Using Kerio's Linux Versions

I really can't tell you how many times I have recommended a Linux version of a Kerio product and have heard "But I don't know anything about Linux!". I do understand that fear and hesitation, but it's really not justified. Let me explain why.

I've never driven a Honda

If you had to rent a car and found that all that they had left was a Honda, would you refuse it because you've never driven one before? Of course you wouldn't: you know that it will have a steering wheel, a gas pedal and brakes and that you'll find those without any trouble. It might be a little harder to turn on the radio or the windshield wipers, and you'll probably fumble getting the seat adjusted, but you know that everything you need is there and that you'll either find it by pushing buttons and twiddling knobs or you'll dig the manual out of the glove compartment and look it up. You'll be able to drive the car.

Linux is like that. If you want to "drive" Linux, you'll be able to. You'll see how to do most things instantly and you'll probably figure out the rest as quickly as you'd find the radio in that Honda. If you need to pop the hood, yes, you will probably want the manual, but you know where to find that, right? Google it and you'll find whatever you need.

But you don't really have to drive

I have both Kerio Connect and Kerio Workspace running on a Ubuntu server. I'd be lying to you if I said that I've never interacted with that machine at the operating system level, but I am not lying when I tell you that I've almost never needed to for anything related to Workspace or Connect.

Every Kerio product - whether it is Connect, Workspace, Control, Operator or something still in beta that neither you nor I know anything about yet - is administered through a browser. I access my Linux Connect through the Chrome browser on my Mac. You could access your Linux Connect through the Internet Explorer on your desktop PC. You won't be using a "Linux browser" (though you could) and the administration doesn't look any different than it would if Connect were running on a Windows server. It all looks and works the same.

You said "almost never"

I tried to slip one past you, didn't I? Good thing you are paying attention because otherwise you'd have been suckered into to using Linux and one of those "almost never" things would have come up and then what would you do?

You'd follow directions.

Every one of those situations where you do need to interact with Linux itself is something that is documented and spelled out. For example, if you have installed Kerio Connect onto a Ubuntu server and you need to install the latest Connect upgrade, that will be done at the command line.

Ahh, there's the gotcha, right? You will have to figure out some awful command and it will probably go wrong and there's a mess you don't need!

No: all of that kind of thing is documented. It's in the manual, it's in the Kerio Knowledge base articles and it tells you exactly what to type. If you have any question at all, you just call or email someone like me. It's no different from following directions to do something in Windows.

Nice try, but you forgot the installation

I really thought I could slide that one by.. again, you are too sharp for me, because obviously to get that Connect installed on Ubuntu I first had to install Ubuntu and while I might easily convince you to drive a Honda, there is no way I'm going to get you to assemble one from parts first!

It's not like that. Installing Ubuntu (or any other modern Linux) is as easy (or even easier) than installing Windows. There will be questions, yes. Questions like "What is your name, what password do you want to use, what is your timezone?". Nothing even remotely like "What is the dual ported RAM address of your primary SCSI interface?". Just the same stuff you'd need to know for Windows.

Virtual Machines

Moreover, if you use one of Kerio's virtual machines instead, your installation is even easier. The operating system is included in the download and all you need is VMware to use it. You'll be running Linux in VMware and it can be running while you are also using the Windows or Mac it is installed on.

I have almost a dozen virtual machines on my Mac. Most of them are not normally running (they are for testing, usually), but they are available. I have Parallels Desktop, VMware and VirtualBox and have various Kerio products, bare Linux machines, Windows XP, Vista and soon will have Window 8 all available at a mouse click.

On the Kerio front, a big advantage of using the virtual machines rather than installing Linux yourself is that you won't have to concern yourself with upgrading the Linux operating system: you'll just download the latest VM from Kerio.

But why bother with Linux?

Well, sometimes you'll have to. For example, if you want Kerio Operator, it only comes in a Linux version. If you use a Mac and want Control, you probably don't want to buy Windows just to run that, so you'll use the Linux options. If you buy one of the Control or Operator Appliance boxes, those are Linux inside.

But even if you do have another choice, I still recommend Linux. It's leaner and meaner and has less problems than Windows. The pre-built Kerio systems that include a Linux OS are all tuned and ready to go - you don't need to be concerned about adjusting any operating system parameters (other than obvious things like your timezone). The Linux versions will generally run faster and be able to handle more load than their Windows or Mac cousins.

It's also so much easier to do some things. For example, just yesterday I was trying to help someone debug a mail delivery problem. It was actually a scanner at a remote office that was sending the mail, but it was not arriving. To find out why, we needed to look in the logs.

I'm a bit impatient. My customer could have looked through each log using his browser, but instead I sent him to the command line and asked him to do this:

 cd /opt/kerio/mailserver/store/logs
 grep ip_address_of_scanner *.log

That instantly showed us that the scanner was trying to authenticate using a user name that didn't exist! Yes, we would have found that using the browser, but this was much, much faster.

In another case, storage space was diminishing. We used this Linux command to find unusually large files:

 cd /opt/kerio/mailserver/store/mail
 find . -size +100M -ls 

That showed us that some users had some very old and amazingly large files sitting in their Drafts folders. The users had forgotten all about them, of course. Removing them freed up significant disk space.

I could give many other examples. The Linux command line gives you much more power and speed than anything you can do in Windows.

Again, you don't need to understand "grep" or "find" in any depth. I sent those commands to my customer in email and he just pasted them in to run them - he didn't need to "know Linux" anymore than you need to know how to fly a 747 to get to another city.

I hope you feel a bit more comfortable about Kerio and Linux now.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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