AXIGEN Mail Server Review

very good
key review info
application features
  • Shared folders & permissions with other (groups of) users
  • (17 more, see all...)

Email, e-mail or eMail, however you may prefer to call it, has been around since the beginning of the Internet era and is now, understandably, even taken for granted. The protocol for sending emails, SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), became an Internet Standard 10 since 1982. Early emails were composed using the ASCII character set and we all know what they look like today. Photos, sounds, animations, videos or virtually any file format out there can be attached to an email and safely arrive, in a matter of minutes, to its destination.

Expecting it to just work, we rarely think about the technology behind it and the constant struggle to deliver e-mails almost in real time, while keeping inboxes as clean as possible. That being said, I think we will all agree that e-mail is a great and extremely useful technology these days. And for that reason we decided to review the very backbone of your e-mail addiction: an e-mail server. We chose a product created by the well-known Romanian company Gecad Technologies – some of you may remember their popular RAV AntiVirus solution that was sold to Microsoft back in 2003. Since then, Gecad refocused on providing new, revolutionary messaging platforms under the name AXIGEN.

The AXIGEN Mail Server comes in four "flavors": Business Edition, Enterprise Edition, Service Provider Edition and the Office Edition, which is completely free. Each of the aforementioned editions is scaled according to customer needs, and the prices range from approximately 275 Euros with 25 mailboxes to 2930 Euros for the full-blown, 5000 mailboxes – ISP edition. However, if your company needs more than 10,000 mailboxes, AXIGEN can provide you with such large scale solutions too.

Installation

Being accompanied by comprehensive documentation, the AXIGEN Mail Server installation is a pretty straightforward process and can be done by almost anybody, provided they have at least some base Linux terminal knowledge, as it needs su privileges. And knowing that this product is mainly for IT professionals, the command-line installation is as easy as it can be. Leaving that aside, it is also very fast and you will be ready to configure your settings in no more, probably less, than two minutes. After the install process is finished, the services won't start automatically, as you must do the initial configuration: setting the admin password, primary domain, SMTP and POP3 interfaces etc. Fast forward, and you are ready to start your mail server, but not before shutting down other web or mail services (Apache, Sendmail, Postfix, IMAPD, Dovecot) that could interfere with AXIGEN. That being done, simply run the following two commands "sudo /etc/init.d/axigen start" and "sudo /etc/init.d/axigenfilters start" and you have a working mail server ready to be further tweaked to your needs using the simple, clean and efficient web interface.

The Web Interface

After typing in the password, you enter the WebAdmin panel and everything is exactly where you would expect it to be. The left pane displays all the categories, the middle pane shows the settings for the selected subcategory, and on the right, Contextual Help is available for quick understanding of what's going on in that page. Also, in the upper-right hand corner of the interface, a "Home" icon will appear if you leave the first page. Near it, a useful "Contact Support" link will accompany you on every screen, facilitating a quick access to assistance.

The first category is "Global settings" in which you can view your Primary Domain and the SSL Random File. Under that, another panel will display license information like the numbers of machines and mailboxes that are managed, the Tech Support provider, currently installed addons and other details regarding the limitations of the license you bought.

The Services category is where you start, stop, restart and configure all of AXIGEN's mail services (POP3, IMAP, SMTP, etc.). The very thorough configuration subcategories allow you to customize your server to the finest details. A simple Log Level slider exists in almost all settings pages and will instruct AXIGEN to either log everything or only critical events. The Flow control will allow you to limit the number of simultaneous connections and the maximum connections per x seconds, minutes, hours or days. Error control will close sessions after a number of invalid commands received from clients or failed authentication attempts. This number can range from 0 to 100. There is also support for the StartTLS technology – a quality Encryption and Authentication method and Thread Management for normal or overload situations. You can even set the Greeting message for the POP3 and IMAP services. Another "safety net" provided by AXIGEN is Email Loop Protection that will reject emails that have more than "X" received headers.
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The Domains & Accounts control panel is pretty self-explanatory, letting you manage your domains, accounts, groups, mailing lists, public folders and account classes. A nifty feature that you'll come across when adding a new account, group, mailing list or account class for multi-domain servers comes in the form of an autocomplete field that will filter domains while you type, saving precious time or just helping you through a memory lapse.  
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Security and Filtering

With huge amounts of spam, malware and viruses coming 24/7 from all over the world, the true power of a mail server solution might just stand in its ability to filter out these pests constantly while still allowing legit emails to get through. AXIGEN is able to work with several applications to address these issues. Support for SpamAssassin, AVG, AVAST, ClamAV, Commtouch, amavis is available, along with the more generic aximilter interface, which enables connecting to even more security or filtering products. All these solutions will attempt to clean infected emails and if that's not possible it's your choice what to do next. You can either still deliver them, move them to trash or just discard them. The same goes for emails marked as suspicious. The AntiSpam configuration features two 0-10 thresholds with 0 meaning not spam and 10 being spam. After receiving a score from SpamAssasin, the messages will either be sent to the SPAM folder or deleted, according to the readout on the threshold. For example, if you set the "move to spam" threshold at 5 and the "delete" threshold at 8, all messages that get a 5 or higher score will be moved to the spam folder and those with an 8 or higher score will automatically be deleted. Very, very helpful and so easy. Of course, you can always integrate your favorite AntiVirus solutions and create Whitelists and Blacklists for specific addresses. Other anti-spam methods include country filtering (in collaboration with MaxMind geolocation service), Sender Policy Framework, Domain Keys, DNS BlackLists and DNS Check.
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Status and Monitoring

AXIGEN Mail Server offers a comprehensive reporting service and has the ability to create charts for an easy overview of the server's load and activity. You can enable SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) and add listeners for it, collect domain and domain object data (with the option of renewing samples at an interval ranging from 0 to 848 weeks) and set the logging level.

When creating a new chart, you are asked to name it and add it to an existing group, or create a new one. Next, set the start/end time and dates, choose the data you want to be used, play around with the colors if you don't like the default ones and that's it. It will start monitoring and you can, at any time, download the collected data summary either as a CSV or an XML file.

The storage chart will give you a quick look at how much space is being used, but you can also view a detailed version of it, which provides more in-depth information. Note that AXIGEN Mail Server will only use what it needs to use, with an auto-expanding storage size (of course, within the limits imposed by you).

In the logging subcategory you can decide whether you want to separate service logs or centralize them in a single file. You can also view saved logs (.txt extension) right from the interface.

Migration and Back-up


AXIGEN offers automatic and manual migration solutions through IMAP. All domains, accounts and mailboxes from any mail server platform can be migrated seamlessly; it will even copy the server's login credentials and create an exact replica of it. You simply cannot ask for a simpler tool.
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The AXIGEN team also included a complete Back-up & Restore function (with flow, error and thread controls) facilitating full or partial restores and both offline and online backups. This service can also be accessed from more than one location, giving administrators the ability to set access rules for specific IPs. Advanced clustering support with multi-tier setups, LDAP authentication and routing, SMTP routing to back-end, POP3 & IMAP WebMail proxies and integration with the RH Cluster Suite are also available.
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End-users are also sure to have a great experience using AXIGEN's email services with features like:

· Localized WebMail clients
· Mobile WebMail
· Personal organizer
· Address book
· Multiple skins
· Printer friendly emails
· Out-of-office messages and much more.

The Good

Fast installation and configuration, quick understanding of all the functions under a very clean and efficient Webadmin interface and a plethora of settings that can be tweaked are some of AXIGEN Mail Server's strong points. Add those to stability, almost unbeatable security and great overall performance and you get this high-class mail server solution.

The Bad

Newer Linux distributions are not fully supported. The AXIGEN mail server refused to start automatically at bootup on Ubuntu 8.10, which was released quite a while ago. But this is definitely not a huge problem and, knowing that Gecad updates the server quite often, I'm sure this bug will be addressed in no time.

The Truth

Whether you are an admin or an end-user, working with or under AXIGEN's mail server is bound to make you a lot more efficient and a lot less worried. Yet another great product from a company worthy of its reputation.

user interface 5
features 5
ease of use 5
pricing / value 3


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
NEXT REVIEW: Little Wizard

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