A need for a good mail server.

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I have been asked to show my supervisor what a Linux mail server would look / run like. He doesn't want to spend the money to buy Exchange or the massive rebuild of our network to get Exchange working. Here is what he is looking for:

1) global address book
2) easy user management
3) imap accounts
4) easy backup of all accounts, settings, and boxes

If anyone has a good site for a howto or a recommendation for a mail system that would be great. This is a bit over my head so I hope that some one around here can point me in the right direction.


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better than exchange

Scott Dowdle's picture


I downloaded DeskNow and set it up for testing. It seems pretty nice. Their free version is basically non-functional though so that is a drawback. Their feature list seems quite complete and overall it is pretty small an efficient. I was very impressed.

I'd prefer to stick with a FOSS product like Zimbra so that's what I'm doing. Zimbra doesn't have all of the features but it is maturing over time.

Zimbra or Scalix

Zimbra is generally lighter on the features but easier to setup and manage.
Zimbra were acquired by Yahoo and I'm not sure how that'll affect their future direction.

Scalix is very fully featured (aims for feature parity with Exchange) and is
based on an HP product with a great depth of functionality and reliability.

Both support the GAL with LDAP. Scalix' directory functionality is much
more rich than Zimbra, however Zimbra uses a more standards-based (openldap) server.
Scalix supports Outlook clients (with a MAPI provider that you must install
on your desktop machines).

Disclaimer : I wrote parts of the Scalix code.

There's also Postpath, who provide on-the-wire compatibility with Outlook.
However last time I looked I didn't think their product was quite ready for
deployment (might be better now though).

You can download both Zimbra and Scalix for free and try them out.

When I've looked (haven't looked for a few months), the other options were
all either a) expensive or b) horrible.

Additional disclaimer : I personally run Dovecot and Postfix, but I don't have
high-end e-mail requirements (and I'm becoming irritated at how slow the
IMAP server becomes when you accumulate 10's of thousands of messages per folder).

Scott Dowdle's picture

A number of systems

I've been using the Open Source edition of the Zimbra Collaboration Suite for a little over 2 years. It has a fairly full set of features and a very polished web interface. There are a few other products to pick from but not all of them are free:

Desk Now

Of all of those, ZCS OSE edition is the only one that is under an open source type license.

Then there are a number of FOSS projects:


There are also a number of email system pieces that people cobble together to offer a subset of the features of the products previously mentioned. You can find a bunch of HOWTOs if you look around.

If you want your email system to speak the MAPI protocol to Outlook clients, there isn't much that is free... but I'd try to avoid Outlook if at all possible.

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