Webtop vs sogo thinking


I’m just curious about the reason for moving from SoGo to WebTop. I’ve been looking at NethServer for a few months and I’m getting ready for a test deployment. One thing of large importance to me is groupware. The way I understand it is as follows (while everything I write will sound like it, this is not meant to be troll bait)

SoGo - is older (less buggy?), ok documentation
WebTop - newer (more bugs?), no documentation, Java based so slow and endless security flaws

I don’t know if SoGo is Java based or not. Also, I’m not a developer. It seems like you are replacing a stable piece with a new and somewhat unknown piece. Has SoGo not worked as expected?

My use of NethServer would be for some of our small business clients. Because of that I’m looking for stability. Since Neth is based on CentOS it gives me a warm fuzzy. My concern is that something newer/better/flashier will come along next year and NethServer will replace WebTop with that.

Again, no insults intended to anyone, I’m just looking for your logic/reasoning.


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AFAIK, Sogo is written mostly in objective C.
I think that webtop is older than sogo, maybe less known in the linux world.
However, I don’t think that webtop will replace sogo in the short term. And we will offer an upgrade path if and when we will switch.

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I must confess I don’t know webtop at all. And I am quite familiar with SOGo. It does what it must do and is quite stable. I use it for a few years now for my personal mail.
If I am honest I would stay away as far as possible from any java based applications. Java is a huge resource hog. I would think twice (make that 10 times) before going on the webtop path.


I have been trying a combination of roundcube and owncloud (version 8.2) instead of SOGo or Webtop for the last 2 months.

This combination has some useful features that is missing from either SoGo or Webtop -

Main feature has to be the ability of using both local and remote file servers / cloud access (ftp samba, Amazon EC, Google etc.), and being able to connect via Webdavs.

Owncloud also has both Caldav and Cardav access (the web-gui for the calendar and contacts are both ugly and crap to use – but using the OC extensions: calendar+ and contacts+ vastly improves the UI)

There is a OC extension to wrap Roundcube within Owncloud, and both can authenticate using ldap and imap.

I have also got to agree with @robb, I don’t like java apps and would prefer php based UI) and rather would stick with SOGo.


Hello everyone,

thanks Rich for starting this discussion thread, allowing us to tell you more about Webtop.
So, first of all, I would like to clarify that Webtop is not a new product.
We started development of the very early versions of Webtop in 1999, as a replacement for desktop mail and calendar applications like Outlook, Exchange, Lotus Notes: the aim has always been a Web Desktop, zero install, cross platform, extendable, all inside a unique web dashboard.

Secondly, let me say that Webtop is not only a collaboration or groupware application, but a full development platform and framework where you can plug your new services and applications inside a common dashboard, and using the other services as ready to use facilities.

I don’t want to dive into questioning about java vs php, solaris vs linux, or whatever.
At Sonicle, Java has always been our language of choice because of its elegance and portability server side, the web browser as the only deployment, Unix as the hosting OS, be it Linux, BSD or Solaris, or whatever.
From then on, we evolved Webtop in 15 years moving through 3 huge refactorings to keep pace with the evolving technologies, both on server side Java, and expecially the web with javascript, ajax and html5.
During these 15 years we deployed to our customer base hundreds of end users, mainly on Solaris and Linux servers.
The enterprise and our customers has always been the focus, so the interface evolved with features solving real world solutions, and always trying to mimic to our best what they’re used to on a normal desktop application.

Current Webtop 4.5.x is now largerly deployed to around thousands of end users both on premise and on our own cloud solution, and being used 24x7 from browsers, and through active sync on tablets and smartphones.

Sonicle and Nethesis are now working tightly together to evolve Webtop again: Webtop 5.

You can start using Webtop 4.5.x today, with added features Nethesis requested us to introduce during this year of collaboration, and go 5 tomorrow.

Because the focus is always the end user, I want to summarize some unique features of Webtop you won’t easily find elsewhere:

  • Ability to plug in other pre-existent services as Webtop services, no matter the language they’re written server side
  • Ability to write new Webtop integrated services
  • Theming, with some predefined themes (Outlook, Thunderbird, Lotus Notes), and the ability to plug in your own themes with few images and css coding.
  • ActiveSync support works with both iOS and Android, and some supported BB
  • Visibility of your connected devices through your Webtop account
  • Native integration of Webtop cloud with Google Drive and Dropbox, plus support for VFS urls to control visibility of remote file systems
  • OTP (One Time Password) can be enabled per user and/or networks to allow for additional security
  • Personal and/or centralized mailcards management, with tags substitutions from personal infos
  • Integration with external archiving systems (document management) and/or Webtop internal DRM
  • Mail service includes also support for fax specifics, cloud links for large attachments, workflow management of mails
  • Extended calendaring with enterprise fields for time qualification and ERP integration
  • Extended contact management with ERP integration
  • Ability to customize the login page and public areas to match the company image
  • For Windows users, ability to install an integrated assistant for native system operations (send to, system tray alarms, etc)

Last but not least, while the base Webtop platform consists of common collaboration services like mail, calendar, contacts, tasks and cloud, we already developed and continue developing new services addressing specific needs, like newsletter management, document and relationship management, etc.
Also we have customers that already developed and deployed their own additional services, like full Webtop ERP views to their legacy systems, backoffice services to public product catalogs, and more.

We understand that 4.5.x misses documentation, but we and Nethesis are working to fill this gap.
Meanwhile, Webtop 5 is being built with documentation and APIs in mind.

Also we understand that any software may carry bugs and problems, and we’re working with Nethesis to solve any discovered one, so we will absolutely appreciate your help in finding any possible one.

Feel free to ask any more question.



Also worth noting that, as you have already seen, main Webtop developers are active in our community and always ready to listen all ours input, feedback and requests. :sunglasses:

Thanks for the info, it has filled in some of the gaps I had about Webtop.


thank you for your answer and please don’t get me wrong, but if (as you said) webtop is deployed on so many machines, why there’s almost no info about it out there?

I mean: searching for “webtop” with google leads to many results, but nothing seems related to your product… and tha’s quite strange, isn’t it?

what about hw resource? let’s say I want to use it in a 25/30 users environment… what about bandwidth? and ram? is there a rule to calc hw resources?

the real appeal of your solution is the zero install approach and the high integration between features/functions

just for comparison I did some brief tests using the LTSP and NX protocol approach… in a virtual environment I have:

  • a DC server (SME server 9 64 bit) acting as DC, file server (all users’ profiles and shared folders are on it), web proxy with squidguard and AV filtering: it runs on 768 Mb of ram
  • a LTSP/NX server (linux mint 17.3): it just exports its desktop and runs all the sw needed (libreoffice, TB, FF, chrome, $whatever)… it’s joined to the DC machine, it has no data inside… runs on 1Gb of ram
  • 8 thin client: just stupid machines, 256 mb ram each one, no disk, boot from lan (I created only 8 of them, but I could just double them)
  • 2 windows client running X2GO client to have the remote desktop in full screen…

this is just a test, in a real production scenario DC and LTSP servers would have a real different amount of ram of course

anyway, in the tests I made, everything is running smoothly with less than 8 GB of ram (I repeat, it’s just a POC in a virtual environment done using VB in two separated laptops, each one with 4 GB), and, for example, either Libreoffice writer or FF starts in no time (even faster that in my real windows machine), even if run from different machines at the same time.

do you have some real data about scalability, hw resources to share with us?



the reason is that until now the product has been deployed by Sonicle to its own customers and some resellers for their own customers, in closed environments. Also, the word webtop has been adopted by others for many other meanings during the years.

Today, most of our users run inside our own cloud. Here are some details of one scenario:

  • 8 cores 2.2Ghz, 16 vp
  • 24 GB RAM
  • 1 Tomcat instance with java maximum memory set to 3GB
  • 15 separate webapps for 15 different domains/customers
  • 15 separate z-push sareas
  • Multidomain ldap + imap/ssl + smtp/ssl + amavis + spamassassin + clamav
  • Apache frontend for domain to webapp mappings
  • 1 Postgres database instance, with 15 separate tablespaces and databases
  • 3 Newsletter daemons running in 3 jvms using around 256MB each
  • 1 PEC Bridge daemon running in 1 jvm using around 256MB
  • ZFS pool, raidz2 of 5 SAS disks, around 4TB with ZFS compression
  • 1 MySQL database instance, for web/newsletter statistics

This cloud instance is running more than 1000 users every day.


thank you, very interesting numbers

IIUC, there’s no way to have “real” info about it just searching outside…

I repeat, don’t get me wrong, but, we’re using a well known italian expression, the “oste, è buono il tuo vino?” approach :smiley:

moreover: is it OOSS? can you share more info about how/where to find some other info? TIA

You can find Sonicle Webtop inside SourceForge, it has been there for years, but we stopped pushing code more than a year ago, when we redesigned many aspects.
We’re not going to push latest code (4.x) because we’re focused in Webtop 5, and we want that to be the real open sourced version, expecially because APIs for programming custom services are being completely redesigned.

thank you for your time and explanations

Hello Gabriele,

Please set me straight - it seems you are running 15(ish) customers with a various number of clients per customer, is the entire system designed for multi-tenant use or are you running 15 different/duplicate instances of the environment? I read this as supporting a multi-tenant deployment.

Granted, we’re not referring to a NethServer implementation.


Hello Rich,

you got it right :wink:

The bare metal of this specific machine is running our own XStreamOS distribution of illumos.
It’s our software defined XStream Storage (ZFS, virtual networking, etc) elevated to illumos zones server, running the server daemons I listed making each zone a full Webtop server.

My description is actually one of these zones, running in multi-tenant mode for customers only : daemon instances are shared (apache, tomcat, imap, smtp, database etc), only webapps/db/webtop-areas are divided into different context and tablespaces and homes, just to facilitate Webtop upgrades to be separated for each customer.

We also use tomcat webapp context versioning, to allow for silent upgrade (older versions are kept until there are active user sessions, which will get the newer version on logout).

So, actually this bare metal is not only running what I depicted, it runs also the global zone plus other 5 zones:

  • one single-tenant webtop server for Sonicle development / testing
  • one single-tenant webtop server for the public demo
  • one single-tenant webtop server specific for a partner running his webtop based cloud ERP for his own customers
  • one small zone for running a light asterisk for us, built on illumos
  • one small zone for pkg server for our latest XStreamOS distro pkg delivery to users of XStreamOS
  • global zone does zones management / nagios alerts and firewalling for all

Now, this is going to be also NethStorage solution, from NAS to SAN to what I depicted, depending on hardware.

As you can see, Webtop can run in very different scenarios, operative systems and architectures.
Once Sonicle joined the Nethesis bandwagon, we made sure and certified that all the software stacks needed by Webtop were compatible with NethServer, doing the necessary changes to make it real, as it is today.

Keep going the good questions! :wink:


Hello Gabriele,

Now that ActiveSync is working correctly, I am building a grid of workable combinations. I have read this entire dialogue with interest. The questions are now following (since I am interested in seeing where Webtop is proceeding):

On the older links it is mentioned that Funambol is supported. I am familiar with it and know that it is no longer being developed. In its place, I see a lot of CardDav, CalDav mentioned. (Refer to memotoo.com which I have used)

Does Webtop 4 support any form of CardDav/CalDav? Will Webtop 5? The reason that I ask is that may be a way to get all Thunderbird (and older Outlook - pre 2013) users online to Webtop.

Is progress being made to make ActiveSync support work for all Outlook (it is fine for Contacts/Calendars/Tasks - just not email)? I have jury rigged a solution using two connections in Outlook 2013 to the same server to get full functionality there.

On the matter of finding webtop on the internet, my searches have to be carefully crafted to get your details. May I suggest a “small” rename - such as SonicWebtop?

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I agree with Ken, I think that a small / minor rebranding exercise would help to increase Webtops recognition.

As an example, I typed the phase ‘webtop’ into Google and the first three entries included a Wikipedia page (describing web based / thin-client technologies), a document management system and a US based education portal.

Also, after finding the Webtop site ( http://www.sonicle.com ), I realised that the only page that actually has any information about this product is written in Italian (no attempt to either manually translate or have any automated translation services for this page), the forum links to a empty (404) sourceforge page. I also had a quick look at the sister site ( http://sonicle-webtop.sourceforge.net ) and noticed that half of the links / menu items (eg. News, Documentation and Participate links) did not have any href links associated with them (and those entries that did link, only linked to the existing sourceforge pages).

I did check these sites about 7 - 8 months ago and was hoping that there would be some attempt to improve the content of these sites.

Whilst I do not mean to be critical of the content of these sites, I hope with advent of Webtop5, there is a re-evaluation when it comes to advertising / creating a online marketing presence for this product.


Hello @gabriele_bulfon,

I agree with @kisaacs that the support of caldav/carddav could pull many SOGo-users to your produkt, especially after the latest decision of SOGo. But the missing documentation is IMO the biggest lack. I set up an NS7 AD/DC with SOGo and Webtop in a VM to compare them. I got quickly familiar with the new SOGo but couldn’t figure out to use webtop the way i wanted with CalDav and external imap-accounts. And had no documentation…
So event I wanted to change, I couldn’t. Your produkt is different and that is not a disadvantage.
I read that you are working on a documentation for webtop 5. Would it be possible to publich some kind of predocumentation?
The reason why I like email-clients like thunderbird or eMclient is their high customisability. Every business and every user has it’s own needs to work comfortably. I personally couldn’t figure out to customize the calendarview to my needs. Again, no documentation.
Don’t get me wrong. I like the look of webtop and I’m not concerned about the language it is written in. I think it a good peace of software but it’s black hole about information about it.
Can you please give some infos about connection of external clients like thunderbird or eMclient? Is that suported? If not, is it planned to be supported?
I have to mention that I’m not an linux-pro. I’m working only since 2 or 3 years with it. So I have many knowledge lacks. That’s the reason why users like me need documentation.

Best regards



Hi Everyone,

Here is a quick comparison that I have done (limited testing on Webtop - production on SOGo):

                    email contacts calendar tasks notes
SOGo 3.0                        
    ActiveSync        x      x        x       x    n/a
    Web Browser (#4)  x      x        x       x    n/a
    Outlook 2010 (#7) x      x        x       x    n/a
    Outlook 2013 (#5) x      x        x       x    n/a
    Thunderbird       x      x        x       x    n/a
Webtop 4.5                        
    ActiveSync        x      x        x       x    n/a
    Web Browser       x      x       #1      #1    n/a
    Outlook 2010    unable     to    test          n/a
    Outlook 2013 (#6) x                            n/a
    Outlook 2013 (#2)        x        x       x    n/a
    Thunderbird (#3)   x                           n/a
x    Works without large issues                    
1    Does not show recurring events/tasks - although mobile devices will                    
2    Works for most using ActiveSync - Email is not supported                    
3    Still looking for connector possibilties                    
4    Works but is sluggish                    
5    Works using ActiveSync connection                    
6    Works with IMAP - no calendars/contacts/tasks                    
7    Works with IMAP and OutlookCardDav plugin                    
NOTE: Outlook 2013 can be made to access all four areas by configuring the same account using IMAP and ActiveSync                        

Hopefully it is self explanatory. Any questions - please let me know.

All feedback appreciated.



Hi Ken,

very good and understandable! Thank you! As we see, webtop lacks some features many of us will need. So a preview of webtop 5 would be fine, to get to a dicision between webtop and sogo. If the support of external clients isn’t ment to be improved, nethserver team should go back and overthink their decision for webtop only. I don’t want to offend anybody, neither nethserver-team nor webtop-team, bur for my needs webtop is not suitable at this state. And I think an alternative groupware would be great not only for me, no matter it would be sogo or egroupware or zarafa or…
In SME-world we had all of them. Why not have 2 or 3 alternatives in nethserver-world? Competition often speeds up things. :slight_smile:

And now :beers:


You have discovered the difference between a community project and a business project.

One will take arbitrary decisions and can move up quickly by the money back
The other can move slower but also be closer of its users need.

The Webtop way is a market decision :wink: