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This is the first part of a five-part article series providing a comprehensive overview of how to install, configure, and use IBM Lotus Notes v8, explaining the fundamental components and terminology so that new users can feel more familiar with the product.
In Part 1 we explain key features and functionalities such as the Notes platform, product installation, product configuration. Parts 2--5 address how to work with the Notes mail application, manage your calendar, organize your personal contacts, and some basic troubleshooting to help you identify and solve some common issues.
IBM® Lotus® Notes® is the client-type application of the Notes/Domino® client-server model that functions as the main interface of the IBM Lotus Domino server. Lotus Notes provides several integrated features such as email, instant messaging, calendar, agenda, forums, To Do list, and a full productivity suite called Lotus SymphonyTM
Lotus Notes has two different configurations, the Standard configuration and the Basic configuration.
The Standard configuration is based on the eclipse.org JavaTM
platform and uses IBM Lotus Expeditor for core functionality—including composite applications and productivity editors—using a more-refined visual user interface (UI) to do everything that Lotus Notes does (email, calendaring, instant messaging, etc.).
The Basic configuration uses a lighter interface based on the NLNotes.exe engine without the existing Java components of the Standard configuration. The Basic configuration provides the ability to run Lotus Notes on not so up-to-date hardware, with most of the features available in the Standard configuration but without that more-refined visual look.
For a more detailed comparison between the features of the Standard and the Basic configurations, refer to IBM Support Technote #1264877, “What's new in Lotus Notes 8 client?
Elements of Lotus Notes
The Lotus Notes UI is composed of views, menus, toolbars, navigation panes, and a sidebar that you can use for easy access to some frequently used applications (see figure 1).
Figure 1. Lotus Notes UI
The navigator displays the views and folders that are available in the currently opened application. For example, in your Calendar you can choose from several views, such as One Day or One Week. In your Mail application, you can create folders to organize your mail.
The menu bar displays menu choices that apply to an application or document. There is a standard set of menus, plus optional menus that change depending on the application. There is also a set of advanced menus that you can enable (View -- Advanced Menus). Context menus appear when you right-click an object (a message, for example) or area.
Toolbars are made up of buttons. You can set Toolbar Preferences to specify which toolbars display, and you can add or remove buttons from each toolbar.
Each window tab optionally includes an action bar, specific to the application or document open in the window tab. Action bars may include icons and text, or be composed of text only. Items on the action bar are also available from the Action menu.
Icons display throughout Lotus Notes. To see a description of an icon, move the mouse pointer over the icon.
The contents of what you select in the navigator displays in the view pane.
Each tab displays a page. As you work, you can open multiple tabbed pages. If the row of tabs exceeds the width of your screen, left and right scroll icons display that you can use to access tabs that are out of view. Alternatively, you can set a Microsoft® Windows® and Themes user preference to group documents in a single tab.
The status bar displays action buttons and messages about current status and activity.
Click Open, for a list that includes your Lotus Notes applications, bookmarks, folders, Lotus Symphony documents, and your workspace. Right-click Open, and click Dock the Open List to display icons down the left-hand side of the window.
The preview pane displays a preview of a selected message or calendar entry. You can display the preview pane vertically beside the view pane (the default), or horizontally underneath the view pane. You can also hide the preview pane.
The home page (previously called the Welcome page) is the first item that appears if you do not have a view set to open when you first launch Lotus Notes. The default home page gives you a central location from which to access your Mail, Calendar, Contacts, To Do list, Notebook, and IBM Lotus Symphony.
You access the switcher menu by clicking the small menu icon located in the corner of your navigator. Use this menu to switch to another application, for example, to switch from Mail to To Do.
The sidebar gives you easy access to Sametime Contacts, Calendar, a Feed Reader, and Activities, depending on how your administrator has set up your Lotus Notes account. You can collapse the sidebar to a thin bar showing icons only (the default), or hide it.
Search appears at the top right-hand corner of the toolbar. You can use search for a Notes-style search or a Web-style search. You set a user preference to enable Yahoo! Search or Google Web Search.
The workspace, the legacy user interface for Lotus Notes, displays pages containing application icons. The workspace is still available and accessible via the Open list.
Views display specific sets of documents within an application. For example, your Mail application has an All Documents view that displays every document contained in Mail, and a Sent view that displays only documents that you have sent.
Bookmarks are links that point to Lotus Notes or Internet elements, such as applications, views, documents, Web pages, and news groups.
Help is available throughout Lotus Notes on all the areas you are using. In addition, context-sensitive Help, specific to the task you're performing, is also available when you press F1.
Notes Minder is a feature that checks your mail and monitors your Calendar alarms when Lotus Notes is not running. When Notes Minder is active, it displays an icon in your Windows taskbar.
Commonly used Notes and Domino files
Here we briefly describe the key Notes and Domino files, file extensions, and folders:
Also called the Personal Address Book, this database contains the locations, connections, certificates, and contacts created by the user.
The Domino server also has a NAMES.NSF, commonly know as the Domino Directory, containing information about users, servers, and groups, as well as custom entries that you may add. It contains Server documents, Configuration Settings, Person documents, etc.
Every Notes client has a log file (LOG.NSF) that contains client-side events and usage information. It can also contain error messages that could help diagnose a local issue.
The Administration Requests database (ADMIN4.NSF) is created on the administration server for the Domino Directory when that server starts for the first time. Requests for work to be done by the Administration Process (AdminP) are stored in the Administration Requests database.
The status of work done by AdminP is also stored in the database as response Log documents to the requests, in the form of Administration Request documents. To complete tasks, AdminP posts and responds to requests in the Administration Requests database. Domino servers use replicas of this database to distribute requests made on one server to other servers in the domain.
. This is a text file that contains many settings on which both Lotus Notes and Domino rely to work properly. An accidental or incorrect change may cause Lotus Notes or Domino to run unpredictably. Therefore, you should edit the NOTES.INI file only if special circumstances occur or if Lotus Support Services recommends that you do so.
This is a special database on the server created automatically at startup that acts as a temporary repository for all messages in transit to and from mail clients, applications, and other servers. The server creates the number of MAIL.BOX databases specified on the Configuration Settings document. If the Notes client is working offline, Lotus Notes will create the mail.box as a temporary repository for all messages sent, until the user connects again to the Domino server.
The Notes ID is one of the security features of Notes and is a unique file that identifies a Notes user. The user ID is normally created by a Domino Administrator and contains, among other things, the following: name of the user, certificate from a Certifier ID, public key, private key, password, and encryption keys. This files is encrypted with key strength 1,024 bits (versions R6 and later) and 2,048 bits (versions R8 and later).
The bookmark database is by default located in the Notes data directory and contains, among other things, the user's bookmarks, subscriptions, history bookmarks, user-customized views, and Welcome Page information.
. Despite its file extension, the desktop8 is a database that is by default located in the Notes data directory. It contains, among other things, cached items from databases previously accessed from bookmarks. Those cached items are primarily the list of design elements including their NoteIDs and UNIDs.
Despite its extension, the cache database is by default located in the Notes data directory. It contains, among other things, design elements such as forms, subforms, and LotusScript libraries of databases located on a Domino server. Storing these items in this file helps improve client performance when accessing databases located on a Domino server and automates the process of read-mark synchronization.
extension stands for Notes Storage Format, which is a database format---also called application---commonly used by Notes clients and Domino servers. Some examples of these databases are the Names.nsf, Admin4.nsf, Log.nsf, and user mail files.
extension stands for Notes Template File, which is the extension for a Notes template file. A template contains the structure elements (views, forms, folders, etc.) used to create system and application databases, but it does not contain any documents. For example, the Names.nsf database on the server is created from the Pubnames.ntf template.
This is the directory in which the Domino server or Notes client is installed, and in general this is where the Notes/Domino executable files are located, along with the Notes.ini. This folder is specified by the user during the installation process.
This is where the data directory for the Domino server or Notes client is installed, and in general is where the Notes/Domino applications and templates are located. This folder is specified by the user during the installation process.
Installing Lotus Notes
The Lotus Notes 8.5.2 client can be installed on the major three operation systems, Microsoft Windows, Linux®, and Mac OS. You can find all information about the system requirements for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux in Support Techdoc #7019220, “IBM Lotus Notes 8.5.2 System Requirements – Windows
The easiest way to install the Notes Client is manually by using either a CD or a package downloaded from the IBM Passport Advantage Web site.
Client Installation on Windows
Figure 2. Welcome to Installation Wizard window
- After you have downloaded the Notes Client Web kit from Passport Advantage, double-click it to extract it to your default Temp folder (you can specify another folder if you wish).
- Once this process is complete, it automatically launches the setup, which brings you to the window in figure 2; click Next.
3. On the next window (see figure 3), select the option to accept the terms in the license agreement; click Next.
Figure 3. License Agreement window
4. On the next window (see figure 4), enter the User Name, Organization, and the type of installation for your client (Single User or Multi-User). Click Next.
Figure 4. Customer Information window
5. Now choose the locations for the program and data folders (see figure 5); click Next.
Figure 5. Installation Path Selection window
6. Select the different options you wish to install with your Notes Client (see figure 6); click Next.
Figure 6. Custom Setup window
7. Choose which defaults you want for Notes (see figure 7); click Install.
Figure 7. Ready to Install the Program window
The next two windows show the progress of the installation (see figures 8 and 9).
Figure 8. Installation progress – Copying new files
Figure 9. Installation progress
Once everything is complete and no errors have been encountered, the process ends with the window shown in figure 10.
Figure 10. Installation Wizard Completed window
Your Notes Client is now ready to be configured (first installation) or upgraded (existing installation).
Client installation on Linux
Currently there are two types of Notes 8.5 Client packages available for Linux:
- Debian (.deb). The Debian package is used on the operating system called Debian GNU/Linux, or Debian, for short. IBM created this Notes Client package specifically for the Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Desktop Edition.
- RPM Package Manager (.rpm). The RPM Package Manager is the most used by all Linux distributions. This RPM package was specifically created for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.2 Desktop and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) 10 XGL.
There is no single-user installation option available. The only type of client installation available on Linux is “multi-user” mode, meaning that it creates one directory structure for the binaries, and one directory structure for the data directory under the user's home directory:
Default directory for the binaries: /opt/ibm/lotus/notes -- one per workstation
Default directory for the data : /homlotus/notes/data -- one per user
Also, there is no Domino Administration Client or Designer Client available on Linux.
Let's now discuss how to install the Notes 8.5 client code for the following supported Linux distributions:
- Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Desktop Edition (Debian package)
- RHEL 5.2 Desktop (RPM package)
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) 10 XGL (RPM Package)
The Notes Client configuration steps, screens, and dialog boxes are all the same as for the Notes 8.0 client, regardless of the operating system. Only the code installation is shown here.
Client installation on Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Desktop Edition (Debian package)
When you download the Notes 8.5 Client RPM Package from Passport Advantage, it comes as a TAR file, which is the equivalent of a ZIP file in Windows. So, first you must decompress the TAR file:
1. Open a terminal window and copy the TAR file into a temporary directory.
2. Go to the temporary directory and type the following command:
tar -xvf .tar
You should see the following five Debian files:
To install the Notes 8.5 client code, use these steps:
1. Open a terminal window and go to the temporary directory in which the Debian files reside.
2. Change to the user 'root' with the following command:
3. Enter the password of the 'root' user.
4. To launch the installation, type the following command:
5. To respect the dependencies of the different Debian files, you must start by installing the Notes 8.5 package:
dpkg -i ibm_lotus_notes-8.5.i586.deb
If you try to install any other Debian package, you will receive errors like those shown in figure 11.Figure 11. Errors when the correct package is not installed
Once this package is installed, the order of the other packages has no importance:
dpkg -i ibm_lotus_activities-8.5.i586.deb
dpkg -i ibm_lotus_cae-8.5.i586.deb
dpkg -i ibm_lotus_sametime-8.5.i586.deb
dpkg -i ibm_lotus_symphony-8.5.i586.deb
Figure 12 shows how the installation process would look in a terminal window.
Figure 12. Linux terminal window
Client installation on RHEL with RPM Package
Now we describe the client installation on RHEL 5.2 Desktop and SLED 10 XGL (RPM package).
As stated above, when you download the Notes 8.5 Client RPM Package from Passport Advantage, it comes as a TAR file that you must first decompress:
1. Open a terminal window and copy the TAR file into a temporary directory.
2. Go to the temporary directory and type the command
tar -xvf .tar
You should see the following five RPM files:
To install the Notes 8.5 client code:
1. Open a terminal window and go to the temporary directory in which the RPM files reside.
2. Change to the user 'root' with the following command:
3. Enter the password of the 'root' user.
4. To launch the installation, type the following command:
rpm -ivh *.rpm (First installation)
rpm -Uvh *.rpm (Upgrade existing installation)
You should see a progress bar similar to that shown in figure 13 (at the bottom).Figure 13. Progress bar
Once the installation has completed, the window should look like that in figure 14.
Figure 14. Install complete
Also, you should see the Notes and Symphony icons in the Application Browser window (see figure 15).
Figure 15. Icons in the Application Browser window
Notes Client configuration for all platforms
For all platforms, the Notes Client configuration steps are all the same.
1. When you first launch the Notes Client, you see the splash screen as shown in figure 16.
Figure 16. Notes 8.5 splash screen
2. You then see the configuration information window; click Next.
Figure 17. Configuration information window
3. At the User Information window, enter the user's first and last name, and the name of the Domino server in hierarchical format (see figure 18).
NOTE: For the server name to resolve automatically, your DNS must be able to resolve the first part of the server name (for example, ITSO_Server). Otherwise, you must provide a protocol and a fully qualified host name that will create a Connection document in the user's personal address book.
Figure 18. User Information window
You are then prompted with a user password corresponding to the name entered above, after which the client connects to the server and authenticates to it. If the credentials provided are valid, the Additional Services window displays (see figure 19).
Figure 19. Additional Services window
4. You can either specify which optional services you wish to configure or click Finish.
Your client is now configured and should automatically launch, bringing you to the Getting Started page.
Fix Pack installation
Fix Packs contain low-risk, high-impact fixes to help customers safely avoid known issues. IBM strongly recommends that Notes customers upgrade to the latest Fix Pack since it addresses a small percentage of defects that impact the broadest set of customers.
Fix Packs are released periodically between Maintenance Releases to provide a greater level of stability for customer environments. They go through the same level of fix, regression, and interoperability testing that occurs with Maintenance Releases. Fix Packs are always cumulative and contain all the fixes from those previous.
1. First, you must check what Notes version you have and what Fix Pack you have installed. To do this, select Help -- About IBM Lotus Notes; the window in figure 20 displays.
Figure 20. About window
2. Ask your Domino Administrator to provide the latest Fix Pack for your Notes version and confirm whether you have rights to install the package on your machine. Make sure to copy the installation package from your local hard drive (like C or D); we do not recommend copying the installation package from a network driver.
3. Before running the Fix Pack installation, close your Notes client, and then run the installation pack of the Fix pack. You should see the window shown in figure 21.
4. Select where to unpack the package and click Next. (Unpacking the package in a temporary location should be OK in most cases.)
Figure 21. Remove Installation Files window
The next window show the progress of the installation (see figure 22).
Figure 22. Progress of the install
5. In the next window, confirm the Fix Pack you are installing; in the example in figure 23, it is Fix Pack 3 for Lotus Notes 8.5.2. Click Next.
Figure 23. Confirm Fix Pack version
6. Select the option to accept the license agreement and click Next (see figure 24).
Figure 24. License Agreement window
7. Click Next, to continue the installation (see figure 25).
Figure 25. “Click Next to install” window
8. Click the Install button to install the Fix Pack (see figure 26), and follow the progress bar.
Figure 26. Ready to install the Program window
9. In the Install Completed window, click Finish, to exit the installation (see figure 27).
Figure 27. Install Completed
10. Finally, to confirm the Fix Pack was installed, select Help -- About IBM Lotus Notes. Figure 28 shows that Fix Pack 3 was installed.
Figure 28. FP3 installed
Use this configuration at your own risk as it can result in lost, non-recoverable data. IBM Lotus Support will provide assistance with Notes client problems encountered in this configuration only to the extent that the problem is determined not to be loss of connection to the network or required file servers, as well as performance degradation with remote data files vs local, and other issues that occur only with files on a network drive/file server.
Configuring Lotus Notes
The Location feature connects the Notes client to applications, usually located on servers, by providing a place where you can specify information such as the name of your mail server, whether you use a passthru server, your Internet email address, or even which Notes ID to use.
The Location button is found in the bottom right-hand corner of a typical Notes client screen (see figure 29). In this example we see the Online Location document, which is the standard name for the most commonly used Location document; obviously this name and settings can be changed according to your preference.
Figure 29. Location button
The proper configuration and selection of your Location document is a key aspect to ensuring your Notes client works as expected, since it basically contains all the necessary information to tell the server who you are, how to get to the server, along with some other personal preferences.
Most users could do fine with only one Location document connecting them with their mail file application located on their company's mail server. Sometimes, however, you need to have different Location documents due to the need to use a different user ID, access a different server, access a different application, or even work offline on a local application when an Internet connection is not available.
The easiest way to set up any type of Location is to select Tools -- Client Reconfiguration Wizard from the main menu, answer the questions Notes asks, and let Lotus Notes automatically create or edit the Location document. The wizard also creates any necessary server Connection or Account documents for the type of connection method you are configuring.
If you prefer to work manually with the Location document and need help, click and hold on a field name to see a Pop-up Help describing the purpose of each field.
Let's now look at the most commonly used and most important fields in a Location document.
1. To begin, click on the Location button and choose Edit Locations; you should see a screen similar to that shown in figure 30. Choose the Location you wish to edit and click the Edit button.
Figure 30. Locations window
2. In the next window we can see the most important fields of the Basics tab (see figure 31):
Figure 31. Basics tab
- Location name. This is the name of the Location as will display your main Notes screen.
- Location type. This indicates the type of connectivity you want to configure for the location; the most common is Local Area Network (LAN).
- Internet mail address. This is your company Internet email address as specified by your system administrator.
In figure 32 we can see the most important field of the Servers tab:
Figure 32. Servers tab
- Home/mail server. This is the name of your home/mail server to be used for this location, as provided by your system administrator. This is usually found in the format of Server Name/Domain Name.
Figure 33 shows the most important field of the Ports tab:
Figure 33. Ports tab
- Ports to use. This is where you choose which ports you want to use for this location; sometimes you can see other ports listed, such as LAN0, but TCPIP is by far the most commonly used.
Figure 34 shows the most important fields of the Mail tab:
Figure 34. Mail tab
- Mail file location. This is where you choose whether your mail file is located on the server or locally on your workstation.
- Mail file. This is the path and file name for the mail file being used for this location. The path is relative to the Data folder on the server, and the file name may or may not contain the NSF file extension (for example, jdoe or jdoe.nsf).
- Domino mail domain. This is the Domino mail domain to be used for this location.
Figure 35 shows the most important fields of the Basics subtab of the Advanced tab:
Figure 35. Basics subtab
- Use operating system's time zone settings. Opt to use your operating system's time zone settings, unless otherwise specified by your administrator.
- User ID to switch to. Specify a path and file name for a User ID to be used when using this location.
Lotus Notes opens to your Home page by default, unless you set it up to open to an application, such as Mail or Calendar. The default Home page is a central location from which you can access your Mail, Calendar, Contacts, To Do list, and your Notebook. You can also open Lotus Symphony documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.
Note that the first time you open Lotus Notes, the Getting Started page displays; however, once you close this page, Lotus Notes opens either to the Home page or to an application you have specified.
You aren't obligated to use the default Home page; you can create a new one using one of the formats provided, including a portal-like page called "My Work."
To open your Home page, click Open and select Home. The basic Notes Home page window displays (see figure 36)
Figure 36. Notes Home page
The basic Home page has the following elements:
- Mail. You have the option to open your email inbox or click the New button; Lotus Notes will create a new message for you.
- Calendar. You have the option to open your Calendar or click the New button; Lotus Notes will create a new calendar form entry for you.
- Contacts. You have the option to open your local Contacts or click the New button: Lotus Notes will create a new contact form entry for you.
- To Do. You have the option to open your To Do or click the New button; Lotus Notes will create a new To Do form entry for you.
- Notebook. You have the option to open your Notebook or click the New button; Lotus Notes will create a new Notebook form entry for you.