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Neophyte - Email Server Config

Posted on 2003-12-01
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Last Modified: 2010-04-27
Hello, experts.  I've been asked to set up an email server for my company.  I opted to bring in a consultant to set up the server, as I have *zero* experience with email servers and *very little* experience with networking.  However, that was turned down and here I am.  Our company has 13 computers on its network and 25 employees that will need email (we are a 24-hour facility).  The email will be checked in Outlook but also needs to be accessible via a web-based email client.  I worked with Dell to come up with a server configuration, which you can view at http://www.sataria.com/dell_serverconfig.html.  I'm looking at using Linux for the email server software and the web-based email client.  If you have any insight/opinions into the email server configuration or what would be the best way to procede, please let me know.

Thanks so much!

Mich
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Question by:mixxie
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morpheus30 earned 500 total points
ID: 9852813
I find that using Exchange 2000/2003 is the best option for newbies, as it is EASY to install and configure.  Documentation on Exchange is bountiful.  If however, you're set on Linux Sendmail, then there are a number of things (including networking) that you'll need to be familiar with...

Points to consider:

Why use Exchange 2000/2003?

1.  It was MADE for Outlook's features such as Calendaring, Contacts, and Public Folders.  If you are on a Windows 2000/2003 domain, then you can set up permissions to create public folders for your users to use and share with each other seamlessly.  Their username/password to login into the network is all the credentials they need to use anything in Exchange.

2.  Outlook Web Access for Exchange allows your users to access their office email over the Internet from anywhere in the world.  Your users would simply enter the SAME username/password they use to login to the office network.  It doesn't get any SIMPLER than that!!!  With Linux Sendmail, you'll have to assign a whole new set of username/passwords for each account.  And Heaven help you if you should lose those passwords!!!  

3.  It easy to install.  Out of the box, Exchange is really easy to install.  Just put in the CD, check the features you want, and go.  You just have to make sure you comply with the MINIMUM requirements for your server.  You'll have to know how to configure the Linux config file for Sendmail to do what you want it to do.  There are wizards that come with certain versions of Linux like (SuSE Linux) that help you out with this, but if you really want to know what you're doing, you need to know how to do it the hard way.

4.  Easy to administer.  Every time you create a new user in Active Directory, you have the option to automatically create an Exchange mailbox along with that new user.  Also if anything should change with the user (such as name changes for women who get married), you can easily change the name without disturbing the login or recreating a whole new user to accomodate the new email.  Linux Sendmail is not this easy to administer.  You'll have to REMEMBER to make the changes yourself and recreate the user, etc.

Why should you NOT use Exchange 2000/2003?

1.  Anti-spam features in Exchange really suck!!!  You'll need to purchase a 3rd party software for email spam.  Linux SendMail has very good anti-spam features.

2.  Email viruses.  You'll need to purchase 3rd party software such as Antigen for Exchange or Norton Antivirus for Exchange to protect both the server and your users from getting infected from email viruses.    Antigen strips out dangerous email executables such as .exe and .vbs that can run a virus when opened.  

3.  Security.  Linux Sendmail is more secure than Exchange, and administrators should always be on the alert for the latest patch or service pack from Microsoft to protect their servers.

With that I guess you can make a decision as to what's more important:  security or usability.  If you want to impress your users and employers with features with the least amount of effort, EXCHANGE.  If you want to create a robust email system that is not as vulnerable to viruses and spam as Exchange but with the added headaches of administration and learning curve, Linux SendMail.

I hope that helps...
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Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 9865304
Very good summary above. Additionally, I'd just like to say that there is also Postfix to consider on the Linux platform; it is a bit easier to configure and seems to be very stable. Also cost may be an issue; Exchange costs $$ whereas the open source solution is free of charge.
/RID
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Author Comment

by:mixxie
ID: 9868674
Thank you for the comments.  I think I will go ahead with the Linux system initially, as Exchange is a bit out of price range right now.

Michelle
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