[Users] Zimbra and the Open Source community [WAS: Re: Any ETA or planning on actual Zimbra ZCS fork?]

David Sommerseth dazo at eurephia.org
Fri Dec 13 02:26:55 CET 2019

On 12/12/2019 19:32, Randy Leiker wrote:
> John Hurley (head of Zimbra tech support) also mentioned that Zimbra currently
> sees very few contributions to the product from the open source community.

This illustrates a too common issue when corporations do not fully understand
how to interact with a community.  A corporation putting out open source code
NEED to understand that contributors does not come by themselves.  They need
to be invited, see that the corporation is really interested in driving and
fostering a community, involving a COMMUNITY of DEVELOPERS and other CONTRIBUTORS.

The ZetAlliance has been rolling for quite some time, which would be the ideal
ground to build a community.  But what has happened in that time?  The
corporate side of Zimbra has mostly been absent and missing.  Key people in
the company who grasped the community better has mostly left the company and
no new personnel has been hired to fulfill their role (unless I'm completely
uninformed).  Barry is now probably the only person being fully involved with
both company and community via the alliance.

Whenever there are news from the company, it seems to never really hit the
community - only via corporate channels.  And from a community perspective, it
seems like Zimbra development has halted completely.  Like there has been talk
about the the new fancy webmail interface for years; but it has still not hit
a Zimbra OSE release to my knowledge.  Whenever there are some Zimbra events
happening, it is purely marketing oriented efforts - I can't recall seeing the
company invite developers for some hacking time.

How the community and alliance members has been "treated" or "involved" by the
company is a clear indication why the community basically is absent in regards
to why there is so little contribution from the community side.

I have been a strong advocate for Zimbra for several years.  But as I'm
getting tired of still seeing a fairly massive base install, not being too
performant and at times quite sluggish web interfaces plus the lack of a
really thriving community I have started to look for alternatives.  Because
this is simply not sustainable in a long run for me.  And especially not when
hearing rumours that Zimbra X might not even be available as an OSE install base.

I do know I should have tried to contribute more within Zimbra.  There are
things I'd like to see fixed there.  But why would even I consider spending my
scarce valuable sparetime on a community project which mostly seems treated
like any other close-source product from any other proprietary vendor?  I
mean, there are still open and unresolved bugs in the bug tracker which are
over a decade old.

For my part, I'm going to dive deeper into the open-source server aspects of
ProtonMail [0] and Kolab [1] to evaluate pro/cons for each of them and compare
it up against my need for myself and my customers (all using Zimbra today).
What I will end up with in the end, I don't know.  But currently I do want to
move away from Zimbra before it is too late and security issues starts
crawling in not getting any development efforts at all.  From a community
perspective, I consider Zimbra basically dead these days, because I don't see
efforts pushing this area forward at all.

[0] <https://github.com/ProtonMail>
[1] <https://kolab.org/>

kind regards,

David Sommerseth

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