NethServer as an alternative to the Windows Small Business Server

Ehi folks,
I just read this discussion on spicework and I’d like to gather your thoughts on that.
My plan is writing a blog post wrapping up your feedback

  • What are we missing?
  • Where are we competitive?
  • Is is a real alternative for windows administrators?

Tagging here some experts @planet_jeroen @mansoor.tariq @iglqut @fausp @Kyle_Hayes @chrisg @Hunv @GG_jr @flatspin

Printer Sharing, GPO, scripting, support for windows apps, network flexibility (aka cannot change IP of the NDSC containter), partition and volume management

Licensing, mail server, app server, chat server, stability, lack of extra tools (most of tools are integrated), hardware request

No way.
Too many things missing thing for “kill” Windows in a well integrated environment.
Also, for quality conscious-enviroment a lot of reports are missing. As perspective of not-tech people, this is not even RedHat (which is a certified software). It’s a mangled CentOS.
Therefore, keep trying. Maybe more user-based issues could route NethServer into a real Windows Server alternative…

If budget is a nice hit for prefere Nethserver, sometimes if a company is already using and paying Windows could try to be a bit wider for searching licensing partners.

A drop-in Exchange Server replacement.

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Who needs exchange when Outlook is not your primary mail client? Even with Outlook as primary client: Outlook does very well with IMAP configuration… I don’t see the need for a ‘drop-in-replacement’ for Exchange. I also have seen a very promising project that tried and failed and has been diminished to a handful of users and like 2 developers (where it came from several 1000 users and almost 20 devs)

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I thought we added it!

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You were right and i were wrong, @davidep. But still cannot be changed the domain name (NetBIOS and DNS). Until now.

NethServer is really a good alternative to MS SBS IMO.

Domain rename is not easy to not possible (Exchange) in MS environments:

cups, savapage

Couldn’t it be done via Windows OS with RSAT? There is a new Windows File Server page now and a lot of feature requests.

Please explain…

We already have MS SQL Server for linux but which Windows apps should be supported? NS is able to host Windows VMs so in last instance it has support for Windows apps.

You are right, here the problem is to make an easy simple UI so nothing bad can happen to the system but maybe with cockpit…

Please share some examples…



My opinion: NethServer is a very usefull alternative to the Windows Small Business Server.

I say that because I have experience with MS Small Business Server since version 2003.
IN SBS from MS we have Exchange and Sharepoint. I NS we have Nextcloud, Roundcube, SoGo or others. Only the Update and Patchmanagement can be a little bit difficult. But I think there will be a viable solution for that, too.



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But it is for a great many people, especially businesses.

No, it’s a crap mail client, whether with IMAP, Exchange, or anything else. But because it’s Microsoft, it’s very widely used, and most users are too… inflexible… to switch to another client, even if feature parity were present–and it isn’t. Exchange doesn’t just do mail–it handles calendars, tasks, contacts, notes, and probably other features I don’t use. I’m not aware of any client-server combo that handles these features in the Free Software world, and especially not with Outlook. And no, a web-based system isn’t equivalent (we have lots of contenders there).


I think we agree… :slight_smile:
Bottom line: There is no reason to want a drop-in replacement for Exchange. If you are convinced, Exchange is not needed, don’t mimic it either!

There I’m afraid I disagree–if you want to sell Nethserver as a viable alternative to SBS, I’d bet that you’d need to do Exchange in at least 75% of cases. I don’t like Outlook (I don’t have direct experience with Exchange, as such, to say either way), but I like the features that Exchange provides. Do we have anything that provides comparable features using client software?

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Client software is a huge development effort. As I read here Microsoft itself cannot ship a decent one and has its cloud based alternative.

For Outlook lovers sogo and webtop provide EAS:

You are right about the weak IMAP implementation in Outlook but for just mails it should be enough.

Another option is caldav synchronizer.

Hence why a drop-in Exchange replacement is valuable–the client software is already written.


Regarding Exchange alternative: Exchange is more than “just Mail”. It can also do the following things (and of cause much more):

  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Tasks
  • Rooms

Outlook is the favorite client for this, because it is able to handle all this stuff. Especially Mail, Calendar and Contacts is a combination where I don’t know another good software. I also have no problems with IMAP and Outlook.

Regarding replacement of a SBS:
If you build a complete new infrastructure on a green field and you are planning to use what Nethserver can do, I think it can be a good alternative - but not a replacement!
When you just have some Windows PCs without any Windows Servers, you can use it. If you have some Windows Servers and in general about all of your environment is based on Windows, you should use Windows at least for Useradministration (Active Directory), DNS and maybe also DHCP. You can still use Nethserver for Mail-, Firewall- and Webservices. That is how I am using Nethserver and it is running very well like this.

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For a small company like mine, NS is a good alternative to MS SBS. It does all we need. We use eM-Client as Outlook-alternative in combination with SOGo (IMAP, CalDAv, CardDav). Our needs are covered. Also with Thunderbird (mail, calendar) it works good for us.
Not every enviroment has some hundret clients, multiple subnets and needs all the stuff MS-Servers offer. I prefer a simple system I can handle myself. Maybe it’s not perfect, but I have my costs under control.
And last but not least, I became a linux lover first with SME and than with NS! :wink:

Fully agree.


I’m using nethserver on one of my projects, they are 250 people and it works superb.

I agree that there’s still work to be done, but paid support is good and the system is stable.


I was thinking while reading this thread and I can see that a number of managers and CxO level execs would like to see this sort of tick box comparison list as it would supposedly make it an easy decision for them if they see enough correlation between the two.

If I may throw the cat among the pigeons and say that that may not be the best way to look at it.

A better way would be to have a look at your business requirements and business needs; list them out into clear, logical and defined points and do a tick box exercise there to see if Nethserver will meet the requirements.

That way, you will have a clear idea and understanding if Nethserver will be able to match your business requirements and meet your business needs.
If you do a tick box exercise of Nethserver against Microsoft Small Business Server, all you get is a comparison of some sorts between the two without necessarily a clear indication of whether it will meet expectations or your business requirements.

Its a bit of a different way of thinking for the techies but most managers and CxO level execs should (in theory) understand that concept of checking the alignment of a product to their business requirements/needs.


For most small businesses, their users are Microsoft trained. They need outlook, they need roaming profiles, they need acl’s like they know them and they need Microsoft trained engineers to manage it, as they are cheaper then Linux guru’s.

If you can replace the small business server with Nethserver and have them not notice, you have an instant win on the licensing costs for that domain. If you can’t, you have a whole lot of convincing and training to do :frowning:

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