Will I be ditching other e-mail clients and switching over to using Zimbra Desktop full-time? In a word, no. Zimbra Desktop is a very nice e-mail client. It has the features I expect a modern client to have, it can handle multiple accounts easily, and everything is rolled up into a nice easy-to-install package. But being “just as good” as other e-mail clients is not enough to make me switch. Even the coolness of Zimlets is not enough.
The integration of Zimbra Desktop with the Zimbra Collaboration Suite is, naturally, very good, and if I were using ZCS as my primary mail server, the choice to use Zimbra Desktop would be obvious. I would. And, that is, I suppose, my final recommendation. If you are using ZCS, Zimbra Desktop lets you access your messages, contacts and calendars even when you're off-line (that's the promise, anyway), and you can use it for all of your other e-mail accounts too.
Zimbra Collaboration Suite
The documentation for Zimbra Desktop states that you have to have a Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS) to connect to. This is not technically true, as you can use Zimbra Desktop with Gmail, Yahoo mail or any POP or IMAP server without a ZCS in sight. However, the integration with Zimbra server is, naturally, very strong, so if you run your own e-mail server, the ZCS + Zimbra Desktop combination is very compelling.
One of the main benefits of running ZCS as your e-mail server is that the installation is easy when you compare it to setting up your typical SMTP + IMAP + ClamAV + LDAP server installation.
ZCS comes in both a commercial Network edition and an open-source Community edition. Both have excellent documentation, which is great help in getting it up and running.
Even if you do not use ZCS, you still might want to give it a try. The download and install process is easy, and you'll be up and running quickly. I think you'll find, as I did, that alternatives, such as Evolution, Thunderbird or Gmail work equally as well, and that there is no compelling reason to move away from what you are already using—in which case, there is a nice uninstaller.
But, then again, maybe you'll love it and never want to use a traditional e-mail client again.
Daniel Bartholomew lives with his wife and children in North Carolina.
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