The scene plays out in offices all around the world. The phone
rings and it is one of your employees or coworkers calling you to
let you know that once again, an important email from the west
coast seems to have vanished into the vapor that the Internet all
too often appears to be. The usual questions run through your head.
Did it get sent to the wrong email address? Did your ISP get the
new accounts you requested set up in time? Was your ISP down again?
Is your DSL or T1 connection still up? You grumble to yourself, 'I
hate email.' But you know the truth is your business has trouble
living without it. Email is as essential to a business today as a
fax machine or a cell phone.
Speaking to the press this morning, Liz Heart PR officer of
Little Blue Box announced, "Welcome to the world of The Little Blue
Box (LLB). The LLB was designed by a group of Linux/Internet
hackers to solve the issues confronted on a daily basis by small
businesses around the world. These issues include: low cost,
complete functionality, simplicity in ease of use and reliability.
Our goal is nothing less than having our appliance replace the need
for the Microsoft Exchange Server in the small business
environment. And mind you, to do it with a appliance that has a
price threshold starting at $689."
With the Version 1.0 build, we are about 75%-80% down that path.
1.0 addresses the basic Email needs of the small business. Version
1.1, due out shortly, will jump significantly to matching most of
the functionality of Exchange used by most small businesses today;
including work lists, Jabber Instant Messaging, some aspects of
unified messaging and a very good calendar server. Our 2.0 version
is our long-term goal (no date set) that will address the issue of
a unified contact database.
The server falls into the category of a 'headless toaster'. It
is about as simple as you can get as it is fully functional when
you take it out of the shipping box. You plug it into power, you
plug it into the local LAN, and it works.
There are two user interfaces included with the system. The
first is a custom created interface that is simple enough for a
secretary with basic computer skills to be creating, modifying and
removing email users from the server; in under 10 minutes. The
second user interface is a version of WebMin, for use by
experienced administrators. This second interface allows the admin
to use the appliance for other functions such as a intranet web
Where we leave Microsoft Exchange panting a proverbial cloud of
dust, is in the level of ongoing support available, and the user
For a $200.00 a year subscription, we will provide secondary MX
services, as well as an automated RPM service that will update the
system software on a quarterly basis. $200.00 a year prevents email
from disappearing into the vapor if a T1 goes down, or God forbid
the server goes down. Email is always routed onto the server of our
ISP partner. That same $200.00 a year keeps the OS and server-ware
In terms of that license, it is all Open Source and Open
Standards base. Any FREE email or IM client can be used with the
system. The number of users is bandwidth and hardware centric, not
based on a license. So, if you need the ability to actually have 11
people access your server at the same moment, you save something
like $20,000 on license fees Microsoft would charge for the 100
User Exchange license.
We want everyone aware that the OS (Linux) and all the software
on the appliance are 100% Open Source. What makes this product
unique is the way we build the OS and server-ware for a niche
product use. Our price performance level can ONLY be done because
of the fact that Open Source has allowed us the ability to design
this product with specific functionality in mind, and with free
code too boot. We hope that this will set an example of the power
of Open Source on the current IT business model.
We are also being very forthright in our desire NOT to become a
major hardware manufacturer. At an entry price of $689.00 on a
none-embedded system, everyone can calculate out just how little we
are making on the system. Our long-term niche is to provide our MX
and RPM service, and NOT sell hardware. We are letting it be known
to all manufacturers of Linux systems that we will be happy to give
them free license to our build. There are few conditions. We do not
own the OS and software anyway, so manufacturer's could just go get
it themselves. However, because we are offering this to them free,
we have already had several inquiries.
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