Thursday, November 12, 2009

Groupwise 8 Upgrade + Client

The City uses Groupwise as our post office to house all of our email and calendar data. There were some mandatory calendaring requirements from our employees and GW best fits those needs. Last weekend, we upgraded from version 7 to 8. We are experiencing normal problems and awaiting some patches, but overall it went pretty well.

One of the things that comes up often in our contact with Novell is the issue of us using Evolution vs their Java client for Linux. We had tested the version 7 client a few years ago and it was not a good fit for us. So I checked out the new version with an open mind.

A lot of work has gone into making this release have feature parity with the Windows version, and they seem to be making progress. One of the things that the users really liked about Evolution 1 was the old Summary Screen, and Groupwise 8 has a similar feature (shot below).

Another nice feature is the ability to enter your own notes and comments on each email message as pictured below:

Overall from a feature standpoint, it seems robust and delivers in that regard.

So why don't we use it? The client runs on Java, and unfortunately it's S-L-O-W. To be fair, I installed the client on SLED 11 and it's running on the same server as Evolution 2.24. It flickers a lot at startup and on resizes, drag bars are painful to move, pulldown windows are slow. It's entirely possible that this product works perfectly on a local video card, but over remote display it's really pretty painful.

The other issue from version 7 that remains is that it consumes a lot of memory, and then continues to leak badly. When you are on a standalone computer, it might be ok for 1 or 2MB to leak at a pop, but when you have 300 users running, that suddenly becomes 300MB or 600MB for me!

I started the client and then opened top. Below you can see the client running along with the same email opened in evolution for my account.

After just a few minutes, it was already leaking (below).

I'm going to run it all day and see how bad it gets. At this point, there is no way this would scale and provide the performance that users expect in our environment.

It seems like from time to time there are discussions in Novell about Evolution vs Java, and where to use development resources. From our perspective and needs, Evolution is far better and we hope that Evolution continues to get the TLC it deserves.


Anonymous said...

Usually within hours of posting, you have tons of comments with explanations/potential solutions. I'm sad to see neither so far.

Dave Richards said...

Mikey, sometimes things are just kind of reviews I guess. :) Groupwise is closed source, it is what it is in a way. Using Java probably solved some problems for them, but has never been a good solution for our needs. I would never get 300 of these running on one machine. I was leaking all day, and barely using any of the features. As long as Novell continues to support Evolution with resources, that should work well for us.