Mail Server Recommendations

  drewgraham 17:55 01 Sep 2005

Hey all,

A question beyond my expertise was aimed at me today:

A client has 5 computers running XP / ME / 98 / 2K and varying versions of Outlook on a network. At the moment, whoever presses send / receive gets the present crop of e-mails.

They obviously need a mail server, but don't have the cash, or the infastructure, for MS Exchange.

What else is out there? I need something that the client will run on anything from ME to XP, with the host post-box running on a server machine (a 600mhz, Win98 box used as a printer server and internt gateway at the moment) and can be accessed by Outlook 97 to 2003 / XP. It just has to provide shared access to a mailbox at the moment, although the option of multiple e-mail addresses later on would be a plus.

Hit me. Please.

  Gaz 25 19:00 01 Sep 2005

Hmm, a 600mhz, Win98 box used as a printer server and internt gateway at the moment

lol, now we have a problem.

The only mail server I would suggest is Merak, or something. Qmail isnt bad either.

These may not run very well on win 98.

Win 98 as an internet gateway is a bit poor, personally, either upgrade to Windows server 2003 SMB edition, which is £155 for OEM version I think, for 5 clients.

Thats oneway, or get Linux. Linux will be mroe secure / faster / reliable and will do everything your w98 box does. :-) Plus it can do mail server too, becuse you have postfix, and I'm sure you could find some way of making it work with MS outlook with server data access.

However, please be warned that Linux can be complex to set-up - but it would be best if you could get someone in who knows about linux. :-)

  Gaz 25 19:01 01 Sep 2005

Oh and by the way, you can have an account for every employee with all of those applications.

  Gaz 25 19:03 01 Sep 2005

Just found this:

click here

Linux and postfix, both free can do exactly what exchange does.

  Gaz 25 19:07 01 Sep 2005

agh wait a min, didn't read all of that link, it wont store messages, there's something called Cyrus IMAP server which i think does.

  Gaz 25 19:10 01 Sep 2005

£50 will serve 5 users with Antivirus protected Exchange server:

click here

click here

  Gaz 25 19:37 01 Sep 2005

And I can confirm that MailTraq stores all mailboxes on the server, just like exchange.

  drewgraham 20:20 01 Sep 2005

Thanks Gaz, that's amazing.

  LastChip 23:47 01 Sep 2005

BUT, you do need expertise to get it working properly. You will end up with a fully fledged mail server of industrial strength for free!

  Taran 23:03 02 Sep 2005

Linux expertise should not run too expensive to tweak a mail server box.

Products like SuSE Linux, just as an example, have the option to include an IMAP mail server as part of the installation routine. You literally click an option to select it and it goes into the core with no real interaction from you apart from some very minor settings post install.

Once your system is up and running it can be locked down and set up within a few of hours for any small business. Larger networks can take longer, depending on how many people want/need email and whether you want to use Linux as your proxy server, print server or whatever.

A simple IMAP email server though, is a point and click affair and buying SuSE will currently cost less than £50. Other Linux distributions come similarly well equipped and installation is about as simple on all of them as far as selecting the email server as part of the OS install goes.

Just for the record, several mainstream Linux distributions also do a dedicated Microsoft Exchange clone product.

SuSE offers its Suse Linux Openexchange Server product as a fully blown Exchange replacement and it is a superb product.

I am not suggesting that it would be appropriate for a small network and it would certainly be cost prohibitive and overgunned for five users on a small network, but for larger/busier email requirements it is a tremendous blend of groupware/mail server at a fraction of the cost of Exchange.

I regularly use SuSE Linux Professional to build small network servers. Like most IT bods, I find it easier to get the clients network/ISP settings and build/configure the server offsite then deliver it and plug it in. As soon as it goes live a few minor changes to your client machine email programs has things up and running.

Note: if a Linux option is chosen be very careful about security issues/updates. Linux has just as many potential flaws as Microsoft Windows and I've yet to see any evidence that Linux is, by default, more secure. It can be, but a well locked down Windows box is every bit as secure as a well locked down Linux box - like all other things in computing, product knowledge and how it is applied counts and this above all else governs how secure your server will be.

Keep your email server well patched with all the latest updates, regardless of whether you go Windows or Linux.

There are alternatives when it comes to several computers sharing email resources on a Windows network. A Google search will highlight some and looking through the excellent site will also shed some light on the issue.


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