A Viable Unix Alternative

MailStudio 2000 Plusan email and calendaring server that runs on Solaris or Linux

MailStudio 6.0 is an SMTP- and POP-compliant mail server that integrates with a calendar server. It runs on Solaris 7 or 8 and Linux, providing a high-performance, reasonably priced alternative to Exchange Server or Notes. It supports high-availability and scalability through clustering of multiple servers, and we believe it to be a reasonable candidate for organizations looking for an enterprise-level email server.

MailStudio’s functionality is excellent, and it supports a wide range of email clients, through POP or IMAP4, including Outlook and Outlook Express, the Notes client, and Eudora. The calendar server supports the iCal standard, which is also supported by Outlook and others. Access via the Web is excellent. The Web functionality does not seem “tacked on,” as it does in other mail server offerings. Both speed and functionality are very good, rendering separate email clients unnecessary.

The package is not currently distributed as a box set and is available only as a download or on CD-R directly from MailStudio. Installation is not as simple as it would be for Exchange on a Windows Server, but it is well documented. It took us about an hour to install the server, excluding the time it took to do other things, such as download the GNU gzip utility so we could open the compressed .tar archive.

MailStudio requires a separate SMTP server (i.e., sendmail), which should be installed before MailStudio. It also uses a custom version of Apache Web server for Web access that can cause a port conflict if a Web server is already running on the same system.

While we installed the demo version, to complete the full install requires a license key. To obtain a license key, you must complete a request form and submit it to 3R Soft with the host ID, hostname, OS version, IP address, and domain name of the server. This is also required for the calendar server; there is no demo version of the calendar server.

In addition, the demo version is not freely available on the Web site — you have to request it from a 3RSoft sales rep. No demo version of the calendar server is offered at this time.

User names and passwords are the same as those already on the server in the /etc/passwd file, while additional information is maintained in a MailStudio database. In the Linux version, MD5 is not supported, so administrators with Linux servers that use MD5 security (the default after version 6.0) will have to redo all of their user accounts and passwords.

Once installed, MailStudio works well, supporting HTML, POP, and IMAP4. It also offers optional support for wireless (WAP) access. According to 3R Soft, one server can support tens of thousands of users, which is considerably more than most experienced Exchange administrators would attempt. We found the administration to be straightforward and the interface easy to use.

Optional add-on packages are available for those looking for a calendar server ($10 per account), antivirus checking of mail ($2 per account), secure mail (PKI, SSL, and S/MIME), wireless access (WAP and iMode — $2 per account), and a synchronization server for syncing PDAs with email accounts and address books. The sync server is scheduled to be available this summer.

MailStudio 6.0 requires slightly more investment in time for the administrator, but it is less expensive than its well-known alternatives, with an excellent feature set and high performance.

Pros: Low cost, high performance, good documentation
Cons: Complex installation

Version Reviewed: 6.0
Reviewed by: Logan Harbaugh
Last Updated: 5/16/02
Date of Original Review: 5/16/02

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