20080207 Thursday February 07, 2008

Choosing Zimbra as told to ex-Taosers@groups.yahoo

We're running Zimbra in production and have been for almost a year now. We're running Network Edition (paid) with Mobile.

Eh. It's ok.

Of course our philosophy is to let anyone run anything they want. Zimbra would seem to support this philosophy but I sometimes wonder if it tries to do too much.

Messaging is pretty rock solid. Other than some stupid bugs like showing 20 messages in your Drafts folder and then when you click on it, there is nothing there, it works fine. I've never heard about any lost messages or anything like that.

Calendar is wonky however. You can't set variable reminders for meetings. That means, either get a 5 (or 10, or 15) minute warning for every meeting you have or nothing. So if you have a sales meeting across town that you want to have a 30 minute reminder for, and a budget meeting down the hall you want a 5 minute reminder for, can't do it. It's one of the most voted on bugs in bugzilla and has been for a while, but they say they'll fix it maybe in 5.5. Weird.

Plus, the calendar is just buggy. Meetings don't show up all the time. If you change a meeting time, free/busy gets screwed up. I've had a user whose iSync just stopped putting on new meetings twice. All kinds of headaches.

Of course we support, Blackberrys (via NotifyLink Inc.), Treos, iPhones, Outloook connector, iSync connector. Basically, every bell and whistle you can ring or blow in Zimbra so sometimes it's user error, but sometimes it's Zimbra.

Despite this, I was planning on running Zimbra for mangot.com mail because my wife and I won't have a fit if we miss a meeting. I installed 5.0 and they've changed from Tomcat to Jetty, which is nice, but you still can't bind Zimbra to a single IP without hacking up all the conf files and putting some changes in LDAP. In fact, I had to change my hostname(1) during install temporarily just to get it on the right track. Then I went around hacking up the files to keep it from trying to hog the entire machine.

Of course, Zimbra will tell you that you need to dedicate the whole machine to ZCS. You would think the fact that it uses so many open source components means you could hack on it, but in reality most of your changes will be lost each time you upgrade and you will need to re-apply them (we do exactly that for Mailman integration). Until they get more of the config into the LDAP server, that's just what you're going to have to live with. I guess the fact that is OSS means that's at least an option.

On the plus side, it does have some nice Gee Whiz factor to it and we are talking about setting up a Zimbra server at a remote office that shares the same config as our current one and it's supposed to be very easy, but as with everything else, the devil is probably in the details. Like I said, I'm still planning on running it for my personal stuff, so I don't hate it as much as I might have come across. I don't know if I'd want to run it at my business again, except for the fact that there really is no one else who comes close.

(except Exchange, but we're not an MS-only shop, and please don't give me any of that it runs IMAP garbage, because we all know that's not a real solution)

Cheers, -Dave Posted by Dave Mangot in Applications at 20080207


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