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Open Source Dimdim Eagle Takes Flight

Online collaboration tools are no longer the domain of just proprietary closed source vendors. Open Source startup Dimdim is now out with its Eagle release taking aim at being a fully open source unified communications and collaboration platform.

The Eagle release officially known as Dimdim Open Source Community Edition Version 3.5 is licensed under the GPL version 3 and is available for both Windows and Linux. The new open source edition builds on the earlier release of Dimdim by enabling unlimited meeting attendees and unlimited simultaneous meetings.

The latest Dimdim offering comes as the market for online collaboration tools from proprietary vendors like Cisco's WebEx and continues to grow. It's a space that Dimdim co-founder and CTO Prakash Khot thinks open source can play a significant role. To date, Dimdim claims that their free open source Web meeting software has been downloaded over 230,000 times.

Dimdim leverages existing open source technologies as well as adding its own effort to produce the full Dimdim offering.

"We look at open source technologies like Apache Tomcat, CherryPy Application Server, Lighttpd, and Open Office as fairly mature products and we use them pretty much as is," Khot told InternetNews.com. "Then there are the applications that we have built that facilitate the entire collaboration platform."

Khot added that the basic conference server application is built by Dimdim and it's something that is available as open sourced. To date, the contributions back into the Dimdim project have come primarily in the form of feedback on usage.

"We've taken the feedback that we got from the community and taken the best stuff that we have available and rolled out what we consider to be our best release," Khot said.

Dimdim is available both as an open source, on-premises server as well as a hosted solution. The differences between the two offerings are minimal, though there are a few. According to Khot, for paying users of the hosted service they get Microsoft office collaboration, as opposed to OpenOffice.org for the open source version.

Khot noted that Dimdim is also fairly modular and extensible such that new functionality could be added on to it. That said, Dimdim does not currently have a 'forge' type of community development portal for developers to collaborate and share their ideas on extensions. Khot did, however, comment that a Dimdim forge idea is definitely 'in the cards' at some point in the near future.

Though Dimdim clearly faces large competitive challenges from WebEx and GoToMeeting, among other proprietary players, Khot note that ease of use is the biggest challenge.

"We have to be very sophisticated and at the same time have to be very simple to use," Khot said. "It takes about 30 seconds and five clicks to start a meeting now. We want to make it less than 10 seconds and a single click."