Free E-mail and Webmail Server on Ubuntu

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I am a bit fickle when it comes to e-mail servers. IMAP has enabled me to download and get off one server and on to another very quickly. Since mine is the only account to worry about, migration can be a very simple process. I have written about my tests of free e-mail servers before, so here is the latest run down of some applications that are available and which one I chose.

The death of my motherboard led me to do a complete, clean installation of Ubuntu 9.10.  I had been using Axigen 6.2.2, which is an excellent product.

The only drawback was that I could not move forward to their new product.  It was an AJAX enabled version and offered a nice new interface.

So I returned to the drawing board and looked at a number of products.  For reasons explained below, I selected Surgemail again and was soon up and running and enjoying their new features.

Why Not Axigen?

This is a fantastic mail server.  But their policy for the free version is a one year only license.  It is generous for the features you get, but I don’t like being limited in that way.  I need a free server that I may run for a few years.  So nix Axigen.

Correction:  it is a one year license, but can be renewed annually for free. 

Postfix and Dovecot

Next I looked for the default Ubuntu e-mail server configuration.  This was easy to install, but frankly I found it confusing and difficult to manage.

Also Rans:  Yahoo! Zimbra, @MailServer

Next I looked at the Zimbra e-mail and collaboration server, and the AT Mail Server.

Zimbra is an e-mail application recently purchased by Yahoo!.  It looks powerful but the free, open source edition is not available on Ubuntu 9.1, only 8.04.

I attempted to install AT Mail but could not get it to install and activate POP3 and SMTP.  It also offers a free 5 user license.  My problem was with MySQL.  I could not downgrade the MySQL 5.1 installed on Ubuntu and its installation script required MySQL 5.0 and continued to choke on the fact that it wasn’t there.  I think I may have gotten past this issue by doing some things manually and fooling around with apt-get.  But in the end it still did not work for me.

Not much more to say about either.  Both have a free version, so you might want to take a look and – with a bit more technical skill – you might be able to get them to work.

Finally, Surgemail

I like Netwinsite’s Surgemail a lot.  Unlike Axigen, they are up front about a 5 user free version of their server.  They offer a lot of functionality in all of their versions, but it is simple to install and configure.  Unlike the Postfix + Dovecot option, you have a lot of Web-based tools to configure and use the server.

Their latest version, 4.2, has some nice features.  The spam control is very tight and I saw an immediate drop in the number of messages even reaching my Spam folder . The new AJAX based interface for SurgeWeb is very easy to use and is clearly borrowing from Google Mail concepts.