EIMS 3.1, by Glenn Anderson
Posted: 18-Aug-2002

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Glen Anderson Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: INTERNET
Product Description
Eudora Internet Mail Server (EIMS) 3.1. is an Internet-based email server for the Macintosh platform. EIMS allows you to run an electronic messaging system on the Macintosh.

Price: $400 (Unlimited mailboxes).

Requirements

  • A Macintosh 68030 or higher (PowerMac recommended)
  • Macintosh System 7.1 or later (9.x recommended)
  • Open Transport 1.1.1 (1.3 or later recommended)
  • Full time internet connection

Using EIMS
EIMS is a breeze to setup on a Macintosh. You simply run the server application on a Mac that has a live internet connection, and your Mac is instantly an email server. There are just a few settings that should be setup initially to fine tune EIMS for basic needs.

Server Application
The server application is the program that runs on the Mac you want to serve email, and must be running in order for your users to access their accounts. The server application itself does not provide the means to change server settings or modify user accounts. There is a second Admin application that allows you to manage the EIMS server. The server application provides a few basic functions: Mail Log, Error Log, Connection Statistics, Server Console, and toggles for enabling and disabling incoming and outgoing SMTP mail. The most useful of these, I found, is the Server Console. It allows you to monitor all activiity on your server (incoming and outgoing connections).


EIMS Server Console


If you notice any problems going on with the server, or wish to instantly stop incoming or outgoing email without shutting down the server, the provided options to do this are also handy. While you could quit the server application, doing so generates bounce errors when connection requests come in. The disable options lets you effectively stop the server without triggering the bounce errors.

Admin Application
In the admin program, you can add, modify and delete user accounts, setup your POP/IMAP server preferences, your SMTP preferences, and a variety of other settings. The first thing you must do after running the Admin program is log in to the server. A logon window prompts you for the server address and password (the password defaults to a preset value, so you should change the password immediately).


EIMS Logon Prompt


If your connection is direct to the internet, you can use your static IP address or the DNS name of your server (if you registered one). If, however, you are running a local network and are behind a router or firewall, you must specify the local IP address of the server (the static IP does not appear to route to the server during the logon procedure).

The advantage of having a login procedure for accessing the server is that it allows you to access the server from a different computer, providing full remote administration. The disadvantage of this method is the unwelcome lag of opening windows. Each admin request is handshaking with the server as if it is a different computer, even when it's the same computer.

The old 1.3.1 version of EIMS provided all of the account administration in the server application itself. This required you to be at the computer to make any changes, but account administration was much faster when it ran within the server program. Opening account windows, choosing menus options, and saving changes were all as immediate as a keystroke. Using the remote admin program under version 2.0, I immediately noticed a dramatic lag during the admin process. I was hoping to see this lag resolved with version 3.1, but it is still there. After logging in, it takes awhile before the admin window opens up (over 10 seconds on my G3). There is similar lag when opening and closing other windows, such as user windows and the preference window.

The other advantage of the old 1.3.1 version of EIMS is that it was free. It does not provide many of the functionalities that most administrators would want on their server today (such as relay restrictions), so it is quite a bit outdated. For a local network, however, where outside access is blocked by a firewall, the free version actually works fine for the most basic of server needs. For those wanting an external email server, you would be better off with EIMS 3.1, but be prepared for the $400 price tag, or a $200 price tag on EIMS 3.1 Light (one domain, no IMAP, Ph, or LDAP, and AppleEvents and Incoming Mail folder not supported). For those still looking for a free solution (such as non-profits and schools), you may want to consider the free
Stalker Internet Mail Server (SIMS).

Both EIMS 3.1 and EIMS 3.1 Light provide a powerhouse of functions and controls, and access to them is made very simple with a streamlined Mac-savvy interface. The domain window displays automatically after logging into your server, and provides an option to setup any aliases (typically the DNS names associated with your server's IP address), settings for bounce actions, and easy access to the EIMS accounts.


EIMS Domain Window (aliases intentionally blurred to hide data)


One thing that is not quite intuitive is if you close the domain window, it's not really obvious how to open it up again. My "Mac instinct" told me to go under the File menu and look for an "Open Domain..." option, but EIMS wants you to go under the Admin menu and choose the "Domains window" option. This displays a list of domains (typically there's only one in the list), and after double-clicking on the domain, the domain window opens up again. Also thrown under the Admin window are the options for Preferences, Outgoing Mail, and Change Admin Password.

The Outgoing Mail option is useful to monitor email being sent out from your server. When connections to the recipient servers are unavailable, those emails remain in the outgoing queue, and EIMS automatically retries to send after user-specified intervals. The Change Admin Password option is just that, an option to change the admin password. This is something that should be done immediately after setting up the server.

The bulk of the goodies are to be found under Preferences. A preferences window is displayed, with a scrollable list of preference groups in the left window pane: General, Connection Settings, Sending Setup, Mail Routing, Relay Restrictions, and IP Range Restrictions. The general group lets you assign a default expansion domain, set maximum log sizes, expand address headers, and other options.


EIMS General Preferences

The Connection Settings group allows you to set the number of TCP connections, timeout value, TCP port, and same host limit for the different server functions: POP3, IMAP, Password, SMTP, Ph, LDAP, and ACAP. It also lets you set the number of simultaneous outgoing SMTP connections, and a NotifyMail port. Sending Setup lets you add and remove domains, and provides options for domain timeout and expiration (this is also where to set the interval time for resending mail in the outgoing queue). Mail Routing lets you setup the SMTP routing information for domains on your server. This is where you would identify a host server that would be handling your outgoing mail, or you could optionally have the mail saved to a file.

SPAM Control
The next two preference groups are for establishing some sort of SPAM control on the server. The first group, Relay Restrictions, allows you to specify what domains to relay email for. You can exclude a list of domains (i.e., relay for all domains except for those in the list), or relay only for the domains in the list. The options also include checking for valid IP addresses and local domains. Under IP Range Restrictions, you can deny or allow access for a range of IP addresses.

For this review, I setup the server to relay only for domains that are in a specified list, local, or a valid IP address. I did not set any controls under IP ranges. I then used ORDB.ORG to test the server to see if it would be considered an open relay. My server passed the test, which is great news for administrators who want to stay off of "black hole" lists.

User Accounts
In addition to the Admin menu, EIMS sports a Users & Groups menu that allows you to create, modify and delete individual user accounts, as wells a groups of accounts. You can create a group with a list of users, and email sent to that group name is routed to each account in the group. To create an individual account, you use the New User menu option (or Command-U). The following account window is displayed.


EIMS User Account Window

The Account Name is first part of the user's email address (for example, an account called "peter" on a server domain called "piper.com" would equate to an email address of peter@pipe.com). You establish the initial password (which the user can change later), and enter their full name. For a standard account, you want to check the "Login Enabled" and "Account Enabled" boxes. If you want to support IMAP, you need to click that box as well (by default, all accounts are POP). There are other options that you can set to control the user's account, including a "Mail action". By default (mail action of "none"), the email resides on the server until the user logs into their account and downloads their email. You could also have automatic mail forwarding, which routes the email to another email address (with the option to keep a copy). You can use the Mailing List action for setting up mailing lists (EIMS works quite well with the freeware listserver program called Autoshare), as well as saving email into files. There's also options for Auto Reply and NotifyMail. The "Directory Info" button allows you to input further information about the user, which can then be used by directory searches (such as Ph and LDAP) on the server.

To modify an existing account, you start from the Domains window that lists all the current accounts, and simply double-click on a user. That action opens up the account window, allowing you to modify the information.

What's New

If you are trying to decide on whether to upgrade from EIMS 3.0.x to EIMS 3.1, consider the following new features:

  • Lots of new Apple Events and improved Apple Event performance.
  • Lots of performance improvements.
  • NTLM authentication, secure authentication with Outlook/Outlook Express.
  • CRAM-MD5 authentication for POP3.
  • LDAP authentication.
  • Delivery Status Notification information in message bounces.
  • Statistics for Incoming and Outgoing queue delays, and total messages sent and received.
  • Navigation Services support for import and export.
  • Exporting passwords is now optional.
  • Better Appearance Manager support.

If you are using EIMS 2.2, here's a list of new features introduced with EIMS 3.0:

  • IMAP Support: Supports IMAP4rev1.
  • Support for plaintext SMTP Authentication with Netscape and Outlook/Outlook Express.
  • AppleScript: Supports adding and removing domains and domain aliases.
  • EIMS Mail Utility: Can delete old mail and convert mailbox formats.
  • Appearance manager support.
  • Performance improvements: Twice the throughput of EIMS 2.2
  • Port numbers and maximum connections from the same host can now be configured for all services.
  • Port numbers can now be specified for SMTP routing and NotifyMail (domain:port).
  • Expansion of address headers and adding missing address headers are now options.
  • Bounce messages can be set to only contain the headers of the message that is being bounced.
  • Mailbox files can be processed by dropping them in the Incoming Mail folder.

Documentation & Support
The EIMS Admin program supports Apple's Balloon help, but I tried using that, and found that sometimes the bubble text displayed did not match where I had the cursor, or I'd click on a domain, but the help text still indicated that I had not clicked on a domain, or the information provided just wasn't that useful. There is better documentation to be found in the
EIMS 3 Administrator's Guide which can be downloaded for free from the Eudora support web site. This PDF document includes a lot of details not only about how to use EIMS, but general internet and email information as well, providing a wealth of technical data.

Qualcomm provides the software and support for older versions of EIMS, starting from 2.0 up to and including 3.0.3. Starting from EIMS 3.1 (the version in this review), the software and support is provided by the original author of EIMS,
Glenn Anderson. Although Glenn's web site does not provide the EIMS manual, it does include a support page that goes over some of the more interesting aspects of EIMS, such as how to secure EIMS from relaying. Email support is provided to those who purchased the full version of EIMS.

Summary
EIMS 3.1 is a great server application for supporting POP and IMAP accounts, controlled SMTP relaying, and other email related server features. The user interface for managing the server and the accounts is simple to use, and the performance of the server itself is outstanding. The throughput of the server seems great, and the stability of the server is rock solid. The handshake lag that exists between the server and the admin program can be a bit annoying, and the high price tag can be a bit unsettling for those without the budget. For those with a limited budget, you may want to consider EIMS Light, although without IMAP, Ph and LDAP support, you are probably better off with the free SIMS. If you have serious needs for email serving on the Mac, and you have the budget to support those needs, then look no further than EIMS 3.1. It provides the best email server package in terms of performance, ease-of-use, and features.

Pros

  • Excellent throughput and rock solid stability
  • Extensive feature set, including relay control
  • IMAP and POP support
  • Easy to use interface

Cons

  • Annoying lag between the admin program and the server
  • Steep price (including the Light version)
  • Bubble help text needs an overhaul

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 Mice