Zarafa: Fedora’s Exchange “killer”

16 Giu/10

For any open source advocate, one of the biggest needs is an Exchange-like server. There are plenty of them available, some of them offer less-than enough features to really be viable. Some of them offer plenty of features but are insanely difficult to install. And then there’s Zarafa.

Zarafa is an open source collaborative software solution meant to be an alternative to Exchange. It works like Exchange, includes a web interface that has the same look and feel as Exchange, and even integrates with Outlook! Zarafa integrates with your existing mail server and includes IMAP4 and a POP3 gateway as well as an iCal/CalDAV gateway. In this article I am going to show you how to get this server up and running quickly and easily on top of a running Fedora 13 distribution that includes a working Apache server.
Features at a glance

Before we get into the installation, let’s take a quick look at the feature list Zarafa offers:

  • Addressbook
  • Calendar
  • Notes
  • Tasks
  • Personal Folders / Public Outlook Folders
  • Permissions for every User and Folder configurable
  • Meeting invitation and free/busy option
  • Resources planning
  • POP3
  • IMAP
  • iCalendar
  • Caldav
  • synchronization via Z-push
  • BlackBerry integration over BES
  • Out-of-office message
  • Brick-level backup
  • Single sign-on

So it looks like there’s very little this server is actually missing eh? That’s right. Now, let’s get this baby installed.


As I mentioned earlier, Zarafa will need a working email system. You can integrate Zarafa into Postfix by adding the following line to the /etc/postfix/ file:

mailbox_command = /usr/bin/zarafa-dagent “$USER”

You will also need to make sure users are in the Zarafa database as well as the Unix database on the system.

Now, to the installation of Zarafa itself. This is done completely via the command line, so open up a terminal window. The first thing you need to do (after you su to the root user) is to install the system with the command:

yum install zarafa zarafa-webaccess

This command should pick up any dependencies necessary to complete the installation. Depending upon the speed of your machine and network connection, this could take some time.

Once the installation is completed you need to issue a few commands:

  • service zarafa-server start
  • service zarafa-gateway start
  • service zarafa-spooler start

The above three commands will start all of the necessary services for the Zarafa system. Now you need to create a public store which is done with the command:

zarafa-admin -s

Once the store is complete you need to create a test user with the command:

zarafa-admin -c USERNAME -e USERNAME@localhost -f “Zarafa Tester” -p PASSWORD

Where everything in ALL CAPS is user specific.

Now restart your web server with the command:

service httpd restart

It is now time to log in. Point your browser to http://localhost/webaccess and you will see the glorious-ness that is Zarafa (see Figure 1). As you can see the web interface looks a lot like that of the Exchange web access page. And the usage is very similar as well.

This of course doesn’t set up a complete, usable experience. In order to get email delivered into Zarafa you will need to employ the zarafa-dagent with your local mailer (as I mentioned earlier with the Postfix example).

Final thoughts

Zarafa looks extremely promising. It’s easy to install, offers full functionality (nearly equal to that of Exchange), and is open source. Give Zarafa a go and see if you think it can be an open source Exchange “killer”.

© Jack Wallen for gHacks technology news, Software And Internet Tips For The Geek In You, 2010. | Permalink | Add to, digg, facebook, reddit, <a href=" Fedora’s Exchange “killer”stumbleupon, twitter
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