Try our RSS feed

Unix Review > Archives > 2001 > 0107
Print-Friendly Version

July 2001

CommuniGate Pro

Review by Ron McCarty

CommuniGate Pro from Stalker Software is second only to Sendmail when it comes to cross-platform mail server software. CommuniGate Pro is a commercial mail transfer agent available for Apple MacOS X, BeOS, BSDI, BSD/OS, FreeBSD 4.x, HP/UX, IBM S/390, IBM OS/400, IBM AS/400 Power, Linux (Red Hat 6.x/7.x, SuSE, LinuxPPC, YellowDog, Cobalt, Alpha, NetWinder), Microsoft Windows NT, Microsoft Windows 95/98, OpenBSD, SCO UnixWare, SGI IRIX, Sun Solaris, and Tru64 (Digital Unix).

In this article, I will review CommuniGate Pro version 3.4.7 on Solaris. I used Solaris 2.6 for the review; however, the binaries and scripts are uniform across Solaris versions.

Upside

This install steps are very straightforward and are covered at: http://www.stalker.com/CommuniGatePro/Install.html#Solaris. The steps covered include instructions for removing Sendmail from the system. After the quick installation -- and a quick look at the password generated during the install with:

cat /var/CommuniGate/Accounts/postmaster.macnt/account.settings

-- administration of CommuniGate Pro can be started by pointing a browser at port 8010 of the server, such as: http://sunny.my-own-domain.to:8010. See Figure 1.

The number of services immediately supported with the installation and configured through the Web interface is almost overwhelming. CommuniGate Pro supports the popular protocols IMAP, POP3, and SMTP. Webmail is also directly supported.

Administration is straightforward through a hierarchy of screens that control everything from mail routing, to domain management, and accounts.

Serving Up Email

The most prominent SMTP features are size limitations, retry attempts, time out intervals, and easy support of multiple domains.

On the client side, what will be most noticeable to service providers is the support of clients without requiring a Unix account -- definitely a plus for additional security. IMAP and POP are both supported, as are some lesser known protocols. User administration includes limiting user mailbox sizes, allowing the user to determine whether to use rules on incoming mail, and whether the user should have the system-wide banners attached to email.

For many administrators, Webmail has become the universal client of choice; CommuniGate Pro supports it directly.

Although most Webmail implementations cannot perform as well as full- blown clients, Webmail is an effective tool, even for the most demanding remote users. Webmail features can be compared to commercial services such as Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail. Features include multiple mailbox support, POP-to-Webmail support for multiple email accounts, and file attachments. Secure socket layer (SSL) access is provided to ensure that no clear-text passwords are passed through the network.

Administration

The user interface provides straightforward administration, with some added features that allow complete administration without dropping to the shell. The Web interface provides event logging, queue monitoring, SMTP traffic, and user access (see Figure 2). The noticeable missing functionality is the ability to start, stop, or restart the daemon. Although a restart was not necessary during my testing, it would be a nice added feature.

Once information is entered to bring up the initial system, the standard settings for the system will be fine for most sites; however, CommuniGate Pro does provide the capability to change almost all behavior through 14 submenus under the Settings menu.

CommuniGate Pro also supports its own security model, allowing administrators to be limited to server, directory, domain, and account settings. This allows granular administration to match the needs of the organization, such as allowing the network operations center to enter user accounts, but allowing only the administrator to make changes to domains.

Downside

One concern I have about CommuniGate Pro is the documentation. While it is adequate for setting up the server, it does not serve as an adequate reference for users and administrators. For example, when using Webmail, it is not obvious that multiple domain support is accessed by having the user specify the domain name as part of the account name. Also, the function of each of the TCP ports is not clear. (Port 8010 is the administration port; 9010 is also an administration port, but uses the secure socket layer (SSL) to encrypt the session; and 8100 is the Webmail port.)

Another concern is the storage of user passwords as clear text on the disk drive. While the files are protected using standard Unix file permissions, encryption should be a standard setting for the files.

Summary

CommuniGate Pro may not be the product for hands-on administrators who prefer tweaking and fine tuning their network services. However, for those who want to install the production server and forget about it, CommuniGate Pro is definitely worth checking out. Command-line gurus may miss the direct interaction with the system; however, chances are that low-level access to the system will rarely be needed. CommuniGate Pro is an ideal fit for most independent support and solutions providers. It offers a stable solution requiring little back office support while providing an easy-to-use Web interface for user creation.

Administration: 4/5
Documentation: 2/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Functionality: 4/5
Installation: 5/5
Platform Support: 5/5

Sys Admin Spotlight

New Products
June 2007 New Products

CMP DevNet Spotlight

Regular Expressions: Two Easy Steps Better Than One Hard One
Complicated regular expressions and yacc are powerful parsing tools, but they can cause trouble in inexperienced hands. One helpful alternative is "partial evaluation" (PE) or "active data" parsing

In the News

Qualcomm Plans Healthcare And Wellness MVNO

Just when you thought the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) model might go away, some big giant pulls it back into the limelight. The giant this week is Qualcomm and its play is a health and fitness MVNO. So Qualcomm wants to become a service provider?


Microsoft's Windows Home Server Takes Interesting Storage Twist

Longhorn, Centro, Cougar, and the ever-humble "Home." What's with all the names? Well, now that Vista is well on its way--sales reputed to be 40 million and climbing--Microsoft appears to be shifting its attention to a dizzying array of variations on its Windows Server operating system.


Contractor Pleads Guilty To Stealing Classified Data From Los Alamos Labs
The woman admitted to printing out classified documents, downloading others onto a thumb drive, and taking the information home.


Did Anyone Else Notice that Apple Lost $4 Billion in Value Yesterday?

It's stories like this that make bloggers cringe. Yesterday, tech blog Engadget received supposed insider information about a delay of the iPhone until October, and another delay for Leopard, pushing the new OS to January of 2008. Duty bound to report to its readers, it filed a post. Within minutes, some people who read the post were selling their Apple stock, which dipped 3% in mid-day trading yesterday. The origin of the information was an internal Apple memo...which turned out to be fake. Fake or not, Apple's market capitalization sunk by $4 billion once the memo became public.


Can Microsoft Beat The Set-Top Box?
Microsoft is setting the groundwork to challenge cable companies with Home Server, Vista, and the Xbox videogame console, which can play Internet content and high-definition DVDs on a TV.


Interop Preview: 10 Things To Do And See At The Conference
With so much going on at the Interop conference in Las Vegas, we've pulled out 10 cool things you should check out while you're there.


Interop Preview: Chief Security Officer Boot Camp
Taking a few pages from the CSO Boot Camp at Interop, here are five things you should know or be able to do to become a CSO in today's market.


Newsletter

Subscribe to the UnixReview Newsletter

Subscribe to Sys Admin

Subscribe to THE journal for UNIX systems administrators. Receive 45% off your subscription by following the link below:

CD-ROM

Sys Admin and The Perl Journal CD-ROM version 11.0

Version 11.0 delivers every issue of Sys Admin from 1992 through 2005 and every issue of The Perl Journal from 1996-2002 in one convenient CD-ROM!

Order now!




MarketPlace

New! VMware Workstation 6 now available
The leader in desktop virtualization software. Get more information here.

UNIX and Linux Performance Tuning Simplified
SarCheck is a UNIX performance analysis and tuning tool for most UNIX and Linux systems. It produces recommendations and explanations, complete with supporting graphs and tables. Get the most from your hardware by keeping your systems tuned.

Used IBM pSeries Servers
Did you know that clients worldwide are making their budgets work by purchasing refurbished and used IBM pSeries servers and parts at up to 80% off list pricing? Many of the latest models and features are available now used at Vibrant Technologies!

Timesheet + time tracking for payroll and projects
Clockware is the first timesheet and time tracking software that is 100% J2EE-compliant. Clockware's Payroll Timesheet integrates with all major Payroll systems. Clockware also supports Time and Attendance, and Project Timesheets in one system.

Wanna see your ad here?