NethServer as an alternative to the Windows Small Business Server

Hi Rob,
I know my answer comes late, but in my opinion IMAP integration at Outlook is not very good.
For example the sent mails often are only local at Outlook 2013 and 2016 (if you configure the account it searches for the directories at the server, frequently it didn’t get them and you get a folder “Sent (only this computer)”. If so, you have create a filter to move them to the right directory.
For drafts you don’t have a chance with a filter, you have to move them manually.
I think things like autoresponder you can’t create at Outlook with IMAP (If this is not the case, please say me how, I miss that for my customers).

1 Like

OK… I fixed it:


Outlook and IMAP can work like a charm, but caldav will not work. You can only add an ics based calendar, which means it is read only to you. This is usually unacceptable.

I have found that using activesync for mobile devices works like a charm, except some mail clients can not properly handle shared calendars.

Using outlook 2013 or 2016 with ActiveSync works, but loads of special effects are had at the moment.

Using outlook 2013 or 2016 with IMAP works like a charm, but calendar is limited.

Using Thunderbird with IMAP and caldav, works like a charm.

1 Like

I have a customer that wants to use Outlook with Webtop via IMAP. it’s a PITA…

For synchronizing Outlook with CalDAV and CardDAV servers there’s this plugin:


Hi alefattorini,

I think that With NethServer v7 together with Webtop can be a very good alternative for SBS as soon as there is a solid integration with MS Outlook so that all functionalities of Outlook can be used. I have users who only wants to work with MS Outlook because they are used to it and benefits it offers as soon as they are offline.

1 Like

IMO the only reason to use Outlook is the integration with Exchange and the MAPI protocol. Since NethServer nor webtop support the MAPI protocol, there is little reason to use Outlook. If you were to use a mail client, I would look elsewhere.
However, I know people are not easily made to change. So use Outlook with IMAP and it should work.
As @planet_jeroen already mentioned, try to get your users to use TBird/Lightning. It works like a charm.


I don’t agree.
I am a long time Thunderbird user, and i love it, but in several things Outlook is far more powerful, starting from the storage capabilities (with current PST format you can easily scale to tenths of gb, using maildir format the limit is still at 4gb), contacts management, programmability (rules, which are pretty powerful compared to Thunderbird, and easier to create for |users), personalization, form creating.
It has also some limits (IMAP management, IMAP folders just like MacOSX Mail or iPhone), you have to buy windows and outlook for use it. But it has more than one points more than thunderbird.

1 Like

Hi Rob,

Thanks for the information about Thunderbird / Lightning. I’m going to try it out and discover what the differences are in relation to Outlook. Outlook with IMAP is not a pleasant combination for someone who is used to Outlook and MS Exchange, so I hope thunderbird / lighting will be a good replacement for Outlook.

Hi Pike,

I think you have good arguments there. Fortunately, not every user needs all the Outlook functionalities, so I think there are plenty of opportunities to introduce NethServer where MS Outlook is not needed, especially if you will use Webtop in a web browser. And in addition, you also have the Webtop integration with Netxcloud, which is an excellent function. However, I believe that if Outlook were fully supported by NethServer, NethServer would be the absolute alternative to MS Windows and MS Exchange for Small Business and not to forget Office365.


I think that current workgroup policy for Nethesis and this project is “clientless groupware”.
Therefore, Outlook will be considered only as imap client, nothing more.

1 Like

really? strange enough, I’m currently using a 20 GB account on TB with no issues at all… can you give more details on this limitation?

interesting, I feel exactly the contrary… where I work I’m forced to use outlook and it’s like an elephant inside a crystal’s shop.

TB has thousands of plugins, you can use it for almost everything… and it’s native search feature is far better than the outlook’s one (which uses windows indexer service… which can create on a heavily used server, a 600 GB .edb file…)

TB can run on every O.S., so you can move from windows to linux and vice versa without issues (as I usually do with my home pcs)

this morning, back in the office, I had no access to outlook 'cause its local profile was corrupted (doh!)… never had such a problem with TB in dozens of installs and in 10 years…

I have customers using (8 users at the same time) shared imap accounts with more than 30 Gb of mail… no issues, never.

and I can use almost any release of TB to access my linux servers, I’m not forced to buy another newest release when I upgrade my server or my pc.

the real PITA is that TB is not intended to be mass deployed in a enterprise environment, 'cause it lacks some features (on admin side, I mean)…

Ah, I forgot… TB has also some logs… I know that from a simple user’s POV it doesn’t mean anything, but when I’m asked to understand what’s going wrong, I prefer to read some logs instead of search for strange and useless error codes out there.

1 Like

last release of Outlook can connect to SOGo’s activesync
and with some free plugins (ops, addons) you can force outlook to use caldav/cardav

there is no exchange replacement out there for free… and outlook, without an exchange server, is just an useless email client…

I must agree with @Stefano_Zamboni. I am also a long time TB user and I still use the same .mozilla directory I created 8 years ago.
When I need or want to install another linux flavor, I simply copy back that .mozilla directory from my local profile and my mail client is back with all the plugins, rules, addressbook and mails.
I never had any form of corruption of TB data, where I have seen some drama’s with my wife’s outlook install…

agreed with that… and I don’t mind one single bit. I have seen (failed) attempts to mimic Exchange on Linux. Let’s just stick with the things Linux, CentOS and NethServer are good in.

IMAP or POP3? For the first one, files are mirrors, therefore file size should not be a problem
For the second one, limitation is part of the mbox folder format

It’s quite old and well known limit, as far as i know.
Maildir support still “experimental”, i would like to have it soon into “stable” enviroment, also client backup should be far more fast and reliable (if a single file crack, only 1 message is lost)

And on all the comments about why you prefere Thunderbird, @Stefano_Zamboni, the point on “rules” is still untouched.
Filters for TB are lacking of a lot of options (pre-cooked user options) on behold of TB. If there are years that you’re using TB you also are used to think and act into Thunderbird’s way. Also, AddressBook/Person implementation on Oultook is far more powerful than Address Book integrated in Thunderbird (but at least for my needs, it’s quite good and sufficient in options).

Don’t forget it stefano,

so it’s quite useless remind me why i prefere Thunderbird rather than Outlook :slight_smile: But there are some things into that software that works a bit better than the bird of thunder… :wink:
IMO, obviously

the second can’t exist in a enterprise, never, for no reason :slight_smile:

I can respect that opinion, @Stefano_Zamboni, but sometimes you have to deal with the devil :wink:

there’s a long topic about html email signatures where I explain my POV, but I’ll make a short recap.

If you are the sys admin in an enterprise, you must make some choices and follow them… users have problems, you have the solutions… you can’t swap the positions…
under this simple rule, in an enterprise environment where email is a property and have a value, POP3 can’t be considered… and if someone asks for it the only answer is “no”.

in a home environment, POP3 can be used but should really be avoided.

Being the sysadmin in work enviroment sometimes does not give you enough decisional power to make the tecnically correct choices.

TB vs Outlook:

One amazing thing about TB is it’s storage folder.

I once did a triple boot Notebook, Linux, MacOS and Windows (XP at that time, later Win7).
The HD (SSD) was made into four partitions, three primary for each OS, and a forth as “D-Drive” or Storage for all, whatever you want to call it.

On all three Platforms TB runs well…
I configured TB in all three OS to use the exact same folder on the forth partition.
I was quite amazed how well it worked!
TB current in MacOS, it was current in Windows an Linux as well.
Downloaded mail in one OS, it was visible and with correct status (read, unread, etc) in ALL OSes!

I thought that amazing at the time, after all, a Mailfolder is a bit more complex than say a PDF file or Office-Document…

Even on the two OS supported by Outlook (Windows and Mac), I dare anyone to get that to work stable…

My 2 cents


I am using TB for 2 decades now. I still use the same profile that has been copied over to a dozen or more installs, varying from windows 2000 to current Fedora28.

1 Like