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Zimbra Collaboration Suite Launched 207

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the my-web-browser-is-tired-of-doing-all-the-work dept.
commonchaos writes "Recently a company named Zimbra has come out of nowhere and released an open source Exchange replacement. The exciting part is a front end that uses AJAX. There is an impressive flash demo, you can download the source or try out a "live" version of the code yourself." Interestingly, this open source system seems to be very similar to the recent Yahoo announcement covered on Slashdot.
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Zimbra Collaboration Suite Launched

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  • by ReformedExCon (897248) <reformed.excon@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:03AM (#13664766)
    Let's say I've got an Exchange server farm running my network's mail system. Everything seems to work okay, but it's about time to stick with what I've got, upgrade to the next Exchange version, or look to another vendor (like Zimbra).

    What kind of benefits would I see moving to another product? I can see Microsoft's checklist features and see exactly what will be changed between this version of Exchange and the next, but I'm wondering what the benefits will be if I move away from Exchange.

    I'm not a sysadmin, so I'm wondering what criteria you guys use when making the decision to jump ship.
    • by Mustang Matt (133426) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:08AM (#13664782)
      "but I'm wondering what the benefits will be if I move away from Exchange"

      For one thing $$$ in future licensing fees.
      • That may be an issue for a small company with only a handful of employees. But for a medium to large-sized company with over a couple hundred employees, the cost of an email system is negligble compared to the cumulative productivity gains of a working email system.

        Or to say it another way, money is cheap.
        • I suspect you are right.

          Until recently I worked for a small local company with < 50 staff. We used Qmail, and Exim for mail handling.

          Then we got bought by another company. The new owners immediately ripped out our mail server (working wonderfully for years) and installed a whole new set of Windows based infrastructure to match their "Corporate standards".

          Now we have Lotus Notes running away in a corner. Sure it's pretty nice in some respects, but a lot of staff hated the change from their mail clie

    • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:34AM (#13664883)
      Don't take this as advice, because I don't know your mail setup. That said if you need a "farm" of computers to run your mail and your company has fewer than 100,000 employees, I think the benefit of moving off Exchange should be obvious: you wouldn't need the farm any more. Exchange's hardware requirements are 10-100x more demanding than an equally-functional setup using, for example, sendmail and dovecot. Even extremely large configuration can be run off a pair of Linux machines, and the second is only needed for redundancy. When provisioned with sufficient storage, your basic x86 Linux computer can handle huge mail loads. Think of the savings in terms of rack space, power, and cooling alone!

      If you were moving to a newer Exchange you already know the hidden costs: software for managing Active Directory quirks (from CA or whomever), special backup software that interfaces properly with exchange (possibly licensed per mailbox) and so forth. With the usual Linux setups you would backup mail the same way you backup anything else: with an LVM snapshot.

      • Thanks for the response. This is very much in tune with what I was trying to find out. I'm not a sysadmin, and I really don't care what is running beneath the covers, as long as it works. Cost is only one of the benefits of moving away from Microsoft products, and I don't feel it's the most important nor the best selling point of Open Source software. It irks me when people will blurt out zero cost as if that were the only thing that people base their decisions on. Microsoft makes a ton off of Exchange
      • by Donny Smith (567043) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:21AM (#13665023)
        To comment on the article: wouldn't it be great if /. had a regex filter so that we can get rid of these "exchange replacment" articles....
        Just today I saw KDE goes wild on an SLES9SP2 system and nearly freeze it - the same fucking thing that used to happen back in 2000. Five years past by and not much has changed.

        > That said if you need a "farm" of computers to run your mail and your company has fewer than 100,000 employees, I think the benefit of moving off Exchange should be obvious: you wouldn't need the farm any more.

        You need directory services, scheduling, global address book, forms and sophisticated IMAP folder sharing even in a very small company (100 employees), so even in small-and-medium enterprises, people do need Exchange-like functionality and not only SMTP/IMAP/Webmail.
        Dovecot: it's in alpha, for Christ's sake (http://www.dovecot.org/ [dovecot.org])

        >If you were moving to a newer Exchange you already know the hidden costs: software for managing Active Directory quirks (from CA or whomever), special backup software that interfaces properly with exchange (possibly licensed per mailbox) and so forth. With the usual Linux setups you would backup mail the same way you backup anything else: with an LVM snapshot.

        1. Software for managing AD: not really that expensive. On Linux you need to spend as much to write and maintain custom scripts, Webforms and what not.
        2. Backup software: yes, because Exchange has its internal database format (i.e. it does not use only flat files). You can't back that up without suspending I/O to a consistent state which means you have to have an application-side plugin.
        3. LVM: can't create crash-consistent snapshots of database files so what you say is incorrect, unless you meant snapshots of ordinary IMAP directories (incorrect comparison - database format vs. flat files). Besides, if you have VSS H/W Provider agent on Exchange server, you can take snapshots (on storage or the server itself), re-mount them and backup them using the regular Windows software.

        • Dovecot is very very stable. In the 3 years I've been using it, I never had any problems with it. I can't say the same, for example, about Courier IMAP, which I've been using for about 3 months before.

          Maybe the alpha state signifies some lack of features. But it's in widespread use (for example, I can find it on the Fedora install disks).
        • Just today I saw KDE goes wild on an SLES9SP2 system and nearly freeze it - the same fucking thing that used to happen back in 2000. Five years past by and not much has changed.

          What kind of email server uses a GUI?

        • by aaronl (43811) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @07:54AM (#13665726) Homepage
          First thing first, why in the hell are you running KDE on a server, and more important, why are you running an X server on one at all?

          A huge number of people that got stuck with Exchange servers want to get rid of them. That's why these articles keep coming up.

          What you meant was that you need the address book and directory services. Scheduling tends to be done by secretaries, and forms/IMAP folder sharing is generally not needed. Now if you say you *want* scheduling, etc, then fine, there are a number of quality products from which you can choose. If you define "what you need" to be the exact feature set of Exchange, then it isn't surprising that you think you need it. You can implement everything that Exchange/Outlook does with other software, cheaper, with more reliability, and on less hardware.

          1. As for AD management software... let's see. You bought Windows Server because it's easy to use and admin, Exchange because it's easy to admin, and are using AD because it's easy to admin. So to do it right, you have to buy third party software? Sounds more like somebody screwed up their research and choose a bad solution based on broken assumptions. You have to do basically the same thing on any platform, so that's not a good reason to choose one over another. The UNIX solutions are much more reliable than Exchange, too, and less expensive. They also provide all the same functionality. Unless you go out of your way to ignore the solutions that work, anyway.

          2. That's because Windows' does not provide functionality such as LVM. An application can also lock a file and prevent any app with any access level from even reading it. Exchange also keeps quite a lot open and locked when it doesn't need to. If the app was written well, it wouldn't be a problem. However, your backup explaination is an excellent example of why Windows is a huge pain in the ass.

          3. BS, that is a perfectly valid comparison; backing up email is backing up email. If the application is written properly, the database will be fine. Exchange isn't written well, so it has problems. That software doesn't even provide a way to do a backup without either getting third party software or shutting Exchange down. Also, your VSS stuff is essentially the *exact same thing* as LVM snapshots. Why would your way work when LVM wouldn't? If the database is inconsistent, then it's inconsistent either way.

          So what you're saying is that Windows/Exchange is better because it requires more jumping through hoops, buying more random software, and more dealing with random BS like bad data formats and bad storage techniques?
          • You can implement everything that Exchange/Outlook does with other software, cheaper, with more reliability, and on less hardware.

            Really ? How ? Be _specific_.

            • Server software (Score:3, Informative)

              by aaronl (43811)
              For free software, you have OpenGroupware, Horde, and the just mentioned Zimbra. They will all provide the functionality that Exchange does. I'm sure there are others, too.

              For commercial alternative designs, you have Novell GroupWise and Lotus Notes. There are others, but I am familiar with those.

              For commercial Exchange compatible, you have OpenXchange and openmail. Again, there are very likely others.

              I can't think of any free software Exchange compatible server platforms. Personally, my research was t
        • just a note on dovecot - alpha is 1.0, 0.99.something are very stable and a lot of people are running them without problems (me too, me too)

          and there is the difference between software projects and how they label their products. most opensource project alpha/beta releases are much better than most proprietary "releases". i think in this case developer[s] is/are too cautious, as this might be called beta easily if not rc - but i prefer this attitude instead of marketing driven release that is worse than alph
        • Just today I saw KDE goes wild on an SLES9SP2 system and nearly freeze it - the same fucking thing that used to happen back in 2000. Five years past by and not much has changed.
          And you didn't learn from that and decide to run your systems using command line tools? What the hell sort of sysadmin are you?
      • by misleb (129952) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:35AM (#13665053)
        ...Exchange's hardware requirements are 10-100x more demanding than an equally-functional setup using, for example, sendmail and dovecot.



        You have got to be kidding me! Sendmail/Dovecot doesn't even approach the functionality of Exchange. Not even close. Dont' get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons to not run Exchange, but lack of features is not one of them. There is a reason why Exchange uses so much resources. Microsoft programmers are not THAT incompetent. The bloat comes from feature creep, not so much bad programming. The question is, are you using all the features of Exchange? If not, one might consider something simpler like sendmail/IMP, but a lot of people like the group calendaring and all that.



        -matthew

      • Exchange's hardware requirements are 10-100x more demanding than an equally-functional setup using, for example, sendmail and dovecot.

        Given "sendmail and dovecot" only prove 1/10th - 1/100th the functionality of Exchange, I'd say that's a fair trade.

        People on Slashdot seem to love saying "Exchange? We can just replace that with {sendmail|postfix|qmail|$MTA} and {dovecot|squirrelmail|courier-imap|$IMAP_SERVER}" . I can only assume these people have never actually *used* Exchange, or have never dealt with

        • One of the biggest reasons that I can see for using Sendmail as your MTA and a *nix based system is programming using procmail. Yes Exchange does have the Exchange event system, but it's no where near as simple to program as using procmail.

          I had a customer previously that we changed their business over to Linux, we gave them an "Exchange replacement" admittedly it wasn't as feature rich, but in a business of less than 100 employees, they weren't using a lot of the functionality anyway.

          What they were getting
    • What kind of benefits would I see moving to another product?

      Well, YMMV, but the last place where I worked that used Exchange had two incidents within a month of each other where some smart ass script-kiddie sent obscene messages to our entire (7+ million) userbase.

      Naturally, those of us in California argued for abandoning the Exchange server and just using our existing, working FreeBSD/Sendmail server, but the PHB's back in Singapore decided that the solution was to stick with Exchange, and just cough up a
    • The combination of Outlook/Exchange is one that blocks a lot of sites from replacing Windows with *nix, both on the server and (potentially) the desktop.

      In any moderately sized organization, you'll have a big bunch of people whose only computing requirements will be:
      - Web browser (for Internet and/or intranet sites)
      - email
      - scheduling (i.e. Outlook)

      In theory, after the geeks, these should be the easiest people to migrate to a non-Windows desktop. Their requirements are minimal, and the retraining required
      • Exchange is one of those things that will very soon be made moot by the changing tides of technology. First of all the vast majority of businesses are tiny with less then 20 employees. It makes no sense to install and maintain a whole server just for email. In bigger organization you have a highly mobile and dispersed workforce living off their cell phones.

        Take a look at something like .Mac service by apple. You get shared file storage, email, shared calenders, groups, syncronizing with your desktop, ical
      • If Zimbra has a decent Web-based client (can't tell - site is ./ed), then *in theory* those email+browser+scheduler people will only need a Web browser to do their entire job. A Web browser can run on any platform, so they're now independent of Windows and can migrate to a lower cost platform once Zimbra has been bedded in.

        The trouble is, web-based calendaring and email clients all suck (or, at least, every one I've ever tried did). Sure, you could replace the Exchange+Outlook[+AD] combo with some web-bas

    • by rduke15 (721841) <rduke15.gmail@com> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:19AM (#13665020)
      I can give you the reasons why I moved away from Exchange. Others may have different reasons, and others may have good reasons to stay with Exchange. Anyway, this is my own example.

      In a small (but growing) business of a dozen employees, an old NT server SBS edition with Exchange 5.5 needed to be replaced. I decided to go with a Linux server.

      On the Exchange side, what I didn't like was:

      1. all email is in a proprietary database, in a single (huge!) file. If something goes wrong with that file (as it once did), it's a nightmare to bring it back up, if it works at all. If you can't repair it, you loose anything that came in after the last backup.

      2. speaking of backups, Exchange needs special Exchange-aware backup programs. You cannot just copy the files.

      3. Lack of flexibility in handling of incoming mail, spam filtering, forwarding, etc.

      4. No ssh access for quick and easy remote administration.

      5. No simple text-file based configuration, meaning no grep or such to find some setting. You have to move around all the menus if you cannot remember where a setting was.

      6. It is hard to move away from proprietary solutions like Exchange because you cannot just copy files and hand them over to another application. That's a good reason to do it rather sooner than later when it may become harder yet. It was not easy to move mailboxes from Exchange to IMAP.

      So in the new setup, I used Postfix and Courier IMAP:

      1. very easy and very flexible and powerful configuration

      2. all configuration through simple text files which can be grep-ed, compared, backed-up, whatever.

      3. simple backups through plain file copies or rsync

      4. every mail is in it's own plain text file. Can be grep-ed, and if a file goes corrupt (didn't happen yet), it is only that single email.

      5. easy administration. For example, I didn't implement quotas, but I'm considering setting up a little script that would check for the size of the maildirs and of single huge files, and send a little email to the users. Like "you are using up 1 GB for emails; please consider removing unnecessary stuff" or "Would you please check if you still need the 50 10 MB files in you mailbox". I can easily add a summary of the huge mails so the user knows which ones they are.

      5. easy migration. If I ever decide I would like to replace Postfix or Courier with some other program, it's no problem. I'm not locked in the current programs. Not that I would want to move to other programs. I'm very happy with this setup. But I like to be sure I can if I ever wish to.

      This has been running reliably for 6 months now, and I'm a very happy mail admin.

      The users have only one complaint: they cannot set up an Out of Office auto-responder like they could on Exchange. I thought that was good, and tried to explain why auto-responders range between useless and evil, but had no success. They want it anyway. So I'm setting up vacation in their .forward files when needed, and looking for a good web interface so they can do it themselves. The Webmin interface I tried didn't work well, so I'm still looking, and may have to work on the Webmin module myself.
      • by Linker3000 (626634) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @05:00AM (#13665252) Journal
        If Squirrelmail (WebMail) fits into your config then there is an 'out-of-office' module that can be installed to allow users to manage the vacation functionality for themselves.
      • I thought that was good, and tried to explain why auto-responders range between useless and evil, but had no success.

        Perhaps because they're not 'useless' or 'evil' but actually 'useful' in some situations, like in business environments when people need to let other people know they're away and who to contact in the meantime?

        I don't know your whole situation, but this is the sort of anecdote which gives the open source push a bad name. Yes, it has good names too, and lots of positive press, but these sorts
        • Perhaps because they're not 'useless' or 'evil' but actually 'useful' in some situations, like in business environments when people need to let other people know they're away and who to contact in the meantime?

          Spoken like someone who's never had a mail server snafu'd by an autoresponder loop.

          Autoresponders have a purpose, to be sure -- but their use has severe negative side effects due to their inability to determine whether they're letting an "other person" know something or they're sending mail to another
        • Perhaps because they're not 'useless'...

          I do believe they are.

          There are basically 2 cases:

          1. You don't get important mail needing an urgent reply: the uselessness is obvious

          2. You do get important mail needing an urgent reply: the autoresponder replies that you are away. Useless again.

          Email is not a phone, where you get the answering machine *before* saying your message and can decide to call somewhere else instead.

          Email is closer to a fax. Would you like your fax spitting out pages of "sorry we cannot read
      • So in the new setup, I used Postfix and Courier IMAP:

        It's great that you were able to replace Exchange with Postfix and Courier, but the simple fact is if your userbase had actually been using the fancy features that make Exchange useful, you wouldn't have been able to.

        The users have only one complaint: they cannot set up an Out of Office auto-responder like they could on Exchange. I thought that was good, and tried to explain why auto-responders range between useless and evil, but had no success. They w

        • A few users are instructed in editing their H:\vacation.msg file in a text editor and renaming their "H:\.forward.not" file to "H:\.forward". For others (who are scared by a text editor and not sure how to rename a file), I do it myself over SSH. I'm not using procmail, but this is equivalent.

          Still, a nice web interface would be nice, which would take care of ensuring the sanity of the .forward and vacation.msg files.
    • What kind of benefits would I see moving to another product?

      I attended a Novell conference last year, where there was a talk on GroupWise 3rd party extensions. The speaker had an interesting survey for the audience (which consisted of mostly GroupWise admins, but also Exchange admins).

      The question was how many email users were located at each site, and how many post office admins supported these users. That turned out a rather interesting ratio in favor of GroupWise, though, only a couple of samples wer

      • One of my responsibilities is GroupWise administration (others include managing a Citrix farm, supporting Blackberry and Treo handhelds, managing accounts in our eDirectory tree, etc). I and a colleague manage about 3200 GroupWise users in our region - part time.
    • by tzanger (1575) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @08:57AM (#13665982) Homepage

      Why I moved off of Exchanve Server -- I wanted my data in open formats and out of the "black box" that Exchange Server is. We moved to Exchange4Linux [exchange4linux.com], which stores everything (and I mean everything) in a PostgreSQL database (18G and growing). SMTP is whatever you want, but Postfix is what they recommend. I've tried practically every Exchange replacement out there (SLES/SLOX, OpenExchange, a plethora of web-based crap, Bynari, Steltor (now Oracle's) CorporateTime, Hitachi's solution, etc., etc.) and this one is the (clear) winner in my eyes. The entire thing is written in Python, including the Outlook connector, and everything but the connector is open-source. (Outlook connectors are EUR$50/seat with discounts for volume). We still run Outlook on the desktops since that is the user interface and many here still want it, but as far as the backend is concerned, I couldn't be happier now. There is something just plain cool about being able to run arbitrary SQL queries over all of the company's emails, contacts, todos, journals, you name it... We have it tying in to our Asterisk [asterisk.org] PBX as well so, for example, the service guy who's on call gets the emergency page. The service department just maintains their Pager Calendar and I do a lookup to see who's on duty.

      E4L isn't without its warts (the IMAP server is still in early development, no POP or LDAP yet), but being Open Source and also being in active development, these get polished or cut out (as necessary) in time. And I can add/change the system and get my changes contributed back. I don't have to worry about where my data went to or if the system ever crashes how to recover the data. If some weird-ass situation comes up and I need to correlate my data in some unforseen way... well now I can, and I don't need some kind of screwed-up and possibly commercial API to get it done. And most importantly for me, I don't have to worry about the system changing or being eliminated due to some other company's paradigm shift.

    • I prefer Open-Xchange [open-xchange.org] to the MS product. The OX architecture runs Java servlets against a Postgres RDBMS. Adding features is a matter of installing new servlets. Dropping unnecessary features is a matter of tinkering with the open source. It integrates with my existing "Contacts" servers with LDAP, my existing SMTP/IMAP/POP servers, Apache. I integrated my own services by running other servers, like my streaming server, against the LDAPd for authentication and Postgres for metadata. Every service is scalabl
  • I hope the app really works as well as the demo shows.
    • It works, it is just slow.

      • What did you run it up on? What hardware?

        I know people who run Dual Xeon with 4GB of RAM for Exchange servers (Namely because they have 400+ users on them) and Exchange to this day can't use more than 4GB of RAM (Damned 32 bit apps with no PAE!)

        If the Zimbra suite is designed to be run on the same scale hardware as Exchange, then maybe that's why it was running slow..

        • Dual Athlon 2400+ with 1GB of RAM as I was the ONLY user. It wasn't Zimbra itself that was slow. It was the AJAX heavy web interface that was slow. You know, like Java GUI's are slow... but worse than that.
           
  • by revscat (35618) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:08AM (#13664790) Journal
    Well, while an Exchange killer is certainly one of the holy grails insofar as breaking corporate lock-in to Microsoft, I have to admit a certain degree of skepticism. While OSS has seen it's fair share of success, it has not as yet been able to break into the corporate backoffice software market. This is at least partially due to the continuing reluctance of managment to use software that doesn't cost a damn thing.

    I briefly looked around Zimbra's site, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but this looks like another free-as-in-speech replacement software suite. I don't see the PHB's getting excited about this until they have to pay good money for it.

    • I don't see the PHB's getting excited about this until they have to pay good money for it.

      You can always burn it to CD and sell it to them (with the source code and GNU license included at no extra charge) for $500,000 per CD. Would that be expensive enough to get them excited?
    • I don't see the PHB's getting excited about this until they have to pay good money for it.

      So sell it already. There is so much software available in the OSS arena that is just screaming for someone to sell. When are the OSS 'advocates' going to realise there's more money in 'free' software than in proprietary?

      • There are definitely business models out there that can work. The key is to be able to add value to the product in a way that the PHB can understand.

        SourceFire [sourcefire.com] seems to have found a way to do it. Going beyond just packaging Snort on "black boxes" and providing support, they went through the effort to get their commercial version of Snort through the necessary certifications to be allowed on US government networks. It cost them money, but it is going to make them money as well.

        My PHB wouldn't have allo

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm only interested in stuff that matters, so I read Slashdot (when I should be doing work). From what I've seen on Slashdot, it seems that only free software is ever released and never any proprietary stuff. Isn't that great.
  • by Mathinker (909784) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:17AM (#13664833) Journal
    I have a feeling that I'm not going to be installing this myself from source, seeing as they boast that they depend on 40+ other open source projects.

    And for anyone who was confused, it's not a drop-in replacement for Exchange servers or clients, it just does what Exchange does, differently. More or less, I guess, not having used it yet :-)

    Still, looks like a pretty cool piece of work.
    • I tried building this for Slackware 10.1 over the weekend and only had to install ant and jdk.
      It comes with everything included: mysql, spamassassin, tomcat and postfix.

      One issue were the required port mappings:

      smtp: 25 mapped to 7075
      http: 80 mapped to 7070
      pop3: 110 mapped to 7110
      imap: 143 mapped to 7143
      ldap: 389 mapped to 7389
      https: 443 mapped to 7443
      imaps: 993 mapped to 7993
      pop3s: 995 mapped to 7995

      The install/run scripts were very tailored for RH/Fedora.
      This page [zimbra.com] has a good walkthrough of
    • We are upgrading servers to RHEL4 and heavily contemplating move from Exchange to something else. This stuff looks pretty exciting for 3 main reasons:

      1. They built EL4 rpm, which gives me hope that it's been tested well on this platform
      2. Zimbra provides an easy way to import Exchange accounts straigth from the server, without having to handle hundreds of pst files
      3. This is the last piece of software that prevents us from getting rid of windows on the desktop.

      This is good stuff. My sysadmin life looks
      • The site seems to be slash-dotted.

        They built EL4 RPM's? Excellent. That means they'll run on CentOS (at www.centos.org) for those sites who are too cheap to buy RHEL or who pay an internal Linux support person instead of paying support fees to RedHat.
  • by Leknor (224175) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:22AM (#13664850)
    My beef with Zimbra is it requires you to use their own mail server. Yes it has IMAP/POP interfaces for clients to connect to, but you cannot simply point it at your existing mail server. It's really only suitable for small or new sites.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Dude, you are confused. They aren't trying to make a web front end that works with any mailserver. Their ajax app seems to only be 1 piece of the puzzle. It looks like (from their forums) they have a fully functional server AND multiple access mechanism (wireless, outlook, web, etc).
    • Open Groupware [opengroupware.org] seems to be a good alternative, these days - especially if you have your own mail server, as they don't supply one!
    • Well that makes it sound ideal for me. For small business clients, we've always defaulted to a program called Maximizer, but some aren't willing to spend the $169 per seat. If anyone is familiar with Maximizer, would you consider Zimbra a fair replacement? Any other suggestions?
      • SugarCRM [sugarforge.org] is worth a look - we've just moved over to it from Maximizer.
      • My experience with Maximizer is that it's not worth the hassles associated with it.

        Any other solution, a paper folder on a desk with a bunch of business cards in it is better than maximizer.

        We had stability problems, issues getting support and the UI was not very intuitive at all ...

        Overall, it was decided that the old system was better and that they would go back after god knows how much money they spent on training and everything else.

    • Beyond using its own MTA (postfix), the problem for larger sites is that each box is expected to stand alone. There is no way to have webservers, mailservers and database on seperate boxes.

      Otherwise, its a very slick (and bandwith intensive) webmail client. I would implement it if it had a smaller client d/l.

    • by anandp (29978) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @04:13AM (#13665134) Homepage
      Yes, Zimbra is not just a webmail client you can slap on top of any IMAP/POP server. The reason for this is not malicious. It is just that a lot of the (compelling, if I may say so myself) functionality you see in ZCS - search, tags, conversations, group calendar, etc, etc - are only possible because of our own server.

      On a related note, even though you have to use our server, and even though we love our UI dearly and we hope that you will too, we are client agnostic - we will support as many clients as we possibly can. Which is why we make your data available via IMAP/POP/RSS/iCal/etc.
  • by arb (452787) <amosba@nOSpAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:26AM (#13664862) Homepage
    How'd they become the "leader in open source collaboration" if they've only just appeared on the scene? And is it really collaboration software, or just another email server?

    Personally, I'm not overly impressed with their "impressive flash demo". This story seems like another new company's attempt to drum up hype by submitting their press-release to Slashdot as a news item. The flash demo is neat and all, but I'd be more impressed if their "live" demo was actually working... If it can't handle a simple Slashdotting, it ain't ready for prime-time.
  • by Per Wigren (5315) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:27AM (#13664863) Homepage
    I want to check it out also.. :(

    Use coral cache instead!
    Flash Demo [nyud.net]
    Zimbra homepage [nyud.net]

    Why, oh why can't Slashdot always link to coral cache instead of keep on killing servers?
  • by seringen (670743) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:30AM (#13664868)
    Personally, I'm looking forward to hula http://hula-project.org/ [hula-project.org] because it's the sane combination of an enterprise class email platform (netmail) with sensible, link based calendaring and works with pretty much any client. No forced web interface or one program only support. Personally I hope the idea catches on with more people. I can't wait for a point release!
    • They don't force you to use any client at all ...

      So nobody forces you to use their webclient. Data is available over IMAP/POP3 etc, so use whatever you like. Yes IMAP doesn't support calendaring, so you can't use it for that. You'll actually need to think about what you do if you want to mix software nobody else is mixing.

      Regards,

      Christophe
    • I was waiting for someone to mention Hula. And I'm waiting for Hula to support caldav. Hula is a dream to set up and administer. It's been rock solid for me, and soon will have an AJAX webmail interface. As soon as I can use caldav with Sunbird then I can ditch using remote calendars via webdav and rely on Hula completely.

      Phillip.
    • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @10:49PM (#13672786) Homepage Journal
      Hula is way too much hype and way too much hubris. Look at how polite the Zimbra people were: "Here's our new product, we hope you like it." Compare with the Hula project, which made the ridiculous (and clearly false) claim that "no other projects exist in this space" and then speak of "taking over the world." It's a project which basically consists of abandonware (NetMail failed in the marketplace) plus vaporware (Nat Friedman's hype machine) and they're already claiming it to be "the Apache of collaboration."

      I, for one, have no interest in going anywhere near Hula. With that kind of obnoxious hubris, I'd rather go with any of the other quality products in the open source collaboration space.
  • We might have something to look at. Otherwise there's lots of stuff out there, of course managing it can be a nightmare...
  • Just watch the demo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:50AM (#13664934)
    AJAX, buzzwords, blah blah blah. Don't care.

    But watch the demo. The first part sucks, I agree. Oooh, it does conversations! Big whoop.

    But the end is interesting. It starts with the dates -- that's nicely integrated. Then for some serious, customer integration. Custom actions based on pattern matching is pretty cool. If it's easily scriptable, it could be pretty powerful.

    Most of the features can be taken for granted. Yes, the marketoids got to it. But dude, if this has a clean API and doesn't suck on the backend, it might be useful.
  • by davejenkins (99111) <slashdot AT davejenkins DOT com> on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @02:54AM (#13664945) Homepage
    I was quoted in the eWeek article [eweek.com] for this launch. We have been testing this for a few weeks now, and like what we see so far. There is no way in Hell I am letting MS Exchange in here.

    The really cool part we see in Zimbra is the possibilities to program our own magic phrases, so everytime someone puts in an Order#, SKU, Invoice# or some other keyword, Zimbra will pick up on it, and link it directly into our ERP.

    Zimbra shows a lot of promise--
  • by linuxguy (98493) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:00AM (#13664967) Homepage

    It may not have the fancy Javascripted front-end but it is certainly loaded with useful features for groups of people working together.

    Contacts, Calendar, Email, File repository using WebDav (Files are version controlled) and more.
  • Sadly... (Score:4, Informative)

    by misleb (129952) on Wednesday September 28, 2005 @03:13AM (#13665005)
    Unfortunately I don't see this taking off. I installed Zimbra and tried it out myself and it is just too slow. The interface looks really good for a web application, but it is dog slow and very unresponsive to user actions. I can't imagine anyone using the web interface as the primary way of using Zimbra. If Zimbra ever takes off, it is going to need smooth Outlook/Entourage/Evolution integration.

    Furthermore, I think this is a good as web applications are going to get. Lets face it people, HTML and web browsers are just not made to run desktop style applications. AJAX is really cool, but the simple fact is that HTML lacks the most basic tools to build a good GUI. The document model just doesn't work for sophisticated applications.

    -matthew
    • One problem, I would think, is that they (admittedly) use XML (SOAP) for communications between client/server. Obviously, that is bound to be slow because every SOAP message can be quite big. There should be another way - I'll have to check it out sometimes.

      I think the web interface can be tweaked for performance so it reaches somewhere closer to the performance of Gmail because it doesn't have all that much more complexity.
  • Most Mail Server deployments are very very expensive to maintain. Exchange's TCO ranges from $140 [techtarget.com] to $230 [oracle.com] per mailbox per year depending on who you ask. There are even a range of companies that provide tools that claim to reduce this TCO (I once worked for one that will remain nameless). Other mail servers have significant TCO's too. But I know of services that charge significantly less per mailbox per year [intermedia.net] so there must be some mail server software that can be maintained for significantly less. *Cough* [linuxjournal.com]
  • The features are neat and seem do good at dealing with the "E-Mail ist everything" Groupware approach. Which I don't like to much but that would just be me.
    Expect the client to do a little slowpocking and eat reasources - but that's a fair trade for a free Groupware that pushes some limits.
    I'd actually go by and build an entire Groupware like the Basecamp service in Flash/AS - but again that's just me.

    Kudos to them or going through the fuss with JavaScript.

    Now Imagine e-groupware, opengroupware, more-groupw
  • Citadel [citadel.org] has been around for years (isn't/wasn't vapour) and is trivial to setup, and supports basically every mail protocol in use (add NNTP to the list once I'm finished developing the code for it) and a full GroupDAV implementation (last time I checked no one else has that yet).

    Citadel is driven more towards online communities than small workgroups though, but it works. Apart from maintaining a patch to use bogofilter instead of spamassassin, I rarely touch the install now.

    Disclaimer: Very happy Citadel u
  • Ga- Ji, Berrrri Bim- Ba- Klandiri....!
  • If you're looking for something a little more like a collaboration suite, try Egroupware [egroupware.org]. Has email+calendar + much more.

    Idots2 [idots2.org] is a replacement interface for Egroupware that is a whole desktop / multitasking environment in JavaScript. It's pure candy. A little slow on our old server, but beautiful nonetheless. Try the demo [idots2.org].

  • If you like the idea of an open source collaboration suite, you might also want to check out Citadel [citadel.org], which has been around for quite some time and offers many of the same features. It's very easy to install (doesn't require any manual mucking about with database servers etc.) and has mail, calendaring, address books, bulletin boards, real-time chat, instant messaging, IMAP/POP/SMTP, GroupDAV, and an attractive web front end with an increasing amount of AJAX functionality.

    As I said yesterday in another co
  • How do you uninstall this thing? I installed it and the load on the server became unbearable. There are no instructions on how to get rid of this thing!

    Does it replace port 25 with its own daemon? I need to revert everything back.
  • Welcome to Zombo com [zombo.com] you can do anythign with AJAX/Zombo.com
  • by Whatchamacallit (21721) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @09:32AM (#13675310) Homepage
    I've been pouring over the site for a while now. Very very interesting stuff, this Zimbra...

    If you actually look at the details, it's a Linux based (Red Hat RPM distro at the moment) that appears to be the absolute best web email system I've seen to date. AJAX is only a very small part of what Zimbra does. AJAX simply improves the end user browser experience by making it feel more like a local application and less like a web app. AJAX allows for page updates without reloading the whole page so it can add features like drag and drop, right-clicking context menus, live searches, etc. i.e. faster instant feedback much more like a native app.

    The person behind the site is the former CTO of BEA Systems (WebLogic). He wanted a better email system that was available anywhere. Grouping of discussion threads, saved searches (like Mac OS Tiger), etc. What this group has come up with is pretty darn interesting and if it's well designed will only get better.

    The geek reading Slashdot ought to go read the Admin Guide available from Downloads_Documentation_Admin Guide (PDF or HTML). There are some real nice technical explanations not found in the marketing flash demo!
    Before you continue to bash it, go check out the technical details while keeping in mind that it's new and will be improved as time moves forward. Linux, Apache Tomcat, PostFix, MySQL, OpenLDAP, SMTP, LMTP, SOAP, XML, IMAP, POP, and AJAX. You can connect with IMAP and POP clients! This means you might be able to connect via IMAP with OS X Mail.app which supports much of the threading, sorting and search features not found in Outlook. iCal can use the calendar system. Addressbook can connect to the LDAP directory for GAL entries. Pretty darn slick! Zimbra has certainly gotten my attention. If you have to you could use Outlook, but I would rather use the web interface then use Outlook! Ugh...

    Should be interesting if someone decides to do the same thing in Ruby On Rails! Might be easier to build and maintain and thus faster to market with new features. Same technology except substituting Java and Tomcat for Ruby, the Rails API, plus Lighttpd & FCGI. Go take a look at Basecamp, Backpack, and Ta-da List and you can see that http://www.37signals.com/ [37signals.com] could easily build a similar system to Zimbra and make it sing! Or course the 37signals way of things is to host it for you and you subscribe to it. Zimbra is meant to be installed by your geeks with a support contract to Zimbra and consulting available. There also TextDrive's Strongspace Ruby on Rails app http://strongspace.com/ [strongspace.com]. There is going to be an explosion of such applications being refreshed by AJAX powered feedback. AJAX is exciting as it can greatly improve the user experience. But that's all it does, the backend geekness is where the real fun begins. Whether it's Java or RoR things are going to start changing. Get ready for Web 2.0 without the Web 1.0 hype and dotbomb! You must have a viable business model to succeed with Web 2.0!

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission

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