unable to use TeamDirection Project-- the tool that was bundled with Groove 3.0 Professional.

This is a travesty. We have a LOT invested in TD Project. I'm sure a lot of people do. Microsoft can say all they want about how the upgrade path for that is Microsoft Project Server, but that's complete shit.

Oh, and btw-- yes, there is TeamDirection Project 2007 for Groove. HOWEVER, it is NOT implemented as a workspace tool-- it is a SEPARATE tool that cannot integrate in any way with Groove 3.x.

5. Lastly, note that the links are gone to install TD Project if you don't already have it. There's a way to do it, but it's a big pain in the ass. More shit.

I guess that's enough bitching for now.

I'm not sure what to tell you. We've essentially given up on the idea of Groove 2007. We will not be upgrading to it. We got a crazy "last time buy" of Groove, so we have a few more left, but we are looking for an alternative, too.

We MIGHT end up going with some sort of Sharepoint-based system, but I dunno.

I'm VERY interested to see other people's solutions.

Re:Groove 2007 is your upgrade path... sorta (1)

dirk (87083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299522)

2. I am absolutely unsure about the way that Groove 2007 is licensed w.r.t. the way it was in Groove 3.x days. In 3.x, your license was for YOU-- you could install it on multiple machines, provided that they were all logged in as you. So, for example, my coworker would have Groove installed on his home machine and his work machine, and they were set up to share folders, etc. That was part of the point.

In Groove 2007, I believe that you have to buy a copy for each computer, and at $250 a pop, that's not cheap!

As Groove is now part of Office, you can install it on multiple machines as long as you are not going to be logging into those machine at the same time. The Office license states that you can install it on different machine for the same user (say a work machine, a laptop used when traveling, and a home machine).

Re:Groove 2007 is your upgrade path... sorta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300640)

As Groove is now part of Office, you can install it on multiple machines as long as you are not going to be logging into those machine at the same time. The Office license states that you can install it on different machine for the same user (say a work machine, a laptop used when traveling, and a home machine).
Alas, no - Office is licenced per device, not per user. Yes, it says
  1. "Portable Device. You may install another copy on a portable device for use by the single primary user of the licensed device." - but only if you have a full retail edition (FPP), not an OEM edition
  2. you may use software only at home if your company has the full retail edition (FPP) through a volume licence subscription with the software assurance and home use rights options.
so in general that's a no. AFAIK only MS dev products are licenced per head not per device.

Alternatives are your upgrade path... sorta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18299624)

Collaber [collaber.com] ,Lucane [lucane.org] , or Virtual Office. [novell.com]

Re:Groove 2007 is your upgrade path... sorta (1)

Semireg (712708) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299780)

The poster wants alternatives, not damage control.

Here's my wish... A Wikisync Virtual Machine Appliance. It doesn't exist yet, but here's how it would work.

You download a 70MB virtual machine and start it up, then onfigure it to point to a master wiki at your business. Everyone can contribute to their own local copy (offline or on), and it will sync with the master wiki when available. But, there's more, you can "share" (SMB) a local directory on your Mac/PC/Linux box to the VM and it will rsync files from the parent wiki/file-server as well (ala groove). If you could integrate this file-sharing into the wiki interface, you could either modify files directly on the fs and the appliance would sync, or you could get notifications through the web-interface (which is always pointing to your local copy for speed/security reasons).

Whatcha think?

Perhaps (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299498)

Funk?

Re:Perhaps (1)

StarfishOne (756076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299520)

I'd would like a touch of soul please. :)

Perhaps a bit of 're-branding' might do the trick.. hmm.. MicroSoul Groove? :D

or maybe... (1)

testednegative (843833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300922)

Boogie?

Business case? (1)

Sharpner (894049) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299518)

As one who's vaguely but not overly familiar with Groove, I'd be interested in hearing the "business case" for it. What does it do particularly well, and for what types of projects/needs has it been particularly successful? That might make it easier for the rest of us to suggest alternatives.

Re:Business case? (-1, Flamebait)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299582)

Glad you're contributing today. Perhaps you could, I don't know, Google for what it is.
But the fact that you don't know what Groove is or who Ray Ozzie is suggests that maybe, just maybe, you aren't the one to suggest alternatives.

(And no, I don't know why I'm kicking karma by getting into a pissy flame war with a high id troll.)

Re:Business case? (4, Insightful)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300340)

Glad you're contributing today. Perhaps you could, I don't know, Google for what it is.

I have no intention of getting into a flame war with you, just wanted to point out that Googling for Groove returns nothing but dross, from the Microsoft site:

Office Groove 2007 is a collaboration software program that helps teams work together dynamically and effectively, even if team members work for different organizations, work remotely, or work offline. Working in Groove workspaces saves time, increases productivity, and strengthens the quality of team deliverables. Office Groove 2007 is just one example of how the 2007 Microsoft Office system helps teams and organizations collaborate more effectively.

Ummmm, right.

I had the same problem when wanting to find out what Sharepoint actually does (eventually had to take the online test drive [microsoft.com] ). Same problem with this product, why would we Google for the marketdroid speak when we have the near-unique opportunity of hearing it from the people who're using it?!

Honestly, brow-beating people for not searching on Google is not often helpful.

As someone who is currently looking into creating an ODF Document Portal [slashdot.org] I would be very interested in hearing about the features of Groove that real users find useful.

Re:Business case? (3, Interesting)

Sharpner (894049) | more than 7 years ago | (#18301024)

God, what a dickish response. What did I do to deserve that?

I know plenty about Ozzie, I know how to Google (you sanctimonious prick), I've sat through marketing presentations on Groove, I've read about it, I'm even about to load it on my machine in a few weeks. I've also just completed a day-long "product roadmap" (supposedly a 2- to 3-year forward view) with our Microsoft account reps and had to castigate them for not mentioning Groove once the entire day until I asked them about it.

I'm interested in perspectives from people who aren't going to give me marketing spin,are really familiar with the product, and have made it work and seen or proven to themselves the particular value of its particular uniqueness. That's the perspective that's going to tell me why it can't or can't be replaced by a SharePoint-based solution or any of the other options I've learned about or built over the course of a 30-year career. That's also the perspective that might help me explain to users why I think they should adopt a new tool that might fundamentally change the way they work.

You need to review the definition of "troll." The fact that you don't know what it means, apparently, doesn't say much for your credentials here. Asking questions aimed at offering constructive help does not make you one. Responding like a dickhead maybe does, though, no matter how low your ID is.

Oooh, Geek fight! (2, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18301726)

Wait a sec, I need popcorn!

Re:Business case? (2, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300328)

I'd be interested in hearing the "business case" for it. What does it do particularly well, and for what types of projects/needs has it been particularly successful?

Building an Emergency Operations Center on Groove and SharePoint [microsoft.com]

Groove {is} used by legions of organizations from GlaxoSmithKline to the U.S. Army. Being able to edit documents and then return them to a shared folder in one go is great. So is the fact that what you have on your computer is synchronized with other team members in real-time so, should your Internet connection be cut for whatever reason, the version will be updated when you come back online. And all this is done via encrypted files, making it very hard for an outsider to intercept and read them. Why Is the Internet So Unfriendly To Those Who Work in Teams? [careerjournal.com]

They suck (2, Interesting)

MessageDrivenBean (534518) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299862)

Plz also note the number of features *removed* from Groove 3.x! E.g., I heavily used the 'take Sharepoint sites offline' feature to take documentation with me while working offline but it has vanished from the product. http://blogs.msdn.com/marco/archive/2005/12/02/499 513.aspx [msdn.com] will give you more information.

I personally contacted our Microsoft representative and explained him very carefully why I think he sucks/they suck. Taking over Groove and consequently destroying it while integrating it with Office 2007 made me switch to OpenOffice and Groove 3.x. I won't switch back.

Hopefully someone will release a Groove 3.x keygen within the next few days.

Collanos (2, Informative)

dago (25724) | more than 7 years ago | (#18301276)

Yep - MS basically killed many of advantages of Groove.

Anyway, you may want to try Collanos [collanos.com] . Maybe not an exact replacement, but still a nice P2P collaboration package.

+ it even runs on Linux ;)

Re:Collanos (1)

uradu (10768) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308970)

Looks alright and the Linux support is nice, but it's yet another proprietary product that promises that the basic version will be forever free, or until they sell out to Microsoft. IIRC Groove made similar promises in the early days about their personal edition.

Re:Collanos (1)

dago (25724) | more than 7 years ago | (#18320679)

well, maybe that's because there's no opensource similar product ?

(even if you replace office with OpenOffice)

Same is valid for MS Office/Live Communicator - the opensource alternatives lack many of the functions.

Re:Collanos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18326159)

With a bit of work, http://www.docmgr.org/ [docmgr.org] could become this. I bet it is already 80% there.

Shameless self-promotion (5, Informative)

vesper76 (608205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18301312)

I'm one of the founders/developers of a product that's an alternative to Groove -- CipherShare [provensecu...utions.com] . We're a very small company, but the product has been around for about 7 years now, and we have some pretty sizable customers (Bechtel, MDS Sciex).

We have: a very clear, simple interface; zero sensitive data exposure on server (we have a reseller who will host for you, if need be, and won't be able to see your data); support for very large files; secure chat; optional account/password recovery; file-type-agnostic document handling; auto-delta-versioning; etcetera. Check out the site and email us if you'd like a demo (we can host it for you, or you can host it yourself).

Why is it... (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18302278)

that when articles are posted that include obscure software titles and ambiguous acronyms that the editors can't insert a quick phrase explaining what the hell the whole thing is about?

This is /. not CNet (1)

maggard (5579) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304954)

Why is it ... that when articles are posted that include obscure software titles and ambiguous acronyms that the editors can't insert a quick phrase explaining what the hell the whole thing is about?

Because this is /. not CNet.

Besides, do you imagine the "Editors" would get descriptions even somewhat correct? They regularly mangle submissions, add inflammatory/incorrect commentary, and/or (re)post old, absurd, or widely discredited material.

Again, this is /. not CNet.

Re:This is /. not CNet (1)

hob42 (41735) | more than 7 years ago | (#18305676)

Dangit, why can't you posters explain the obscure acronyms you use in your comments?

I can't for the life of me figure out what "./" stands for. Sheesh.

Re:This is /. not CNet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18310498)

"./"? It's dotslash, dumbass

Re:This is /. not CNet (1)

hob42 (41735) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312957)

Yeah, might have been a little more humorous if my fingers hadn't confused those two keys.

Beat and Jive are good substitutes imho. (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 7 years ago | (#18303434)

*Da-Dum! Tock! Thud! Crash!*

I'm groovy and haven't found an alternative yet (5, Informative)

rock603 (1074230) | more than 7 years ago | (#18304674)

I've been using it since version 1, and have been actively monitoring the web, Mac and Linux markets to see if anything else could be compared. For a while, the competition seemed to be SharePoint on the surface, which provides a way to share "workspaces" with documents, calendars, discussions, etc. in a portal. But this was limited to working inside a firewall, unless you wanted to set up a special configuration with external connectors and adding outside people to your internal directory system (a no-no in most IT shops I visit).

Currently, the biggest competitor (if you can call it that) is simply email, because of its ubiquity. Try to convince anyone to give up their email for a month and see what happens. Fortunately, I tested this scenario in Groove a few years ago, and it was a dream come true! No spam. No irrelevant messages (because it is intentionally challenging to use it as a simple email alternative). Just work. And only with people I chose to work with. It was rather Feng Shui. Everything was simple. All files were in one place. Nobody ever asks "did you get that file I sent?" or "where's the latest forecast?" - it's all just there on your system. Everything was secure. Peace of mind. Never had to set it up - it just worked on installation. But now that I'm in a different job and have to work with non-Groovy people, I'm stuck working in the archaic email days once again...:( To compare, it would like people who use email today starting to handwrite letters to each other...it's that bad!

Groove provides several key components that put it ahead of any web-only technologies. The following can also be used for a business case:

1. It's a rich client in a Web 2.0 world - which means you will see people running it on an airplane (also, incidentally, where you don't see any Web apps running)

2. It runs a distributed directory, so people can collaborate across organizational boundaries without requiring IT to modify directory systems (a challenge that has been vexing the industry for at least 15 years now)

3. It navigates across firewalls to create a "live" peer-based connection between Groove users - features are presence, awareness, instant messaging, and a whole raft of collaborative tools like file sharing, calendars, discussion threads, and customizable forms.

4. Security is built-in from the ground up - every user is authenticated, which has proven to effectively limit spam, viruses and other malware, and all work is protected with FIPS-approved 192bit AES encryption on disk and over the network.

5. Trust. Only the people designated to read information you choose to share will have the keys to unlock it. That means that an errant sys admin cannot view Groove workspaces or intercept data intended for another recipient.

6. Synchronization. This actually should have been first, since at the core, Groove is a great big XML message switch. Here's where you'll find the patents. Groove has a very robust synchronization engine that ensures that all documents, files, messages, changes to a workspace, etc. are synchronized with all members, whether they are online or offline. This is a hugely complicated endeavor that the Groove team has been working on since the Lotus Notes days - and they KNOW how to do it right.

Also note that it was developed by Ray Ozzie and his team of about 125 developers over 5 years and with over 5 million lines of code. It's more like an operating system on top of Windows, with identity, authentication, storage, synchronization, security, and communications all rolled up into one app. The original intent was to make it a development platform on which people could create their own collaborative applications, like the Team Direction project and Information Patterns' geo-mapping applications.

After the MS acquisition and the decision to add it to the Office Enterprise suite as a premium business offering (since business is the real focus of the application - cross-organization, traveling employees, people outside the corporate network who don't have time to mess with VPNs just to share files securely with their team, etc.), the developers had to figure out how to scale back the program to a manageable set of features in order to get "in the box" within a 12 months development cycle. Some features that were either not integral to the core product (tic-tac-toe anyone?), loosely coded to begin with, or just not supportable were dropped. That included the ability for third parties to develop tools on the platform, for now.

So where is Groove today? I'm running Groove 2007 and am happy with it. Contrary to previous messages, it is fully backward compatible, and I can create 3.1 workspaces with the 2007 client. Performance is vastly improved. Memory consumption is much lower. The interface is streamlined. The SharePoint files tool works as expected (i.e. it synchronizes files between a SharePoint site and Groove so you can extend the files to people outside the organization without requiring special connectors or adding anyone to a directory), although I still don't use SharePoint that often. It's just too restrictive. I'm a mobile employee and need my data and programs to reside locally. VPNs, web sites, and other online-only tools slow my work process.

It's been said that the beauty of Google Apps is that people can finally collaborate on a document or spreadsheet quite easily. While that may be true, it requires an internet connection. I've been doing that for the last 5 years in Groove, with a broad and diverse team including my own employer, and with personnel from other companies as well as US and foreign Governments. And I can work on an airplane.:)

So that's the Groove story. And one more thing - I'm not sure if it is out yet, but there was a small business and consumer version originally announced and should be available for download soon. It does not require Office and the initial pricing was significantly below the $250 mentioned in a previous post. I'll bet it will come in under $80 US.

Re:I'm groovy and haven't found an alternative yet (1)

Sharpner (894049) | more than 7 years ago | (#18305392)

Thanks for the effort. I'd mod you up if I could. That was very illuminating.

Re:I'm groovy and haven't found an alternative yet (1)

rp (29053) | more than 7 years ago | (#18307320)

Thanks for the explanation. I think I now understand what Groove does.
But how does it improve on a global filesystem like AFS (www.openafs.org)?

Re:I'm groovy and haven't found an alternative yet (1)

rock603 (1074230) | more than 7 years ago | (#18307772)

I wouldn't say it "improves" on AFS at all, but then again, it didn't have AFS in mind during development.

Groove is definitely NOT a distributed filesystem, even if some might consider it as having those capabilities. For that purpose, I personally use http://www.foldershare.com/ [foldershare.com] just to keep large volumes of files in sync between my personal and family systems, including across firewalls.

Let me try to boil it down a bit further to illustrate. Groove is client software, much like an email client, that allows groups of people to share tools (not just files, but also calendars, discussion threads, meeting organizers, etc.) and keep them all synchronized. It works asynchronously, and automatically syncs and resolves conflicts when users return online. It works across firewalls, effectively setting up a peer-based relationship between users, utilizing only port 80 for all of its communications (although it has an IANA registered port 2492 that, if open, will vastly improve performance because it can use a highly optimized protocol - SSTP Simply Symmetric Transport Protocol - between users.)

Yes, it's Windows only. Sorry. :(

One nice feature is the ability to share a any folder on your computer with 1 or more people outside of your firewall and keep everything synchronized in the folder. Keep in mind that the focus is on team work, so it's not really tuned for sharing 100GB of video or tunes!

But for keeping a project on track, sharing documents and spreadsheets, discussion threads, etc. "in context" with the project has been a key selling point. The comparison is either doing an entire project in a team portal, which you can do - but you can also drive a car with your feet. :) Or send around countless emails with attachments, always generating the aforementioned questions "did you send it, where is it, which version are you on?" The nice thing is that my Dad can use it, because the only requirement to setting it up is to put in an email address and user name. All key generation, credentials, authentication, etc. is set up internally so users don't have to mess with it. It just "works" out of the box.

Folks - I'm not looking for an alternative. It works and it works damn well for what it does. The only thing I'm saying is that I haven't found anything that performs the core functionality. For that, you'd have to get a group of talented programmers together and invest multiple years, $150Million, and 5 million lines of code. Or you could take the simpler route and use a client/server architecture, or do specific pieces of it, like file-sharing.

Here's what you'd have to build:

1. Distributed directory system that allows people to authenticate each other out of band or via corporate server

2. WAN P2P protocols

3. LAN P2P protocols

4. Local encrypted database

5. Communications encryption

6. Robust synchronization algorithms, including offline support

7. Presence/awareness (no only does it tell you someone is online, but it will show what workspace and tool they are working in)

8. Messaging (IM)

9. RBAC (Role Based Access Control)

10. Integrated forms development for custom applications

11. About 20 tools that sit on the preceeding architecture and assume all of the capabilities therein

12. Another 30 items I'm sure you don't want to read!

Groove just does so many things, so seamlessly and completely integrated, that it effectively replaces some OS functions as well as applications. And IT need only bless it - they don't have to do anything to manage it - it's self-managing!

Well, now I'm getting into other aspects and this thread is getting way too long. I only wanted to get some more information out there in case there are some enterprising OSS developers out there who want to bring the same capabilities to Linux. By the way - Groove did show a Linux version back in 2002, but there was not enough business incentive to continue development.

Hope this information helps.

Re:I'm groovy and haven't found an alternative yet (1)

uradu (10768) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308010)

I've followed Groove since day one, when you could download their beta/trial version to play around, and thought it was a very innovative product. Ray Ozzie used to proselytize the concept at every opportunity--I think I still have a copy of DDJ somewhere with a many-page article about the XML architecture of Groove. They wanted it to be an open platform for the development of P2P collaboration tools. That's why a lot of people were quite taken aback when they sold themselves to Microsoft and Ray Ozzie became their chief evangelist. A product like Groove simply doesn't fit Microsoft's strategy of all enterprise tools requiring their infrastructure. Sooner or later Groove simply won't work (or, more insidiously, won't work well) without Microsoft components such as AD, MSSQL, SharePoint, and who knows what else. I think Groove has reached a point where it will start becoming less interesting to their original core audience--small business and individuals. Just my $0.02 anyway.

Re:I'm groovy and haven't found an alternative yet (1)

rock603 (1074230) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308180)

uradu - i agree with you. but there may be an alternative route than that typified by microsoft. what if the core tenents of groove (i.e. authentication, communications, synchronization, security, etc.) become core services in the stack, but are loosely coupled with other infrastructure services...a very different MS could emerge indeed! by the way, Ray is now "chief software architect", which means he can help all development teams to march in a coordinated direction. he's a bright guy - let's give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that he opens some new "vistas" within MS...for everyone's benefit (yes, this means Linux and Mac communities as well!)

Re:I'm groovy and haven't found an alternative yet (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323577)

Here's what you'd have to build:

1. Distributed directory system that allows people to authenticate each other out of band or via corporate server

LDAP? I don't know enough about state-of-the-art authentication. Maybe Open ID, especially if if works well with #9.

2. WAN P2P protocols

rsync

3. LAN P2P protocols

rsync

4. Local encrypted database

modified SQLite (although see my note for #6; maybe just encrypted flat files for iCard and iCal)

5. Communications encryption

SSL or SSH

6. Robust synchronization algorithms, including offline support

Use lots of small files, not one big information store. Otherwise, you get bitten hard when your anti-virus program decides to delete any files that it thinks are infected. [slashdot.org]

7. Presence/awareness (no only does it tell you someone is online, but it will show what workspace and tool they are working in)

Jabber, with cutomized presence messages.

8. Messaging (IM)

Jabber

9. RBAC (Role Based Access Control)

OpenID?

10. Integrated forms development for custom applications

Ruby on Rails? Catalyst? depends on underlying scripting platform.

11. About 20 tools that sit on the preceeding architecture and assume all of the capabilities therein

should happen fast if you use an established scripting environment (Perl, Python, Ruby)

12. Another 30 items I'm sure you don't want to read!

Ditto #11

Re:I'm groovy and haven't found an alternative yet (1)

rock603 (1074230) | more than 7 years ago | (#18325477)

Very good list of technologies, though not entirely complete (e.g. LDAP is not a self-managed distributed directory system).

Now - link them all together, and provide a simple front-end interface that allows an average computer user to download, install, create a space and start sharing information securely, online/offline, cross-firewall, completely authenticated and encrypted everywhere - go!:)

Folks - Groove does nothing really new or that you can't get elsewhere. It's just that it encompasses the features of all these technologies (and more) in an integrated and user-friendly environment. No more. No less. I'm not setting a competitive gauntlet. Use it if you want or need to. Or don't. Doesn't much matter to me!

Re:I'm groovy and haven't found an alternative yet (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332877)

Folks - Groove does nothing really new or that you can't get elsewhere. It's just that it encompasses the features of all these technologies (and more) in an integrated and user-friendly environment.

Elsewhere [slashdot.org] , someone suggested using a VM to package an assortment of "Groove-like" technologies. Right now, I'm running VMware's free Virtual Server to do something similar, only I'm running "single-user" servers for Gallery and WordPress. It's a great way to encapsulate web services, especially since it sidesteps the whole problem of using Web 2.0 while you're on a plane.

BTW, your list has made me think about hacking Gaim so that it constantly advertises the title of my active window ("Alternative to Groove? - Mozilla Firefox", at the moment). On the one hand, I'm not sure I want to broadcast if I'm playing Solitaire; on the other, I can see advantages to letting people know if I'm neck deep in troubleshooting or documenting. I'd probably need to map possible titles to a presence message.

Re:I'm groovy and haven't found an alternative yet (1)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18327517)

Capability wise it sounds a lot like Lotus Notes/Domino packaged with their Sametime instant messaging application. Considering that Ozzie was the father of Notes that's not surprising. Any idea how Groove stacks up against Notes as far as features and usability go?

I'm groovy and haven't found an "easy button" yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308416)

My thanks too. You've illustrated nicely that OSS isn't the "Easy Button" like in the Staples commercial. There's a very good reason there's no well-fitting OSS alternative and it comes down to closed-source's strengths (that includes the inclusion of money). That's why we don't have a drop-in exchange solution, and now it's Groove. But the next Ask Slashdot will bring to light another one we missed.

Re:I'm groovy and haven't found an alternative yet (1)

Timbotronic (717458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18343729)

Thanks for the info. Glad I pretended to be an Australian uni student [slashdot.org] and got Office Ultimate for $75AUD the other day!

Alternative to Groove (2, Informative)

Franco Dal Molin (1074418) | more than 7 years ago | (#18309922)

Hi, I am the founder/CTO of Collanos, and we are offering something quite similar to Groove. We are a small start-up and don't have $150 Mio. to invest, but we do have talented developers and came already a long way. Our main differentiators are: - Multi-platform: Runs on Win, Mac, and Linux's - All P2P and built atop Sun's OSS JXTA.org libs - Object-oriented, not Tool-oriented, i.e. you can structure your workspaces and mix and match any object type (e.g. group discussions are objects, not a another tool tab) While we don't offer the functionality and richness of Groove (yet), we are going to ship a number of new releases in the next few weeks and months. We are following a community-oriented open approach and engage in co-innovation and discussions with our user base as much as possible. Please have a look at what we're doing and tell us what you like, what you don't, how you would spin things instead, etc. Thanks in advance! Franco

Re:Alternative to Groove (1)

rock603 (1074230) | more than 7 years ago | (#18325593)

Very nice Franco - I tested it with an old Groove user who is already familiar with the concepts. It looks like a very nice alternative, and it runs on Linux and Mac! I do have a couple of questions or feedback - whichever you prefer.

1. Information on disk was not encrypted - is this planned?

2. I could not tell if the information was encrypted over the wire. Again, planned?

3. Where is the data stored? Clients only, or is it ever on a server unencrypted?

4. Are users authenticated in any way so I can prove who they are?

5. Is there collision detection? (we edited files and consistently lost information when we overwrote each other's last changes)

I really like what you created - it actually feels a little like Groove. We did have some odd behavior when uninviting and reinviting to a space (i.e. the space never came back down and we had to create new one instead). It was also odd not seeing a persistent user pane that you can use to communicate with your team-members - once we shutdown the space, all references to the user were also eliminated and I could not even send an IM without setting up a whole new space and inviting him into it.

Love the tasks - great job! Overall - I think anyone looking for an alternative should check this out. Make sure you fix the minor issues though.

How much is it?

Re:Alternative to Groove (1)

Franco Dal Molin (1074418) | more than 7 years ago | (#18326929)

Thanks. Good to see you are test-driving it and I can gladly provide more details:

  1. It actually *should* be encrypted. If it is not, this might have slipped during the build. I will look into it. We ran tests with both options: using disk encryption from the RDBMS and applying our own encryption algorithm to the content. We also changed our embedded database some time ago, from QED to Derby (Apache project).
  2. Traffic over the wire it is encrypted end-to-end using AES-256.
  3. Everything is stored locally in the Derby RDBMS. All team members of a workspace store all the content (full redundancy). The only intermediary services are the following: "Rendezvous" is used for presence where every peer announces itself when online; "Relay" used to help route traffic if a direct TCP connection between two peers cannot be established. No content is stored on these servers. See http://www.jxta.org/ [jxta.org] for more information on basic P2P libraries that we use.
  4. Peers exchange an auto-generated UUID as their basic credentials. On application level we don't offer additional authentication yet. We are currently thinking about how to add the next element here. Maybe a "please you tell me your fingerprint" cross-check approach (like in Groove), but we want to explore other alternatives as well.
  5. End of March we will release a new version with a "Conflict Bin" feature. This will "save" your data in situations of conflict.

You can read a bit more about the near-term road-map here: http://blog.collanos.com/index.php/2007/03/01/glim psing-into-the-future-of-collanos/ [collanos.com]

Your other comments: The invitation process should improve with the Central User Directory - CUD (end of March release). The CUD will add off-line invitations management. And yes, the only context is the workspace at the moment. We will add more features "outside the workspace context", such as a unified contacts list, and much improved IM-behavior outside of workspaces.

How much is what? Price? Well, the basic version is and will stay free with actually little to no limitations. We don't like the concept of selling "Premium Software Licenses" (a Workplace is a Workplace!), but we plan to add premium subscription services, for optional user benefits such as a permanent peer capability for workspace management, backup, Web-access, etc.

Thanks again and we look forward to welcoming you to the Collanosphere soon!

Re:Alternative to Groove (1)

Franco Dal Molin (1074418) | more than 7 years ago | (#18335163)

Small addendum to point 1: Currently the "replicas" (i.e. the change units that need to be replicated between the peers) are managed in persistent queues and indeed unencrypted. This are temporary queues until transmission completes. The RDBMS itself is PW protected and the transport is - as already mentioned - DES/AES encrypted. We will likely make the local storage encryption an option in the future so that users can switch on/off based on preferences. Handling of large files will be much faster with no encryption.

Collaber (1)

netforay (534148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18328367)

Hi, We are working on a platform independent alternative to Groove. Beta version of Collaber will be released soon(one or two months). If there is any alternative to Groove then Collaber will be the top in such list. It has so many features exactly similar to Groove. Collaber uses Eclipse for its GUI.

All the concepts of Groove are same with the Collaber. Workspace,Tools, Accounts, Contacts, Messages etc.

The main advantages of collaber is its open architecture. Unlike Groove 2007 you can develop you own tools, even your own spaces. It is even possible to make it as a command line program, Integrate with Eclipse IDE, Add new GUI functionality etc. Collaber is written in JAVA and works on Linux, Windows and Mac too.

It takes absolutely no time for any Groove user to get used to Collaber.

Groove (1)

yorkshirebelle (1075099) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331107)

Groove can be bought as a standalone - the cheapest price so far seems to be from Amazon.
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