April 29, 2006

717 words 4 mins read

Scalix – Review

My boss tasked me last week with finding a replacement for our current email system (hybrid exchange+pop — dont ask). I know I’ve mentioned this before, but for the last couple of days I’ve been demo’ing out Scalix. Now that I’ve messed with their community eddition for a few days I have my review. An intresting note for anyone looking to replace Microsoft Exchange with another piece of groupware is that Scalix Community edition is free, and contains 25 free licenses for Outlook connectivity (which is GREAT for small bussinesses).

First in the review is the installation. I started with a “server” install of Fedora Core 4, which is defenetly not my normal OS of choice — which makes me unhappy. Oh well, back to the installer. Scalix’s installer is a EXTREMLY picky about the the host file and network settings. If its not set exactly right, the installer will fail (Even the order of the entries in the host file matters). Its a little annoying, but I’m sure they have their reasons. Once the setup was done, it was purdy much ready to go. I latter came back and installed SpamAssassin and ClamAV. Both worked properly after a little fighting, due to documentation problems.

Ahh, documentation. Not something Scalix has spent alot of time working on. The long of the short of it is that you’ll get more information out of their forum. In fact when I was setting up SpamAssassin I spent ALOT of time searching their forum for answers (which I did eventually find). Also, in their support knowledge base, they have a number of conflicting documents. For example, in one category you’ll find a how to for setting up SpamAssassin specifically for SuSE and its MAJORLY out of date. But if you check a different category you’ll find the right and proper setup instructions. Also, once your setup and ready to go with scalix, whats the URL for webmail? Dunno, its not written down that I could find. At least the administration console documentation (there are 3 main and seperate PDF’s) gave the URL for that. Needless to say, I was not pleased by the fact that I spent more time on the forums trying to find instructions on setting up the misc stuff.

The adminitration console, a webbased tool for setting up Scalix. No, SAC (Scalix Admin Console) is for users, and thats about it. The console is next to useless. Need to setup public folders? CLI. Need to setup a resource user? CLI. Need to setup ACL’s? CLI. Need to modify the default username scheme? CLI. Honestly, Scalix should have just left out the Web console. I mean, I was a little disapointed at first when I thought everything was going to have to be CLI — but I’m used to that. When I found the webadmin and it did jack, I was alot more disapointed.

Webmail. In a word, Awesome! It looks just like Outlook, and it works in IE and Firefox. It runs really well, except a bit slow — but thats an acceptable loss. I was really pleased with it, because most of the people I work have been using outlook — and there is almost no learning curve with this webmail interface. The only features it lack, is the ability to run rules on command and the ability to open other folders (ala Outlook). All in all, I was pleased.

Outlook connectivity. Basically all you need to do is install the plugin. Then when you create a new profile (I think you purdy much have to) you select a “3rd party server” or what ever its called, plug in the infromation it requires. Though that can be a bit tricky, cause it doesn’t give you a server to select. Regardless, once you get it setup, it works just like a connection to an exchange server. Sync, Email, public folders, etc. All good. I didn’t find any issues with the plugin, but it wasn’t tested more than 10 minutes.

Over all. From the users prospective once its setup, its great. But from the administration side its a bitch, just assume you’ll be spending alot of time in their forums and alot of time on command line. Be very very comfertable with these two concepts, or don’t even bother.