EIMS 3.2 for OS X, by Glenn Anderson
Posted: 26-Sep-2004

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Glen Anderson Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: INTERNET

Product Description
Eudora Internet Mail Server (EIMS) is the most popular Internet mail server for the Macintosh. If you need to handle email for a dozen users, or thousands of users, EIMS is a reliable and easy to use solution. EIMS 3.2 now supports OS X.

Price
EIMS 3.2 is available for US$400.00, there are no limits on the number of users that can be added, and free email support is included. Existing EIMS 3.1.x users can upgrade to EIMS 3.2 for US$60, existing EIMS 3.0.x users can upgrade to EIMS 3.2 for US$90, and existing EIMS 2.x users can upgrade to EIMS 3.2 for US$180.

EIMS Light 3.2 is also available for US$200, and it supports all of the features of the full version of EIMS 3.1, except it only supports one domain (with domain aliases), has no IMAP server, no directory server (LDAP and Ph), no AppleEvent/AppleScript support, and no Incoming Mail folder (used by 3rd party programs to pass mail to EIMS). An upgrade from EIMS Light 3.1 to EIMS Light 3.2 is available for US$60, an upgrade from EIMS Light 3.2 to the full version of EIMS 3.2 is available for US$210, and an upgrade from EIMS Light 3.1 to the full version of EIMS 3.2 is available for US$240.

Requirements

  • Mac OS X Reqmts
    • PowerMac G3 or later
    • Mac OS X 10.3 or later
    • Full time internet connection
  • Mac OS 7/8/9 Reqmts
    • 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

This review is of EIMS 3.2 running on Mac OS X 10.3, and the review machine is a G4 iMac.

What's New
New features in EIMS 3.2 include:

  • Completely rewritten relay restrictions with an easier to use interface that gives finer control over relay security.
  • New domain name resolver (DNR), EIMS now has it's own DNR, which works around bugs in the Open Transport DNR and performance problems with the OS X DNR. The new DNR does not currently support non-recursive DNSs.
  • SMTP Submit port, this is a second SMTP port running on TCP port 587 by default. It currently works exactly the same as the standard SMTP port. This is handy for clients that are stuck behind an ISP that blocks port 25 access.
  • Sending Setup option for maximum recipients per message.
  • Expand SMTP Addresses option, you can now turn this off, with EIMS 3.1 and earlier it was always on.
  • The SMTP server (both port 25 and 587) now reports Telnet connections and connections that look like port scans (connections where no data is sent and it doesn't time out).
  • Full name, last login time, and last IP address are now shown in EIMS Admin, these update dynamically as users log in.
  • Sorting and type selection in the Relay Restrictions and IP Range Restrictions, backup MXs are also sorted from last label to first (all .com domains sort together, and all company.com domains sort together), this is improved over EIMS 3.1.
  • New IP Range Restrictions for SMTP submit, and separate IP Range Restrictions for POP3 and IMAP.
  • Separate Sending Error log, you no longer have to wade through all those "connection timed out to domain.org" errors looking for important stuff like filter hits and wrong passwords.
  • Multiple addresses can now be specified in the forwarding for a user by separating them with commas.
  • The admin connection is started separately before all other services, allowing connection from EIMS Admin even if something is stopping other services from stating up (out of memory, port still in use, not running as root on OS X with the OS X version, etc.)
  • CPU usage is reduced when EIMS is idle.
  • HFS+ directory iterators are used on OS 9 and OS X, this speeds up things like calculating disk space used by a user, listing folders from IMAP, and a bunch of other things.
  • Numerous other performance improvements.

Installation and Setup
EIMS is a breeze to setup on a Macintosh. Under OS 9, after downloading the server software, simply run the server application on a Mac that has a live internet connection, and your Mac is instantly an email server. The very first time you run the server, you are prompted for an Admin password. This is the password you will use to access that EIMS Admin application. Under OS X, there is just one extra step to take. EIMS requires root privileges to function properly. EIMS 3.2 comes with a Terminal command file, "Set EIMS root.command", that automatically sets this privilege for you. You only have to run this once, and thereafter EIMS will run with root privileges.

By default, there are already settings in place to prevent your server from being used as a relay server. To get the most out of EIMS, however, you will want to explore and edit various settings using the EIMS Admin program (a separate application from the EIMS server application).

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 separate 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 is the Server Console. It allows you to monitor all the 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, EIMS includes options for disabling either the incoming or outgoing connections. This is advantageous to quitting the server, because when you quit the server, incoming requests will not see the server; hence, a bounce situation could occur. The disable options lets you effectively stop the server without triggering the bounce errors.

The only issue I have with the Server Console is that EIMS does not maintain the data it contains. That means there is no scrolling functionality, and if the window gets blanked out (e.g., if you "Hide" the application, and then "Unhide" it), the data that was once there is not restored. This isn't the behavior that is expected from a Mac savvy application. Also, neither the EIMS Server application nor the EIMS Admin application had the proper EIMS icons (both show up with the generic application icon, making them difficult to tell apart at a glance).

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. When starting up the Admin program, you are prompted to log into the server. A logon window prompts you for the server address and password (the password is established with the first run of the server application).


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 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 that each time you want to make a change, you are required to logon to the server (even when you are making changes directly on the server itself). Given the few times it is required to perform administration tasks, the extra logon step is insignificant.

EIMS 3.2 provides a powerhouse of functions and controls, and access to them is made very simple with the streamlined Mac-savvy interface of the Admin application. After running the Admin program and logging into your server, a "domain" window displays automatically. It provides an option to setup any aliases (typically the DNS names associated with your server's IP address), settings for bounce actions, and quick access to the EIMS user accounts on your server.


EIMS Domain Window


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 EIMS 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.

The bulk of the goodies are to be found under Preferences. The Preferences window displays a scrollable list of preference types in the left window pane: General, SMTP Settings, Connection Settings, Sending Setup, Mail Routing, Backup MX domains, Relay Security, and IP Range Restrictions. (NOTE: New to EIMS 3.2 for OS X are SMTP Settings and Backup MX domains, and Relay Restrictions is now called Relay Security.) Within each groupings are specific settings that can be altered in the right side of the window.


EIMS General Preferences

The "General" options let you assign a default expansion domain, set maximum log sizes, expand address headers, and more. The SMTP Settings includes 4 checkboxes that can be used to toggle the following:

  • Disable SMTP EXPN command
  • Disable SMTP VRFY command
  • Expand SMTP addresses
  • Require AUTH on SMTP Submit

The Connection Settings let you set the TCP connection limits, timeout value, and TCP port for various server functions: POP3, IMAP, Password, SMTP, SMTP submit, 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. There are also options for the interval time for resending mail in the outgoing queue, Send ETRN on connect toggle, and Max recipients per message limit.

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. Backup MX domains lets you establish EIMS as a backup MX for domains you add to this list.

SPAM Control
The next two preference groups are for establishing SPAM control on the server. The first group, Relay Security, allows you to specify what domains to relay email for. By adding domains to the list, you can allow unauthenticated relaying from these domains. You can also specify to relay for local domains only, as well as specifying the IP range for added domains.

Under IP Range Restrictions, you can deny or allow access for a range of IP addresses. These range restrictions are entered seperately for the various services: POP3, IMAP, SMTP, SMTP Submit, Password, Directory, Auto configure, and Anonymous directory access.

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, the EIMS Admin program includes a Users & Groups menu that allows you to create, modify and delete individual user accounts, as wells a groups of accounts. By creating a group with a list of users, any 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 are 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 existing accounts, and simply double-click on a user. That action opens up the account window, allowing you to modify the information.

Stability

Stability in an application is, of course, always a good thing, but for an email server, it is of the utmost importance. When someone goes to check their email on your server, that last thing they want to see is "unable to reach server" (and if they do receive that, may it be their ISP that's down, not your mail server). I've run tests on versions of EIMS dating back to 2.0, and stability has always been one of its strongest assets. I don't recall EIMS ever crashing. I'm glad to report that stability is still present in EIMS 3.2 for OS X. The server runs reliably 24/7, serving email accounts without any issues at all. Reliability equates to peace of mind for server admins, and EIMS for OS X provides exactly that - peace of mind.

What's Next?
The EIMS web page indicates that slated for EIMS 3.3 is the ability to run without a GUI interface so that you can startup the server without being logged in. Frankly, I prefer the GUI interface, and cannot imagine running a server without being logged in. What I would really like to see is built-in web-access to email accounts. Similar to mail readers such as
UebiMiau, it would complete the package if users could access a web page and read their email. This is especially useful for those behind restrictive firewalls. EIMS' latest addition of the SMTP Submit port does provide a secondary port for accessing their email, but most company firewalls are designed to only pass-thru specific ports (usually allowing Web, FTP and Telnet only). Some services, such as Yahoo, provide access to non-Yahoo POP accounts from their web sites, but that requires going through another portal, and most of those services are known by firewall admins (aka, they are blocked).

Documentation & Support

Gone from EIMS for OS X is the Balloon help that exists for the Classic version. There's also no Help menu or manual that comes with the software. There is good 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 software and support is provided by the original author of EIMS,
Glenn Anderson. Although Glenn's web site still does not provide an 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, and Glenn is very helpful when responding to email correspondence.

Summary
EIMS 3.2 for OS X 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 feels improved over the Classic version, and the stability of the server is rock solid. EIMS needs a little bit of polishing in terms of its Server Console and application icons, and having built-in web-access would really be a boost. In terms of value, EIMS for OS X provides peace of mind with its stability and performance, making it worth the high price of admission. For hobbyist server admins with a limited budget, you may want to consider EIMS Light. Without IMAP, Ph and LDAP support, however, you may prefer the free
SIMS mail server (although SIMS is not currently OS X native, and therefore must be run in Classic mode). 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 3.2 for OS X. It provides the best email server package in terms of performance, reliability, ease-of-use, and features.

Pros

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

Cons

  • No built-in documentation or help
  • Steep price (even for the Light version)
  • Poor handling of server console, and no built-in web-access

Overall Rating:

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice