my private cloud – the groupware part

In this post I’m describing my quest for a suitable software for the groupware part of my private cloud. The requirements have been described in the first part of this series. However they shall be explained in detail here.

Usually one expects a groupware suite to offer at least the following services:

  • email
  • calendaring, espacially invitation for appointments to other users
  • contacts
  • notes

Apart from that I do have quite high expactations regarding accessability:

  • Access by common clients (Apple Mail, Thunderbird, evolution, Kontact, etc.)
  • Access by smartphone, best via Exchange Active Sync
  • Access by web browser

In addition the software should be open source, fully developed and actively develop to grant stability for future. Also the use of open standards like imap, calDAV and cardDav is important to me as they guarantee flexibility and cooperation with most clients. So using a Microsoft’s Exchange Server is not an option.
Of course it is not easy finding a solution fulfilling all the requirements. I’ve looked a some of the most common groupware solutions like

  • Kolab
  • Zarafa
  • OpenExchange
  • eGroupware

In the end none of them could satisfy me completely. Most of these software are publishes Open Source (at least partly) but developed by companies for their (paying) customers. So if you don’t want to follow the standard setup it might get difficult.
Therefor I’ve decided to build up my own groupware server using a bunch of existing and well tested software. This is a similar approach like kolab, but using the apropiate protcol for each datatype, ie IMAP for mails, claDAV for calendaring, carDAv for contacts. Kolab is encapsulating everything in emails, so only clients understanding this special datatype can be used.

the plan:

  • email
    As a mailserver I will use the common programms dovecot und postfix, completed by amavis, spamassin und clamav for virus scanning and spam filtering as well as sieve for filtering in general.
  • calendar
    calendaring will be provided by davical.
  • contacts
    davical supports cardDAV and will provide addressbooks.
  • notes
    I’m not yet sure if a webDAV-Server will be used to store notes or if it might be a better idea to use the “dropbaox part” of my own cloud for this purpose.
  • central user administration
    in order to minimize the complexity of adminisration all accounts, maildomains, -boxes and -adresses will be stored in a central LDAP. Other applications can use these information too..
  • mobile access
    as not all mobile devices understand calDAV/cardDAV (as my PalmPre doesn’t) I will use the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol for syncing mobile devices. The open source software zPush implements this protocol for several backends.
  • web access
    I’m not yet sure wether to use horde or roundcube. Some testing will be necessary.

The setup of all these services will be explained in separate series of posts.

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