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November 2009

In Smart Libraries Newsletter this Month:

LibLime Launches LibLime Enterprise
Koha, or, Rift Splits the Koha Development

Part I: LibLime Enterprise Koha

LibLime has launched an enhanced version of the open source Koha ILS, called LibLime Enterprise Koha (LLEK), hosted on a highly-scaleable platform and designed to offer a broader set of functionality with high reliability and fast performance. LLEK makes use of Amazon’s platform-as-a-service cloud computing infrastructure.

This version includes a variety of enhancements that have been sponsored by Lib-Lime customers as well as separate modules that LibLime has developed outside the Koha software itself. Some of the enhancements to Koha currently available only in Lib-Lime Enterprise Koha include support for MARC21 holdings formats, 13-digit ISBNs,
an off-line circulation utility, check-out slips sent to an e-mail address, hourly loans for course reserves, batch loading of patron records, granular staff user permissions and enhanced SIP2 capabilities.

Part II: The Rift

Until recently, the development of Koha had been accomplished through a collaborative process, even among competing companies. It was a system where companies would compete for library customers, but where all contributed toward the development of a single strain of the Koha software. A release manager, appointed from within the community of developers, coordinated the integration of the patches and enhancements from all of the programmers involved with Koha across all of the affiliated companies and support organizations.

LibLime’s launch of a private hosted version, though legally compliant with GPL, has enraged the other companies involved with Koha. Deep animosity now exists between LibLime and the other companies and individuals involved in the support and development of Koha. The prevailing view among the developers external to LibLime is that there has been a fork in Koha development, a state where multiple independent versions split apart with significant variations.

LibLime issued a statement proclaiming that it does not consider its version a separate fork of Koha. Once the software forks, each branch takes its own path of feature enhancement, version control, and patch management. Due to the fact that independent and separate software development performed by LibLime will be contributed back only after it has been used by its own customers for a period, there is no practical way to coordinate development and bug fixes. In a field like library software, which is characterized by a scarcity of development resources, support of multiple versions of a product is far from ideal.

Also in this Issue

  • Meet on the Cheap with Dimdim
  • The Desk and the Aardvark

by Tom Peters

  • IMLS funds $1 million for major Open Source ILS project
  • More executive changes at SirsiDynix

by Marshall Breeding