Melissa. I Love You. Anna Kournikova. The march of Exchange/Outlook viruses goes on and on. If you are tired of getting your teeth kicked in by e-mail problems and viruses, GroupWise may be the best way to secure, control, and simplify your company’s messaging system. This article is part one of a four-part series about how to install and run GroupWise 5.5.

Benefits, features, and stuff
GroupWise is Novell’s groupware program, and it has a lot of great features. One of my favorite features of GroupWise is the control that it gives to the system administrator. You can turn off script processing for your whole organization with one mouse click. This means that if you get one of those malicious VBS scripts, it won’t run, no matter what flavor it is.

I also like the fact that GroupWise incorporates what is known as a message store, which means all messages are kept on the server. If a user’s PC blows up and dies, it’s not really a big deal because all of their messages are on the server. Set the user up with a new PC and install the GroupWise client, and e-mail is just as they left it.

GroupWise also includes many other cool features, including:

  • Rules
  • Shared folders
  • Calendaring
  • Scheduling
  • Web Access

Of course, none of those features do you very much good if your e-mail server doesn’t work. My favorite feature is reliability. GroupWise just works.

System requirements
Please make sure you have an adequate server. Don’t expect miracles from an old 486. A server should be bigger, faster, and stronger than any client PC on the network. How much should you spend on a server? I like to use the following rule: Take the number of PCs on your LAN and multiply by the average price, then divide this number by two. Spend this amount on a name-brand server that is “YES NetWare tested and approved.” GroupWise will run on NT, UNIX, and NetWare platforms, but for this article, I’m (of course) going to install and run it on a NetWare 5 platform. Make sure your server is up-to-date with patches, is in good health, and has adequate disk space for all that e-mail your users will inevitably send and receive.

Naturally, your run-of-the-mill server won’t work. You must plan for the additional overhead that GroupWise puts on the server. At a minimum, your server should be strong enough to support NetWare’s minimum system requirements. You can find those in the Daily Drill Down “Installing NetWare 5.1 on your server.”

On top of the minimum requirements, you must take GroupWise’s needs into consideration. Those will vary depending on what you want your server to do and the number of users. Novell’s basic recommendations include:

  • Additional 10 MB of RAM for MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) requirements for servers with 3 to 5 links.
  • 100 active users: 94 MB of additional RAM
  • 250 active users: 208 MB of additional RAM
  • 500 active users: 232 MB of additional RAM
  • 700 active users: 274 MB of additional RAM
  • A minimum of 300 MB of free disk space

Before you install GroupWise on your server, make sure you’ve downloaded and installed the latest support packs on your servers. For a list of the current support packs, go to Novell’s Minimum Patch List. Don’t delete the support packs after you install them. You’ll need to completely reapply them after you install GroupWise on your servers.

Preparing your workstations
The server isn’t the only machine on your network you’ll have to prepare before you install GroupWise; you’ll also have to prepare the workstations on your network. That includes both your users’ workstations and your administrative workstation.

The GroupWise client will run on just about any Microsoft operating system, as well as others, such as Macintoshes. You can use either the Novell Client or Microsoft’s NetWare client on your workstations to connect to your GroupWise server. Impact on the client is minimal. The GroupWise client only requires the following:

  • 80486 processor
  • 24 MB of free hard drive space
  • 8 MB of memory

Your administrative workstation can run any Microsoft operating system from Windows 95 on, up to and including Windows 2000 Professional. You should double-check to make sure you’re running the latest version of the Novell client for your workstation’s operating system. Don’t even think about using Microsoft’s NetWare client. You can download the latest client version for your workstation from Novell’s Software Download page.

Kind of a lot to plan for and set up, and we are not even done yet! But that’s the beauty of GroupWise—it’s not by any means a “Mickey Mouse” e-mail system, and it gives you plenty of options to set and makes no assumptions.

Stay tuned for the rest of the Novell GroupWise saga coming your way soon on TechRepublic!
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