What is the competition doing

As you all might know I like cherry picking. My motto: don’t try bad inventions when you can steal good ones… RAWWWRRR.
So, I do keep an eye on what ‘the competition’ is doing.
I’d like this thread to be used to post new developments at the competition so we stay sharp and can respond (if needed).

If you want to keep an eye on the competition, you first need to know: who is the competition?
In a quick search I come to the following; (feel free to add more)

Today I received a mail with new enhancements of UCS. They added Seafile, Wekan and Zammad to the applications available for UCS.


I put some search terms in Google Trends


It looks like the trend is: there will be little space to compete because the big are shrinking and the small are not growing :thinking:

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Those are charts for google searches, right?
If I look at myself, I barely search for NethServer since I already found it… :wink:
The question is how to cranc up these stats…

Part 1 - The Competition
About Me: I have installed ClearOS, Neth, Zentyla, and UCS at least 3 times each in the last year, and for the most part Neth is my preferred option, just I have had a lot of stability issues with it on the machine I want to use it on for my lab (HP Z240 running VMWare, on multiple occasions a hard power down of the server led to irrecoverable corruption of Neth).

  • Zentyal seems to be changing up their model with the harder sales push and now calling the free version “Development Edition”
  • UCS the bigger part of that email from them today is that they gave hints to the major version 5 roadmap coming, which sounds like a major revamp.

More so than following where the competition is going, I would advise, breaking down the main use cases for the product and look at where the industry as a whole is going.

Personally I think there are 4 main categories on the market which NethServer does each ok, none fantastic:

  • Router/Firewall
    • Purpose (Services/Apps): Firewall, Router, DHCP, DNS, etc.
    • Competition = PFSense, OPNSense, Untangle, ClearOS
  • SMB Authentication & Mail
    • Purpose: Provide LDAP/Active Directory, Shared Drives, Mail and local Network services for a personal or business group
    • Competition: Zentyal, UCS, SME Server
  • Home Media/Apps Server:
    • Purpose: Services that intergrate Media servers like Plex/Emby, Storage, and other more personal use items like Home Assistant, Bitwarden, Jellyfish, Organizr, etc.
    • Competition: OpenFLIXR, HomeLabOS (https://gitlab.com/NickBusey/HomelabOS), OpenMediaVault, etc.
  • Easy App Installers -
    • Purpose: Easily deploy commonly used apps like WordPress, GitLab, Project Mgmt, Guacamole, CRMs, etc.
    • Competition: Hosted Environments: Softaculous, Installatron; self-hosted: HomelabOS, ClearOS, UCS

As for where the industry is going, containers, containers, containers.

What i would love to see for enhancements:

  • Router/Firewall
    • Improved Network Traffic Analysis - Ntop is ok. Untangle does a much better job displaying and analyzing network traffic data. But the interface is far more complicated and confusing than NethServer.
  • SMB Authentication & Mail
    • It would be great to see a better LDAP/AD management application integrated or linked to NethServer.
  • Home Media/Apps Servers & Easy App Installers
    • I think that having some form of integrated container based app catalog would address these concerns and help expand the overall functionality of the system and supporting apps tremendously. Offer a base catalog of applications that have been validated and integrate potentially with the cockpit interface. Customize the deployments to automatically integrate with the NethServer hosted authentication and NethServer Network management (IPs, Reverse Proxy, Let’s Encrypt, etc) to simplify the experience over running your own Docker/Swarm/Rancher/Kubernetes experience, so users can get these up and running in a SMB environment in minutes instead of hours. Additionally, allow users to use other public container registries to allow them to run whatever other apps they want as well.

Part 2: Search Trends
People are only searching for NethServer, Zentyal, ClearOS, etc when they already know that these items are potential answers to their questions/problems. The bigger question is are people searching with problems for a solution which NethServer can be solution to. For that a lot of the search terms I tried “Self hosted router” Google didn’t show trends on. But here are some other items, and you can see there is a drop off, but its not as significant. But the overall concept of self-hosted is growing.

And I would suspect a large part of that is the increase of other options like Re-eddit self-hosted group, Facebook IT Groups, articles on sites like Tecmint, unixmen, etc. That is where the real users of a system like NethServer are likely looking.


Thank you @ThePhoenix for your insight. I think we absolutely can use this input to good use for the progress of the NethServer project.

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