eGroupware: Your Exchange Replacement Has Arrived

Jack Wallen
Jan 21, 2009
Updated • Nov 28, 2012

If your company uses Exchange you might have noticed the license for Exchange now requires a CAL for each user who accesses the Exchange server. In a large enterprise this can become quite costly. Fortunately there is an alternative. The eGroupware suite is a free, open source groupware suite that allows users to manage contacts, email, projects, to-do lists, and much more. Sound familiar? It should because it is very much like Exchange, only eGroupware offers more. The eGroupware suite can used via web interface or from supported groupware clients such as Kontact, Evolution, or Outlook. And eGroupware is not just suited for small businesses. The eGroupware suite is suitable from small to enterprise-level businesses. But is it right for you? Let's break it down and find out.

What eGroupware DOES have

The feature list of eGroupware looks like this:

  • Calendar (including support for groups, resources, and contacts)

  • Contact manager (support for both SQL or LDAP)

  • Integrated IMAP mail client

  • Infolog (tasks and notes)

  • Project Management

  • Resource and inventory management

  • File manager

  • Web based authoring system

  • Time tracker

  • Bug Tracker

  • Wiki

  • Knowledge base

  • On demand support from Stylite

What eGroupware does NOT have

  • Support from Microsoft

  • Costly licensing

Installing eGroupware

The installation of eGroupware is what will stop many users from deploying eGroupware.  The first requirement is to have a LAMP server up and running. Once that is up you'll need to download the correct file. You can install eGroupware from source or from a binary file such as an rpm file. After you have installed the system you need to point your browser to http://DOMAIN_OR_IP/egroupware/setup/index.php and finish up the installation. At this point you will be given instructions regarding what is missing from your installation in order to continue.

Of course that is a rather minimal installation description, but it gives you an understanding of how the system is installed.

Who Would eGroupware Best Fit?

The eGroupware suite would best fit any business or enterprise who is looking for a cost-effective replacement for Exchange and is willing to put the time into installation. eGroupware is also perfect for any situation looking for an Exchange-like groupware that offers more features and better reliability.

Who Would eGroupware Not Fit?

The obvious answer to that is an enterprise with an IT staff having zero knowledge of Linux. However, it must be noted that eGroupware can be installed on an IIS server so this isn't necessarily a credible factor. The real factor that could hinder adoption of eGroupware is if your enterprise is Microsoft-only. If your company has already spent the budget on Exchange servers and licenses they will be less likely to agree on adopting an all together different technology. Those licenses, however, will expire so this would be an ideal time to create a testing environment for eGroupware so that, when the time comes, you will have plenty to show the powers that be how well a free, open source solution can be.

Final Thoughts

eGroupware is one of those tools that will quickly become one of your favorites even if only because of the cost savings it offers. But don't think the only reason to adopt eGroupware is cost. eGroupware is as powerful and as flexible as anything Microsoft can offer in the groupware category.


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  1. Naveen said on December 23, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    i am C.Naveen Kumar.I installed Egroupware .I am getting some errors in the applications of eGroupware,especially
    in Tracking System and File Upload what to do……………….

    1 )Error in Tracking system when we are adding a new bug after filling all the mandatory details it is not getting error and shown in the tracking system.When we specify the Assigned To Text field to any particular user we are getting these two errors. Please check it out and give me reply as early as possible

    Warning: require_once(Net/IMAP.php) [function.require-once]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in
    C:\xampp\htdocs\egroupware\emailadmin\inc\ on line 14

    Fatal error: require_once() [function.require]: Failed opening required ‘Net/IMAP.php’
    (include_path=’C:\xampp\htdocs\egroupware/egw-pear;.;C:\xampp\php\pear\’) in
    C:\xampp\htdocs\egroupware\emailadmin\inc\ on line 14

    2 ) In attachment links tab we are browsing and attaching a file for that it is showing some error .we are not aware of how to rectify the error

    The error is

    Warning: copy(links://default/apps/tracker/22/rlz.dll) [function.copy]: failed to open stream:
    “links_stream_wrapper::stream_open” call failed in
    C:\xampp\htdocs\egroupware\phpgwapi\inc\ on line 750

    3 ) In the file manager application, while uploading a file also we are getting errors

    Warning: fopen(sqlfs://default/home/naveen/ [function.fopen]: failed to open stream:
    “sqlfs_stream_wrapper::stream_open” call failed in
    C:\xampp\htdocs\egroupware\phpgwapi\inc\ on line 182

    Warning: copy(vfs://default/home/naveen/ [function.copy]: failed to open stream:
    “vfs_stream_wrapper::stream_open” call failed in
    C:\xampp\htdocs\egroupware\filemanager\inc\ on line 136

    Please Give me a detailed information or give me some supported links so that i can rectify the errors. Please reply me as early as possible.

  2. carlos said on April 11, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    I’ve been playing with eGroupware for a few weeks now. For an even more complete solution to handle LDAP (which eGroupware by itself does not have) and shared folders, etc. Take a look at eBox, it includes network management tools, proxy server, openVPN, LDAP w/ Samba, Jabber server (again eGroupware doesn’t have a live chat server by itself), E-mail server, firewall and still more, PLUS eGroupware for the calendar, contacts, etc.

    What I like best about it is it is PHP and extremely extensible, eGroupware can become your CRM as well which Exhcange can’t handle.

    Someone above mentioned having a WinMo phone, you can sync eGroupware with any winmo phone, your iphone, most nokia phones and anything else that supports syncml (most funambol clients work with egroupware), Thunderbird, etc… They even support iCal but I havent been able to get that to work :). Works great with syncml & evolution using synevolution for me and the small company I have it setup at.

  3. Kevin said on February 11, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Nice writeup….I’ll be downloading, installing and testing….if it works as well as is reported, I’ll have alot of clients running exchange happier than hell….they are very tired of being held over a barrel by M$ for features they heavily use…

  4. RogueSpear said on January 22, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    We’ve been contemplating Zimbra to replace our very old Exchange 2000 server. My concern with them is that Yahoo owns them and my concerns over their stability/future make me pause. Well it looks like I have a lot of reading up to do now about eGW.

  5. jack said on January 22, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    i have added a link to egroupware site.

    hhumbert: the one major difference i can find that would make a difference between zimbra and eGW is that the high-end zimbra has MAPI support whereas eGW does not.
    at least not yet.

  6. hhumbert said on January 22, 2009 at 7:58 am

    So, how does this solution compare to Zimbra? I like Exchange, but have been forced on Zimbra recently. I’m getting used to it. But I use a Windows Mobile 6.1 device, and Outlook is pretty tight with that combination. Zimbra’s catching up.

    Any comparisons?

  7. Dan said on January 22, 2009 at 6:25 am

    Very nice jack. Long time reader first time poster. Just want to say that I love your writing. Keep articles like this coming. Always looking for better ways to manage company’s data

  8. Andreas said on January 21, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    This is just awesome!
    I have been trying to find something that can replace our costly Exchange-servers.

    One little pointer though…
    I’ve noticed you seldom link your posts to the official site of the program you’re writing about. VERY annoying…

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