Virtualization optimize

DIY: Deploy the Zimbra Desktop Client for a solid groupware experience

The open source Zimbra Desktop Client offers all of the email/calendaring/task/social networking functionalities that small businesses need to make a groupware solution useful.

Most small businesses don't have the budget for a tool like Exchange, and the tools within their budget don't usually offer the necessary features. One exception is the open source VMware Zimbra Desktop Client, which has many of the features that are available in the standard groupware clients and a little more. The tool can do Email, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Briefcase, and Social networking. The feature list includes:

  • General: Cross platform (Windows, Linux, Mac), no email storage limit, tagging system for all features, powerful filtering system.
  • Email: Connect to most POP/IMAP accounts (including Exchange IMAP), supports plain text and HTML, on-line and off-line composition.
  • Calendar: Syncs Zimbra, Yahoo! Mail, and Gmail email calendars, manages multiple calendars, "fisheye" month view for quick edits, imports iCal calendars, invites others to meetings and events.
  • Contacts: Syncs Zimbra, Yahoo! Mail, and Gmail email contacts, creates groups, adds photos to contacts
  • Documents/Tasks/Briefcase: Edits documents, tracks to-do progress, saves attachments in briefcase.

You can also upload files, check in files, tag files, include social network accounts, and more.

Zimbra Desktop Client was created to work seamlessly with the Zimbra Collaboration Server, but it's not limited to that one tool; you can use Zimbra Desktop Client with most POP/IMAP accounts, as well as Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, and more. If you're using Zimbra Desktop Client with a Zimbra Collaboration Server, there will, however, be even more features. Let's take a look at Zimbra as used with IMAP or Gmail.

Requirements

The desktop requirements are:

  • At least 200 MB free disk space is required to install the software.
  • Additional disk space is required to download account data.
  • At least 512 MB free memory is required to run Zimbra Desktop.
  • The computer must have network connectivity at account setup and to synchronize accounts with servers.

Supported platforms

  • Windows XP Professional SP2 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard, 10.6.x
  • Linux Kernel 2.6.x and above for Intel x86 architecture
  • A variety of Linux i686 including Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, SUSE, etc.

Zimbra Desktop Client relies on under-the-hood tools that are included with the installation. The tools are a mini Zimbra server and the Java framework.

Installation

  1. Download the latest build of the Zimbra Desktop Client to fit your platform.
  2. Unpack the archive.
  3. Change into the newly created directory.
  4. Run the installer.

If you're installing it on Windows, you should double-click the .msi files to start the download process. If you're installing it on Linux, you will need to install with root access (by either su'ing to the root user or using sudo) and issue the command ./install.pl.

The Windows installation is very straight-forward. The Linux installation has some unusual twists and turns. During the installation, you will be asked a couple of simple questions (EULA and installation destination). One very important question is if you want to install the user files for a particular user; select No because if you don't, the user data will be installed as the root user and the non-root user will not be able to run the application. After you answer No to the question, the installer will drop you to a prompt. As the standard user, issue the command: /opt/zimbra/zdesktop/linux/user-install.pl. You'll be asked the destinations for the installation and for the desktop icon; the defaults should work on both accounts.

Upon completing the installation, the Zimbra Desktop Client will launch. In this first window, click the Add New Account button (Figure A) to launch the Add New Account window (Figure B), where you can select the type of account you want to set up from these choices: Zimbra, Gmail, Yahoo, MS Exchange IMAP, IMAP, POP. Figure A

Figure B

A simple IMAP account setup
After you enter all of the details for the account, click the Validate and Save button in the bottom left corner. When there is a successful authentication, you will be greeted by your new Zimbra Destkop Client  (Figure C). Figure C

The Zimbra UI has a very shallow learning curve.

Depending on the size of your account, the initial sync could take a while. Once the syncing is complete, you can start the process of setting up your Zimbra Desktop.

In our next DIY post about the Zimbra Desktop Client, we'll focus on the social settings, the briefcase, and tagging.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

7 comments
glnz
glnz

Kristy - thanks for your suggestion about Alfresco, but it seems to be like Sugarsync, which I use, and not the type of free DMS I am looking for. Anyone - any ideas?

ruby.otero
ruby.otero

im also interested and looking for this DMS, mostly for easy retrieval of documents base on index name or metadata..

Gisabun
Gisabun

Can you run Zimbra as a stand alone client [like Outlook can] and still access your ISP's mail server or is it tied?

glnz
glnz

Our small family company is two small offices on opposite sides of the globe with typical internet access. Is there an open source (free) document management system (DMS) to look at? Personally, I am used to only one type of DMS (which is not free). Outside our family business, I am a lawyer, and my law firm's DMS is accessible by everyone in the law firm and lets us (makes us) save every document by Title (which we choose), Client Number (pre-designated list with a search function by client name), Matter Number (same), Type (not important), Comment (almost never used) and choice of Security (who can edit or even see each doc). Documents can have (and be Saved As) versions. This DMS interface pops up and requires input every time we Save the first time or Save As a new file or new version. And it puts a document number in the footer of the document. Is there an open-source version of something like this? Would it have to run on a server (a dedicated always-on PC), and/or could it back up to a not-expensive cloud service? For our small family business with two offices, in addition to Client-Matter, there might be overarching Department categories, like Asian Materials Purchasing, Asian Production, Quality Control, Asian Shipping, US Sales, Asian Inventory, US Inventory, Asian Bookkeeping, US Bookkeeping, etc. The documents we would make, save, edit, etc. might be .xls, .doc, .jpg photos, .pdf, etc. Not much video (maybe none). If there might be such an open source (free) product, how could I look at it before testing? THANKS !!

kristymadimike
kristymadimike

Try Alfresco! It does that and more. Seriously. I am a teacher at a small school and I'm in charge of the the technology component. I have no affiliation with Alfresco so... You can load it up as a virtual machine to try it out.

tbmay
tbmay

...is very good for this purpose with it's shared briefcase, tasks, and calendars. You can upload you files to various shared briefcases, that you can share with whatever groups or individual users you want. That's one of the biggest attractions to zimbra over, say, exchange.