Anybody Know Why Michael Arrington Hammered Zimbra?

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A couple of days ago, I ran across this posting from David Young of Joyent (a Ruby based, hosted collaboration service run by the TextDrive guys). In it, Young links to a quick snippet of audio taken from the 2.20.06 Gillmor Gang, in which Edgeio and TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington absolutely killed Zimbra, calling Edgeio’s experience with it a “total, unmitigated disaster,” and saying that they were considering moving back to Exchange.[1] Having been very impressed by the demos and our conversations with the Zimbra folks – to the point that RedMonk is strongly considering migrating off of Exchange to it, provided we can get a satisfactory hosted plan – I was very curious about what the context was of this remark. Unfortunately, when I went back to the original source – the show itself, there was no information or explanation beyond that soundbite.

So like Serge Meeuwsen, one of the commenters on the above Gillmor Gang link, I’m left wondering what precisely went wrong with Zimbra as Arrington sees it . The only mention of Zimbra on TechCrunch that I could find, here, was fairly positive, and I didn’t turn up anything in a quick search.

Would love to see the answer to that question if anybody knows it, whether it’s Arrington or any of the other Edgeio folks. If it’s that bad, why haven’t posts turned up describing the problems – or did I just miss them?

Disclaimer: None of the above are clients of RedMonk, but we’re considering Zimbra as a replacement for Exchange, and we do currently have a paid account with Joyent for evaluation purposes.

[1] In case anyone’s curious, Young does qualify his remarks, saying that “we here at Joyent think Zimbra is a great product for the Microsoft Exchange replacement market.”


  1. I tried Zimbra for a few weeks and found it to be excellent. I used the webmail from home, and IMAP while at the office. I was able to synch from iCal to its Calendar using iSynch and everything worked w/o a hitch. Unfortunately, we found that the fancy features (IMAP, Calendar synching) were not available in the free version, so we decided not to use it.

  2. Matt,

    IMAP and iCal is absolutely included in the OSS Edition of Zimbra. iSync(two-way calendar sync for Mac) however is currently available for Network Edition subscribers only. For a full list of features see:


  3. We had problems building it on our preferred environment (debian) as opposed to fedora/rh (yes, we care about that sort of thing), followed by more pertinent issues:

    a) resource hungry on the server and we were exactly hammering it.

    b) when you tabbed out the page, tabbing back was achingly slow, both ie and firefox (perhaps something to do all that js getting paged back in)

    Personally I’m wait and see on zimbra in the sense that it or something like it is inevitable and specifically I like the UI. A lot. But it’s damn slow compared to a client side mua.

  4. Hi Bill,

    We now have Debian binary builds so no need to roll-your-own these days.


    a) Early versions of Zimbra were a bit hard on system resources. We’ve provided ways to tune this or disable optional functionality if you choose.

    b) Similarly in each release client performance is a top priority. Firefox 1.5 has made a huge improvement in the performance of JS code. We’ve also spent quite a bit of time profiling the code and optimizing for quick run-time performance.

    In any event feel free to drop us a note on the Zimbra Forums. Lots of folks would be happy to help offer performance tuning advice or answer any questions you may have.


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