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Drop-In Replacement For Exchange Now Open Source 434

Fjan11 writes "Over 150 man-years of work were added to the Open Source community today when Zarafa decided to put their successful Exchange server replacement under GPLv3. This is not just the typical mail-server-that-works-with-Outlook, it is the whole package — including 100% MAPI, web access, tasks, iCal and Activesync. (The native syncing works great with my iPhone!) Binaries and source are available for all major Linux distros."
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Drop-In Replacement For Exchange Now Open Source

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  • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @05:47PM (#25078701) Homepage

    They better start hiring support personnel, because there will likely be profits to be had with service contracts. Maybe even a Redhat buyout/partnership

    Over the last few months, I've been forced to use Exchange/Outlook a lot, and for the life of me I don't get the big deal. But I know that people consider it a big deal, so I wish this company the best, and fair

    amount of profit.

  • Woohoo! (Score:3, Informative)

    by AmonTheMetalhead ( 1277044 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @05:53PM (#25078801)
    Well, that's certainly nice, push-mail, activesync, mapi, all the things people like about Exchange in an open source variant, why the hell not?

    I've been running OpenGroupware myself as a cheap replacement for Exchange (using funambol to replace ActiveSync) and it works nicely, but the more alternatives to Exchange the better!

    I've yet to try this one, i hope it's atleast as "easy" to manage as an Exchange server tho, if you need 10 Rocket Scientists to install it, then open sourcing it won't make it magicly defeat Exchange, and sometimes i get the impression people tend to forget other people use their applications too.

    In short, the more the merrier! Long live FOSS!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2008 @05:56PM (#25078847)

    Last time I looked on the Zarafa website, it looked like the free community (GPL) edition had a limited number of MAPI clients. I guess this is still the case? If so, it's not really a practical replacement for Exchange unless you pay for the commercial edition.

  • by gclef ( 96311 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @05:58PM (#25078869)

    Citadel [] also tries to be a full-featured e-mail/calendaring/task management/etc system.

  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:09PM (#25079029) Homepage Journal

    Zarafa is available under the Affero GPLv3, which has some rather critical differences from the regular GPLv3, namely that a lot of people don't consider it to be a Free Software license. Specifically, it has a lot of properties of a EULA in that you can't modify it as you see fit even if you don't plan to distribute it.

    Rats. I was looking forward to this.

  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:15PM (#25079107) Homepage Journal

    Exactly. And I'd much trust something like Cyrus IMAP over Exchange for data integrity any day of the week.

  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:22PM (#25079205)
    Parent was obviously modded down by some newbie to moderation who didn't get the joke, doesn't understand throwing chairs in Redmond, and modded it off-topic because he didn't understand it. This is a lousy excuse for moderation!
  • by LibertineR ( 591918 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:24PM (#25079243)
    Quotas anyone? OWA?

    Drop in replacement, you say? Will MOSS or CRM play with it? Will it pick up AD rules and GPOs? What about BCM and Project Server?

    OR, is it just another glorified POP/IMAP box?

    I read the feature set from the web site.

    I know Exchange, I was in the original product group way back when. This AINT no DROP IN REPLACEMENT.

    That said, for what it does, good for them!

    But people should watch their words. Side by side against Exchange 2007, it would not be a fair fight.

  • by gamanimatron ( 1327245 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:27PM (#25079301) Journal

    Hey, look! FUD!

  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz ( 883997 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:31PM (#25079349)

    From their FAQ:

    If I build Zarafa from source, can I still buy a license for Outlook access?

    Technically this is possible, but you always need to have the Zarafa-professional package for Outlook support. This package is available for the default supported distributions.

  • by Peeet ( 730301 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:36PM (#25079445)
    From the F.A.Q.:
    "The first three users that connect to the community versions with Outlook can only use Outlook. All other users can only connect via webaccess, imap/pop3 or Z-Push."
  • Re:Web app (Score:3, Informative)

    by Constantine XVI ( 880691 ) <trash.eighty+sla ... minus poet> on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:42PM (#25079535)

    I think you mis-understand. This isn't meant to replace Outlook, the Windows-only desktop mail/groupware client. This is meant to replace Exchange, the Windows-only mail/groupware SERVER that Outlook is built to connect to, complete with cloning the MAPI protocol Outlook speaks. We won't have a drop-in Outlook replacement until Evolution finishes their MAPI code (IIRC in the next release).

    Of course, this is all moot in a lot of businesses if it can't connect to BES, which you (currently) need a Windows box for anyway.

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:3, Informative)

    by LibertineR ( 591918 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:45PM (#25079553)
    Sure you can, but Zarafa aint no gun.
  • by zx-15 ( 926808 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:56PM (#25079657)

    Somebody mod parent down. []

    The GNU Affero General Public License is a free, copyleft license for software and other kinds of works, specifically designed to ensure cooperation with the community in the case of network server software." []
    "The Affero General Public License, often abbreviated as Affero GPL and AGPL (and sometimes informally called the Affero license) refers to two distinct, though historically related, free software licenses: (1) the Affero General Public License, version 1 (published by Affero, Inc. in March 2002, and based closely on the GNU General Public License, version 2 (GPLv2)), and (2) the GNU Affero General Public License, version 3 (published by the Free Software Foundation in November 2007, and closely resembling the GNU General Public License, version 3 (GPLv3))."

    If FSF considers it to be free software, how it is not free software, and by a lot of people you mean who?

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:06PM (#25079781) Journal
    Xandros with Scalix [] also works as a drop in,with the added bonus of being able to be either a member or a domain controller in an AD forest. Really nice if you need to support a mixed environment. But as always this is my 02c,YMMV
  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:06PM (#25079783) Homepage Journal

    If FSF considers it to be free software, how it is not free software

    One of the requirements of Free Software [] is "[t]he freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1)." The Affero GPL explicitly denies this freedom:

    If the Program as you received it is intended to interact with users through a computer network and if, in the version you received, any user interacting with the Program was given the opportunity to request transmission to that user of the Program's complete source code, you must not remove that facility from your modified version of the Program or work based on the Program, and must offer an equivalent opportunity for all users interacting with your Program through a computer network to request immediate transmission by HTTP of the complete source code of your modified version or other derivative work.

    I don't care who endorses the AGPL; by the FSF's own definitions, it is not Free Software. Get pissed off and mod me down all you want, but that doesn't change the fact that the AGPL is a EULA in that it governs the behavior of people who merely run the software, even if they do not distribute it (by any reasonable definition of the word "distribute" that has been in common usage during the history of computing).

  • by noc007 ( 633443 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:13PM (#25079867)

    To answer your question, IMHO the big deal is collaboration, productivity, integration, and a lot of features "just work"*. I'd wager to say that the majority of medium to large companies use MS Office and MS Outlook as their productivity suite and e-mail client respectively of choice.

    Setting up meeting requests are simple. I can easily see other people's calendars so I can pick the best time and I can even set a meeting location which will automatically reserve something like the meeting room for example. Meetings automatically get put on my calendar as tentative and I'll receive a notification in case I forget to accept the invitation. Updated meeting change my calendar as well without intervention.

    I can set reminders, flag e-mails for follow-ups, create folders to organize, create processing rules to eliminate common tasks. A lot of rules will run on the Exchange server without the need of a client running and I don't get unnecessary e-mails on my phone. Outlook maintains a constant connection with Exchange so e-mails are sent and received nearly instantly.

    Integration and crap just working
    Obviously most MS products can seamlessly integrate well with one another. In the latest version of Outlook I can preview a number of attachments within Outlook without actually opening them up in their designated app, thus a new window. I can set a folder to actually open up a webpage within Outlook to "Integrate" a webapp or just be sly on reading Slashdot.

    Phone integration really is a big one for me. Using a WM5, WM6, or iPhone with Exchange ActiveSync is almost the best thing since sliced bread. I remember the days of having a PDA and the PITA it was to do a hard-reset or get a new one. Even getting a new phone and having to manually enter in each contact sucked (I've been a CDMA whore for eight years). All my contacts are kept on Exchange and this allows me to reference and edit them via the phone or Outlook. Having to do a hard-reset or get a new WM phone is no big deal; a three minute sync with Exchange over the air gets me all my contacts back and access to my e-mail. The rare third party apps I use are kept on an SD card. Life is easy getting the execs and lusers up and running as well.

    Integration with Active Directory (LDAP) makes my life as an admin easier with GPOs and groups to divvy out permissions. And for some reason all this stuff works without much hassle.

    The bad
    Exchange and Outlook truly do have their faults. If I were to have my own company, I can't honestly say that I would run them. I wont get too far into the bad since I'm running out of time with the wife waiting on me. If I were to have my own company, I can't honestly say that I would run them. Exchange works great with communication within itself and other Exchange servers. It does a decent job at SMTP transmissions most of the time. The big headache I have right now stems from a tech at MS telling me that "the RFCs for the SMTP protocol are merely suggestions." It's not like SMTP is overly complex; there are only a handful of commands that are exchanged within SMTP communication and Exchange even F's that up. And don't get me started with how Outlook is written in VB.

    I'm glad to see some open source Exchange clones out there. I'll eventually run one of them for my server at home just so I can keep my contacts synced when I leave my current company.

    To put things into perspective, I'm not a MS fanboy, but I'm not a MS hater either. I know their products well and is a part of my profession. My real passion is UNIX; specifically FreeBSD and OpenBSD. I try to introduce them where possible and applicable. Not to mention there is some stuff I can get done easier and faster with UNIX than I could with MS Windows. Other products out there are just as buggy and bloated as MS's; they just get more attention since they're more widely used.

    I hope that Zarafa and others continue to innovate and make a nice profit. Competition is good for innovation and lowering prices; both of which benefits us consumers.

    * Setup can be a RPITA. When something doesn't work as expected it can be an easy fix or cause suicide.

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:5, Informative)

    by darkpixel2k ( 623900 ) <> on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:20PM (#25079961) Homepage

    That's right, Microsoft: open source software can gun for you too, motherfuckers!

    I'm sure Microsoft is trembling.
    The site is so hammered I it took about 4 minutes to load, and the first thing I noticed? Two colums for downloading. The first one says "AGPL3 Only" and the second says "incl. 3 users Outlook support".

    Common--you know that that means. "We open sourced part of our software to try and suck you in--but you'll really find it limited until you fork over slightly less that you would have with Microsoft Exchange."

  • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:31PM (#25080091) Homepage Journal

    Messages sent by the assistant have a clear "Bob accepted on behalf of Alice" kind of structure. The logs also show that it was Bob accepting on behalf of Alice, IIRC. This is useful not only for the tracking perspective, but also so that the recipient knows that it was not necessarily directly handled by the person invited.

  • by wasabii ( 693236 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:43PM (#25080221)
    Exchange does not use PSTs. Migrating off Exchange is fine. You canc onnect to Exchange with IMAP and dump data. Just like you can with every other open source server. Problem is that Exchange has features which these other servers do not, and thus it's not really going to work out: Calendars/Contacts. And yes. I do juggle backups, patches, etc. I run Exchange on a set of clustered boxes sharing storage. I can fail over a machine, patch one, and bring it back up. Pretty freaking easy. I honestly never touch the thing except to apply patches. Once every 6 months. Ever tried to migrate a user's mailbox from one site to another? One button. It moves it on it's own. Authentication is integrated into AD. One password. All communication uses Kerberos. It's lovely.
  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:5, Informative)

    by mhall119 ( 1035984 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:53PM (#25080339) Homepage Journal

    That's exactly what they did: []

  • by GoodNicksAreTaken ( 1140859 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:53PM (#25080343)
    I've seen dozens and the only ones that have that kind of load and keep up without tons of maintenance are ones that are running as POP and not true Exchange servers.
  • by Linux_ho ( 205887 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:55PM (#25080369) Homepage
    The community version doesn't support using Outlook if you need to use more than 3 clients, according to the installation document:

    The proven Zarafa groupware solution (ha) is now also available as an open source community version licensed under the Affero GPLv3. This version includes:

    AJAX based web access
    Mobile webaccess
    IMAP/POP3 gateway
    iCal gateway
    Z-Push - ActiveSync compatibility (licensed under GPLv2)

    Additionally you can use this version with the closed source Zarafa Outlook clients up to 3 Outlook users.
    Important: To use Outlook support in the community version, you need to run the zarafa-licensed daemon.

  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Friday September 19, 2008 @09:06PM (#25081021) Homepage Journal

    Crud, I quoted an older version (that Google listed higher than the one you linked at that moment, go figure). The current version is:

    Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, if you modify the Program, your modified version must prominently offer all users interacting with it remotely through a computer network (if your version supports such interaction) an opportunity to receive the Corresponding Source of your version by providing access to the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge, through some standard or customary means of facilitating copying of software. This Corresponding Source shall include the Corresponding Source for any work covered by version 3 of the GNU General Public License that is incorporated pursuant to the following paragraph.

    The principle is the same: you are not allowed to modify it in certain ways, even if you do not plan to distribute copies of it.

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2008 @09:08PM (#25081037)

    This looks like cripleware to me. The "open source" version is limited to 3 outlook clients. That doesn't sound very open!

    (posting as AC because karma system sux).

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:3, Informative)

    by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @10:16PM (#25081521) Homepage

    If the source IS available under the GPL, one can correct it and provide a much more capable version, no?

  • Re:Woohoo! (Score:3, Informative)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @11:07PM (#25081897)

    i hope it's atleast as "easy" to manage as an Exchange server tho

    I shouldn't have read that one while drinking coffee.

    Inexperienced admins think MS Exchange is easy because they don't have disaster recovery plans and they do not test them. The problem of needing another licence just to be able to effectively learn this is one thing that keeps them inexperienced, as is a lack of exposure to other systems that manage email effectively. Now MS Exchange does all kinds of other odd things as well as running email which makes it just about the only thing of it's kind, but if you compare it to purpose built email systems it is a difficult beast to wrangle. Want a company wide email disclaimer to go on messages? It's just an easy hack of the registry but how on earth is somebody going to find it later without incredibly good documentation? Proper backups that will actually work without shutting down the entire system are now possible in MS Exchange but it should have had it from day one!

  • by WhiteHorse-The Origi ( 1147665 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:08AM (#25082215)
    I disagree! With just a few simple apps you can do everything exchange does and more.
    Calendar-iCal + LDAP
    Meeting requests-iCal
    Synchronization-Webdav or SyncML
    Publishing Calendars-Webdav(Caldav) or SyncML
    Sharing/Editing the same calendar-Webdav(GroupDav) or SyncML
    Webmail-Many choices, some with calendars, AJAX, etc
    Blackberry-Funambol, SyncML I mean seriously, what else do you need? Encryption? Got it. There are tons of more features with clients like Evolution and Thunderbird including desktop integration.
  • by AnyoneEB ( 574727 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:47AM (#25082473) Homepage
    The difference is who has the right to ask for the source. The GPL says anyone who gets the binaries can ask for the source. The Affero GPL says that anyone who connects to the program running on a server can ask for the source.
  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:32AM (#25084119)

    Xandros with Scalix also works as a drop in

    Except to get full features on Outlook, you need their MAPI Connector, which requires you to pay for "premium user" licenses.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday September 20, 2008 @01:25PM (#25086013) Journal

    Which if you check the prices of licenses compared to Exchange is a WHOLE lot cheaper.(Disclaimer-I don't work for Xandros,I just enjoy the ease of use). Look,Xandros+Scalix isn't meant for Linux gurus that are the masters of the CLI game,it is designed for businesses that have primarily Windows admins and need something that just works,or for those that have to support a mixed environment.

    Thanks to a plugin you can manage your Xandros server from either your Windows server or your admin desktop,the Xandros XMC is so identical to the MMC that it takes almost no retraining at all to switch your Windows admins over,and with of 60 roles already to go with nice wizards it takes the CLI and guesswork out of setup and maintaining the server. I believe in the right tool for the job,and for the average SMB,or for those that don't have Linux admins on staff,Xandros takes a lot of the hair pulling out of switching. It even has both Xen and Vmware support built into the kernel so you can get virtual servers up and running in no time at all.

    They have a free 90 day trial [] on their website so if you have space for a VM or an old server sitting around unused why don't you give it a try and decide for yourself? That is always better than taking someone else's word for it anyway. And as always this is my 02c,YMMV

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