Julien Vehent on 17 Mar 2011 05:03:01 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] open source webmail reviews?

On Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 1:28 PM, Morgan Jones <morgan@morganjones.org> wrote:

Randall et al,

I'll share the experiences I've had.  Until recently I used Cyrus, Postfix and SA on a CentOS vm.  I was without webmail for a few years during which time I tried several products.  I used cyrus sieve filtering to sort SPAM which worked but it was painful to update the filters.  I've recently converted to Zimbra.

I do have a Zimbra bias as I do Zimbra integration for a living and so know it well and like it.

RoundCube: doesn't handle large inboxes well at all at least with a Cyrus backend.  Large in my case is 1500-5000 messages.  It's been a year or so since I tried it but development didn't seem very active the last time I checked.

Well... I've been using Roundcube with large mailboxes (6GB total, some folders with 30 000+ emails) and didn't have any problem. There is a bunch of optimization options you can set. And you can also use the backend database to do header caching (which I don't use because both roundcube and cyrus-imap are on the same machine).

Zimbra is not a webmail client but an integrated collaboration solution--webmail, calendaring, mta, imap and pop server, etc.. The do use a lot of open source components but they wrap their own configuration utilities and admin interface around them which I find particularly frustrating for products I know well.  Postfix, SA, OpenLDAP, etc. are all there but can't be configured in the usual way.

If you're willing to use Zimbra for your mta, webmail, client, imap server, etc. you get an awesome integrated experience.  The downside it is is resource intensive and you really have to drink the Zimbra cool-aid and do things their way.    Documentation can be spotty but almost everything you want to do is either in their forums or on a blog somewhere.

Zimbra is a pretty neat piece of code, but someone said some long time ago that a software should do only one thing, and do it right. I agree with that. And having one big bloaty piece of Java taking care of everything is usually a recipe for disaster.
Now, that might not apply to Zimbra, but it's still something that repulses me. (And...wait... isn't that what Randy's team ran away from in the first place ?)

I tried many different webmails, some java based, many PHP based and even one that was written in C :) My point is: Roundcube looks nice and is comfortable to use (that's for the user), but is also a very clean piece of PHP (as much as PHP can do) that is easy to deploy and maintain (that's for the admin).
Also, the plugin interface is not very complicated, so with some PHP experience, you can develop additional plugin (or get an intern to do that). I extended a DKIM plugin that's basically 100 lines of PHP to display the verification status of a DKIM signature. Nothing fancy, but simple and it works.
There is a LOT of plugins. Most people will probably try 20 and keep 5, this is what I did, but diversity and choice are good.


Just a thought but: why don't you set up 3 or 4 of those webmails and let a small group of your users decide ?

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