Topic: Short evaluation iRedMail/Modoboa/DIY-Solution

iRedMail 0.9.9
Modoboa commit https://github.com/modoboa/modoboa-inst … 484985da79
DIY-Solution: https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Complete_V … ail_Server

Situation as follows:

I have been operating the DIY-Solution for quite some years now, hosting about 6 domains, exclusively for friends & family and a non-profit organization - maybe 20 mail accounts all in all. Because it has been some years already, I do not exactly remember the effort it took to set all that up, I just know it wasn't trivial and I probably wouldn't want to go through this again. ;-)

Also, updates are a little tiresome, as it's Gentoo "recompile" Linux and more often than not, you need to manually correct something that broke after an update. As I said, it has been working for some years, but probably as older people choose cars with automatic gearshifts, I also am looking for something that needs less care and therefore less of my time without compromising security.


So I had a look at iRedMail and Modoboa.

In terms of ease of installation, iRedMail is the clear winner, it's probably safe to say that it is by a factor of 100 easier to set up than the DIY solution. I can remember to have read somewhere that "iRedMail installation is too easy, so paid support for installation is not feasible". I would have to agree. The seamless installation of iRedMail is certainly it's killer feature.

I had a little glitch with a - heaven knows why - running Apache2 while installing iRedMail, (and actually if you install Debian it asks you if you want a Webserver - if you say "yes", you get Apache running) but I could sort that out rather quickly. It would be nice if the iRedMail installer could catch this issue, but even so I was up and running after literally a few minutes in a Proxmox VE virtual machine.

The iRedMail documentation and guidance during and after installation is also great, you know which URL you have to visit after installation, you open one of the web mail clients and voila! it tells you in the first mail "Details of this iRedMail installation". This is software ergonomy at its finest.

Unfortunately, after a look at the admin backend ... bummer ... is where the frowned face came in. Now before I installed iRedMail, I of course inspected the iRedAdmin-Pro Demo and it looked great. There was no iRedAdmin(non Pro) online Demo, so I actually didn't know what to expect.

I didn't expect it to be so bad. :-( Please forgive me if I am blunt, but the term "crippleware" applies here. No alias management? Seriously?



In terms of ease of installation, still easy: a git clone, and call a script. After a little while it finished. Yay! But now what? No message on screen "your URL is here ..., Details of installation ..." In other words: No guidance.
So here I understand why there is an offer of professional support helping you with the installation. Compared with iRedMail not much effort has been made to take the user by the hand and make the installation process as seamless.

Fortunately I know Linux, so I went elbow-deep into modoboa guts. Studying the webserver config revealed where to look for the admin backend, a little "use the source Luke" here and there and voila! - Modoboa admin backend arise!

Far more feature complete than the standard iRedAdmin backend. Not as nicely designed though, but in some respects it seems even more feature complete than the iRedAdmin-Pro version (DNS status per domain for DNSBL, SPF, DMARC, Reputation Optimization, ...) in others it seems missing (couldn't find any mailing list admin module so far).


So where to go from here?

Well, as I mentioned, in my special case I do have a working DIY solution up and running and "never change a running system" they say. If I was to migrate as is, I would either go for Modoboa or a much MUCH cheaper version of the iRedAdmin-Pro.

Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the iRedAdmin-Pro pricing for commercial usage. It is perfectly priced for that actually. For non-profit/private usage though, even the cheapest ~ $250/year is a no go. I wonder why there is no licensing concept to non-profit or private use as this usually can serve as a good catalyst to commercial use.

So executive summary:

iRedMail in combination with iRedAdmin-Pro seems like a hell of a product. It's a pity small non-profit/family use cases are barred from using it.


Spider Email Archiver: On-Premises, lightweight email archiving software developed by iRedMail team. Supports Amazon S3 compatible storage and custom branding.


Re: Short evaluation iRedMail/Modoboa/DIY-Solution

Thanks very much for sharing your experience. smile

Maybe offer a cheaper but no source code version of iRedAdmin-Pro on the iRedMail Easy platform, tight to subscription of iRedMail Easy?


Re: Short evaluation iRedMail/Modoboa/DIY-Solution

ZhangHuangbin wrote:

Thanks very much for sharing your experience. smile

Maybe offer a cheaper but no source code version of iRedAdmin-Pro on the iRedMail Easy platform, tight to subscription of iRedMail Easy?

I'm no "Business Developer" myself, but I had enough exposure to how companies approach this:

1) Make a research&education license (seen it for Mathematica by Wolfram and similar). Very cheap, technically unrestricted, bound to R&E usage only, no (professional) support.

The rationale behind that is that you get people during their studies acquainted with your software (or give it to research institutions such as universities who enable their students - same effect) so they bring your software as an alternative with them to the companies in their professional university-afterlife.

In this case you wouldn't want to withhold source from the users, as this target group are potentional contributors.

2) Very similar to what you suggest above, no source, very low-cost subscription or one-off payment for non-profit use. Also technically unrestricted, but mandatory to serve as reference/testimonial user. E.g. iRedMail users: "Unicef, Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund..." you get the idea. Of course they can be smaller in the beginning. ;-) This runs under marketing. Any manager may agree to use iRedMail in the company if he sees a medium-sized NPO can run it too.

3) If you prefer to make a distinction between NPO and private use, this is where the restricted functionality comes in. No source and - say - a maximum of 50 or so total mailboxes. If anyone needs more it's hardly private.


I have an example of 1) often enough before my eyes in the school of my son. Microsoft equipped that school with almost everything, Office, Outlook ... for free. Of course the kids are 99% affine to these products now and it makes me climb up the walls, but from a business development point of view that's how it's done right.