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Thread: Virtual server for email?

  1. #1
    Full Member Electrode's Avatar
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    Virtual server for email?

    I would like to create my own private email server and have found many tutorials that uses various installations of Linux. Our thoughts are to build a dedicated server but we want to leave room for expansion. This means we would like to run Both a Microsoft based installation and a Linux installation.

    I am thinking a Virtual Machine may well work as the service isn't that resource intensive. We would install the Microsoft OS as the main OS and install Oracle VM VirtualBox. Then install the appropriate version of Linux on it. Once done we can follow the steps and get the email service running on it.

    Has anyone attempted this? If so what was your experience with this type of setup.
    DISCLAIMER - The above does not constitute to legal advice or formal advice in any manner or form

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    Diamond Member HR Solutions's Avatar
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    Just a question but - Why ?
    Why don't you use the guys that host e mails ? - They are so cheap .
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    Full Member Electrode's Avatar
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    We are still researching a better solution. Our main concern is data file size. Many providers have restrictions and if you go past the 10Gb mark the cost does go up considerably. Right now we use couriers to send flash-drives. It is cost effective but slow. The files contain a custom OS with specialized software that allow us to connect to devices and hardware.

    However when we work outside South Africa like Botswana as an example it becomes a problem. The idea is to allow our technicians access to a folder on our server and download what they need when they need it.

    A easier solution is TeamViewer and we are testing that now. This software allow us to edit code in real time at both ends thus our programmer and technician can resolve a problem faster. We are very happy with TeamViewer.
    DISCLAIMER - The above does not constitute to legal advice or formal advice in any manner or form

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    Diamond Member HR Solutions's Avatar
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    Ah Im with you. Team viewer works like a dream. But a better site for file downloads is Webex.
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    Moderator IanF's Avatar
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    I have uploaded large files onto an FTP server and that worked well. It is a bit technical to sign in, so I would imagine setting it up is quite technical.
    I would look at dropbox or similar service instead of a mail server.
    Anyway let us know how you solve this.
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    Gold Member irneb's Avatar
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    We generally work with files ranging from several MB to a handful of GB. There is simply no "email" idea which works with these, definitely not as attachments.

    Yes, having your own email server can sort out certain issues. But the problem with email is: I't not JUST your own server where the headaches start. You have at least 2 servers to worry about, yours and the recipient's. And you seldom have any say in what the recipient's server is doing. As a sample, our own email server (running as a VM inside a machine at our ISP) is set to max out at around 20MB per message, but we've still got issues with messages in excess of 5MB as nearly all recipients have the default limits on their servers. So such ideas simply don't "work".

    For such large files I would highly recommend some form of file sharing instead. Even Dropbox and similar is much preferred, I especially like using it through an email client like Thunderbird as uploading and inserting a link is nothing different from a simple file attach operation. For more "proper" file sharing FTP is simply still the most efficient there is. And for more managed file sharing I can recommend an online document management system, thus far the one which I've found works least bad is Aconex, but there are many available, even one based in SA Synergy.

    Another alternative (works well if you only ever share files internally and not often with people outside your organization) is a proper collaboration server. I've tested Zimbra before. IMO it seems to be something like an Exchange server on steroids, allowing even document management and concurrent file editing. You can either "buy" a "cloud" server from them or install the open source server on your own machine(s). Very easy to try out inside a VM too ... not even necessary to setup anything, just download something like a pre-made "appliance", something like https://www.vavai.net/2009/08/zimbra...tualbox-image/ to run inside VirtualBox. Of course, this means you'd need Zimbra's email/collaboration suite instead of something like Outlook, but it's free (based on Thunderbird), runs on every single OS I've thrown at it.

    For a true collaboration idea I'd most probably go with something like a Version Control system. Even older stuff like CVS and SVN would do much to ensure everyone's got the correct version of every file, be able to roll back to previous edits, etc. These days Git and Mercurial are the fashionable "in thing".

    You could try a VPN instead, and then share files direct from a file server - effectively using the Internet as a LAN connection. But we've found such only works reasonably (note NOT fast) when your internet connect at both ends is extremely good. In the "bundoes" this would not be something I'd try.

    Alternatively, another idea is to use remoting. TeamViewer is probably the easiest to use. Though "fastest" and most efficient I've found is to use VNC through a SSH connection. And we've tried some specialized variant from VMWare before, their HorizonView remoting server. Effectively a VM running on a server which you then log into from some remote connection - working direct on that and having your screen streamed back to you. We were using this for CAD/BIM editing (very high graphics payload), was working reasonably between our PTA and JHB offices, though both are connected using a 40+MB/s fibre line, which I don't think you'll get in Botswana. The server wasn't "cheap", it could handle around 8 to 16 concurrent graphics workstations (i.e. something similar to a high-end gaming desktop each), but that meant around 256GB of RAM and a nVidia Grid card - if not so much graphics then you can probably get away with something much lower on the food chain. I tried it through my mobile broadband at home (4MB/s) and it was simply waaaayyyyy tttttoooo ssssllllooooowww!
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    Platinum Member SilverNodashi's Avatar
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    Email isn't meant for such large files, even if you own your own server. Rather use FTP or a file sharing service. You could either look at Google Drive or many of the other free offerings for this. Alternatively you could look at "owncloud" which you can also install on a Virtual server.

    The "howto" is fairly easy and you could even download many preinstalled ISO's for your favorite visualization environment.

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