Benjamin Krein on 4 Mar 2006 14:55:30 -0000

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[PLUG] OSS Groupware for small office/family use

Does anyone use any of the free groupware systems that are out
there?  I'm going to be living in a situation where both my family
and my parents will all be networked together using the same email
domain & I'd like to setup some sort of groupware solution that we
can all use.  The problem is that not everyone is a Linux user.
We'll have Linux, Windows & OS X in the house all networked
together.  The other problem is that the rest of the family isn't at
all technically inclined nor do they want to be.

Please don't give me a bunch of replies about switching them to Linux
or how much OS X or Windows may suck because that's already been
beaten to death elsewhere and honestly it's not what I'm asking
about.  Here are some of the products I'm considering:

1. Horde - My webhost has it pre-installed and I've been evaluating
it some.  I'm really pretty impressed with it, but I'm a little
discouraged at it's inability to allow access to the calendars
(subscribe/publish) from 3rd party apps (ie, Outlook, iCal,
KOrganizer, Evolution, Sunbird, etc.).  The web interface is really
pretty decent for the most part though and it's nice to be able to
share calendars with each other via the web interface.

2. Hula - I didn't have much luck getting this to be very effective.
If someone else has used it successfully and talks it up, it will
probably convince me to try harder with it, but for now I'm not all
that impressed.  It seems VERY rough yet.

3. Zimbra - This seems REALLY COOL!  The only problem is that it is
an ENORMOUS resource hog.  I don't mind hosting the server in-house,
but I don't really have any hardware capable of running this that I
can dedicate to being a server (no, I don't want to give up my
MythTV!).  I don't know how it deals with connections from 3rd party
apps, but the web interface is absolutely stunning and something I
could be very happy using on a regular basis.

4. Scalix - This one also seems really cool like Zimbra and the
community edition offers connections for up to 25 users free
(Outlook, Evolution) which is obviously more than adequate.  I
haven't actually tried this yet, but so far my biggest gripe is the
fact that it doesn't have any intention of working with Debian
whatsoever.  I really don't want to install an RPM distro for this,
but it seems that is my only option without an enormous amount of
headache which I'm not willing to invest.

5. OpenGroupware - Another very powerful groupware package with a lot
of features I like.  I'm not sure about connecting to it via 3rd
party apps (I'm pretty sure the Outlook connections cost a lot and I
won't pay for them).  The web interface is adequate, but hardly
attractive or intuitive.  Also a resource hog.

6. Open-X-Change - This one seems interesting though it also appears
to be a resource hog and probably overkill for what I'm looking for.
Connections to 3rd party apps also appear to require expensive add-
ons.  The web interface seems decent enough.

7. eGroupWare - I really didn't care for this.  The interface seems
clunky and non-intuitive.  Maybe I'm missing something.

8. SquirrelMail - I used to use this for webmail alone and I liked it for that, but its groupware capabilities seem slim & its interface is kind of dated and clunky (IMO).

I know I can setup a standalone mail server with Postfix/Courier-
IMAP, etc. and use something like WebDAV for sharing calendars, etc.,
but that's a REALLY clunky setup and I'd rather have a full featured
suite that handles everything for me.  If anyone has any ideas or
would care to talk up one of the ones I mentioned above, I'm all
ears.  This topic in general has always seemed like one of the "holy
grails" of Linux - the infamous Exchange Killer!  So even if I don't
find something for my family, the discussion should be interesting.

Benjamin Krein
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