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SCOoffice Mail Server




This is SCO's Mail Server product. Originally introduced on Linux, but now (due to the lawsuit, of course) only available on OSR5 (there will probably be a Unixware version later).

Unlike many other Mail Server products, SCOoffice is not sold on a subscription basis. It uses Open Source virus protection (Clam) and SpamAssassin for junk mail, so there are no on-going fees unless you optionally subscribe to other virus scanning. There's no support either: you buy it, you own it (you can buy support separately, of course). The pricing model is a bit confusing: a five user OSR5 version is $299.00, which isn't bad at all, but a one hundred user license staggers in at a whopping $2,399.00. SCO's pricing problem is that they think their competition is Exchange. Yes, this is cheaper than Exchange, but who cares? That's not what it will be judged against.

Assuming that there is much interest at all, of course. The problem right now is that there are some very big shoes still to drop in this lawsuit. I can't imagine too many people would shell out money for this right this minute. Once the lawsuit is done and over, if SCO is still a viable company, sure, this might be an option. The rest of this review will ignore the political aspects and simply look at the tech side.

However, as this is basically a repackaging of the Bynari product, which does run on Linux, I have to openly wonder why you'd want to run this on SCO unless you were already running a SCO server for some other reason. If that were the case, I'd then question why you are mixing an important application like mail with some other app: mail should really run on a separate server as it normally has much more serious security issues than other internal servers. So, overall, I don't see a bright future for this.

Installation

Installation is with the standard SCO "custom" tool. No surprises, though custom may get confused and want to tune the system for the SCOoofice user count. If you see that question, don't tune.

As you would expect, any mail system relies heavily on DNS. SCO has never seen the need to provide any help in configuring DNS, so you need to drop out to the command line and get this done if it isn't setup already.

Configuration

After installation, you manage this with a web browser. That has its pluses and minuses: on the plus side, it means you can easily get at it from any desktop, but the negative side is that browser interfaces are often slower and more clumsy than dedicated programs.

Your first task is to define a domain. As part of its definition, you set whether or not users can create aliases. Once you have a domain, you add users to it. Interestingly, you create a login name (which is strictly login to the mail server, nothing to do with user accounts on the OSR5 itself), but that's not necessarily the email name. In other words, I can have an account called "tony", but the email is "[email protected]". You can send mail to either one; it just creates an instant alias.

You can also migrate from Exchange, earlier versions of this product, and Bynari Insight server or import from an /etc/shadow file. Additonally, you can off-load authentication to an LDAP service.

Services

This uses Apache, Cyrus IMAP, OpenLDAP, Postfix, and Proftpd. You can do quite a bit of detailed configuration for each of these through the browser tools, and of course you could also drop to a command line and edit configurations manually.

At the SCO demo of this, I asked how much SCO modifies the source of these Open Source products. My concern was whether or not a user would have to wait for SCO to distribute new versions in the event of security discoveries. I don't know if I got an authoritative answer, but was told that you would have to wait. You might wait a long time: if SCO depends on Bynari and then adds their own seasoning, patches could take a while to ripple through.

User Preferences Interface

This is a browser based app where users can set preferences, add spam rules (global spam rules can be defined by administrators), manage their address book information, change passwords, etc. Some of these things can be done either in Outlook with the Outlook Connector.

Outlook Connector

An Outlook Connector allows Outlook to treat this like an Exchange server and make use of shared calendars, free/busy scheduling, etc. These features are also available with the webmail client. The installation of the Outlook Connector is made easier by having it as an option in the browser application.

Customization

As this is basically all well documented Open Source tools, customization should be relatively easy. My only concern would be whatever mods SCO has made, though I bet these are minimal.

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning, I don't know that very many people would use this. If you already have a SCO server, you might consider adding this, but I'd advise running mail on a separate system. If this were part of a chain of servers passing mail through each other, it might make sense as it could add another layer of virus scanning, but at it's present pricing level, I think it's a bit costly for that. Overall, I just don't see it.




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