Battle of the Ajax Mail Packages
Both Scalix and Zimbra offer command-line and Web-based configuration tools. And in both cases, you can do much more from the command line than you can from the Web. The philosophy seems to be that the Web should be used for ordinary day-to-day operations, such as adding a new user, and the command line is for more complex or less frequently used ones.
One headache both products share is that they have a ton of these command-line programs. Zimbra has 74 programs you can use to control its operation, and Scalix has 341 (yep 341) programs in its bin directory, and they are so closely named that you may go mad trying to remember the differences. For example, try figuring out whether you should be using omdelapppdl or omdelapppdln. As I said, a close reading of the manual is in order before you try anything fancy.
Zimbra comes configured with SpamAssassin and ClamAV already installed. Scalix supports any Milter-based spam and antivirus tools. It wasn't that difficult (with a little help from the very responsive support board when I made a stupid mistake) to install them.
There's no question that the Zimbra Web-mail interface is both more featureful and colorful. For example, put your mouse over a date and you see the calendar for that date. Mouse over an e-mail address, and you see the contact information for that person. Mouse over a Web address, and you see a thumbnail of the site. Unfortunately, it's still a bit glitchy, especially under Firefox. This is not a good thing for a product that wears an open-source pedigree so proudly. Hopefully, these issues will be resolved before the final release.
What Zimbra is currently lacking, however, is any kind of direct Outlook support. Even though the Web site claims Zimbra will interface directly with Outlook, this is in fact a TBA feature. So at least for the time being, Zimbra is available only via its Web interface or by IMAP/POP3.
By comparison, Scalix is almost pedestrian in appearance on the Web. If you don't look carefully, you could swear that you're using Outlook. That is probably by design, as Scalix wants to replace Exchange seamlessly. You can do pretty much everything via the Web interface that you can do directly from Outlook, except for anything having to do with mail filtering.
It's when you add the Scalix plugin to Outlook that Scalix really shines, however. I use Exchange on a daily basis at my workplace, and I am now using Scalix for my personal e-mail outside of work. Honestly, there's no practical difference between the two if you use Outlook. The mail-filtering options are a little different, but you really have to look hard to see where the two diverge. Among the more useful features that it shares in common with Exchange is the ability to define filtering rules that run directly on the server. And, because ActiveSync talks to Outlook, you can sync your PDA to your calendar, mail and contacts.
If you're trying to pick one over the other, I'd have to recommend that you start by trying each of them out, because they both have free community editions. Zimbra is probably more of a one-click setup than Scalix, and it definitely involves less in-depth knowledge of things like LDAP. It also has a sweet Web interface that should only get better as it is further developed. On the other hand, it is still in beta as of this writing, and lacks Outlook connectivity.
Scalix shows all the signs of an Enterprise-facing solution. It's less intended for casual users setting up a personal server than for a departmental or corporate environment with many users and complex requirements. That being said, it wasn't that much of a strain to get it set up for my personal domains. But for me, the killer feature is the Outlook connectivity (and especially the free 25 licenses). Until clients such as Evolution become better integrated with PDAs and other groupware technologies, many of us are going to be stuck with Outlook as a mail client, and only Scalix is offering a free solution that everything can talk to.
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