[Users] Any ETA or planning on actual Zimbra ZCS fork?

Randy Leiker randy at skywaynetworks.com
Thu Dec 12 19:32:09 CET 2019

Hi Adrian, 

Following the weekly Zeta Alliance conference call on December 3rd, both myself & everyone on the call gained a better understanding of your concerns about the open source edition of Zimbra and we appreciated you joining the call. Again, we welcome anyone to join the weekly calls ( [ https://www.freeconferencecall.com/wall/zetalliance | https://www.freeconferencecall.com/wall/zetalliance ] ) to discuss all things Zimbra related, and get early heads-up on Zimbra improvements in the pipeline. Just to recap the highlights of the conference call for everyone seeing this message on the mailing list, we discussed: 

Concerns about whether or not an open source version of Zimbra X will be released 
Barry De Graaff agreed that Zimbra has not been forthcoming with the community about the product direction for open source Zimbra. In his role as a Zimbra employee, he's initiated a discussion with Rene Otto (head of product management for Zimbra) to seek clarification. Barry reported in this week's Zeta Alliance call that he has not yet heard back from Rene on this topic. 

The challenges and workload involved with forking Zimbra 
Most everyone on the call agreed that forking Zimbra would be a massive task with many challenges, and is not advisable. Barry also reminded everyone that the Zeta Alliance is not a fork of Zimbra ( [ https://zetalliance.org/faq/ | https://zetalliance.org/faq/ ] ). There was also a discussion about the challenges related to building a community around a fork and managing code contributions. John Hurley (head of Zimbra tech support) also mentioned that Zimbra currently sees very few contributions to the product from the open source community. 

Running Zimbra X using on-premise hardware 
Barry also asked Rene about this topic, but reported he has not heard back on this topic. Following the call on December 3rd, I think you are right Adrian in that it will continue to be possible to run Zimbra X with on-premise hardware, since many Zimbra BSPs depend on this capability for thier business model. 

Next Zimbra X product announcement 
There were hints offered that the community may be hearing more about the direction of Zimbra X in the coming weeks, which may help definitively answer some of the above concerns. 

Upcoming schedule for weekly calls 
Discussed in this week's Zeta Alliance call, we are planning to do one more call this year on December 17th, then will take a break and continue the weekly calls starting on January 7, 2020. 

Randy Leiker ( randy at skywaynetworks.com ) 
Skyway Networks, LLC 

From: "Adrián Gibanel" <adrian.gibanel at btactic.com> 
To: "users" <users at lists.zetalliance.org> 
Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2019 3:49:41 AM 
Subject: Re: [Users] Any ETA or planning on actual Zimbra ZCS fork? 

De: "Randy Leiker" <randy at skywaynetworks.com> 
Para: users at lists.zetalliance.org 
Enviados: Lunes, 2 de Diciembre 2019 22:55:04 
Asunto: Re: [Users] Any ETA or planning on actual Zimbra ZCS fork? 


Hi Adrian, 

Thanks for sending such a thorough email outlining your ideas for forking ZCS 8.8.x. Similar to Zimbra's policy prior to the GA release of 8.8, they are likewise being quiet about specific roadmap details for the GA release of X, aside from a few high level bits of information publicly released. 

I see. 


Aside from the things that I've been told that are confidential partner information, it has been publicly hinted that there will be more than one version of X, targeted at different markets. It has likewise been publicly disclosed that it will likely be based on Docker containers in a Kubernetes environment. 

My personal speculation (not based on anything shared with me by Syncaor) is that one of those versions will probably be a hosted offering similar to Office 365's Business Premium email subscription model, possibly based on an AWS cloud platform. I seriously doubt Synacor would directly offer to host it on Microsoft's Azure or Google's cloud services, since they are direct competitors to Zimbra (Office 365 & G Suite). I also speculate that they would make it optional for a Zimbra admin to independently deploy ZCS on their own using either Azure or Google's clouds, and a Zimbra admin's own in-house infrastructure too. 

In side conversations I've had with several owners of other Zimbra BSPs over the last year & a half, they share your preference and prefer to run Zimbra on their own infrastructure, rather than public cloud service (e.g. AWS) for various reasons. On the flip side, I have also heard from 1-2 BSPs who strongly prefer to use a public cloud services for their Zimbra instances. But, I have not heard any official information about what will happen to the option to run it on an organization's own infrastructure, rather than a public cloud service. Like yourself, I am hoping that running a self-hosted version of ZCS X remains an option. 


I'm pretty sure you will be able to self-host Zimbra X. You might need to tweak your hypervisor or virtual machines setups but you will be able to do it. 
I'm not concerned about Zimbra X being able to be self-hosted or not. That's not the big picture here. 
I'm worried about Zimbra X not being released with an open source license. 
The reason why I'm advocating for forking Zimbra 8.8.X is not because it is a self-hosted version. 
I'm advocating for forking Zimbra 8.8.X because its license is open source and Zimbra X is not clear is going to be open source. 
I would also advocate for forking Zimbra X if there was an already open source version of it from two years ago and no clear news about newer versions being kept under an open source license. 


I invite you and anyone else reading this message to join the Zeta Alliance on our weekly Tuesday conference calls ( [ https://www.freeconferencecall.com/wall/zetalliance | https://www.freeconferencecall.com/wall/zetalliance ] ) to discuss your thoughts on ZCS & your proposed fork. There's usually at least 10-15 of us on those weekly calls, where most attendees are BSPs, key people that work in Zimbra tech support, engineering, marketing, and key people who work for Zextras. You can see a list ( [ https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uUUDJpwp2CAylU6lxtbEdVcUX_qSbciyes6gLTWw2fY/edit | https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uUUDJpwp2CAylU6lxtbEdVcUX_qSbciyes6gLTWw2fY/edit ] ) of the things that we typically discuss on our weekly agendas. 


Thank you for inviting me. 
It was an educational talk which will help me to improve the project FAQ draft. 


Randy Leiker ( randy at skywaynetworks.com ) 
Skyway Networks, LLC 

From: "Adrián Gibanel" <adrian.gibanel at btactic.com> 
To: "users" <users at lists.zetalliance.org> 
Sent: Monday, December 2, 2019 9:50:46 AM 
Subject: [Users] Any ETA or planning on actual Zimbra ZCS fork? 

Please note I already started this discussion at ZetaAlliance devel mailing list ( You can check the original thread here: https://lists.zetalliance.org/pipermail/devel_lists.zetalliance.org/2019-November/000403.html ) . As advised I have moved this discussion to the users mailing list. 

1) ZCS 8.8.x being a dead end. 
1.1) Synacor has stated that the current ZCS 8.8.x family builds will no longer be upgraded. 

More information on "Zimbra 8.8.X support" on "A annex" below. 

1.2) ZCS 8.8.x now uses a mix of custom scripts and packages from a custom repo. 
1.3) They will be replaced by "Zimbra X" ( https://info.zimbra.com/zimbra-x-beta ) while the ZCS 8.8.x versions based on 'custom scripts and packages from custom repo'. 

As far as I understand Zimbra X is what a high-grade professional email service should be. A cloud service where many of its services are run in different containers. If a given container does not run as expected you can power it off and power on another one to replace it. If your service has a lot of usage then many more containers are started to keep up with demand. During the night only the minimal containers are kept run. 

There is also an improvement on UI based on React. 

Finally it's based on Zimbra's open source project. So that you can have a full source code review. 

More information on "Zimbra X" on "B annex" below. 

1.4) No open source version 

Despite the former statement "based on Zimbra's open source project" as far as we know there won't be an open source binary version or download of Zimbra X. 
You won't be able to download your own Zimbra X binaries (built only from open source) to be able to deploy it either in your own cloud system (Although I suspect it will be technically feasible to install Zimbra X in a single server it won't be the default or recommended way of doing things, you will need a cloud system anyways.) 

So one of the key selling points of Zimbra: Being "open source" for either security or "ensuring future updates" reasons has vanished. 

More information on "Zimbra 8.8.x OSE" on "C annex" below. 

2) ZCS 8.8.x Replacement 

This is what I think we need in order to replace ZCS 8.8.x 

2.1) Git repos 

Basically we would need to replicate repos found at: 
( Note: I'm already working in this part. ) 

2.2) Pkg repos 

Ubuntu packages repo 
Centos packages repo 

2.3) Build knowledge and machines 

In addition to the code we need to know how to use it to build the different Zimbra versions for each of the supported operating systems and versions. 
Optionally we could have some build machines to automate the build and CI of the new system. 

3) License rework 

It would be nice if plugins could be written in GPL3 and then being able to bundled into Zimbra itself. 
Apparently right now they can only be GPL2. 

4) Name (Domain et al) 

A name for the Zimbra fork. 

5) What's the current status from the Zeta Alliance side? 

I have checked both the devel and users mailing lists and I haven't seen any debate about an hypothetic community-driven fork. 

Is there any message that I have missed? 
Is there any work in progress that I have missed? 

Thank you very much for your feedback! 

6) Finally I know that Zella Alliance has in its FAQ ( https://zetalliance.org/faq/ ): 

Q. Is this a fork ? 
A: No, no, no. Everyone involved has clearly expressed, a fork would be the worst possible outcome. 

but given the current feedback we have from Synacor we have to be prepared to this new scenario. 

A) Current end of Support Matrix for ZCS 8.8.x and earlier versions ( https://www.zimbra.com/support/support-offerings/product-lifecycle/ ) 

Zimbra Major Release | General Availability | End of General Support | End of Technical Guidance 
Version 8.8.x | 12/12/2017 | 12/31/2023 | 12/31/2023 

Zimbra Standard Release | General Availability | End of General Support | End of Technical Guidance 
Version 8.8.15 (Joule) Next LTS | 07/19/2019 | 12/31/2023 | 12/31/2023 
Version 8.8.12 (Issac Newton) | 04/01/2019 | 12/31/2019 | 06/25/2020 
Version 8.8.11 (Homi Bhabha) | 12/18/2018 | 6/28/2019 | 12/17/2019 
Version 8.8.10 (Konrad Zuse) | 10/1/2018 | 03/29/2019 | 10/1/2019 
Version 8.8.9 (Curie) | 07/09/2018 | 12/14/2018 | 07/09/2019 
Version 8.8.8 (Turing) | 03/29/2018 | 10/01/2018 | 03/29/2019 

Zimbra Long Term Release | General Availability | End of General Support | End of Technical Guidance 
Version 8.7.11 | 07/13/2016 | 12/31/2019 | 12/31/2020 

Close to End of Life | General Availability | End of General Support | End of Technical Guidance 
Version 8.6.x | 08/26/2015 | 09/30/2018 | 09/30/2019 

B) About Zimbra X (taken from https://info.zimbra.com/zimbra-x-beta ) 

The Next Generation of the Zimbra Email and Collaboration Platform 
Leapfrogging ahead of competitors with a first-of-its-kind containerized architecture and React-based application, Zimbra X is optimized for high performance and flexibility. 

* Zimbra X Platform 
** Cloud native and cloud agnostic 
** Stateless, highly available architecture 
** Automated container orchestration utilizing Docker Swarm or Kubernetes 
** Full separation of services and application 

Zimbra X Application 
** React-based application built on top of Zimbra’s API and GraphQL 
** Responsive for use on any device 
** Easily integrates with third party services for a customizable experience 
** WCAG compliant for full accessibility 

Zimbra X Benefits 
** Automated deployment, recovery, and traffic management 
** Flexible cloud hybrid deployment options 
** Easily customizable and extensible application, with third party services like Giphy and Emojis already integrated 
** Based on Zimbra’s open source project ensuring security and allowing for full source code review 

C) Zimbra 8.8.x Collaboration OSE ( https://www.zimbra.com/open-source-email-overview/ ) 

Since the inception, Zimbra has been a community. All of our Zimbra Collaboration Open Source Edition software, documentation and innovation has been created, tested, used, and discussed openly by people like you participating in our Open Source Community. Our contributors diagnose bugs, fix bugs, translate programs, submit patches, point out deficiencies in documentation, answer community questions, submit killer applications, alert us to something that needs tweaking, and write new software. No matter how you contribute, we welcome new ideas and contributions for the advancement of greater shared knowledge and a better Zimbra Collaboration product. 

Adrián Gibanel 


[ http://www.btactic.com/ ] Adrián Gibanel 
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