Last week I started looking on the web if there was an interesting Groupware package in the open source community. Groupware can contain a mixture of the following services: email, calander, taskmanager, document management, instant messenger and more. Well known closed source examples are Microsofts Exchange server, Lotus Notes and Novell’s Groupwise. I ran into two open source packages: Postpath and Zimbra. You can download Postpath and use it for thirty days. Zimbra has a so called network edition you can try for 60 days, and an open source edition which you can use freely. I decided to take a look at the open source Zimbra package, and I’m glad I did.
Well, I downloaded the Zimbra Collaboration Suite 5.0 RC 1. I installed it on Fedora 7 that is running as a virtual machine. The installation was not difficult. Just follow the instructions that come with the package. I just had to change one setting in the sudo config file:
My webserver is running on another VM and I only got one internet ip address. So to connect to Zimbra Webmail running on my Zimbra server, I use my webserver as a proxy. I just configured my Webservers Apache config file something like this:
# Redirect traffic to/from webmail.mydomain.com to zimbra.lan
ProxyPass / http://zimbra.lan/
ProxyPassReverse / http://zimbra.lan/
Well, when I finished the installation I tried the webinterface and I got enthousiastic. The admin website is pretty simple and the webmail client looks pretty impressive. The functionality is good. You can easily to share your calender, make appointments, send mail, etc. I ran into a few problems though:
- Zimbra reccomends to use 1GB of memory. Due to limited memory resources in my VMware host I started out with 512 MB of memory for the Zimbra VM. This is not enough, performance is really slow. My host is slow and the other VM’s also get influenced negatively by this lack of resources. I now use 1024MB for the VM, this helps a lot! Compared to other Linux VM’s (all without X_Windows), it needs a lot of memory.
- You can install a Zimbra tool, the Zimbra Toaster, on your Windows desktop that will tell you if you received new emails. I’ve had some problems with it like getting messages about new emails, while in fact I read the email already. And the software crashed a couple of times. But, it’s still in alpha, so I it’s not stable yet.
Zimbra positions itself, like Postpath, as an alternative for Microsofts Exchange server. I can’t tell you if this is really an option because I am not familiar yet with MS Exchange. Zimbra supports mobile email clients, I have none so I could not test it. But in my opinion a small company can easily use the open Source edition of Zimbra.
# su – zimbra
# zmcontrol status|stop|start
# zmapachectl status|stop|start
# zmmsgtrace -t <emailladdress_of_a_mailbox>
# zmmsgtrace -r <emailladdress_of_a_mailbox> -s <emailladdress_of_a_mailbox> -t 20071027
# dig r71.nl. mx +trace
Uptill now I use a daily restart of the zimbra services (crontab of zimbra user). If I don’t do this the server crashes after a couple of weeks…