SuSE OpenExchange: More Than a Mere Mail Server - Page 2

 By Carla Schroder
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More Than Merely a Mail Server

No one needs a server this sophisticated for merely distributing emails across the network. The heart of OpenExchange is the PostgreSQL database. Documents are stored as database objects, rather than simply copied over via Samba. This doesn't matter to users, of course, who see standard directory trees and have a nice GUI to click and drag through. Items are hyperlinked for easy organization and retrieval and for conserving disk space -- there's no need to create endless multiple copies of files for distribution.

What's really useful in OpenExchange is that users control the level of organization -- there's no need to pester or wait on the overworked admin to perform file management chores. Stored files can be linked to -- and links organized -- by several users or groups of users any way they need, without disturbing the organization of the files themselves.

These links form a "Knowledge Database." Again, users see a standard directory structure, even though they are really hyperlinks, not the actual files and directories. Because everything is hyperlinked, users can bookmark items to their heart's content. Users will also appreciate the speed of PostgreSQL's built-in full-text search engine.

Also included in OpenExchange are discussion forums and easy mechanisms for creating user groups, resource groups, and appropriate access permissions. The "Pin Board" is a useful online bulletin board, and my favorite feature, "Mail To All," allows the admin to dispense words of wit and wisdom to all users with a single click.

OpenExchange also offers a nice assortment of system monitoring tools for active users, mail queue, load monitoring, and load balancing.

Migrating from Exchange 5.5 or eMail Server 3.1

SuSE is taking direct aim at Microsoft Exchange with this product. As such, this is not a product for inexperienced sysadmins any more than Exchange or Notes are. OpenExchange is easier to operate than Exchange and is far more sane. Perhaps some of your customers are like mine; they think administering a server is as easy as clicking the "send" button in their email, a magical Star Trek-type experience. Buying this product will not eliminate the need for a skilled admin! But it will make the admin's life a whole lot easier, as like any Linux server, it "just works" without needing excessive babysitting.

With Exchange 5.5 nearing the end of its support cycle for many users, migrating from Exchange 5.5 to OpenExchange is a worthy option to investigate. Contact SuSE for information on switching over from Exchange; they will be more than happy to assist you with the migration.

Instructions for upgrading from SuSE eMail Server 3.1 are in the excellent OpenExchange administrator's manual.


SuSE has done an outstanding job with OpenExchange. It costs US $1,249.00, which includes the operating system and ten groupware clients. External email clients do not pay for licenses, nor are there client access licenses for the operating system. Additional groupware client licenses range from $32 - $50, depending on quantity. There are no sneaky proprietary gotchas to bollix standard security or networking protocols. Compared to the other enterprise groupware/email servers on the market, OpenExchange is the bargain of the year for mid-size companies looking for a powerful mail server solution.


SuSE OpenExchange
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» See All Articles by Columnist Carla Shroder

This article was originally published on Feb 11, 2003
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