Horde 3.0

Today Horde 3.0 along with some applications using it, the most noteworthy being IMP 4.0, has been released.

For me, horde has a long history of being a pain in the ass to install and extend. While installing the first versions has been quite easy (but not possible for me back then as I did not have access to my own server and the environement of our shared hoster did not have all the extensions needed – let alone shell access), it grew quite complicated with 3.0 onwards.

My main problem has been and is that Horde is not really a framework for application developement, but a frontend-container. It’s not possible to just install IMP. You’re always installing a kind-of groupware-application (Horde) and only them the webmail component

If you don’t do it right, you actually force your users to login in twice when checking their email (once in horde, once in IMP)

As always, I really had to take a look at those new releases.

As the horde main server is quite busy currently, I’ve downloaded from the mirror in the netherlands – the others where either not reachable or not current.

After downloading the horde framework, satisfying the very long list of dependencies took some time. Especially tricky was the fileinfo PECL-extension but this was because of a problem with my local PHP installation. Glad I found out now and could fix it

Then came the configuration. What a nicely done web interface! Unfortunately, I just managed to lock myself out (I chose “IMAP Server” as authentication source not knowing that this only works after IMP is installed and IMP cannot be installed without a working horde installation…)

After those things where setteled, I came to the installation of IMP. Easy procedure here – after getting used to with the framework itself before.

Then I’ve configured horde to use IMP as authentication source which did not work at first but after copying over the backup configuration file and trying again, it finally worked (don’t ask me what I did the second time).

My next problem was the preset settings for my users: Per default, it’s using a 12 hours time format, Arabia as location and somewhere in Africa for the time zone.

As I cannot ask my (possible) users to change those preferences, I looked for a way to do that and while doing that I began to understand how the Horde configuration system works.

Now, I’m quite impressed about how they are doing this: it’s generic, it’s configurable and every single feature can be locked down for the end users. Very nice.

Just make your configuration changes in config/prefs.php. If you need a list of possible values, either read the source, or easier: Just look at the HTML source of the preferences-screens.

If I had a whish for the next release: Provide a way for the administrator changing those settings via the Web-Frontend.

While I first just installed IMP, which worked flawslessly out-of-the box, I ventured further and installed kronolith, turba, nag and fiinally even chora. Additionally, I configured Horde to give access to chora only to me. Comfortable. Even more impressive, when I recall that the whole user-management is done via the XAMS environement (by using IMP to authenicate the users).

All in all, I still would whish to hide away horde and just install IMP (with a small, simple integrated addressbook), but as a) IMP really is the best (PHP-based – I don’t know no others) webmailer out there and as the other applications work really nicely (even with PHP5, though it’s not officially supported), I can live with that limitation.

Now, I have two tasks ahead of me:

  1. Provide support for changing the XAMS account password from within the web interface. This will be a great opportunity to learn how the preferences system really works.
  2. Teach Ingo how to create Exim-Filters as this is the filtering system that could most easily be integrated into XAMS. When I designed the initial draft of XAMS (then still called pmail), I took great pride that the mail delivery does not cause a non MTA-process to be forked an I want to keep it that way. It saves resources under high mail load.

After the christmas days, I certainly will know what the new Horde/IMP is made of. From an Administrators/Users perspective, it’s a great release.

Thank you guys!