March 2009 CIALUG Meeting

Zimbra Open Source Collaboration Suite

Presented by Rich Harms

Intro

  • Zimbra is more than just a simple mail server. It is a full collaboration suite.
  • Web browser client and offline client are extremely similar.
  • Supports IMAP and POP3 clients. Outlook, Thunderbird and the like.
  • Shared Calendars, document spaces and such not only within the company but with external users as well.
  • Powerful built-in search features.* Wiki-like document features.
  • Spamassassin and virus scanning built in.
  • Built on several other Open Source projects.
  • Zimlets scripting language for administrative and feature add-ons.
  • ZMProv utility for scripting admin tasks.
  • Import utility for pulling in Exchange data (licensed).

Installation from scratch

  • CentOS 5.2 virtual machine for the demo.
  • Download the OSE edition as a tgz file.
  • Run the included installer shell script which walks you through the install.
    • Install script is text-based, and starts out with some questions.
    • After the interview, it unpacks the RPMs, installs them and configures itself.
    • After it unpacks and installs, there are a few more questions, then completes the install.
    • At this point, you should have a basic running configuration.

Administrative Interface

  • Accessible via https://{siteurl}:7071/zimbraAdmin
  • Domains are pretty easy to set up, just a few steps configures all the services on the back end.
  • User setups are pretty easy. Password is not required, but you can’t log in with a null password!
  • Resources have their own management section.
  • Class of Service controls what features that client sees and can access.
  • Built-in IM server which uses the Jabber protocol.
  • Full control over what themes are available on the webmail interface.
  • Domains can be configured to be hosted on a specific server (clustering features).
  • Can also use the Zimbra server for LDAP authentication on your network to provide authentication for users on workstations.

Good Things

  • Lots of Zimlets, or plug-ins to add features. Some which are available are Bugzilla integration, Asterisk integration, WebEx integration, etc.
  • Good statistics gathering and reporting interface.
  • Some basic Exchange integration is built in to the Open Source version. The more advanced features require licensing, though.
  • Rich search features for building custom searches for Admin accounts, locked out accounts, inactives, etc.
  • Client can pull e-mail from multiple servers such as Gmail, Yahoo, mail-enabled PBX, etc.
  • Works with smartphones such as the Iphone (via IMAPS).
  • Two-month “try before you buy” license is available for the non-OS version.

Complaints

  • Web interface sometimes truncates HTML messages.
  • Most, but not all PCI requirements can be met within the configuration. Logging login failures is a bit wonky, so hard to bring into compliance.
  • User training can be tricky. Recommend leaving all unnecessary features disabled and only enable them as needed.
  • Non-core Zimlets require manual updating. No package management system for them.
  • Large mailboxes (10+ GB) can cause issues requiring more server-side RAM.
  • Be sure to install cron on your server! Zimbra will happily re-import logs, which it expects to be rotated by cron.
  • Backup management is missing from the OS version, but present in the licensed version.
  • Missing the Assigned Tasks feature Outlook/Exchange users are used to.
  • Exchange import wizard did not import recurring calendar appointments.