Zimbra Desktop Discontinued... Again?

General discussion about Zimbra Desktop.
mhammett
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Re: Zimbra Desktop Discontinued... Again?

Postby mhammett » Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:20 pm

I currently have 33 accounts in my Zimbra Desktop from the same Zimbra environment. Can I do that with browsers?

Fat clients generally perform better and are easier to work with than web clients.


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Re: Zimbra Desktop Discontinued... Again?

Postby L. Mark Stone » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:22 pm

BradC wrote:
L. Mark Stone wrote:Curious why you feel you must have a fat client like Zimbra Desktop?

The web interface is essentially identical to ZD and Zimbra 8 and modern browsers support offline usage (works great; I use it often when traveling).


I love these questions because they force us to re-examine why we do what we do.

3 Reasons : Inertia, Offline storage and segregation.

Inertia is obvious. We've done it this way for years now and it perfectly fits our use case. We don't like change for the sake of change.

Offline storage : We do a _lot_ of work in locations where we are just not able or permitted to have any connectivity with the outside world (sometimes for a few days). So we sync up when we can and then operate offline. Over the years we've determined that we routinely use about 9 months worth of archive while we are disconnected, so we've all got our laptop ZD installations set to retain 9 months of data (mail and calendar). That works very well.

Segregation : We do a _lot_ of work where we have security rules that couldn't be satisfied by using a web browser in a shared capacity. The zimbra instance sits on a segregated network with several layers between it and the outside world. All client connectivity is on the secure side of that network (whether physically or via VPN).

So, your question prompted me to look at the ability to sandbox the browser as a "zimbra only" instance, without sharing any config or data directories with other instances and it appears relatively easy to achieve. Now I just need to see if I can make it reliably keep 9 months of mail and calendar data stored off-line.

Once I can overcome the technical issues, then I shouldn't have any issues managing the intertia problem.

Thanks for the poke into looking at it from a different angle. Let's see how good the offline usage works.

Edit : Actually, I just discovered a 4th reason. Multiple accounts on the same server, although I can work around that by creating a second address (interface or alias) for the server and the web browser can manage one account on each address. Still, a hacky solution to the problem.

Edit 2 : So I tried offline mode it and it's limited to 30 days. So then, offline storage is too limited and multiple accounts are an unworkable hack. There's 2 good reasons for a fat client for our use case.


Hi Brad,

While your Use Cases are not common in my experience I certainly understand why a fat client is appropriate in your company's situation.

There are these days no shortage of free (Thunderbird) and paid email clients for Windows and Mac deployments, so you have very good choices.

All fat clients mean you lose access to some number of Zimbra's native collaboration features, but if your users just need offline access to emails for an extended period, lack of access to Zimbra's collaboration features is not a great loss presumably.

So maybe consider the web client for normal, daily access, and a fat client for those "off-the-grid" times?

Hope that helps; and thanks for being so open-minded about my poking at your assumptions! :-)

All the best,
Mark
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Re: Zimbra Desktop Discontinued... Again?

Postby L. Mark Stone » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:29 pm

mhammett wrote:I currently have 33 accounts in my Zimbra Desktop from the same Zimbra environment. Can I do that with browsers?

Fat clients generally perform better and are easier to work with than web clients.


Zimbra Desktop's architecture is that ZD is essentially a trimmed down, single-user version of a Zimbra server. So I see no reason why you couldn't add that many external accounts to your on-server Zimbra mailbox.

Unfortunately, Zimbra Desktop is based on Zimbra version 7, so aside from the Java requirement, IMHO the entire architecture for ZD, while a good choice at the time it was made, is no longer optimal.

I disagree with your statement that fat clients perform better and are generally easier to work with. In Zimbra Desktop's case, the UI is identical to the web interface (this was a design goal). And while some Zimbra servers are slow (I do good business tuning up poorly performing Zimbra servers), users' perception of a server's slowness is due almost always to either poor Internet connectivity on the end user's part, or an under-resourced/misconfigured Zimbra server system.

Poor Internet connectivity is a great use case for a fat client; certainly there are too many locations that no options for decent Internet. But fat clients on their own in my experience are no more nor less performant than a properly configured Zimbra system.

Hope that helps,
Mark
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Re: Zimbra Desktop Discontinued... Again?

Postby mhammett » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:34 pm

The separation of accounts is why there are 33 accounts. I do not wish to dump everything into one pile.
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Re: Zimbra Desktop Discontinued... Again?

Postby L. Mark Stone » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:40 pm

mhammett wrote:The separation of accounts is why there are 33 accounts. I do not wish to dump everything into one pile.


And the Zimbra web client allows you to have separate Inbox/folder trees for each external mailbox no problem.

ZD works the same way; remember, ZD is ZCS under the hood.

All the best,
Mark
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Re: Zimbra Desktop Discontinued... Again?

Postby L. Mark Stone » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:45 pm

mhammett wrote:External to what?


External to your "home" Zimbra account.
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Re: Zimbra Desktop Discontinued... Again?

Postby mhammett » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:46 pm

External to what?
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Re: Zimbra Desktop Discontinued... Again?

Postby BradC » Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:34 am

L. Mark Stone wrote:While your Use Cases are not common in my experience I certainly understand why a fat client is appropriate in your company's situation.

There are these days no shortage of free (Thunderbird) and paid email clients for Windows and Mac deployments, so you have very good choices.


Right. I've been using thunderbird with IMAP for my personal mail since its beginnings. I tried for quite a long time to use Thunderbird for Mail/Calendar with Zimbra, but frankly it just could never be as seamless as ZD when it came to the fussy little integrations between all the elements.

Just so I can't be accused of being a curmudgeon, I've set up a sandboxed web instance of the Zimbra web client, added my secondary zimbra account to the primary as an external IMAP source and set those both for off-line use.
I've also set up a separate thunderbird instance set to download 9 months of mail as an offline-archive. That doesn't give me 9 months of calendar and I haven't figured that one out yet, but lets see if I can live with this first.

What would be super helpful is for a primary zimbra account to be able to add all the elements of a secondary account in the desktop (so share calendar, address book, mail, tasks, briefcase ... ) with a simple "Add this account to my primary view". Given its all on the same system.

Anyway, let's see if *I* can live with this. If I can do it perhaps I can roll it out to the other guys and do away with ZD.

Still, it does feel a bit like ZD has died because Synacor just can't be bothered. Can you imagine the outrage if Microsoft just said "Stuff it, can't be bothered with desktop Outlook anymore. We want you to buy our server and pay us our license fees, but find some other way of doing what you've been doing for the last 10 years because we can't be arsed building a desktop client anymore". Next thing we'll find they've discontinued the MAPI plugin because "we've already shafted native desktop users, so why would we bother with outlook users?".

Zimbra relies on Linux for the server, but suddenly Linux desktop users are second (or third) class citizens. Mac and Windows users will have to suffer (and pay for) Outlook if they want a full fat client with most of the fruit.

Ok, so I am a curmudgeon after all.. rant over.
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Re: Zimbra Desktop Discontinued... Again?

Postby Klug » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:41 am

BradC wrote:Still, it does feel a bit like ZD has died because Synacor just can't be bothered. Can you imagine the outrage if Microsoft just said "Stuff it, can't be bothered with desktop Outlook anymore. We want you to buy our server and pay us our license fees, but find some other way of doing what you've been doing for the last 10 years because we can't be arsed building a desktop client anymore". Next thing we'll find they've discontinued the MAPI plugin because "we've already shafted native desktop users, so why would we bother with outlook users?".

I could have written that 8-)

I don't like IMAP clients, because ZCS doesn't play well with IMAP (ie: IMAP eats too many resources).
Synacor ditched the "IMAPd only server" that went into beta, this sounds like a very bad move to me.

I've spend some time these last days to find an EAS fat client and was not able to.
While this sounds a terrific idea, no one does it (still haven't find out why).
There are EWS fat clients (EM Client for example) but no EAS.

However, there are EAS plugins for TB that allows you to sync calendars and contacts.
With IMAP for emails (while I don't like it), you have a free and quite nicely working fat client.
Even if you don't buy licences to Zimbra or ZeXtras, because you can use Z-push server-side to provide EAS.

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