The open source Open-Xchange email and groupware server just got easier to deploy on various popular flavours of Linux.

Last week, the Novell-sponsored openSUSE project announced Version 1.0 of its new openSUSE Build Service tool, which allows developers to build a single application that can be automatically configured to run on a multitude of supported Linux distributions.

Now, Open-Xchange has debuted its new community Open-Xchange Server application built using the new openSUSE Build Service. That means that by using one version of the application created on the Build Service tool, the latest Open-Xchange community version is immediately available for eight of the most popular Linux operating systems. They are Debian Etch, Red Hat Fedora 8, openSUSE 10.2, 10.3 and 11, and Ubuntu 7.04, 7.10 and 8.04.

Using the Build Service tool, Open-Xchange was able to configure the application, then automate code reproduction and compilation to produce code that runs on each supported flavour of Linux, said Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier, community manager of openSUSE.

Novell had been using an internal build service tool for development of openSUSE and its enterprise SUSE Linux product lines, he said, but it was unavailable to outside developers to directly submit code changes, bug fixes and new features. Now with the open source version, outside developers have direct access to the code for the first time.

Other supported Linux operating systems may be added over time for use with the Build Service tool, he said. "We support what we consider to be the major distributions," Brockmeier said.

For developers, the new tool makes application development easier because they don't have to create testing environments for running their applications in each of the supported Linux operating systems. By building an application to run on the build tool, it can be used on any of the supported operating systems. "They can just put the source code into this build system and create source code for all of them," Brockmeier said.

OpenSUSE hopes that other Linux software projects will download and use the new Build Service tool. The effort was first unveiled in 2005 and Version 1.0 was announced last week.

At least one other open source project, kdevelop - an integrated development environment for the KDE (K Desktop Environment) - is also using the openSUSE Build Tool, he said.

"It allows people to contribute more or less directly to openSUSE so they can make the development process more transparent," Brockmeier said.

Juergen Geck, CTO of Open-Xchange, said the tool allows Open-Xchange to more easily build versions of its applications for a wider range of Linux distributions. "For us, it's a challenge to run our stack and test our stack on all these different flavors of Linux."