iOS + Outlook ActiveSync Support


(cjh) #1

NethServer Version: 7.4.1708

Hello everyone!

I’m looking to replace our old Windows SBS 2008 box that serves <10 users.
I tested out Zentyal and it does not seem anywhere near as polished as nethserver.
The nethserver documentation and community effort look great!

My main requirement is providing push email to iOS + Outlook clients.

I’ve spent a few hours cruising the docs and reading about SOGo / Webtop.
However, I’m running across conflicting notes on ActiveSync support for email on iOS + Outlook.

Current Setup

1 Windows SBS 2003 with Exchange 2003
6 iPhones
6 Windows PCs w/Outlook 2010 or 2013


The NS Webtop docs say very clearly that mail is not supported over ActiveSync.

Active Sync protocol is supported only on Android and iOS devices. Outlook is not supported. Mail synchronization is currently not supported.


The NS SOGo docs say that both iOS devices and Outlook support mail, calendars, contacts, and tasks with EAS.

SOGo provides EAS (Exchange ActiveSync) support, but not EWS (Exchange Web Service). Outlook 2013, 2016 for Windows works well with EAS. Mainstream mobile devices (iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10) work well with EAS, they can sync mails, calendars, contacts, tasks. Apple, and Outlook for Mac support EWS. But not EAS. Clients work very well with POP3/IMAP account, caldav/carddav account

But the very next warning says

nethserver-sogo doesn’t integrate OpenChange and Samba4 for native MAPI support, so SOGo groupware doesn’t provide full support for Microsoft Outlook clients, Mac OS X and all iOS devices, don’t try to add your mail account as an Exchange account in these mail clients. You have to add account as POP3/IMAP account, caldav/carddav account instead.

This SOGo diagram makes it look like iOS support does not depend on OpenChange, so is the above warning incorrect?

Please let me know if I’m missing something here!

I’ll be testing on my end shortly.

How to enable push
(Jeroen Visser) #2

I have a working config with minimal adjustments. Not everything works 100% as it does with Exchange + Outlook, but it comes pretty close.

Issues are: Tuning. Without proper tuning of the sogo.conf file, it will be slow as (&%#(&@#

Calendars: If I plan something in someone elses calendar, and invite a third person, this scenario fails. It doesnt in Outlook, and is missed by secretarys or PA’s or how you want to call them, and managers. I havent found a good workaround yet.

Besides that, and provided you have at least Outlook 2013, this should properly work. Things that will work, but are different:

Personal mailbox sharing: All mailfolders of other people will be aggregated into one folder ‘Other users’ or something to that extend … this breaks clients such as BlueMail who list every folder instead of a foldable node tree, and this makes you scroll for hours in typical small business mailboxes with 10 years of history floating around.

Public mailboxes: get aggregated as well, compounding previously mentioned issue.

You need a lot of resources to make SOGo perform smoothly for ~ 40 clients and a total of 15 mailboxes being connected to. People with huge amounts of mail might have performance issues regardless, but this could also be due to a buggy windoze or userprofile. For 15 users I assigned 32GB of memory and 4 cores, increased worker count to 90, and had to tweak the vmemsize and a few other options. I will be documenting them soon. It’ s on my list this week, but my list tends to change.

(Michael Träumner) #3

You can add an caldav account to sync your calendar with ios, for contacts you can use carddav and for mail imap.

(cjh) #4

Thanks for getting back to me @m.traeumner and @planet_jeroen!

Perfect, sounds like it works pretty much seamlessly with Outlook 2013+.

Ahh so there is no push email for iOS, correct?

Doesn’t that contradict the note on EAS from the NS SOGo docs?

…Mainstream mobile devices (iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10) work well with EAS, they can sync mails, calendars, contacts, tasks…

(Michael Träumner) #5

IMAP supports push mail too.

For EAS support you can have a look here:

(cjh) #6

I believe iOS 11.0.1 fixed the sync issues on iOS 11.

Is that only with IMAP IDLE?
As far as I can tell, iOS does not support IDLE.

(Jeroen Visser) #7

ActiveSync works for iOS devices as well. The funny/irritating thing is: it works better for mobile device apps then for desktop outlook.

I suspect Microsoft somewhat breaking things when a non-exchange activesync is used, due to undocumented features only Desktop Outlook knows about.

IMAP works well for mail in outlook, but sucks for calendars, unless you do not mind goofing around with caldavsync (a plugin for outlook) This adds unwanted layers of complexity, so I would not advice IMAP and Desktop Outlook usage of the stack.

If you want to go IMAP, use Thunderbird.This works perfect.

If you want to go EAS. you can pretty much use whatever you want, as long as it supports EAS. Some mobile device clients will make a mess of shared and other’s mailboxes, as they list every folder, but not in a tree. Some do not allow to turn on/off a calendar of a collegue. I had both issues in BlueMail.

Outlook for Android, and I suspect iOS as well, will work flawless.

In short. or TLDR: The docs are outdated on this topic, or you have to thank @stephdl for integrating beyond the scope of the basic SOGo documentation.

The thing you really should be aware of, is that we are looking at a specific and modified SOGo installation on top of the Nethserver base. You can not 100% go by the SOGo documentation because of this.

(Stéphane de Labrusse) #8

sogo4 is on the road, and for what I read they improved activesync

(kai) #9

I have an Installation with Nethserver and Sogo, 15 Clients. They all work more or less without Problems on the Activesync Protokoll. They are in the Past a few things i dont get, like sometimes a Sync from a Client with Contacts dont work like it should. I had the open the Contact in the Outlook Client and change something, save it. After that the sync works. Also i have a Problem with Appointments. It is like it double the Appointment in Android activesync, in IOS and Outlook it is an normal entry. But in general it work for me.

(Michael Träumner) #10

I’ve read a little bit about it, sometimes the people report that it works with IOS 11, often I see that Apple restores the push function for GMAIL and I’ve found that it only should work with WLAN and connected powersupply.
So I think you have to try, sorry I can’t I use Android.

(Alessio Fattorini) #11

Sounds great! Thanks for your feedback.

Looks like a great use case. Using Outlook over activesync?

(Jeroen Visser) #12

Most of us are using Outlook 2013 or 2016 and an Android client over ActiveSync. A few of us are using Thunderbird with IMAP and CalDAV.

(cjh) #13

Hey everyone,

I finally got some time to set mail up.
ActiveSync works well across iOS and Outlook 2013.

iOS Email
I added my email as an Exchange account, and…
:white_check_mark: Emails are pushed to my phone within 15 seconds or so.
:x: Drafts are not shared between clients.

Outlook 2013 Email
I added my email as an ActiveSync compatible email, and…
:white_check_mark: Emails are pushed within 15 seconds or so.
:x: Drafts are not shared between clients.

:white_check_mark: Calendar events are shared across iOS and Outlook.
:white_check_mark: Reminders work on both clients.

I’ve only tried email (no carddav/caldav), but Thunderbird + IMAP IDLE works very well.

I’ll keep you posted on how things turn out - thanks!

(Alessio Fattorini) #14

Except drafts, it looks working well. How many accounts are you managing?

So, what are you working on? - 13 March 2018
(Michael Träumner) #15

Caldav (I did not tried with carddav) work great to in Thunderbird with the sogo connector

(cjh) #16

8 accounts total.

Sorry for the slow response time, I’ve only been able to spend an occasional hour or so on this.

In Outlook, you can’t just output Mail + Contacts + Calendar to a pst and drag it back into the new ActiveSync account (I think this is just an Outlook ‘feature’).

Still, I’ll save everyone’s account to a pst as a backup, plus it’s useful for contacts/calendars.


Use imapsync to pull the emails from exchange server using the example given on github here.
1. Make file.txt with the format:
2. Run

echo Looping on account credentials found in file.txt
{ while IFS=';' read  h1 u1 p1 h2 u2 p2 fake
      { echo "$h1" | egrep "^#" ; } > /dev/null && continue # this skip commented lines in file.txt
      echo "==== Starting imapsync from host1 $h1 user1 $u1 to host2 $h2 user2 $u2 ===="
      imapsync --host1 "$h1" --user1 "$u1" --password1 "$p1" --tls1 \
               --host2 "$h2" --user2 "$u2" --password2 "$p2" --tls2 \
               --automap \
               --exclude 'Calendar|Contacts|Deleted Items|Drafts|Tasks|RSS Feeds|Journal|Junk E-Mail|Suggested Contacts|Notes|Outbox' \
      echo "==== Ended imapsync from host1 $h1 user1 $u1 to host2 $h2 user2 $u2 ===="
} < file.txt

I found I needed to exclude all of those folders to avoid a mess of folders on the new account.


In Outlook, I'll open the pst files I saved previously. Under People, select all contacts (Ctrl-A), right-click -> Move -> Copy to Folder... and move them to the new account. I have confirmed this works on my own account.

With only 8 users this shouldn’t be much trouble, but it would be a major time-sink with more users.


Same approach as with Contacts. In Outlook, open the .pst file, go to Calendar.

Change the view to a list to be able to copy everything at once.
View -> Change View -> List
Select all items (Ctrl-A) and copy them to the new account’s calendar.


Mail syncing is simple with imapsync.

Contacts + Calendar syncing is a bit time more consuming because it is done one-at-a-time through Outlook, but it is doable.