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Zimbra Collaboration Suite Launched

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the my-web-browser-is-tired-of-doing-all-the-work dept.

The Internet 207

commonchaos writes "Recently a company named Zimbra has come out of nowhere and released an open source Exchange replacement. The exciting part is a front end that uses AJAX. There is an impressive flash demo, you can download the source or try out a "live" version of the code yourself." Interestingly, this open source system seems to be very similar to the recent Yahoo announcement covered on Slashdot.

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Zimbra?? Colab Suite?? (1)

Guru Goo (875426) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664748)

move on losa...their is nothing to see here.

Secret Slashdot Simian Switch? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13664799)

I just heard from a reliable source that Slashdot editor ScuttleMonkey is going to be replaced by Trip Master Monkey. If this is true, then the overall quality of Slashdot stories is definately going to rise.

Re:Zimbra?? Colab Suite?? (1)

Ray Alloc (835739) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665229)

I see... For a moment, I was wondering if it had anything to do with this other wonderful flash demo [zombo.com] (leaves me speechless everytime)...

Zimbra, Zombo...

Re:Zimbra?? Colab Suite?? (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665259)

What the he... oooohh mesmerizing.

What is the merit of replacing an Exchange server (4, Interesting)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664766)

Let's say I've got an Exchange server farm running my network's mail system. Everything seems to work okay, but it's about time to stick with what I've got, upgrade to the next Exchange version, or look to another vendor (like Zimbra).

What kind of benefits would I see moving to another product? I can see Microsoft's checklist features and see exactly what will be changed between this version of Exchange and the next, but I'm wondering what the benefits will be if I move away from Exchange.

I'm not a sysadmin, so I'm wondering what criteria you guys use when making the decision to jump ship.

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (3, Informative)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664782)

"but I'm wondering what the benefits will be if I move away from Exchange"

For one thing $$$ in future licensing fees.

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (2, Insightful)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664875)

That may be an issue for a small company with only a handful of employees. But for a medium to large-sized company with over a couple hundred employees, the cost of an email system is negligble compared to the cumulative productivity gains of a working email system.

Or to say it another way, money is cheap.

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (2, Interesting)

stevey (64018) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665586)

I suspect you are right.

Until recently I worked for a small local company with < 50 staff. We used Qmail, and Exim for mail handling.

Then we got bought by another company. The new owners immediately ripped out our mail server (working wonderfully for years) and installed a whole new set of Windows based infrastructure to match their "Corporate standards".

Now we have Lotus Notes running away in a corner. Sure it's pretty nice in some respects, but a lot of staff hated the change from their mail client (mostly Eudora) to Notes. It didn't seem like money was an object though. Brand new Dell machines were provided and dropped in to host the Domino server.

Previously simple jobs like restarting the mailserver, scanning for viruses, now take much longer and require additional ongoing expenses. Still at least we match the Corporate Standard Platform ... *sigh*

I'd rather have Exchange (5.0) than Notes personally ..

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (3, Informative)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664883)

Don't take this as advice, because I don't know your mail setup. That said if you need a "farm" of computers to run your mail and your company has fewer than 100,000 employees, I think the benefit of moving off Exchange should be obvious: you wouldn't need the farm any more. Exchange's hardware requirements are 10-100x more demanding than an equally-functional setup using, for example, sendmail and dovecot. Even extremely large configuration can be run off a pair of Linux machines, and the second is only needed for redundancy. When provisioned with sufficient storage, your basic x86 Linux computer can handle huge mail loads. Think of the savings in terms of rack space, power, and cooling alone!

If you were moving to a newer Exchange you already know the hidden costs: software for managing Active Directory quirks (from CA or whomever), special backup software that interfaces properly with exchange (possibly licensed per mailbox) and so forth. With the usual Linux setups you would backup mail the same way you backup anything else: with an LVM snapshot.

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (2, Interesting)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664936)

Thanks for the response. This is very much in tune with what I was trying to find out. I'm not a sysadmin, and I really don't care what is running beneath the covers, as long as it works. Cost is only one of the benefits of moving away from Microsoft products, and I don't feel it's the most important nor the best selling point of Open Source software. It irks me when people will blurt out zero cost as if that were the only thing that people base their decisions on. Microsoft makes a ton off of Exchange, so a lot of companies see it as the best/easiest/whatever solution for their mail servers. If cost were the issue, they'd all be running sendmail (or whatever OSS backend mail system is in vogue).

So you mention quite a bit of benefit when upgrading the system (lower HW requirements, fewer dependencies on 3rd party support, etc), but what sort of features do I lose when going away from Exchange? Can I still use Outlook to its fullest (calendaring, scheduling, etc) with a non-Microsoft solution? Can I upgrade the backend to Linux without major disruption on the user end? How much extra software installation and configuration is necessary to bring the featureset of the Linux backend up to parity with the Exchange backend?

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (2, Interesting)

bernywork (57298) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665361)

It takes a little bit of effort to get setup initially, but yes it is possible.

Public Folder functionality can be replaced with this:

Open Exchange Outlook Client [open-xchange.org]

Outlook will publish a summary of it's free busy data to the internet as opposed to publishing it to an exchange public folder:

Outlook free / busy information for Outlook 2003 [microsoft.com]

Overall if you do it right, the chances are actually that you will not only end up with a more robust system than what Exchange is. Especially if you buy it soon, you have the ability to go 64bit on your servers before Microsoft do! This means that you can run one server instead of 4 or 4000 (Depending really on the size of the organisation that you look after)

This interface looks like it will join onto anything. If you like it, it might even join onto OpenExchange [open-xchange.org] .

Berny

Incorrect assumptions (4, Insightful)

Donny Smith (567043) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665023)

To comment on the article: wouldn't it be great if /. had a regex filter so that we can get rid of these "exchange replacment" articles....
Just today I saw KDE goes wild on an SLES9SP2 system and nearly freeze it - the same fucking thing that used to happen back in 2000. Five years past by and not much has changed.

> That said if you need a "farm" of computers to run your mail and your company has fewer than 100,000 employees, I think the benefit of moving off Exchange should be obvious: you wouldn't need the farm any more.

You need directory services, scheduling, global address book, forms and sophisticated IMAP folder sharing even in a very small company (100 employees), so even in small-and-medium enterprises, people do need Exchange-like functionality and not only SMTP/IMAP/Webmail.
Dovecot: it's in alpha, for Christ's sake (http://www.dovecot.org/ [dovecot.org] )

>If you were moving to a newer Exchange you already know the hidden costs: software for managing Active Directory quirks (from CA or whomever), special backup software that interfaces properly with exchange (possibly licensed per mailbox) and so forth. With the usual Linux setups you would backup mail the same way you backup anything else: with an LVM snapshot.

1. Software for managing AD: not really that expensive. On Linux you need to spend as much to write and maintain custom scripts, Webforms and what not.
2. Backup software: yes, because Exchange has its internal database format (i.e. it does not use only flat files). You can't back that up without suspending I/O to a consistent state which means you have to have an application-side plugin.
3. LVM: can't create crash-consistent snapshots of database files so what you say is incorrect, unless you meant snapshots of ordinary IMAP directories (incorrect comparison - database format vs. flat files). Besides, if you have VSS H/W Provider agent on Exchange server, you can take snapshots (on storage or the server itself), re-mount them and backup them using the regular Windows software.

Re:Incorrect assumptions (1)

afd8856 (700296) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665486)

Dovecot is very very stable. In the 3 years I've been using it, I never had any problems with it. I can't say the same, for example, about Courier IMAP, which I've been using for about 3 months before.

Maybe the alpha state signifies some lack of features. But it's in widespread use (for example, I can find it on the Fedora install disks).

Re:Incorrect assumptions (1)

Peter La Casse (3992) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665713)

Just today I saw KDE goes wild on an SLES9SP2 system and nearly freeze it - the same fucking thing that used to happen back in 2000. Five years past by and not much has changed.

What kind of email server uses a GUI?

Re:Incorrect assumptions (3, Interesting)

aaronl (43811) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665726)

First thing first, why in the hell are you running KDE on a server, and more important, why are you running an X server on one at all?

A huge number of people that got stuck with Exchange servers want to get rid of them. That's why these articles keep coming up.

What you meant was that you need the address book and directory services. Scheduling tends to be done by secretaries, and forms/IMAP folder sharing is generally not needed. Now if you say you *want* scheduling, etc, then fine, there are a number of quality products from which you can choose. If you define "what you need" to be the exact feature set of Exchange, then it isn't surprising that you think you need it. You can implement everything that Exchange/Outlook does with other software, cheaper, with more reliability, and on less hardware.

1. As for AD management software... let's see. You bought Windows Server because it's easy to use and admin, Exchange because it's easy to admin, and are using AD because it's easy to admin. So to do it right, you have to buy third party software? Sounds more like somebody screwed up their research and choose a bad solution based on broken assumptions. You have to do basically the same thing on any platform, so that's not a good reason to choose one over another. The UNIX solutions are much more reliable than Exchange, too, and less expensive. They also provide all the same functionality. Unless you go out of your way to ignore the solutions that work, anyway.

2. That's because Windows' does not provide functionality such as LVM. An application can also lock a file and prevent any app with any access level from even reading it. Exchange also keeps quite a lot open and locked when it doesn't need to. If the app was written well, it wouldn't be a problem. However, your backup explaination is an excellent example of why Windows is a huge pain in the ass.

3. BS, that is a perfectly valid comparison; backing up email is backing up email. If the application is written properly, the database will be fine. Exchange isn't written well, so it has problems. That software doesn't even provide a way to do a backup without either getting third party software or shutting Exchange down. Also, your VSS stuff is essentially the *exact same thing* as LVM snapshots. Why would your way work when LVM wouldn't? If the database is inconsistent, then it's inconsistent either way.

So what you're saying is that Windows/Exchange is better because it requires more jumping through hoops, buying more random software, and more dealing with random BS like bad data formats and bad storage techniques?

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (3, Insightful)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665053)

...Exchange's hardware requirements are 10-100x more demanding than an equally-functional setup using, for example, sendmail and dovecot.



You have got to be kidding me! Sendmail/Dovecot doesn't even approach the functionality of Exchange. Not even close. Dont' get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons to not run Exchange, but lack of features is not one of them. There is a reason why Exchange uses so much resources. Microsoft programmers are not THAT incompetent. The bloat comes from feature creep, not so much bad programming. The question is, are you using all the features of Exchange? If not, one might consider something simpler like sendmail/IMP, but a lot of people like the group calendaring and all that.



-matthew

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665600)

Don't forget Exchange's extremely poor ability to handle multiple incoming mail messages from outside its domain, its extremely poor or non-existent virus checking, the roughly 24 hours per machine to install a new one and get it up and running unless you have maintained disk image, needing to reboot it at least once a month for the latest security updates, and its complete lack of MacOS or Linux clients that speak its calendar formats.

That leaves out the more technically detailed problems, like its poor support of IMAP and SMTPAUTH and insistence on running a bunch of security vulnerable services and being almost impossible to turn those vulnerable services off without sacrificing your liver to an Elder God of Windows Clue.

If you have to support Exchange-like groupware or in particular, their fairly good calendar functionality for your Outlook insistent users, take a look at Novell's calendar server with Outlook plug-ins and good tools for both Linux and MacOS as well.

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664947)

What kind of benefits would I see moving to another product?

Well, YMMV, but the last place where I worked that used Exchange had two incidents within a month of each other where some smart ass script-kiddie sent obscene messages to our entire (7+ million) userbase.

Naturally, those of us in California argued for abandoning the Exchange server and just using our existing, working FreeBSD/Sendmail server, but the PHB's back in Singapore decided that the solution was to stick with Exchange, and just cough up about $300K a year to outsource it to a Microsoft Certified Enterprise Partner or some such tripe. They outsourced it, the script kiddies kept owning them whenever they wanted to. It was a farce.

-jcr

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (2, Insightful)

darnok (650458) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664952)

The combination of Outlook/Exchange is one that blocks a lot of sites from replacing Windows with *nix, both on the server and (potentially) the desktop.

In any moderately sized organization, you'll have a big bunch of people whose only computing requirements will be:
- Web browser (for Internet and/or intranet sites)
- email
- scheduling (i.e. Outlook)

In theory, after the geeks, these should be the easiest people to migrate to a non-Windows desktop. Their requirements are minimal, and the retraining required should also be minimal.

The problem has always been, for these people, in replacing Outlook. Outlook is a key tool for many sites, and as far as I'm aware there hasn't been a true drop-in replacement in the FOSS world that has allowed users to ditch Outlook as part of a migration away from Windows. Tools like Evolution are great, but they mandate a switch to Gnome, and that means moving away from Windows at the same time in a big-bang approach. Lots of cost-sensitive IT shops want to migrate away from Windows, but aren't prepared to take the risk of that big-bang changeover - they'd rather put in an alternative to Outlook, bed it in, then at some later date move off Windows once they're sure all their requirements are covered.

If Zimbra has a decent Web-based client (can't tell - site is ./ed), then *in theory* those email+browser+scheduler people will only need a Web browser to do their entire job. A Web browser can run on any platform, so they're now independent of Windows and can migrate to a lower cost platform once Zimbra has been bedded in.

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665257)

Exchange is one of those things that will very soon be made moot by the changing tides of technology. First of all the vast majority of businesses are tiny with less then 20 employees. It makes no sense to install and maintain a whole server just for email. In bigger organization you have a highly mobile and dispersed workforce living off their cell phones.

Take a look at something like .Mac service by apple. You get shared file storage, email, shared calenders, groups, syncronizing with your desktop, ical files you can take with you on your laptop (or ipod) etc all without having to install and maintain a server or even needing an office and for less then $100.00 per employee per year.

I know that sounds like a commercial but look at it, you get almost all the functionality of exchange for a fraction of the cost and none of the headache. Pretty soon Yahoo (which already has most of that functionality) or google will do it too. Along with the big boys there will be hundreds of smaller companies who can provide the same things by gluing together open source components.

My advice is to try to avoid an email (or collaboration) server in the first place. You don't need the headache and it's cheap to outsource.

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (4, Informative)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665020)

I can give you the reasons why I moved away from Exchange. Others may have different reasons, and others may have good reasons to stay with Exchange. Anyway, this is my own example.

In a small (but growing) business of a dozen employees, an old NT server SBS edition with Exchange 5.5 needed to be replaced. I decided to go with a Linux server.

On the Exchange side, what I didn't like was:

1. all email is in a proprietary database, in a single (huge!) file. If something goes wrong with that file (as it once did), it's a nightmare to bring it back up, if it works at all. If you can't repair it, you loose anything that came in after the last backup.

2. speaking of backups, Exchange needs special Exchange-aware backup programs. You cannot just copy the files.

3. Lack of flexibility in handling of incoming mail, spam filtering, forwarding, etc.

4. No ssh access for quick and easy remote administration.

5. No simple text-file based configuration, meaning no grep or such to find some setting. You have to move around all the menus if you cannot remember where a setting was.

6. It is hard to move away from proprietary solutions like Exchange because you cannot just copy files and hand them over to another application. That's a good reason to do it rather sooner than later when it may become harder yet. It was not easy to move mailboxes from Exchange to IMAP.

So in the new setup, I used Postfix and Courier IMAP:

1. very easy and very flexible and powerful configuration

2. all configuration through simple text files which can be grep-ed, compared, backed-up, whatever.

3. simple backups through plain file copies or rsync

4. every mail is in it's own plain text file. Can be grep-ed, and if a file goes corrupt (didn't happen yet), it is only that single email.

5. easy administration. For example, I didn't implement quotas, but I'm considering setting up a little script that would check for the size of the maildirs and of single huge files, and send a little email to the users. Like "you are using up 1 GB for emails; please consider removing unnecessary stuff" or "Would you please check if you still need the 50 10 MB files in you mailbox". I can easily add a summary of the huge mails so the user knows which ones they are.

5. easy migration. If I ever decide I would like to replace Postfix or Courier with some other program, it's no problem. I'm not locked in the current programs. Not that I would want to move to other programs. I'm very happy with this setup. But I like to be sure I can if I ever wish to.

This has been running reliably for 6 months now, and I'm a very happy mail admin.

The users have only one complaint: they cannot set up an Out of Office auto-responder like they could on Exchange. I thought that was good, and tried to explain why auto-responders range between useless and evil, but had no success. They want it anyway. So I'm setting up vacation in their .forward files when needed, and looking for a good web interface so they can do it themselves. The Webmin interface I tried didn't work well, so I'm still looking, and may have to work on the Webmin module myself.

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (1)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665037)

What mail client were your users using before the switch? After? Aside from the autoresponder, were there other features that didn't work anymore? Aside from the administrative benefits, were there other features that piggybacked their way in and were found to be useful?

I see the benefit in having separate mail databases (to the point where you have separate plaintext files for each mail!) over having a huge central database that runs the risk of getting corrupted. What safeguards to do you have in place to ensure that those emails are protected from prying eyes?

Thanks for the response, it was very englightening.

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (3, Interesting)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665144)

What mail client were your users using before the switch?

Outlook 2000

After?

Outlook 2003, alas!

The upgrade from Office 97 with Outlook 2000 to Office/Outlook 2003 was not easy. So during a few days, they used Thunderbird for email. Easy to set up, always works, leaves mails on the server (the way I set it up), no hassles.
But most users wanted Outlook. Only 2 still use Thunderbird. Probably my fault: I didn't do any training for Thunderbird. So I suspect that apart from the mushy Fisher-Price TB icons, their problem with TB was mainly that they thought they couldn't do some things because they didn't look in the menus. Nobody was able to give me rational reasons why they preferred Outlook. Anyway, I believe users should have the freedom to use what they like.

Aside from the autoresponder, were there other features that didn't work anymore?

There is no shared calendar, but nobody was using that anyway. If they do want that some day, I don't know what I could use for that and it may be a problem.

There is no central Exchange address book, but that was not needed. They have their own database with all the business contacts, including emails. If needed later, I can set up an LDAP solution or whatever.

Aside from the administrative benefits, were there other features that piggybacked their way in and were found to be useful?

- Free and excellent antivirus (ClamAV)
- Free and excellent spam filtering (a couple of RBLs, header checks in Postfix, and Spamassassin to mark the remaining spam as such)
- Remote administration through SSH. That is not only an admin benefit, but also a user benefit. With Exchange, if they had a problem/question/requirement, they had to wait for me to come by. Now, I can act immediately over SSH. (Of course, you can setup VNC to manage a GUI, but it is slow and clunky). There are also answers I can give them straight away by looking at the logs (X says he didn't get my email / Yes he did; mail.x.com accepted the mail at 12h32; he should ask his own mail admin. I didn't get the email from Y / True, it was rejected because it was 20 MB. etc.)

What safeguards to do you have in place to ensure that those emails are protected from prying eyes?

Nothing special. There is no particular need. There are no "prying eyes" inside the network, and they do regularly have their mail read by someone else to whom they give their password (it's not a bug, it's a feature).

There is no WiFi on the network. I try to explain to them they should use better passwords anyway, but most don't care.

As an admin, I can of course read everything if I want. But I don't want to, and more importantly, they have to fully trust their network admin. If they don't, they need to find another admin quickly anyway. In this regard, network admins are like bookkeepers and doctors. You cannot have one whom you don't trust.

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (3, Insightful)

remmelt (837671) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665211)

Nobody was able to give me rational reasons why they preferred Outlook.

Don't underestimate the power of the common. They're used to it, they have friends and colleagues that use it, it's become a bit like Xerox-ing something. Or Google-ing. Maybe less so, but since everyone's using it, your users want it as well. They don't want to be "stuck" with another (inferior? They don't know!) product. (Yes yes, I know it's great, have been using it for over a year and am never switching back to Outlook.)


Anyway, I believe users should have the freedom to use what they like.

Oh, if only admins could all be like that!

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (2, Insightful)

webagogue (806350) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665594)

Syncing PocketPCs (ipaq 4150 is a cool device) with anything but Outlook (Mac notwithstanding) sucks the big one. Id like to move from Outlook and am working on using my phone (nokia 6630) as my PDA but it takes time. Besides, Outlook 2003 is really not that bad of an app - nice even.

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (4, Informative)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665252)

If Squirrelmail (WebMail) fits into your config then there is an 'out-of-office' module that can be installed to allow users to manage the vacation functionality for themselves.

Freedom (1)

ACORN_USER (902686) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665082)

I work in big evil banks. In these big evil banks, I fight very hard to obtain less evil environments in which I can be productive without having to spend my days arm wrestling with Bill Gates. A couple of years ago I went on a quest to find a mail client which spoke Exchange's protocol ( imap and pop were not supported by the server ) and would run on a sparc. I ended up writing a script which interfaced with the outlook webmail client that was available.

It's about choice and the platform you run. If you 'have' to implement an exchange server - you're no longer forced to use a bluescreen-able platform.

Choice is good.

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (1)

zonix (592337) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665321)

What kind of benefits would I see moving to another product?

I attended a Novell conference last year, where there was a talk on GroupWise 3rd party extensions. The speaker had an interesting survey for the audience (which consisted of mostly GroupWise admins, but also Exchange admins).

The question was how many email users were located at each site, and how many post office admins supported these users. That turned out a rather interesting ratio in favor of GroupWise, though, only a couple of samples were taken as the speaker interviewed the audience. I can't remember exactly, but I think it was something along the lines of one Groupwise admin per 500 email users, compared to only 100 email users for each Exchange admin.

Maybe you could ask around and compare yourself if you're considering moving to a new product. I know it's probably a bogus metric, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless.

z

Re:What is the merit of replacing an Exchange serv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665727)

Actually, one advantage of Exchange that I'm not sure features in any of the other offerings, is its ability to store one copy of an attachment that has been sent to many recipients.
Is anyone working on something like this?

- Brian

The source is 150 megabytes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13664774)

Wow. That's really big. Anyone knows what's in that thing?

Re:The source is 150 megabytes! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665033)

Anyone knows what's in that thing?

It's full of stars.

My own AJAX (1)

thedogcow (694111) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664775)

I got my own solution to "clean up" Microsoft Exchange junk right here! [wholesalew...supply.com]

Flash Demo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13664779)

I really love how their flash demo gives a great demonstration of the product and what it can do...

Re:Flash Demo (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664819)

Mine's stuck on the loading page. Seems about par the course for open-source apps *zing* Thankyou ladies and gentleman, I'll be here all week. Don't forget to bludgeon your waittress to a bloody pulp....

Freaking Amazing (1)

cakoose (460295) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664789)

I hope the app really works as well as the demo shows.

Re:Freaking Amazing (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665066)

It works, it is just slow.

Agreed! This app looks very nice. (1)

coder111 (912060) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665392)

If the app works at least half as good as the demo shows, this will be a killer.

Something sounds almost too good to be true here- it seems incredible someone developed such an app and then realeased it as open-source. It even has MAPI outlook integration...

I'll see the demo after the slashdotting is over, and then i'll probably try to deploy it on my own box, and then if it works i'm deploying it for the company I work for as soon as I have time.

And it's even made with the java! This is a big plus for me because my company develops web apps with java- we can extend it as much as we wish. And probably it has real nice and extensible application design/architecture, unlike lots of PHP apps I've seen... And it looks like it is based on the wonderful apache java libraries, that means little reinventing the wheel too.

One small thing i didn't like about it is that they use MySQL for DB, but I figure that is not a big issue, and probably can be fixed easily (switched over to Postgres).

--Coder

Interesting. Too bad it costs too little. (3, Interesting)

revscat (35618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664790)

Well, while an Exchange killer is certainly one of the holy grails insofar as breaking corporate lock-in to Microsoft, I have to admit a certain degree of skepticism. While OSS has seen it's fair share of success, it has not as yet been able to break into the corporate backoffice software market. This is at least partially due to the continuing reluctance of managment to use software that doesn't cost a damn thing.

I briefly looked around Zimbra's site, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but this looks like another free-as-in-speech replacement software suite. I don't see the PHB's getting excited about this until they have to pay good money for it.

Re:Interesting. Too bad it costs too little. (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664830)

I don't see the PHB's getting excited about this until they have to pay good money for it.

You can always burn it to CD and sell it to them (with the source code and GNU license included at no extra charge) for $500,000 per CD. Would that be expensive enough to get them excited?

Re:Interesting. Too bad it costs too little. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13664931)

So good of you to contribute something worthwhile to slashdot. Tales will be told of you for a thousand years.

Re:Interesting. Too bad it costs too little. (1)

Peter La Casse (3992) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665821)

That was a worthwhile comment. Selling FOSS (possibly after rebranding, and usually along with a support contract) to businesses who want to pay money for their software is surprisingly viable. For example, Sun sells Staroffice, even though you can just go and download openoffice for free if you want to. Red Hat sells its Enterprise Server software, even though their customers could just download CentOS, White Box Linux, etc.

Re:Interesting. Too bad it costs too little. (1)

Ambush (120586) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665637)

I don't see the PHB's getting excited about this until they have to pay good money for it.

So sell it already. There is so much software available in the OSS arena that is just screaming for someone to sell. When are the OSS 'advocates' going to realise there's more money in 'free' software than in proprietary?

SourceFire did it with Snort (1)

pedestrian crossing (802349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665759)

There are definitely business models out there that can work. The key is to be able to add value to the product in a way that the PHB can understand.

SourceFire [sourcefire.com] seems to have found a way to do it. Going beyond just packaging Snort on "black boxes" and providing support, they went through the effort to get their commercial version of Snort through the necessary certifications to be allowed on US government networks. It cost them money, but it is going to make them money as well.

My PHB wouldn't have allowed me to deploy Snort, arguably with good reason. But SourceFire, no problem. And from what I hear at other agencies, I'm not the only one.

It works because Snort has established a solid reputation, and SourceFire has added the pieces it takes to sell it to the boss.

Free software has already won (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13664827)

I'm only interested in stuff that matters, so I read Slashdot (when I should be doing work). From what I've seen on Slashdot, it seems that only free software is ever released and never any proprietary stuff. Isn't that great.

Dependency hell squared (3, Insightful)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664833)

I have a feeling that I'm not going to be installing this myself from source, seeing as they boast that they depend on 40+ other open source projects.

And for anyone who was confused, it's not a drop-in replacement for Exchange servers or clients, it just does what Exchange does, differently. More or less, I guess, not having used it yet :-)

Still, looks like a pretty cool piece of work.

Re:Dependency hell squared (1)

anandp (29978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665097)

Both the source and binary downloads contain pre-built binaries for the 40+ dependencies you refer to - however the binaries are only for FC and RHEL (for now).

Re:Dependency hell squared (2, Interesting)

NightLamp (556303) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665122)

I tried building this for Slackware 10.1 over the weekend and only had to install ant and jdk.
It comes with everything included: mysql, spamassassin, tomcat and postfix.

One issue were the required port mappings:

smtp: 25 mapped to 7075
http: 80 mapped to 7070
pop3: 110 mapped to 7110
imap: 143 mapped to 7143
ldap: 389 mapped to 7389
https: 443 mapped to 7443
imaps: 993 mapped to 7993
pop3s: 995 mapped to 7995

The install/run scripts were very tailored for RH/Fedora.
This page [zimbra.com] has a good walkthrough of a developer install.

make dev-install got me going on the right path.

It was unfortunate that I ran out of weekend before getting it to work as I really liked the look of the calendaring integration and overall interface.

Re:Dependency hell squared (2, Interesting)

hdparm (575302) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665181)

We are upgrading servers to RHEL4 and heavily contemplating move from Exchange to something else. This stuff looks pretty exciting for 3 main reasons:

1. They built EL4 rpm, which gives me hope that it's been tested well on this platform
2. Zimbra provides an easy way to import Exchange accounts straigth from the server, without having to handle hundreds of pst files
3. This is the last piece of software that prevents us from getting rid of windows on the desktop.

This is good stuff. My sysadmin life looks so much better already.

Re:Dependency hell squared (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665616)

The site seems to be slash-dotted.

They built EL4 RPM's? Excellent. That means they'll run on CentOS (at www.centos.org) for those sites who are too cheap to buy RHEL or who pay an internal Linux support person instead of paying support fees to RedHat.

Requires it's own server for everything (3, Informative)

Leknor (224175) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664850)

My beef with Zimbra is it requires you to use their own mail server. Yes it has IMAP/POP interfaces for clients to connect to, but you cannot simply point it at your existing mail server. It's really only suitable for small or new sites.

Re:Requires it's own server for everything (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13664932)

Dude, you are confused. They aren't trying to make a web front end that works with any mailserver. Their ajax app seems to only be 1 piece of the puzzle. It looks like (from their forums) they have a fully functional server AND multiple access mechanism (wireless, outlook, web, etc).

There are other alternatives (1)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664942)

Open Groupware [opengroupware.org] seems to be a good alternative, these days - especially if you have your own mail server, as they don't supply one!

Re:Requires it's own server for everything (2, Interesting)

juventasone (517959) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664950)

Well that makes it sound ideal for me. For small business clients, we've always defaulted to a program called Maximizer, but some aren't willing to spend the $169 per seat. If anyone is familiar with Maximizer, would you consider Zimbra a fair replacement? Any other suggestions?

Re:Requires it's own server for everything (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665283)

SugarCRM [sugarforge.org] is worth a look - we've just moved over to it from Maximizer.

Re:Requires it's own server for everything (2, Informative)

bernywork (57298) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665454)

My experience with Maximizer is that it's not worth the hassles associated with it.

Any other solution, a paper folder on a desk with a bunch of business cards in it is better than maximizer.

We had stability problems, issues getting support and the UI was not very intuitive at all ...

Overall, it was decided that the old system was better and that they would go back after god knows how much money they spent on training and everything else.

Re:Requires it's own server for everything (1)

L.Bob.Rife (844620) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664986)

Beyond using its own MTA (postfix), the problem for larger sites is that each box is expected to stand alone. There is no way to have webservers, mailservers and database on seperate boxes.

Otherwise, its a very slick (and bandwith intensive) webmail client. I would implement it if it had a smaller client d/l.

Re:Requires it's own server for everything (3, Informative)

anandp (29978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665170)

Beyond using its own MTA (postfix), the problem for larger sites is that each box is expected to stand alone. There is no way to have webservers, mailservers and database on seperate boxes.
You can have multiple mailbox servers! See this discussion [zimbra.com] .

Re:Requires it's own server for everything (5, Informative)

anandp (29978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665134)

Yes, Zimbra is not just a webmail client you can slap on top of any IMAP/POP server. The reason for this is not malicious. It is just that a lot of the (compelling, if I may say so myself) functionality you see in ZCS - search, tags, conversations, group calendar, etc, etc - are only possible because of our own server.

On a related note, even though you have to use our server, and even though we love our UI dearly and we hope that you will too, we are client agnostic - we will support as many clients as we possibly can. Which is why we make your data available via IMAP/POP/RSS/iCal/etc.

Re:Requires it's own server for everything (1)

smithcl8 (738234) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665786)

Ah....yet another /.er who doesn't want something to come packaged in a system that works. If your car is a Chevy and requires a new engine would you retrofit it with a Honda engine just because you can fit it under the hood?

/.ed already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13664857)

"Hosted Demo is Being Updated

Sorry for the inconvenience, but our Hosted Demo is temporarily being updated."

umm.. replace "Updated" with /.ed...

"The leader in open source collaboration"? (4, Insightful)

arb (452787) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664862)

How'd they become the "leader in open source collaboration" if they've only just appeared on the scene? And is it really collaboration software, or just another email server?

Personally, I'm not overly impressed with their "impressive flash demo". This story seems like another new company's attempt to drum up hype by submitting their press-release to Slashdot as a news item. The flash demo is neat and all, but I'd be more impressed if their "live" demo was actually working... If it can't handle a simple Slashdotting, it ain't ready for prime-time.

Re:"The leader in open source collaboration"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665640)

"simple Slashdotting"

You have to be kidding, right? It is highly unlikely that a small startup like this would have the server farm required to handle a surge like this. That they don't proves nothing.

Stop hammering the site! (4, Informative)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664863)

I want to check it out also.. :(

Use coral cache instead!
Flash Demo [nyud.net]
Zimbra homepage [nyud.net]

Why, oh why can't Slashdot always link to coral cache instead of keep on killing servers?

Crap (-1, Troll)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664865)

Zimbra is obviously crap. How can I tell? The foremost feature of their software is its own implementation. Zimbra is open-source. Zimbra is browser-based. Zimbra uses JavaScript. Zimbra uses XML. Zimbra is asynchronous. Zimba runs in your browser.

Who fucking cares?

You can always tell a program is crap when its page on sourceforge starts with "FrobWiz is a multithreaded c++ blah blah blah." If they lead with the implementation details, the features must be unremarkable. That looks to be the situation here: it's like Outlook Express, on crack, and running in Mozilla. Whoop de doo.

Re:Crap (1)

andreyw (798182) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664908)

Last time I checked, and correct me if I am somehow wrong, SourceForge never claimed to be nor is used by anyone with a tiny bit of intellect as a pulpit for typical bullshit marketroid speak. SourceForge is a site built around the developer - hence yes, it makes perfect sense to go ahead and put implementation details in the description. For the rest of you, I'm sure Zimbra will make a site listing the top-ten reasons needed to make your PHB switch over...

Frequently, it is unnecessarily difficult to implement certain features with certain technologies. I'd be insane to botch together a redundant 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% uptime phone switch in anything other than Erlang - hence Erlang is a perfectly good thing to put in the description, as it is an enabling technology whose use gives it a significant advantage over other products. Capisci? Non e' difficile.

Re:Crap (2)

gregduffy (766013) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664920)

Like this [zimbra.com] ?

Re:Crap (1)

andreyw (798182) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664940)

Hey, I'm a Slasdot reader. I have a mandate to never RTFM ;-). That said, hey, I wasn't too far off - the 10 point PHB-friendly outline is up. Thus I don't know what the guy was complaining about. Don't like the developer nitty-gritty? Don't go to the site. Sheesh.

Want something different from exchange (5, Interesting)

seringen (670743) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664868)

Personally, I'm looking forward to hula http://hula-project.org/ [hula-project.org] because it's the sane combination of an enterprise class email platform (netmail) with sensible, link based calendaring and works with pretty much any client. No forced web interface or one program only support. Personally I hope the idea catches on with more people. I can't wait for a point release!

Re:Want something different from exchange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665099)

As an end user, I find tremendous productivy gains by having my calendaring and email platform integrated. Also, will hula work with outlook? ... didn't think so.

Re:Want something different from exchange (1)

Phil John (576633) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665176)

It would be possible to integrate it with outlook with full calendaring support etc. by writing a MAPI plugin. Some other third party exchange replacements do this (such as Communigate Pro).

In fact, when I moved from outlook to thunderbird for my mailbox (got to be over 2GB and kept getting corrupted by Outlook) I used the Communigate Pro MAPI plugin to migrate my mail across (thunderbird import stripped html from html mails so I had to use an IMAP server to do it, but Outlook and IMAP suck).

Re:Want something different from exchange (1)

bhaskin (80159) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665205)

Replace http://hula-project.org/ [hula-project.org] with http://zimbra.com/ [zimbra.com] in your post and the statement becomes false how?

Brian

Re:Want something different from exchange (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665219)

They don't force you to use any client at all ...

So nobody forces you to use their webclient. Data is available over IMAP/POP3 etc, so use whatever you like. Yes IMAP doesn't support calendaring, so you can't use it for that. You'll actually need to think about what you do if you want to mix software nobody else is mixing.

Regards,

Christophe

If its easier to use the Open-Xchange... (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664902)

We might have something to look at. Otherwise there's lots of stuff out there, of course managing it can be a nightmare...

no BSD port !!?? (1)

root-a-begger (854073) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664927)

The architecture pdf looks good and well thought through. If the goal is to create a rock solid enterprise capable messaging system, then a BSD port and tuning of the file and process permissions are in order. This product installs lots of stuff!! lots of security screeing to do. Great work...I have been waiting for somthing of this calliber for quite a while.

Just watch the demo (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13664934)

AJAX, buzzwords, blah blah blah. Don't care.

But watch the demo. The first part sucks, I agree. Oooh, it does conversations! Big whoop.

But the end is interesting. It starts with the dates -- that's nicely integrated. Then for some serious, customer integration. Custom actions based on pattern matching is pretty cool. If it's easily scriptable, it could be pretty powerful.

Most of the features can be taken for granted. Yes, the marketoids got to it. But dude, if this has a clean API and doesn't suck on the backend, it might be useful.

We are deploying this now (3, Informative)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664945)

I was quoted in the eWeek article [eweek.com] for this launch. We have been testing this for a few weeks now, and like what we see so far. There is no way in Hell I am letting MS Exchange in here.

The really cool part we see in Zimbra is the possibilities to program our own magic phrases, so everytime someone puts in an Order#, SKU, Invoice# or some other keyword, Zimbra will pick up on it, and link it directly into our ERP.

Zimbra shows a lot of promise--

Re:We are deploying this now (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665088)

Have you asked your users if they are willing to use the dog slow web interface? What were they using before?

OpenGroupware.org is very interesting as well (2, Informative)

linuxguy (98493) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664967)


It may not have the fancy Javascripted front-end but it is certainly loaded with useful features for groups of people working together.

Contacts, Calendar, Email, File repository using WebDav (Files are version controlled) and more.

Checkout @Mail instead (1)

blackhaze (773215) | more than 8 years ago | (#13664981)

Hello,
We use @Mail as a 'replacement' for Exchange - It's commercial but is built on open-source, including Exim / Courier-IMAP / Perl / MySQL - Take a loot at: http://atmail.com/ [atmail.com]
IMHO, @Mail has undergone many more revisions, has commercial support, and have a better WebMail interface then Zimbra.
But on the flip side, great to see some competition to Exchange!
BTW - Why is Ajax the next 'DHTML' hype ... i mean, it's nothing new, just another way to look @ JS

Re:Checkout @Mail instead (1)

RegularFry (137639) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665120)

BTW - Why is Ajax the next 'DHTML' hype ... i mean, it's nothing new, just another way to look @ JS

Because suddenly it's got trivial to get cross-browser support for it, and the nice libraries that let you easily do actually useful things with it have arrived. Like Prototype, for example. Sometimes hype is justified.

Re:Checkout @Mail instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665202)

Are you insane? @Mail is a Perl based server! They may have copied a lot from open source projects but their own Perl code is patetically obfuscated. The company live by a "exploit and dont' give back" mantra.

Re:Checkout @Mail instead (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665507)

Perl code is patetically obfuscated
And that's different from any other Perl code how?

Sadly... (3, Informative)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665005)

Unfortunately I don't see this taking off. I installed Zimbra and tried it out myself and it is just too slow. The interface looks really good for a web application, but it is dog slow and very unresponsive to user actions. I can't imagine anyone using the web interface as the primary way of using Zimbra. If Zimbra ever takes off, it is going to need smooth Outlook/Entourage/Evolution integration.

Furthermore, I think this is a good as web applications are going to get. Lets face it people, HTML and web browsers are just not made to run desktop style applications. AJAX is really cool, but the simple fact is that HTML lacks the most basic tools to build a good GUI. The document model just doesn't work for sophisticated applications.

-matthew

Re:Sadly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665010)

um... until next gen browsers are developed.

Re:Sadly... (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665102)

Browser makers are still trying to standardize on the same javascript/DHTML implementation. I'm not holding my breath for the next "generation" of browsers. What is on the horizon? Mozilla's XUL is pretty neat and makes descent applications, but Microsoft is never going to support it.

-matthew

XUL webmail (2, Informative)

blackhaze (773215) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665173)

If you like XUL, checkout @mail - http://atmail.com/ [atmail.com] - A native 'Outlook' killer via the Web - XUL/Mozilla based, with another interface for IE/other-clients.

Neat IMHO!

Re:XUL webmail (1)

therage96 (912259) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665814)

Incase anyone is wondering, the username and password for the online-demo is 'atmail'.

Product cost isn't a major part of Mail Server TCO (1)

sfcat (872532) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665026)

Most Mail Server deployments are very very expensive to maintain. Exchange's TCO ranges from $140 [techtarget.com] to $230 [oracle.com] per mailbox per year depending on who you ask. There are even a range of companies that provide tools that claim to reduce this TCO (I once worked for one that will remain nameless). Other mail servers have significant TCO's too. But I know of services that charge significantly less per mailbox per year [intermedia.net] so there must be some mail server software that can be maintained for significantly less. *Cough* [linuxjournal.com]

So an OSS solution for this type of software doesn't have the familiar advantage of cost due to it being free (as in beer). But this doesn't mean that this mail server software doesn't have a significantly smaller TCO. And the AJAX interface is a nice touch. But things like how well the software can handle disk failures, how easy it is to do backups, how easy it is to handle 1 million mailboxes, etc. are the factors that make mail server software succeed or fail.

Note: Exchange doesn't do any of these things well.

Re:Product cost isn't a major part of Mail Server (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665281)

Oracle used to offer their collaboration server as a hosted service. I think it was a pretty good idea, looks like they aren't doing it anymore. Too bad, it's pretty cool.

sort of off topic (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665269)

But I find it appropriate that this article is immediately above "Why Students Are Leaving Engineering"

I used to work with the founder of Zimbra at another company, and his constant and relentless political moves to further his career at the expense of others was really tiring... and made a lot of good engineers bitter and tired.

Yeah it's dog-eat-dog world, you have to look out for yourself, blah-blah-blah, whatever... but the long hours of engineering don't make me want to leave, it's guys like that.

With that said, the product looks okay, best of luck to them.

Re:sort of off topic (1)

twoshortplanks (124523) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665574)

I don't know any of the people involved here, but I think that if you're going to start mouthing off about someone, you could at least say who you are. Or are your opinions not worth standing by?

Otherwise, how are we to know if this point is valid, or just some random troll. Are you a troll?

Re:sort of off topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665613)

Please... I was just being nice, but his name rhymes with Satish Dharmaraj

Re:sort of off topic (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665631)

He may be cautious about his non-disclosure agreements, or not want his former very political co-worker to play political games on his own career. Cowardly, but completely understandable: helping protect sources from reprisals is one of the reasons for anonymous posting on Slashdot.

Not only Yahoo.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665293)

Hotmail will be an AJAX based app when Microsoft releases Kahuna [technorati.com]

Enterprise grade commercial exchange alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13665326)

It's called contact from Samsung.

It is a complete enterprise grade exchange server replacement that is excellent. It beats all comers as near as I can tell.

All features and functions, fully compatible, very mature.

http://www.samsungcontact.com/en/ [samsungcontact.com]

Nobody mentioned OpenExchange so far... (1)

Pipedings (839384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665386)

... which IMO is excellent, Open Source, has an optional Web Interface and is Java based for relatively easy customizing. See their site [open-xchange.org] .

Features of OX that I dont see in Zimbra:

  • Document management & versioning
  • Projects comprised of tasks
  • Can be installed with remote, and various MTAs, IMAP, POP3 Servers

And there are connectors for Exchange, Lotus Notes, Evolution, etc.

Nice piece of Rich Client Software indeed (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665573)

The features are neat and seem do good at dealing with the "E-Mail ist everything" Groupware approach. Which I don't like to much but that would just be me.
Expect the client to do a little slowpocking and eat reasources - but that's a fair trade for a free Groupware that pushes some limits.
I'd actually go by and build an entire Groupware like the Basecamp service in Flash/AS - but again that's just me.

Kudos to them or going through the fuss with JavaScript.

Now Imagine e-groupware, opengroupware, more-groupware, knowledgetree, zimbra and a few other getting together and building ONE GW suite. That would kick the ass out of MS Exchange, no?

*cough* whoopedoo *cough* (1)

mcbridematt (544099) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665632)

Citadel [citadel.org] has been around for years (isn't/wasn't vapour) and is trivial to setup, and supports basically every mail protocol in use (add NNTP to the list once I'm finished developing the code for it) and a full GroupDAV implementation (last time I checked no one else has that yet).

Citadel is driven more towards online communities than small workgroups though, but it works. Apart from maintaining a patch to use bogofilter instead of spamassassin, I rarely touch the install now.

Disclaimer: Very happy Citadel user. And amateur code hacker.

everybody... get.. in.. line! (1)

flacco (324089) | more than 8 years ago | (#13665761)

Ga- Ji, Berrrri Bim- Ba- Klandiri....!
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