M$FT Exchange Alternative

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exMSFT
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M$FT Exchange Alternative

Post by exMSFT » 2019-06-11 20:33

Due to the cost, we are going to be migrating away from Microsoft Windows Server / Exchange Server in the very near future. I’ve been using Microsoft e-mail products since the early 90’s (anyone remember Microsoft Mail 2.1?), so this will be a learning experience for me. As such, I'm very much used to MS Exchange's MAPI doing pretty much everything for us rather IMAP's limited feature set.

In my research, I have come across hMailServer, but I thought I’d ask the experts here a few things to make sure I’m not off track. (Please note that I am reading through the documentation and forums, so please be patient and feel free to point me to them if that's the best answer.) Is hMailServer still being maintained? I saw in the changelog that there hasn’t been an update for a little over a year, and in reading the "Time to say good bye …" thread on the forum, it appears others have a concern. Also, in addition to the documentation and forums that I’m reading, are there any training videos that I can watch? I’ve seen a few on YouTube, but the only ones that I’ve found just cover the basic installation. And in reading the forum posts, many of them that are specific to my questions are from years ago and I’m not 100% sure that they’re not obsolete with new capabilities / better solutions that are now available.


I'm thinking of using MySQL 8 or probably Microsoft SQL Server Express 2017, but noticed that neither of these latest editions are listed as supported in hMailserver's system requirements (MySQL 5 and SQL Server 2016 are the latest listed) -- is anyone using these newer databases? Additionally, I was looking at disaster recovery within hMailServer and it appears that the limit is 10K messages, so what is the best backup strategy since we have more than 10K messages? Should I just do a standard offline backup using the database tools (after shutting down the applicable hMailServer service?) Also, I noticed in the documentation that not the entirety of e-mail messages are stored in the database, so it appears that backing up will involve both the database and hMailServer data directories. If that's the case, that sounds like it impacts the recovery steps. (Of course, with your suggestions, I'll probably do a dozen successful tests before actually migrating to the production system.)


On my current system, in addition to normal e-mail, we heavily use Contacts, Calendar, Tasks and Public Folders and do a little bit of webmail (which I know is going to be SquirrelMail or something similar.) We also need to sync up e-mail, contacts and calendar to all the latest Microsoft Outlook clients (on Windows PCs and Android phones.) (Since Microsoft is moving away from Outlook Tasks, I’m looking at other things.) I also get my SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt (used for synchronization and webmail.)


As mentioned above, I’ve already started reading through the documentation and forums, and it appears that there are ways to do each of these, even though it might not be straightforward and out of the box like Exchange. Unfortunately, I’m not seeing a lot of great steps for some of these – especially synchronizing multiple devices. For example, it appears that I’ll need to setup CalDav and CardDav (which I've never done) or get some sort of synchronization software that syncs everything for me. I've read several forum posts, but they seem to be dated a while back.


I've read in the documentation and forums, there is a "Public Folder" capability (IMAP?,) but I haven't seen much depth to it in the documentation. Is it similar to Public Folders in MS Exchange? How are they seen/used in Outlook? Can I use "Send As" to reply to messages from the public folder? Can I nest folders (multiple deep) with some having their own SMTP address? Can I set multiple SMTP addresses for a folder? (Maybe using the Alias capability?)


As of right now, I haven't attempted an install on my test machine, but plan to do that in the next few days. I'm one of these people that actually like reading documentation and forums before I attempt something new as I like learning from others' experiences. Of course, based on my needs, if anyone has other suggestions for other e-mail products, please feel free to let me know about them.

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mattg
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Re: M$FT Exchange Alternative

Post by mattg » 2019-06-12 01:33

exMSFT wrote:
2019-06-11 20:33
Is hMailServer still being maintained?
Officially (By Martin) = no, but there are at least two other developers doing bits and pieces, and the source is on github/
exMSFT wrote:
2019-06-11 20:33
Additionally, I was looking at disaster recovery within hMailServer and it appears that the limit is 10K messages
No such limit - where did you see this?

The only limit is (and this is a little joke - do the math) 2 Billion messages before you need to re-index - see here >> https://www.hmailserver.com/documentati ... e_database

That's 2,000,000,000 messages, and if you read that you will see that it is a limitation of IMAP more than anything else. At 20 000 messages per day this is 100 000 days - about 274 years. Not many servers see 20 000 messages per day.
exMSFT wrote:
2019-06-11 20:33
On my current system, in addition to normal e-mail, we heavily use Contacts, Calendar, Tasks ....
As you note - this is NOT handled by hMailserver at all


exMSFT wrote:
2019-06-11 20:33
I've read in the documentation and forums, there is a "Public Folder" capability ... Is it similar to Public Folders in MS Exchange? How are they seen/used in Outlook? Can I use "Send As" to reply to messages from the public folder? Can I nest folders (multiple deep) with some having their own SMTP address? Can I set multiple SMTP addresses for a folder? (Maybe using the Alias capability?)
Different to exchange
You can't allocate an email address to a public folder, although I do get mail to specific addresses, that gets moved to public folders. ANd in default hMailserver you can SEND AS anyone (which is scary in my view - I script that functionality out)

In mail clients it looks like this

-Inbox
- - Folder A
- - Folder B
- #Public
- Sent
- Deleted

And yes you can have nested folders inside public folders, and set different permissions for each
Just 'cause I link to a page and say little else doesn't mean I am not being nice.
https://www.hmailserver.com/documentation

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Re: M$FT Exchange Alternative

Post by exMSFT » 2019-06-12 03:56

mattg wrote:
2019-06-12 01:33
exMSFT wrote:
2019-06-11 20:33
Additionally, I was looking at disaster recovery within hMailServer and it appears that the limit is 10K messages
No such limit - where did you see this?

The only limit is (and this is a little joke - do the math) 2 Billion messages before you need to re-index - see here >> https://www.hmailserver.com/documentati ... e_database

That's 2,000,000,000 messages, and if you read that you will see that it is a limitation of IMAP more than anything else. At 20 000 messages per day this is 100 000 days - about 274 years. Not many servers see 20 000 messages per day.
Yea, I saw the 2B limit and agree that it's not a problem. I was specifically talking about backup capability within hMailServer.
The built-in backup functionality is designed for small installations. If you have more than 50 accounts or 10 000 messages on the server, we strongly recommend that you use external tools to perform the backup.
Last edited by exMSFT on 2019-06-12 04:00, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: M$FT Exchange Alternative

Post by exMSFT » 2019-06-12 03:59

mattg wrote:
2019-06-12 01:33
exMSFT wrote:
2019-06-11 20:33
On my current system, in addition to normal e-mail, we heavily use Contacts, Calendar, Tasks ....
As you note - this is NOT handled by hMailserver at all
Yea, I knew that as it's a limitation of IMAP. Since Exchange primarily uses MAPI, it handles it all for me, so that's why I was asking how other people handle this while using hMailServer. I've seen a few forum posts here that some people setup CardDAV & CalDAV and I've also read about third party utilities (running on clients) that sync those specific things for us.

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Re: M$FT Exchange Alternative

Post by exMSFT » 2019-06-12 04:06

mattg wrote:
2019-06-12 01:33
exMSFT wrote:
2019-06-11 20:33
I've read in the documentation and forums, there is a "Public Folder" capability ... Is it similar to Public Folders in MS Exchange? How are they seen/used in Outlook? Can I use "Send As" to reply to messages from the public folder? Can I nest folders (multiple deep) with some having their own SMTP address? Can I set multiple SMTP addresses for a folder? (Maybe using the Alias capability?)
Different to exchange
You can't allocate an email address to a public folder, although I do get mail to specific addresses, that gets moved to public folders. ANd in default hMailserver you can SEND AS anyone (which is scary in my view - I script that functionality out)

In mail clients it looks like this

-Inbox
- - Folder A
- - Folder B
- #Public
- Sent
- Deleted

And yes you can have nested folders inside public folders, and set different permissions for each
So I could have a public folder catch-all inbox (not to be confused with the "catch-all" feature) that has many SMTP addresses and then just move the e-mails to their appropriate folder?

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mattg
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Re: M$FT Exchange Alternative

Post by mattg » 2019-06-12 05:22

exMSFT wrote:
2019-06-12 03:56
Yea, I saw the 2B limit and agree that it's not a problem. I was specifically talking about backup capability within hMailServer.
The built-in backup functionality is designed for small installations. If you have more than 50 accounts or 10 000 messages on the server, we strongly recommend that you use external tools to perform the backup.
External tools is easy.
I use robocopy for the .eml files and do a MySQL backup via a script.

Also that limit doesn't apply if you use RvDH's version - viewtopic.php?f=10&t=30193&start=180#p212268

It really hasn't been 2 GB for a decade, just that the warning wasn't changed in the GUI.
exMSFT wrote:
2019-06-12 04:06
mattg wrote:
2019-06-12 01:33
exMSFT wrote:
2019-06-11 20:33
So I could have a public folder catch-all inbox (not to be confused with the "catch-all" feature) that has many SMTP addresses and then just move the e-mails to their appropriate folder?
Automatically send mail to #shared.inbox with account level rule on the catchall account (and any other specific accounts).

and then you COULD manually move mail from there (depending on permissions of Public folder)

Some users set a 'sales@' email address which goes to a public folder that all of the sales team has access to, and they move mail to their own inbox when they action.

I've also set public folders so that accounts payable team can add to a specific folder, and the manager moves to an approved folder, with the person actually paying the bills moving to a 'paid' folder. I've created workflow with public folders that includes permissions.

I have a SPAM folder that I give different people access to so that they can see what is there if looking for a false positive.
exMSFT wrote:
2019-06-12 03:59
I've seen a few forum posts here that some people setup CardDAV & CalDAV and I've also read about third party utilities (running on clients) that sync those specific things for us.
I use Nextcloud, but I know that some other users who use Horde and activesync.
Nextcloud makes my own cloud server, that also does CalDAV and CardDAV, and also links for large attachments etc

There is a heap of groupware options, and seriously MAPI is so security flawed...
Just 'cause I link to a page and say little else doesn't mean I am not being nice.
https://www.hmailserver.com/documentation

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Re: M$FT Exchange Alternative

Post by palinka » 2019-06-12 10:36

Hmailserver + horde is a powerful combo. Syncs contacts, calendar, tasks, notes and other things via activesync. It syncs flawlessly with outlook and android. I love it.

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