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Linux and Gmail II – Zimbra Desktop

Just the other day I posted about Linux and Gmail in reference to clients other than a web browser. I had noted trying out Evolution, KMail, Thunderbird, and of course Mutt which I use daily already. Well, one of the comments, by David Fraser, was about the Zimbra Desktop. I don’t think I have ever used a Zimbra client but I am fairly certain I have used their backend products in the past. Anyways, I went ahead and downloaded Zimbra Desktop, and after a fairly simple installation, have it up and running.

The installation was fairly simple. You extract the tarball, then sudo ./install.pl, answer the questions, and boom it is installed. Fairly quick, less than a minute I would say. After it finished installing I went ahead and run it. I was presented a dialog asking me to create an account, in which I did. I selected GMail, entered a name for that account, my username and password, and my name. I clicked save, said OK, and it was up and running and synchronizing my folders faster than any client out there. Sparrow and Mailplane, which I like for GMail clients, can’t even compare in speed. Thunderbird? Evolution? Not even close. KMail? Don’t even ask! OfflineIMAP can’t even compare to the speed in which I was up and running with all email downloaded.

Zimbra Desktop

Usability? I would say it is pretty much the same as every other GUI client in terms of usability. It may seem a little snappier to me compared to the other GUI clients, but time will only tell. The first thing I did was click on a message, I thought, “OK, lets reply.” I am used to the Reply button being over the message I am reading, however Zimbra has it to the left of the message in the top toolbar. I had to actually search for a second to find it. Before I found it, I decided to just do the tried-and-true pressing of the r key, and wouldn’t you know, my reply was ready to be created.

So I haven’t really dug into it deep yet, but first thoughts are not bad, but not great. So, I know my stuff is synchronizing because I can see the little spinner that is up by my account name. What it is synchronizing though I have no clue. Would be nice if it told me. Also, if you look at the image I have included, you will notice a Social tab. This does not belong in an Email client at all. I don’t need Twitter, Facebook, or Digg in my email client. Also, one of the columns that were displayed to me under the Social tab was a Twitter trending topic, #verysexy. Nice, just what I need in my email client, sex. Nothing like reading about a nipple in this shape or size, or a girl or guys ass, in your email client. Classy! As of right now Zimbra folks, get rid of that shit, otherwise I will end up chalking your entire client up as nothing more than a joke.

Oh, and one more thing, it is actually a web client, and uses Prism, which Mozilla is discontinuing and rolling the good stuff into Chromeless. So, keep an eye out, and if I think it is worthy of more discussion, I will add more to the comments, update this post, or create a new post in the future.

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  • my only question would be – is this open source?

    • According to their website it is open source. They even show you how to build the source, and right now I am trying to find that source. I have found some source tarballs on sourceforge. If you dig deeper on their site you can probably find out more. Seems though there is like a Developer Agreement you have to sign in order to contribute to the project. Though Ubuntu is damn near the same these days, unless all you do is package and don’t code.

  • Glad you tried my suggestion 🙂
    Some comments:
    * The social integration thing is an extension that’s enabled by default (and I appreciate why you might not want it); to disable it, go to Preferences / All Accounts / Zimlets (their word for extensions) and disable the social extension. (You could also just disable the default subscriptions in it, but if you don’t want it, may as well remove it entirely)
    * I haven’t actually used it with gmail myself so I’m curious about how well calendars etc are synchronized. I think it synchronizes the whole mailbox at once
    * I haven’t tried to build it myself, but they’re pretty good at responding to bugs and RFEs filed in Bugzilla
    * Mozilla’s trying to roll Prism up into Chromeless; there’s also WebRunner though which is an alternate vision of where it should go

    Interested to hear any other discoveries as you go along

    • I can’t get the calendars nor the contacts working. It asked me when I created the account if I wanted to sync the calendar and the contacts and I said yes. Don’t know what that issue is.

  • If your a mutt lover then have you considered something like claws, it’s minimal, fast, auto filtering is good at picking up on items your likely to care about, it has plugins galore including vcalendar how it work I’m still to fathom.

  • Node68

    I also use Gmail for the convenience it brings, plus i love my Droid smartphone. I was using Thunderbird for Ubuntu 10.10×64 and Windows 7×64. When i read your post today on Planet Ubuntu, I wanted to try it out on my VM (safety first!)

    I too do not like the Social tab zimlet they have running by default. The following link explains how to disable the Social tab. http://wiki.zimbra.com/wiki/Social

    Out of 74 contacts I expected to see from Gmail contacts, only 10 have arrived. Still no calendar entries.

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