Wednesday, March 21, 2012

8 Free Open Source Alternatives To Microsoft Exchange

Many users are frustrated with the planned obsolescence and expense of Microsoft products. One of Microsoft's popular products has been Microsoft Exchange, while many users are impressed with the features of Microsoft Exchange; others are looking for open source alternatives.

Ubuntu Server

For system administrators with experience, Ubuntu Server includes a full range of features such as private and public clouds, security from AppArmor, virtualization, integration between MacOS X and Microsoft Network. The Mail Server includes SMTP, POP3, and IMAP 4 capabilities, as well as Webmail, contact sharing, file sharing, and discussion boards. Ubuntu Server is free and support options are available.


Open-Xchange comes in several versions, including a free Community version, Hosting and Server Edition, and Advanced Server Version. The Advanced Server edition allows you to work with Microsoft Outlook or MS Exchange. The Hosting version is designed for hosting services and ISPs to provide email and group services. Only the Community version is free.

Citadel Groupware Server

Citadel works by dividing elements into “rooms”, such as email, RSS, chat, and calendar. Citadel works with the Linux, BSD, Unix, and Solaris OS, and includes features such as instant messaging and support for mobile devices. Citadel is easy to install, and there is a high level of online community support.


While Horde is not specifically marketed as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange, it offers a wide range of features and modules to add-in. Horde is open source. Because of the many alternatives, it may be difficult for inexperienced users to set op, but most administration is performed via a web interface.


Kolab offers a full range of groupware features including email. Calendaring, contacts and multi-client support. Kolab works with IMAP email, and there is a plug-in available to integrate with Outlook.


Scalix is the current incarnation of HP OpenMail, and has all the bells and whistles Exchange users have come to expect, including group calendaring, PIM, email, and busy/free services. There is both a free community edition and a commercial (supported) version.


eGroupware has both a free community edition and a commercial edition. Features include task, project and event management, file server, information sharing, and website content management.


For small organizations who are primarily interested in an email server, SquirrelMail is another alternative. There are a number of plug-ins available such as shared calendars, shared to-do lists, to-do reminders , and notes, which add to the productivity of this product.

When it comes to features, Microsoft sometimes seems to have the attitude of the small town general store provider: “If we don't have it, you don't need it”. Open source solutions, on the other hand encourage tweaks and add-ons to improve both productivity and enjoyment.
Advantages of Microsoft Exchange include the user-friendly interface, security, and support (at least until the next version is released and you have to buy an upgrade.) Besides limited features and planned obsolescence, Microsoft products are more expensive than (free) open-source alternatives.

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