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Linux alternative to Microsoft Exchange

Posted on 2004-04-21
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Last Modified: 2007-12-19
I've been given the task of looking for a Linux alternative to MS Exchange. Does anyone recommmend any Mail server software for Linux? I have been looking at CommuniGate Pro 4.1 by Stalker Software. I will also need virus protection on the system, any recommendation on that?

Thank you in advance
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Question by:bbiayw
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LVL 9

Assisted Solution

by:Alf666
Alf666 earned 360 total points
ID: 10884398
If you only need the email part of exchange, then the free Postfix is a very good software.
The Virus protection can be handled by Trend Micro's products.

If you need groupware functionnalities (like calendar sharing ...etc.), Linux is not quite ready for that.

Though there is a new project (coming from a commercial product in the first place) :

http://www.opengroupware.org

Using the (non-free) plugin for Outlook, it can act somehow as an exchange server for calendar an contacts sharing (it acts as a MAPI provider in a way).
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Assisted Solution

by:jrluquet
jrluquet earned 240 total points
ID: 10885061
If you have a little money to spend I think SuSE Linux OpenExchange Server is a good option for you.  I've done an evaluation of it and was very impressed with it's functions ie..Calendar and email.  It also can be used with Outlook but I didn't do a lot of testing on that portion.  It also installs very easy and administration is equally as easy.

http://www.suse.com/us/business/products/openexchange/

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LVL 7

Accepted Solution

by:
scdavis earned 900 total points
ID: 10885626
Exchange does a lot more than just handle email and calendars.

Palm Pilot syncing is a very important user feature.

Having a web interface to "current" email (all of it) is a very important feature.

Being able to search what you've stored, for keywords, etc.. is very important.

Storing the email, managing the email centrally (deleting after x days or limiting to x MB) is a very important feature.  Managing includes backups, recovery, etc..


Frankly, the day that an OpenSource package StepsUp and has all or even some of those features..  is the day I stop recommending Exchange.  Nothing touches it to date.. (from OpenSource).


Why are you asking this?  Just to test us Microsoft dweebs?  

If not, your org has one, or both of these as goals:

1)  Free use of Free Software (no quantification of skills needed to make it go are factored in)
2)  They're testing you because you over sold them on the email solution via free software.


if #2) ..  poor human.  You've messed yourself up.



Good luck.

-- S.

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LVL 34

Expert Comment

by:PsiCop
ID: 10888885
GroupWise runs on Linux, and isn't vulnerable to the myriad of malware that routinely attack Exchange.
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LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:Alf666
ID: 10889129
> Exchange does a lot more than just handle email and calendars.
Agreed.

> Palm Pilot syncing is a very important user feature.
Yes. Doable with outlook. No nned for exchange server.
Doable also with OpenGroupware.

> Having a web interface to "current" email (all of it) is a very important feature.

Honestly, easy to add with anything like OpenGroupware, horde, or others. Nice and very well working.

> Being able to search what you've stored, for keywords, etc.. is very important.

Not an exchange feature. Sorry. IMAP allows the MUA to do it as well.

> Storing the email, managing the email centrally (deleting after x days or
> limiting to x MB) is a very important feature.

Have you heard about IMAP ? It's the same. You do not need a MAPI system for this.

> Managing includes backups, recovery, etc..

Doable, but maybe not as easily. Agreed.

> Frankly, the day that an OpenSource package StepsUp and has all
> or even some of those features..  is the day I stop recommending
> Exchange.  Nothing touches it to date.. (from OpenSource).

Frankly also, and that's why I mention calendaring and contacts only, the whole email handling is perfectly done with opensource. Calendaring (shared) and contacts is a bit harder, but OpenGroupware might become the missing link.
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:justintx
ID: 10891968
Domino runs on Linux now....  

justintx
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:scdavis
ID: 10892644
>> Having a web interface to "current" email (all of it) is a very important feature.
>  Honestly, easy to add with anything like OpenGroupware, horde, or others.
>  Nice and very well working.

I've only seen/used SquirrelMail.  That thing sucks.  

> Have you heard about IMAP ? It's the same. You do not need a MAPI system for this.

Have you seen what most implementations do when you have 4000 items in the mailbox?  Nevermind that pushing and pulling the indices/headers back and forth in their entirety isn't super-smart..  IMAP is a joke.  I've yet to see a worthwhile implementation.

I kept 2.5 years worth of small (text) emails in Exchange, read via MAPI/Outlook.  28,000 items.  No joke.  I could re-sort, keyword search and "view" them in under 1 second - at all times.  IMAP breaks BADLY in this kind of scenario.


The big problem facing Opensource development is that the community can't stop flogging "open standards".  Open standards are good.  In fact, I love them.  I hate closed source, closed/morphing protos like "MAPI".  

However, in order to program, most projects aim to use existing standards.  None of the existing MUA-protocols (including IMAP) are useable in high volume environments.  

If OpenGroupware will address this problem -- power to them.  I'm not holding my breath though.  The Open source community has too many "micro-projects" on the go.. for me to believe that a mega-project will come to fruition anytime soon.

-- Scott.

PS - Domino is great.  Let's be precise; Exchange is rarely attacked by Malware.  Outlook sure was.  (hasn't been recently)  IE still is a mess.  IIS was - and still is a bit of a mess..  but Exchange itself is rarely if ever exploited.  



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Author Comment

by:bbiayw
ID: 10904141
I really appreciate all of you feedback it has been really useful. One thing has come up. Would it be easier to just have an in house mail server or would it be cheaper and easier to get some company to host the service? Price wise what’s the cheapest way to go about this? Thank you very much.

:Why are you asking this?  Just to test us Microsoft dweebs?  

If not, your org has one, or both of these as goals:

1)  Free use of Free Software (no quantification of skills needed to make it go are factored in)
2)  They're testing you because you over sold them on the email solution via free software.


if #2) ..  poor human.  You've messed yourself up."


The reason this has come up in the business is that we have seen that more and more viruses are coming in and getting into each machine. Some machines seem to have 30 or so viruses within a few days. Norton Antivirus is catching them so that’s no the problem. The reason we inquire about a mail server is because I want to be able to scan each email before it gets to each machine. The email provider we have now is no doing this so we want a solution to lower the amount of viruses each machine gets. I don’t know if any of this makes any sense.

Thank you very much for all your help...

(Does anyone know how to raise the number of points this question can be worth... I think I want to be able to raise it to more than what it is now. Probably a stupid question but I have to ask.)

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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:scdavis
ID: 10904355
re:  Scanning email for virii:

What you're describing is known as "multi-layered security".  There's one problem - but you address it at several stages.  (in case one of the 'other' stages fails)

That's the right/best approach to take.  Further, killing the badness using a centralized mechanism (email server) is the fastest and easiest way to do it.  

There are anti-virus products available for all free unices.  Linux, FreeBSD, etc..  Some are free, some are not.  

If you want to step into the *nix based email server world, be forewarned that you'll need to have a good understanding of DNS, tools to diagnose problems (dig, ping/ifconfig, telnet through manual SMTP sessions, etc.. ) and the time to do/learn it.

Personally, I like FreeBSD.  The ports tree is superior to most linux RPM style distros, imo.  Dependancy problems are nearly non-existant.

Further, I like QMail/vpopmail/qmailAdmin.  It's easy to use, easily installable and very robust.  

Adding anti-virus and/or anti-spam software into the mix is relatively easily done.. if you're not adverse to writing your own scripts.

What I'd recommend is -- setup a box.  Tinker with it.  Run your email through it..

It's a steep leaning curve for most non-unixy hackers, but it's fun, imo.

Good luck!

ps - oh, yeah, and all the management becomes a nightmare for a non-unix hacker.  MS products are much friendlier..


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Expert Comment

by:mattmc97
ID: 11179556
check out postfix

You can run your mail through postfix and then forward it to exchange if you just want to filter the email for spam.

Go to Google and type in scott henderson's anti spam gateway. He wrote an excellent guide to setting up what I just described. You can add virus filtering with just a little tweaking.

mattmc
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