Caldera Volution Messaging Server: A Product Review
Linux is making progress in many server areas. For instance, I have a Mitel (formerly e-smith) server at home that serving files and printers with Samba and doing firewall and web server duties as well. One of the newest addition to the server arena came when Caldera launched Volution Messaging Server (VMS). VMS features integration with Microsoft's Outlook and offers calendaring/scheduling options with shared busy/free information, SSL support for e-mail and easy configuration.
VMS is built around Postfix for the MTA, Cyrus for message storage, Horde/IMP/MySQL for web mail, and OpenSSL and pam-ldap for authentication.
After reading the administration guide I found some interesting details:
You can filter spam and other e-mail based on the headers.
You can integrate the server with antivirus solutions.
You can shut down web mail, which is nice if you don't use it and don't want to waste the processor time or if you want to minimize potential security leaks.
More importantly, the server is easy to administer once it is placed and configured. Adding and deleting users and setting up e-mail groups are easy and well thought out procedures. The LDAP server makes it possible for you to see the e-mail addresses of users in Outlook, and you can use them to send e-mail or you can copy them to your address book. Most important of all, VMS supports some functions for calendaring in Outlook 97/2000, such as sharing busy/free information (no Outlook XP sharing, though). Most administrators who have worked in small or medium-sized companies will understand that calendaring and group sharing information are extremely popular features of the IT infrastructure.
I received two CDs for installation, one with Caldera's OpenLinux Server 3.1, which won't run on AMD K6 or Pentium I processors, and one with VMS. VMS itself only runs one OpenLinux and Open UNIX, so I could not use my old K6 even though it is fast enough (550MHz). I had to rip out the hard disks of my Athlon 1133 workstation, then put in a 10 gig disk and boot off the CD. About 20 minutes later I had Open Linux installed. You have to install it as a web server, and you can partition with Reiserfs (I wouldn't use a nonjournaling system on an e-mail server).
Next, I put in the VMS CD and a pop-up screen appeared. One bad thing was that the OK/Cancel buttons were off the screen, but with some blind Tab/Enter pressing I made it through. This install was too boring to write about (a good thing), so I'll move on to the nice bits.
For the installation, I named the server exchangekiller. Once the server is installed, you can go to several places. You can log in as admin:admin and change the admin password to something like adp1us. From this screen you can add/delete e-mail domains and users. You can also add users with some command-line tools if you have lists of users (nice if you have 120 users and RSI). I added Bert, Ernie and Pino, all @hc.net, a domain that I added. I also added firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can create e-mail groups, with owners that can add/delete users in the groups. E-mail users do not have to be users on the Linux sytem, but it's more secure if they are of course.
There are several more places you can go:
exchangekiller:1000--the webmin interface where you can add SSL certificates in an easy manner.
exchangekiller:8457--the document server for VMS.
exchangekiller--general Caldera e-server information.
exchangekiller/Horde/IMP--the web mail server.
www.caldera.com/support/docs/volution/msg--the administration guide, updates and so on.
Now, I was ready to install the clients to see what the server could do. I installed Outlook 2000 on Windows 98 and inside VMware 2.0 on Windows 2000. I also used Outlook Express and Pegasus (www.pmail.com), my favorite e-mail client on Windows--it's free, no Outlook-like virus catching and very complete.
If you are a user, using VMS with Outlook is easy. These are the steps:
Install Outlook (I used Outlook 2000).
Go to exchangekiller/msg.
Log in with username:password, e.g., email@example.com:evil.
Click the link Client setup.
Click Run the Program (not Save).
Choose Internet-only when Outlook asks you how you want to configure it.
Start up Outlook. You will see a map called Volution Messager server, where the messages from the server are kept.
Isn't that cool? No filling in details. Caldera did that all for you with one click. This also works with Outlook Express, by the way.
The idea of one-button configuration is brilliant, and here it actually works flawlessly. Nothing is perfect, however, and if you want to share your calendaring information with others, you still have to fill in some details.
In Outlook, go to Tools-->Options-->Calendar-->Free/Busy options.
Put a check in the box about sharing your calendaring data.
Fill in ftp://ernie:firstname.lastname@example.org/pub/calendar/%NAME%.vfb.
And everyone using this same server as a share server for their calendaring can see if you are busy at a time when they want to schedule a meeting with you.
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