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Migrating from MS to Linux

By Smirks in Technology
Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 12:30:10 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

I work for a small company that plans to get quite large in the near future. Currently we're running our entire office backend on the MS BackOffice platform on Windows 2000. I've been asked to find a solution to migrate from the MS solution to a Linux solution.

Most of the services available in BackOffice are easily configured under Linux....

- Samba for the file and print serving, no problems there.
- Apache for the web serving, again no problems.
- MySQL in place of MS SQL, no problems here.

The only problem I'm having is finding a suitable replacement for Exchange. Now, alot of you are going to say Sendmail, or Qmail, or Exim, but those aren't a groupware or office messaging systems. I've looked into Twig, etc, and while those are all excelent open source solutions it is web based. I need something that will be able to work well with MS Outlook. In fact so well the end users won't even know they aren't connecting to a MS backend.

So, what does the kuro5hin crowd have to say about this?


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Migrating from MS to Linux | 37 comments (31 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hmm... (3.00 / 11) (#2)
by TheLocust on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 10:45:32 AM EST

Well, I would suggest leaving Exchange be, since it sounds as if your clients will be using Outlook on Windows. You can use Linux/SAMBA as a Primary Domain Controller, too... That's the beauty of it all, if Linux doesn't do something, it can integrate with something that can...

.......o- thelocust -o.........
ignorant people speak of people
average people speak of events
great people speak of ideas

Re: Hmm... (3.25 / 4) (#4)
by Smirks on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 10:52:59 AM EST

Grrr... I was hoping for an exchange replacement under linux.... as our exchange server has crapped out on us twice so far this week and it's only Wednesday! Well, not the server, but exchange itself.... :(

[ Music Rules ]
[ Parent ]
Re: Hmm... (3.33 / 6) (#10)
by slycer on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 11:34:55 AM EST

I was on call this weekend, and one of the subsiduaries exchange server was acting flakey, problem with the MTA but it wasn't reporting problems with the MTA. Talked to one of the server support people, he was seeing the same thing that I was (basically no problems), but then he noticed that the server had been up for 78 days. He decided a reboot was in order because 78 days was too suspiciously long for an NT server running Exchange :-).

Needless to say, the reboot cleared things right up..

[ Parent ]
from freshmeat. (3.28 / 7) (#5)
by nooper on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 10:58:11 AM EST

There were a few IMAP servers on freshmeat. One of the decent replacements the exchange server might be Cyrus. There's my 2 cents. Glad to see somebody who's not having problems convincing the office to switch to linux.

Cyrus IMAP is your friend. (3.85 / 7) (#6)
by Inoshiro on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 11:10:55 AM EST

Cyrus IMAP, Postfix, and the MySQL glue is all you need to produce a reliable, scaleable IMAP backend solution. If you want people to have settings move around with them too, then look into programs which support ACAP.

More information on what I'm talking about, visit the CMU Cyrus Project homepage. Properly done, you'll be able to have whatever custom solution you want for controlling the users in the SQL db (as well as access lists, MTA level filters, etc), and can stick procmail on their for filtering specific mail into separate end user imap folders. I keep meaning to write up how I did this on my LAN for other people on Kuro5hin ;)

[ イノシロ ]
Re: Cyrus IMAP is your friend. (4.00 / 2) (#21)
by YellowBook on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 05:50:42 PM EST

Just to add a little on to this, one thing to take into account is the difference between the Microsoft philosophy and the Unix philosophy. When moving from something like exchange to Unix, you will be moving (hopefully) from one monolithic product to a set of programs which are each specialized for one function. In this case you will need:

  • An SMTP server. There are several good choices, and there is continual religious war over which one is best.
  • An IMAP server. I've heard good things about Cyrus, but haven't used it. Courier IMAP is good. UW-IMAP is good in a traditional Unix environment, but might not be ideal if you have lots of users who don't have real user accounts.
  • Other Stuff(TM). I don't know what all stuff Exchange includes, apparently shared calendaring. You'll need to find something for this side of stuff, too.

In the end you'll be happier not just because of stability, but interoperability.

[ Parent ]
Re: Cyrus IMAP is your friend. (3.50 / 2) (#27)
by Inoshiro on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 01:14:06 PM EST

Postfix will break things the least since it has a proper philoshophy of "compatibility when it makes sense" with Sendmail. Qmail is all about learning something way different that doesn't accept a different backend well. Cyrus supports all the wonderful features you'd expect from an IMAP server designed to serve the needs of thousands of CMU people each year. It scales incredibly. It also supports "not having real accounts" since it seals things under the control of the cyrus user. For the rest, read my other posts, and reply if you need further help.

[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
. (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by tzanger on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 11:37:29 AM EST

Qmail is all about learning something way different that doesn't accept a different backend well.

Not sure I follow here... What kind of backend are you looking for? Maildirs are great, easy to back up and maintain even for huge sites. vpopmail handles huge pop sites and courier-IMAP works seamlessly with it.

If you ask me, qmail probably has the best flexibility. And scalability. And security.

No I'm not a qmail fan. :-)

[ Parent ]
That's neat, but (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by pwhysall on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 07:30:07 AM EST

What about shared folders, calendaring and contact lists?
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
[ Parent ]
Re: That's neat, but (4.00 / 2) (#26)
by Inoshiro on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 01:08:24 PM EST

Cyrus IMAPD does shared folders. With ACAP, you can share your contact lists. With Twig, you can also have a web interface to the mail, as well as groups and shared contact lists and calendaring. It uses the MySQL system, too. And fits fine with Postfix and Cyrus (I've got it running here).

[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
What about calendaring and scheduling? (3.44 / 9) (#7)
by Smirks on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 11:13:31 AM EST

Ok, so Cyrus seems to be the thing for the mail, what about the calendar and scheduling functions of Exchange?

[ Music Rules ]
Look into OpenMail (3.80 / 5) (#12)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 12:10:55 PM EST

HP's OpenMail might be what you're looking for.

Oh, and it does email, too.

[ Parent ]

The article on Slashdot... (4.28 / 1) (#8)
by Sigma 7 on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 11:20:43 AM EST

After a quick search on Slashdot, I came up with the following link: http://slashdot.org/askslashdot/98/10/02/1729257.shtml. This is an AskSlashdot article that asks if there is a Linux clone of Microsoft Outlook/Lookout.

There doesn't seem to be that much information on the topic, but there are some useful links buried within the comments. Slashdot poster "rrittenhouse" posted a variety of urls about this topic in a single comment. Also, an anonymous coward was posting links to www.horde.org as a response to several other comments.

If those don't work, you could just use ICQ. :^)

Slightly OT (3.66 / 6) (#13)
by rednecktek on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 12:33:39 PM EST

I'm wondering if your move to Linux in this area was management sponsored or initiated by your Network Administration?

We (Systems Administration) have been working for some time now to gradually change our production userbase to Linux (with very little support from management). I would be glad to hear that management is sponsoring the move (preferably not because it's "trendy").

In answer to your question, we tried several supposed MAPI solutions:

  • Openmail - as expensive as Exchange
  • Onemail - I think that was what it was called. Doesn't replace Exchange, just runs beside it, and wasn't very stable
and several others I don't remember. Eventually we decided that when we get a good IMAPv4 client for Linux (i.e. Evolution), we'll get away from the proprietary systems altogether and go IMAPv4.

Just remember, if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.
Re: Slightly OT (3.00 / 3) (#15)
by Smirks on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 01:27:27 PM EST

This was actually managment sponsored. My boss, the SVP of Technology is very unix/linux oriented and would be perfectly happy getting rid of Windows completely and doing everything under linux.... which is what we're trying to do. :)

[ Music Rules ]
[ Parent ]
"Onemail" (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 02:20:42 PM EST

Was it "MailOne"? If so, I'd like to know what you mean by "Doesn't replace Exchange, just runs beside it, and wasn't very stable." If you tried the beta 1, then the stability problems have been fixed. But what's this about not replacing Exchange?

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Re: "Onemail" (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by rednecktek on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 02:58:43 PM EST

Onemail sounds about right.

Someone can correct (READ: no flaming) me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember that it would only allow MAPI service for *nix boxes. It had a daemon that had to be installed in Exchange and would run a separate instance of itself for each connection, making the memory requirements ungodly.

I forgot to mention TradeXCH, maybe that was the one .....

Either way, I don't think either one of them would do what we wanted.

Just remember, if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.
[ Parent ]
Onemail != MailOne (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 07:54:16 PM EST

OK, there must be some product called "Onemail" that I've never heard of because what you are describing is not MailOne. It sounds like a totally different beast.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
It's not linux but... (3.00 / 5) (#14)
by shaggy on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 12:52:18 PM EST

You could use Netscape's Enterprise server. It has calendaring features, does imap (iirc) and will be seemless to your users. You'd have to get Sun hardware, or Continue running Windows, but at least it's not Exchange.

Just messaging or do you need scheduling stuff? (3.42 / 7) (#16)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 02:18:28 PM EST

My company makes a product that may fit you exactly (and will probably fit other readers will similar problems).

It's called MailOne and the company is OpenOne (www.openone.com). It runs on Tru64, AIX and Linux (i386 already released, Alpha in beta, Itanium underway). It interfaces with sendmail for SMTP stuff, comes with a pop3 server (IMAP underway), a command line set of utilities AND a MAPI driver. The MAPI driver lets you use regular old MS Exchange/Outlook as a client (including address book). MailOne is a descendent of DEC MailWorks and so is known to be mature and scalable.

The only downside is that the "shared calendar" kind of stuff isn't supported yet. If you need that (and are willing to pay for it, btw, we are cheaper than the item I'm about to mention) you can try HP OpenMail.

But, whether you go with MailOne or OpenMail, you may be interested in ANOTHER product from OpenOne (I'm really pushing these, but that's because they are totally ontopic): Direct To 1. Email migration software--supports Exchange as a source (as well as a few others) and both OpenMail and MailOne as targets (as well as a few others).

Play 囲碁
Is this what you need? (2.20 / 5) (#19)
by Paul Dunne on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 03:40:13 PM EST

This ZDNet article tells you more. Not from a usually-reliable source, but this guy seems to know what he's talking about.
HERE YOU GO! Use Bynari TradeServer (4.50 / 8) (#25)
by erotus on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 08:24:46 AM EST

Interestingly, I see this post not too long after I was doing my own research and came upon TradeServer by bynari.

Bynari Trade server:
Communicates with Outlook 97, 98 and 2000.
Native client comes bundled at no additional cost.
Does not support VBScripts or forms.
Supports shared folders and tasks.
Support for virtual domains and multiple databases.
Runs any RFC complicant messaging application.

They have also created a free linux client - "Trade Client." They also have TradeXCH, which is a linux client for MSExchange. How cool is that!!!

So you now have a complete solution - TradeServer instead of Exchange and your linux clients can communicate with it too.


Regarding Samba (3.40 / 5) (#28)
by mindstrm on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 03:47:34 PM EST

Now, so I don't look like a complete fool, the new versions of samba-NG are supposed to take care of some of this, but to my knowledge, are still 'beta'.

For a simple file server with a few users, samba works fine. So long as the access control structures needed are relatively flat and simple.

Try a thousand users on a few NT domains. It gets *ugly*.

Also.. the fact that samba only translates unix permissions rather than use NTFS style ACLs makes it much less flexible.

Note that I'm not trying to slam samba.. I tried to bring up several samba servers throughout our organization... and it was just too much hassle to monkeywrench the complex permission structures needed.

Re: Regarding Samba (2.50 / 2) (#31)
by Smirks on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 11:51:24 PM EST

Yes... everything is flat and simple now.... who knows what the future holds though.

[ Music Rules ]
[ Parent ]
MySQL as a replacement for MSSQL? (3.80 / 5) (#29)
by Marcin on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 11:46:28 PM EST

You say: MySQL in place of MS SQL, no problems here. Unless you're only using MSSQL for something like storing forum entries for a website or something 'simple' and not mission critical then you probably shouldn't go with MySQL as your replacement for MSSQL.

I've got no problem with MySQL, it does what it's designed to do, which is be a fast simple SQL based DBMS, great for website data like postings, comments and forums, but it doesn't contain much of the advanced stuff you need for enterprise database work such as stored procs, transactions (yeah, yeah, in beta) and the like.

A more direct replacement for MSSQL would therefore be something like Oracle if you need enterprise database stuff.

Re: MySQL as a replacement for MSSQL? (3.00 / 3) (#30)
by Smirks on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 11:50:44 PM EST

I totally agree with you. In fact we don't even use MS SQL for anything... we've been using IBM's DB/2 for our database stuffs. :)

[ Music Rules ]
[ Parent ]
Postgresql or Interbase, instead (3.66 / 3) (#37)
by bigbird on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 03:45:02 PM EST

For an open source database alternative, what about Postgresql or Interbase? Both are real databases, without the cost of Oracle, (which is a pretty big jump from MS SQL, isn't it?).

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Rom 1:16
[ Parent ]
CorporateTime for Scheduling (3.50 / 2) (#33)
by ckm on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 12:10:47 AM EST

CorporteTime is the killer groupware scheduling application. It also integrates quite nicely with HP's OpenMail for full MAPI support, although that's not neccessary and OpenMail is a b*tch to manage...

I just followed the same path for one of my clients...



chris maresca 
      technology consultant -- http://www.chrismaresca.com

a few links (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by semis on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 07:56:50 AM EST

opendesk.com is built on an open source backend. Quite large, perhaps even too much stuff if you just want a replacement for exchange. Worth a look, however.

worldpilot.com is more a typical exchange replacement. Email, address book, scheduling, sticky notes. This stuff runs on zope. It's fabulous :)

Hope this helps.

Totally OT... be gentle... (1.80 / 5) (#35)
by kjeldar on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 04:53:42 PM EST

but I'm so pumped I can't help but post. I JUST GOT MY ADSL WORKING UNDER LINUX!! WOOOOO!!!

*dances the happy one-step-farther-from-total-newbiehood dance*

Just a Thought (4.00 / 2) (#36)
by Gud on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 02:11:59 AM EST

How about Lotus-Notes/Domino? Version 5. is out and can easily substitute the exchange server and give You REAL groupware functions. You dont really need to install apache either on that... __ It's hard to be humble when You're Norwegian __
__It's hard to be humble when You're Norwegian__
Migrating from MS to Linux | 37 comments (31 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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