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Can you keep multiple versions of Notes on the same system?

Yes. On an install of a new version, you should:
1) Put the \Notes directory in your PATH.
2) For major revisions (3.x -> 4.x -> 5.x, etc.), keep a separate copy of the \Notes\Data directory because the Notes internal database format changes between each version; new major versions will upgrade old database versions to the latest which can then no longer be read by the old versions. You can point to the appropriate data directory by editing your notes.ini file; you will only need one per major revision (NoteData.3, NoteData.4, etc.)
3) After the install, move the notes.ini file into the \Notes directory.
4) Before installing a new version, rename the directory of the old version to something else (e.g., \Notes to \Notes.463).
5) Install into the same non-renamed directory (e.g., \Notes), but before doing this, copy your desktop.dsk file into this directory so it can be upgraded if needed.

To use a specific version:
1) Make sure you are not running anything from \Notes (e.g., Notes Single Logon which is nsl.exe, the mail check in R5, the Notes client, etc.)
2) Rename the current \Notes directory to whatever version (e.g., \Notes to \Notes.463) it was.
3) Rename the directory with the version you want to \Notes (e.g., \Notes.50 to \Notes).
4) Start Notes.

You have to keep the same directory structure because in later versions of Notes, there is information in the registry related to OLE automation. If you use separate directories for each version, OLE automation may not function correctly.

With the caveat about OLE automation, you can run multiple versions simultaneously if you:
1) do not put the \Notes directory in your PATH
2) run the nlnotes.exe (or the appropriate executable for your platform be replacing the first character in the filename) instead of running notes.exe
From Olivér Zsigmond (Oliver_Zsigmond@lotus.com) comes this tip on how to run the R5 server locally with multiple clients:

Rename dirs of your existing versions of Notes R3, R4.x as described above.
Move your NOTES.INI into the appropriate NOTES.EXE dir.
Modify the Directory line in NOTES.INI to show the appropriate DATA dir.

Install Domino R5 to \lotus\domino
Install Notes R5 All Clients to \lotus\notes

Both directories will have their own NOTES.INI file and DATA dir.

Start Domino server and complete the setup.
Start any of the Notes clients (R3,R4 or R5) from its directory and you can use the local R5 server. You can stop the client and start any other one without stopping the server. The new rules are that you can start only one client and you can't start the client from \lotus\domino because if you stop this client, it will stop the Domino server as well.
Because of Windows Logo requirements, the \data directory structure in R6 is more confusing. There are some files in \lotus\notes\data underneath where you installed the main \lotus\notes executables, but there are also NSF files and the notes.ini file in "\winnt\profiles\<username>\local settings\application data\lotus\notes\data". You can change to a similiar structure as R3/R4/R5 by moving the files and then changing the Directory attribute in the notes.ini to point to the new directory.

In the registry, you should update the DATADIR value in the "HKEY_USERS\<userid>\Software\Lotus\Notes\Installer" key to point to the data directory you used so that the installer knows how to uninstall and update your current files.
In addition, the following two keys should point to the data directory:

Note that this will probably break R6's roaming user support. Installing multiple versions of Notes is something usually done by developers, so this should be a reasonable caveat.
Mike Kemp (MikeJKemp@aol.com) uses this technique for running multiple simultaneous versions on NT/Win2K:

So I could respond quickly to user's 'phone queries I had my desktop 'admin' workstation set up so I could run several Notes clients concurrently. The OS had to be NT (or W2K) - definitely not W9x. The set up is along the same lines as in your article, with the difference that the start-up shortcut preferences point to the appropriate nlnotes.exe (rather than the more usual notes.exe) similar to this:

for R4.5 client :- C:\NotesR45\nlnotes.exe =D:\NotesR45\Data\notes.ini

for R4.6 client :- C:\NotesR46\nlnotes.exe =D:\NotesR46\Data\notes.ini

for R5.x client (my main admin tool):- C:\R5Client\Notes.exe =D:\R5Client\Data\notes.ini.

and even (as an experiment):- C:\NotesR33\_lnotes.exe =D:\Notes33\Data\notes.ini.

Note that the R5 shortcut pointed to the Notes.exe and MUST be started first.

With this structure in place I could <Alt>+<Tab> between the various clients at will and so be able to 'talk my callers' through a problem quite rapidly. I could also check the operation of a database development intended for the environment.

The only drawback was the occasional entire machine 'lock-up' if I tried to use the Admin console in more than one client at a time - but this did not affect the servers.

I have not had the opportunity yet to try out this procedure involving ND6.

Applies to Notes Versions: 3
Last Modified: January 16, 2003