Narli Kolab for Ubuntu [UDS Heavy Stuff Edition]

Did you ever wish for a useable groupware solution for your Ubuntu systems?…

At the recently held Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando, FL the teams behind Ubuntu Server and Kubuntu discussed the long-term target for the Kolab Groupware stack on the Ubuntu platform.

But before I describe more detailed what is going to happen, let me quickly explain what Kolab is.

Kolab is a groupware solution primarily consisting of a server component, but not limited to that. In fact I personally see its strength in its desktop integration rather than the web interface, since that one is not equipped with the user interface you would want to use a lot (it is not really on par with today’s web standards). Kolab provides everything you would expect of a nicely integrated groupware solution: calendar, mail, address book etc. Its primary recommended desktop client is Kontact, which happens to be the groupware shell for KDEPIM applications. Since KDE is involved, the Kubuntu team is of course all crazy about providing the best possible experience for everyone who wishes to use Kolab (preferably with Kontact of course). We are supported by work force of Kolab Sys to get this done quicker.

Here is our plan for that:

a) Get Kolab into Ubuntu

Scott Kitterman is hard at work on this and already made some progress. The issues at hand are that Kolab requires patches to be applied to some existing Ubuntu Server components, but more disruptively Kolab by default uses a different IMAP server than Ubuntu. Fortunately a good bunch of patches is already applied to the Ubuntu packages and there is a plugin that enables Kolab to use Dovecot (that would be Ubuntu’s IMAP). So we are on a good way to get this done for our next LTS release in 2012.

Actually the required plugin for Dovecot, called dovecot-metadata-plugin, is already available in 10.10, so feel free to experiment with it. If you do, please also take notes and harass Ryan or Adam with them, since they’ve volunteered to work on documentation for this fancy magic.

b) Get KDEPIM (Enterprise) into Ubuntu

KDEPIM Enterprise was formerly known as an independent branch of KDEPIM tweaked for use with Kolab. The enterprise 5 release will however be based of regular KDEPIM. As I understand it the enterprise release has special support offers from the companies behind Kolab so we very likely will want this in Kubuntu. Whether it will be default or not is yet to be decided.

c) Due to lack of a stable KDEPIM Enterprise for KDE 4 we are trying to get the KDE 3 version in for Kubuntu 11.04

Being more short-term than b) this part specifically targets Kubuntu 11.04. Kolab Sys (one of the companies behind Kolab) created Kubuntu packages of the KDE 3 version of KDEPIM Enterprise since it is the currently supported stable version, even if a bit dated. Ryan Kavanagh is working on resolving some remaining issues that are currently blocking inclusion into the Ubuntu archives, once those are sorted KDEPIM Enterprise should be available in the repositories for Kubuntu 11.04.

d) More clients to follow

There is also client integration for Thunderbird which is on our radar, however not much has happened in that direction – yet. Thunderbird is especially interesting since I recon despite it not being default on Ubuntu Desktop it is widely used. At this point it is probably also worth mentioning that there is Kolab support for popular groupware clients on legacy systems (Windows), as Scott would put it. For more information on Kolab clients please visit their website.

I am very excited about this, and hope you are too.

Stay friendly 🙂


3 thoughts on “Narli Kolab for Ubuntu [UDS Heavy Stuff Edition]

  1. Yes I do “wish for a useable groupware solution” and would give kolab a try… if I could find the tarballs without needing to fiddle with a slew of rpms.

    Have they hacked up mhash, pcre (just to name a few) so badly that I have no choice but to use what is in release/kolab-server-2.2.4/sources/ ?

    What is so terribly wrong with providing tarballs for just the kolab server or client. Until that happens I’ll never try it or recommend it.

    • In the maverick cycle we got all the kolab specific patches to other packages in the archive with the exception of cyrus-imapd. One still needs to use the Kolab specific patched package for that. Kolab Systems people are making a renewed push to get their changes integrated into various upstreams. This has been a long standing issue with Kolab that will hopefully be a diminishing problem over time.

      We’re focused on delivering a great Kolab experience via Debian packages in the Ubuntu archive, so the srcrpm distribution method is less of a concern for us, but I can understand why it’s annoying.

      If you want Kolabd tarballs, you can actually get them from Launchpad as they are a distinct part of the Debian source package:

  2. Thanks for your efforts to get Kolab Server and Kontact Enterprise into Ubuntu!
    Just for your info: the current enterprise 5 versions are based on kdepim(libs) and akonadi trunk. You can find the sources at e.g.
    We are running some services to build new packages from source automatically after tagging a new version. See
    If you have further question about e5 feel free to ask!

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