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Compare / Contrast Zentyal to ClearOS
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TOPIC: Compare / Contrast Zentyal to ClearOS
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#18641
Compare / Contrast Zentyal to ClearOS 3 Years, 9 Months ago  
Hi folks

Have recently discovered Zentyal, and through extension, clearOS.

I have been playing with Zentyal over the last few days and have been impressed, but ClearOS also seems to have similar functionality but in a more polished package.

Can anyone compare and contrast the two?

I'm in the business of Managed Services, so any info that would pertain to MSP's would be handy, stuff like reporting, centralized management, and repeatable configuration of sites.

Any input appreciated

Cheers
James
James Doble
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#18645
Re: Compare / Contrast Zentyal to ClearOS 3 Years, 9 Months ago  
As a follow up - can someone provide some info on Groupware? How good is ClearOS at mimicing functionality from the likes of exchange? Shared calendars, etc. How well does it integrate with outlook?

Cheers!
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#18863
Re: Compare / Contrast Zentyal to ClearOS 3 Years, 9 Months ago  
Hi James,

I'll address a couple of topics

1) From a feature-for-feature technical perspective, the two software products are quite similar. The divergence really comes from the two commercial organizations that back the products. ClearCenter is a partner/MSP focused organization. You can thank the CEO for that! Mike founded and led DirectPointe (an MSP) before taking on the leadership role at ClearCenter. That focus is the reason ClearCenter won Best New Product at CompTIA's Breakaway 2010 event in Texas (offtopic: still waiting for that armadillo race rematch). A lot of the software development resources at ClearCenter are focused on making life easier for MSPs, for example:

- the upcoming Central Management feature
- the constant push from Mike to get improved/centralized reporting shipped with ClearOS


2) Zarafa and Google Apps will be new groupware offerings in ClearOS 6.0. You can get Zarafa working today, but it takes some technical know how. We'll have a point-and-click install available when 6.0 hits the streets in early 2011. Kolab is also available if you are one of the few brave folks focused on deploying Linux desktops.

Peter
CTO ClearCenter
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#18877
Re: Compare / Contrast Zentyal to ClearOS 3 Years, 9 Months ago  
I used ebox before and then Zentyal briefly.

Zentyal is good, but I like ClearOS better (only recently switched).

Zentyal is easier to install and setup/alter in some ways, but ClearOS wins out in some features once you get the hang of it. also Zentyal leads in some things like ext4 filesystem, and ClearOs leads in some things, like centralised reporting and management.

Depending on your intended useage Zentyal might work out cheaper though.

Both are well suited to a number of uses, it really depends what you want out of them, try them both out on the hardware and see which one works best for you.

Personally I prefer ClearOS and I think by the sound of it V6 should be a good step forward.
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#18880
Re: Compare / Contrast Zentyal to ClearOS 3 Years, 9 Months ago  
+1 for Zarafa it makes a very good Exchange replacement, albeit the free version only has 3 "outlook" licenses.

Peter that's great news for 6.0...I keep hearing good things about the next release!
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#18958
Re: Compare / Contrast Zentyal to ClearOS 3 Years, 9 Months ago  
With improvements that have been carried out and features that will be offered in ClearOS 6, I opted to stay here.
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#19147
Re: Compare / Contrast Zentyal to ClearOS 3 Years, 9 Months ago  
I used Zentyal when it was e-box. I had weird sporadic problems in probably about ten installations. Ive got Clearos running as a proxy server, firewall in four locations and all work flawlessly.

ClearOS is a great product.

Arch
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#19256
Re:Compare / Contrast Zentyal to ClearOS 3 Years, 9 Months ago  
I have been playing with both Zentyal and ClearOS on a test system Intel 810e with Celeron 1200T.
As a n00b and because there will be many n00bs after me, I want to share my first impressions.
I may be wrong at some points, please correct me if so.

First thing I noticed was that Zentyal requires a very powerful machine, even as a simple gateway it practically doesn't run on my old test box.

Based on Ubuntu it is not my first choice. Like RH/CentOS better for stability reasons. Not that Zentyal isn't stable, although very slow it ran without problems.

A false assumption is that Zentyal can limit bandwidth with transparent proxy enabled: It cannot (most of them cannot, even Astaro cannot do it), well not without some extra rules.
The devs found a workaround by using Squid delay pools, but you have to add two rules: One in the shaper and one in the proxy section.
Besides that, limiting upload is practically impossible, only when using a all-all rule we can do some upload shaping but as you understand that doesn't suit any purpose.
For that matter, the bandwidth limiter on COS is way simpler and more effective, but of course no transparent proxy. That's for me the ugliest part of Zentyal, but more on that later.

The good (or even excellent) part of Zentyal are the "Network objects".
These are groups of IP ranges, users or machines that can be assigned a single name. Those objects can be used later with different modules, this is an enormous advantage that speeds up the further configuration task.
Even better, those network objects give you the option to assign IP address and optional MAC address. When both IP and MAC are entered, it works as a MAC-IP binding and you can use it to allow or deny users on the FW, if you delete the default accept-all rule.
I really miss these networks objects with IP-MAC binding on COS, i had to resort to custom FW rules after installing the module.

Other good part of Zentyal is the desktop with browser on the server. It is possible to do some browsing and even installing some apps.
I never got a desktop on COS, upon first boot my old Compaq MV520 monitor didn't support the frequency and went out of sync. Had to do further config from a remote web browser.
On the server I can, at most, bring up a console.
That's another advantage with Zentyal because I definitely need to do some occasional browsing on the server.

At last I looked at the QoS (shaper) of Zentyal and it was easy to follow and setup. Do not ever use application based rules though, with 50 or so users it's way to heavy even for a quad core machine.

ClearOS also has an unbeatable future: The FlexShares. That's something I will certainly miss on Zentyal.

In short, from what I've seen in one week of n00bing around the various Linux distro's is this:
Zentyal wins in functionality and features, but is heavy on resources.
ClearOS is more polished and feels more solid. Runs fantastic on old hardware.
If COS can offer me the same functionality as Zentyal, I'll stick with COS.

So what about bandwidth control and transparent proxy at the same time?
Of all the distro's I tested, not a single one could do this in an efficient way.
So you have to make a decision: Drop either the transparent proxy or the bandwidth limiting.
Choosing between the two was not easy, but I finally changed my view on the limiting issue when I read the stance of someone over at Astaro Germany:
....although you can use the Astaro QoS to limit bandwidth, that's not the way to think about it if you want to get the most benefit from it.
The central concept of Astaro is to leave the pipe wide open to everything, but to guarantee certain traffic priority if needed. Why limit uploads by FTP if they aren't preventing other users from browsing?

When I finally got a better understanding of how bandwidth limiting works, it became clear that it isn't all that efficient.
Limiting bandwidth consist in dropping packages, which will have to be re-transmitted. This results in increased latency, so what we are trying to achieve can actually have the opposite effect!

I now believe the correct way of doing things is QoS.
Giving priority to certain types of traffic like streaming video, voip and browsing is way better than just put the brakes on everything.
At this point I have setup Zentyal with Squid Delay pools using class-1, limiting only large http downloads (25MB at full speed, after that throttled).
QoS port based, http/voip/streaming high priority, lowest prio and limit on ports used by p2p apps.
My goal is to offer the best possible Internet experience to the users. The right QoS setup will help us more than just plane BW limiting.

I hope more people share their views, in the end we all benefit from it.

Cheers,
Arthur.
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#19285
Re:Compare / Contrast Zentyal to ClearOS 3 Years, 9 Months ago  
Excellant summary Arthur. Thank you.
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#19327
Re:Compare / Contrast Zentyal to ClearOS 3 Years, 9 Months ago  
Wow.. thanks Arthur for complete explaination... now its clear for me
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