Richard Freeman on 7 Nov 2010 19:33:57 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] Linux Today Posting: Google Sues The US Government For Only Considering Microsoft Solutions

On 11/07/2010 09:32 AM, Malcolm wrote:
> On Sunday, November 07, 2010 06:13:50 am Richard Freeman wrote:
>>> Zimbra.
>> Looks interesting - I'll have to check it out.
> I've used Thunderbird and KMail over IMAP with it just fine, with LDAP for 
> contact directories. Calendaring is a bit more tricky to set up, but doable.

I was definitely intrigued, and if nothing else I'd like to try out the
client as well.  I didn't see it packaged for my distro (Gentoo), so I
figured since it is open source I could just build it and maybe even put
a package out there for others to use.

I thought wrong...  :)  This almost makes openoffice and the Google
Earth Linux edition (and just about everything else that Google
distributes) look pretty in comparison.

It took me half an hour to just start fetching the source - it uses
perforce which has some kind of perverse attachment to the local
filesystem structure.  It isn't free, so I had to download a static
binary just to check out the files.  Then it took a ton of tinkering
just to get it to let me checkout the source to somewhere other than

Hard part is done, right?  Err...  Not really.

The source includes tarballs of about 40 bazillion 3rd-party packages
(they must have taken a page out of the Google playbook).  Then the
README has a few gems like these:

Edit the Makefiles in the ThirdParty/* directories as appropriate for
build options for your new platform.  (Gee - there are only going to be
about 400 of those.  Too bad they didn't just use the versions installed
by my distro maintainers who already figured out how to build them all.)

Make sure the "zimbra" user exists in /etc/passwd
Make sure the "zimbra" group exists in /etc/group
(Hmm, so it actually needs to run under a specific account!  The build
instructions don't mention what user to run the build under - the only
way it could make any use of those accounts is if it builds as root.)

Make sure that the p4 binary is in your path.
(Ugh - even after downloading the source I can't be rid of that
monstrocity of an scm binary.)

The 1.5 Java JDK must also be installed into /usr/local/java, so that
the binary is:
(Oh, good, I have to install an extra copy of the JDK to a non-standard

Ant must be installed in /usr/local/ant, so that the binary is:
(In for a penny, in for a pound...)

NOTE: This script will remove the contents of /opt/zimbra when used with -t.
If you want it preserved, rename it prior to running.
(Hmm, gee, that sounds like a great place to mess around with during the
build.  Guess they never heard of separate compile/install steps.)

It will use a public CPAN mirror.
(Oh, great, it will pull in who-knows-what and stick it who-knows-where.)

About the only way I'd consider building this thing is if I did it on a
dedicated virtual machine.  It would probably take me a month of serious
effort to get something like this scripted to run on gentoo, and who
knows how much patching.  And, that doesn't even count trying to get rid
of the embedded 3rd-party code.

Why can't companies just give me a simple tarball, or use something like
svn/cvs/git/etc?  Why can't they just give me a list of dependencies (I
don't care if there are 500 of them)?  Why can't they just use one of
the 50 different standard build systems out there?

Oh, and they couldn't find an OSI-approved license that would work for them?

That said, it might very well be a nice piece of software if you never
need to build it.  I guess the same could probably be said of
OpenOffice.  :)

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