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Hi folks

Have recently discovered Zentyal, and through extension, clearOS.

I have been playing with Zentyal over the last few days and have been impressed, but ClearOS also seems to have similar functionality but in a more polished package.

Can anyone compare and contrast the two?

I'm in the business of Managed Services, so any info that would pertain to MSP's would be handy, stuff like reporting, centralized management, and repeatable configuration of sites.

Any input appreciated :)

Cheers
James
Friday, October 08 2010, 06:21 PM
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  • Accepted Answer

    Monday, May 06 2013, 08:16 AM - #Permalink
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    I have just recently re-looked at this

    Zentyal 3.0 vs ClearOS v6.4

    the speed is still a BIG issue with Zentyal

    On identical hardware the Internet Connection was 1.2MB quicker with Clear then Zentyal, and even just browsing the web interface was a lot slower on Zentyal.

    This was also on a slow internet connection 20MB, the speed issues were tested several times and were consistently slower

    Note: this was a fresh install, no tweaking etc so It could be user error / incorrect setup

    I was just wanting to test Zentyal Samba4 which is built in where with Clear is seems to be paid app only?
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, August 02 2012, 07:51 AM - #Permalink
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    This is a cool thread.

    I ran Zentyal for some time before I discovered ClearOS. I loved Zentyal and at the time ClearOS had to convince me to change. Well, it did. Why?

    They both have good modules, stability, support, compatibility etc.

    But ClearOS to me is much more refined. But above that there is 1 category where ClearOS kicks the ever living snot out of Zentyal and that is sheer performance.

    I started the entire "roll your own" home router project because with the 100mb pipe I had I was toasting normal off the shelf routers especially if I tried to do anything fancy. And I am talking the $200+ versions of.

    To make a long story short I got multiple mb PER SECOND more out of ClearOS than Zentyal on the same hardware. That is a HUGE difference.

    I suspect this is due to being built on top of Red Hat instead of Ubuntu.

    So as far as I am concerned if you have a healthy bandwidth of 50m+ you do yourself a dis-service by using Zentyal by leaving some portion of that pipe unused as the box you are running simply cannot keep up.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Saturday, July 28 2012, 11:46 PM - #Permalink
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    Arthur - much appreciated summary.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Eric
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    Friday, June 15 2012, 04:05 PM - #Permalink
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    I'm about to demo Zentyal now actually. I use ClearOS 6.2 at home and it breaks the xBox. I tried some different suggestions, but no xBox for me still. I'm going to see if Zentyal works any better and if not roll back to ClearOS 5
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  • Accepted Answer

    Sunday, May 06 2012, 10:45 AM - #Permalink
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    Has anyone looked recently at ClearOS vs Zentyal

    specifically ClearOS v6.2 vs Zentyal v2.3
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  • Accepted Answer

    Arthur
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    Saturday, October 23 2010, 11:16 AM - #Permalink
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    Hi Peter,
    It's good to hear about COS 6, from here it can only get better.
    Thank you for explaining the Squid issue. Now it's all clear. Thanks also for the tip on xterm :lol:
    I hope that that "itch" to rework the network layer is strong enough to see something in COS 6, who knows.

    Cheers,
    Arthur.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, October 22 2010, 03:32 PM - #Permalink
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    Wow... thanks Arthur. That's great feedback!

    - Implementation of "network objects" that can be tied to IP and MAC and the ability to use these objects with other modules.


    That's an interesting concept. I know that Darryl (the primary firewall/network guru at ClearCenter) has been itching at reworking the whole network layer. We have added more and more features over the years and it's a bit messy now.

    - Some sort of desktop from where we can run a browser or another 3th party app


    Hmmm. Personally, I want to discourage that. The "graphic console" that you see is really Firefox in full screen, no menu, and running in a minimalist X Window manager (ratpoison). You can launch other programs if you really wanted to, but I don't think we'll encourage that :-)

    For example, I just ran:

    yum install xterm
    DISPLAY=0:0 su -c 'xterm' clearconsole

    Voila... an xterm shows up on the main screen. I run my MythTV frontend this way FWIW.

    Delay pools class 1&2 for Squid proxy


    We'll investigate this in relation to the number one item on the wishlist.

    Upgrade Squid to 2.7 instead of maintaining 2.6 (I never understood why)


    There were not enough compelling reasons to fork away from the base CentOS/RHEL builds. We have done this for Squid in the past. In fact, we were going down the road of using Squid 3.0 in ClarkConnect 5.0, but there was a showstopper feature missing (X-Forward-something need by the content filter). We had 3.0 all patched and built before we found the showstopper. We needed to revert back to either the stock 2.6 or a custom built/maintained 2.7.

    At a more fundamental level, RHEL/CentOS 5.x is getting old. Really old. You will see Squid 3.1 in ClearOS 6.0, not to mention 64-bit.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, October 22 2010, 09:29 AM - #Permalink
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    i just wait n see, B) if squid chance from 2.6 to 2.7 or 3.1,
    i tried to limiting bandwidth with delay pools n webmin htb or webmin cbq, delay pools is not flexible limit bandwidth, upload cannot limit.
    webmin htb n cbq, i did 'nt succesfully, tried, tried n tried to limit bandwidth,


    maybe if bandwidth in my country could more cheapest, i use 1 Mbps for 20 client, in my internet cafe, $ 75 per month same with salary a labor, maybe limited bandwidth not important if you have big bandwidth,

    just wait n see, B) until now i use two server, clearos n mikrotik for bandwidth limiter, heheheh, :laugh:
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  • Accepted Answer

    Arthur
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    Friday, October 22 2010, 09:20 AM - #Permalink
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    Jay M wrote:

    I hope it's not going to be implemented as default. Adding GUI/Desktop Environment will take some resources.

    Yes that's a fact. But it could be available as an option at install. The ability to choose between a desktop enabled version or the console version will make us all happy.

    Jay M wrote:
    I never browse internet on my firewall and never have a need for it

    Don't forget that COS is so much more than only a firewall. I would agree with you if COS was only that.
    I plan to use it as an all integrated solution for my users, if I'm going to put a dedicated box 24/7, well then it might as well do several things at once, including filesharing, mailserver, webproxy, tftp, storing my pxe boot images...including running a browser.

    It all depends on the role of the server, so to have this option at install makes sense to me.

    Cheers.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Jay M
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    Friday, October 22 2010, 08:46 AM - #Permalink
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    Arthur wrote:

    - Some sort of desktop from where we can run a browser or another 3th party app


    I hope it's not going to be implemented as default. Adding GUI/Desktop Environment will take some resources. I never browse internet on my firewall and never have a need for it :lol:
    Beside, virtualization is a common thing these days (I still have a dedicated box for my firewall but might P2V it later), and adding a GUI definitely a waste.

    Except that point, I like the rest of suggestions and hope it will be implemented :cheer:
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  • Accepted Answer

    Arthur
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    Friday, October 22 2010, 06:38 AM - #Permalink
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    I would like to post a follow-up as I've been doing some testing the last days.

    Being a resource hog I wasn't satisfied with the Zentyal performance. So I slimmed it down, in software management uninstalled the most packages that I do not use at this moment.
    Removed stuff like antivirus (users should have their own AV installed anyway), zarafa and all mail related software, the cloud stuff, jabber and voip.

    The result is a surprisingly workable solution on my old Celeron 1200/intel 810/512MB/80GB system. Much better than before and it could even be used in a production environment as a gateway (about 40 users in my case).
    At this moment Zentyal has a 64 bit version out, 2.02 and I'm thinking about replacing my main server with it.

    Still, after testing several distro's, ClearOS is in my opinion the best available.
    It's overall cleaner, more organized and way more friendly on old hardware.
    Being based on CentOS / Red Hat is a proven solution. A lot of my clients run Red Hat on their servers, I'm no Linux expert at all, but Ubuntu is not widely used as a server OS.
    Besides that the ClearOS documentation is top notch. You can find your way around the manual and solve most problems on your own without having to ask a single question.
    All modules on ClearOS have direct links to the online manual. Without it I never would have survived :laugh:.
    On another note, the community plays a big role in getting the most out of ClearOS.
    On this forum I met some very helpful people with a lot more experience than I currently have.
    They helped me a lot with my setup and that's perhaps the biggest reason for me to stick with COS once it offers the features I need.

    So I'll make this some kind of a n00b's conclusion.
    Currently I will use Zentyal because it has the features I need. The availability of a 64 bit version is a big advantage providing you have the proper hardware for it.
    There are several things I don't like:
    - Based on Ubuntu
    - A bit messy, wouldn't say bloated but not as straight forward and organized as COS
    - Way to heavy on hardware
    - Documentation is poor (in fact it was for 1.4, only yesterday it got updated)
    - Not so much of a user community to resort to. There is practically no help available.

    And my wish list for the next version of ClearOS:
    - Implementation of "network objects" that can be tied to IP and MAC and the ability to use these objects with other modules.
    - Some sort of desktop from where we can run a browser or another 3th party app
    - QoS is currently a bit hidden
    - Delay pools class 1&2 for Squid proxy
    - Upgrade Squid to 2.7 instead of maintaining 2.6 (I never understood why)
    - Set default policy in firewall to "drop all" instead of "accept" as it is now.
    - Ability to uninstall modules (saw that on the list already)

    Some of these items may or may not be achievable in the current version of COS, I just haven't got the time nor the knowledge to dig into it.
    Besides the two distro's discussed here I tested others:
    - PfSense (watch for version 2.0 when it comes out, very good stuff)
    - Astaro (50 user limit is a dealbreaker for me)
    - IPCop
    - Zeroshell

    For me none of the above solutions were suitable, but they may be OK for others. It depends on what you're looking for.

    Cheers,
    Arthur.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Andi Micro
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    Thursday, October 21 2010, 04:38 PM - #Permalink
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    Wow.. thanks Arthur for complete explaination... now its clear for me :)
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  • Accepted Answer

    Kevin
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    Wednesday, October 20 2010, 06:18 PM - #Permalink
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    Excellant summary Arthur. Thank you.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Arthur
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    Wednesday, October 20 2010, 08:26 AM - #Permalink
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    I have been playing with both Zentyal and ClearOS on a test system Intel 810e with Celeron 1200T.
    As a n00b and because there will be many n00bs after me, I want to share my first impressions.
    I may be wrong at some points, please correct me if so.

    First thing I noticed was that Zentyal requires a very powerful machine, even as a simple gateway it practically doesn't run on my old test box.

    Based on Ubuntu it is not my first choice. Like RH/CentOS better for stability reasons. Not that Zentyal isn't stable, although very slow it ran without problems.

    A false assumption is that Zentyal can limit bandwidth with transparent proxy enabled: It cannot (most of them cannot, even Astaro cannot do it), well not without some extra rules.
    The devs found a workaround by using Squid delay pools, but you have to add two rules: One in the shaper and one in the proxy section.
    Besides that, limiting upload is practically impossible, only when using a all-all rule we can do some upload shaping but as you understand that doesn't suit any purpose.
    For that matter, the bandwidth limiter on COS is way simpler and more effective, but of course no transparent proxy. That's for me the ugliest part of Zentyal, but more on that later.

    The good (or even excellent) part of Zentyal are the "Network objects".
    These are groups of IP ranges, users or machines that can be assigned a single name. Those objects can be used later with different modules, this is an enormous advantage that speeds up the further configuration task.
    Even better, those network objects give you the option to assign IP address and optional MAC address. When both IP and MAC are entered, it works as a MAC-IP binding and you can use it to allow or deny users on the FW, if you delete the default accept-all rule.
    I really miss these networks objects with IP-MAC binding on COS, i had to resort to custom FW rules after installing the module.

    Other good part of Zentyal is the desktop with browser on the server. It is possible to do some browsing and even installing some apps.
    I never got a desktop on COS, upon first boot my old Compaq MV520 monitor didn't support the frequency and went out of sync. Had to do further config from a remote web browser.
    On the server I can, at most, bring up a console.
    That's another advantage with Zentyal because I definitely need to do some occasional browsing on the server.

    At last I looked at the QoS (shaper) of Zentyal and it was easy to follow and setup. Do not ever use application based rules though, with 50 or so users it's way to heavy even for a quad core machine.

    ClearOS also has an unbeatable future: The FlexShares. That's something I will certainly miss on Zentyal.

    In short, from what I've seen in one week of n00bing around the various Linux distro's is this:
    Zentyal wins in functionality and features, but is heavy on resources.
    ClearOS is more polished and feels more solid. Runs fantastic on old hardware.
    If COS can offer me the same functionality as Zentyal, I'll stick with COS.

    So what about bandwidth control and transparent proxy at the same time?
    Of all the distro's I tested, not a single one could do this in an efficient way.
    So you have to make a decision: Drop either the transparent proxy or the bandwidth limiting.
    Choosing between the two was not easy, but I finally changed my view on the limiting issue when I read the stance of someone over at Astaro Germany:
    ....although you can use the Astaro QoS to limit bandwidth, that's not the way to think about it if you want to get the most benefit from it.
    The central concept of Astaro is to leave the pipe wide open to everything, but to guarantee certain traffic priority if needed. Why limit uploads by FTP if they aren't preventing other users from browsing?

    When I finally got a better understanding of how bandwidth limiting works, it became clear that it isn't all that efficient.
    Limiting bandwidth consist in dropping packages, which will have to be re-transmitted. This results in increased latency, so what we are trying to achieve can actually have the opposite effect!

    I now believe the correct way of doing things is QoS.
    Giving priority to certain types of traffic like streaming video, voip and browsing is way better than just put the brakes on everything.
    At this point I have setup Zentyal with Squid Delay pools using class-1, limiting only large http downloads (25MB at full speed, after that throttled).
    QoS port based, http/voip/streaming high priority, lowest prio and limit on ports used by p2p apps.
    My goal is to offer the best possible Internet experience to the users. The right QoS setup will help us more than just plane BW limiting.

    I hope more people share their views, in the end we all benefit from it.

    Cheers,
    Arthur.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Sunday, October 17 2010, 10:30 PM - #Permalink
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    I used Zentyal when it was e-box. I had weird sporadic problems in probably about ten installations. Ive got Clearos running as a proxy server, firewall in four locations and all work flawlessly.

    ClearOS is a great product.

    Arch
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  • Accepted Answer

    Andi Micro
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    Thursday, October 14 2010, 01:15 AM - #Permalink
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    With improvements that have been carried out and features that will be offered in ClearOS 6, I opted to stay here. :)
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, October 12 2010, 10:07 PM - #Permalink
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    +1 for Zarafa :) it makes a very good Exchange replacement, albeit the free version only has 3 "outlook" licenses.

    Peter that's great news for 6.0...I keep hearing good things about the next release!
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  • Accepted Answer

    Duncan
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    Tuesday, October 12 2010, 09:54 PM - #Permalink
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    I used ebox before and then Zentyal briefly.

    Zentyal is good, but I like ClearOS better (only recently switched).

    Zentyal is easier to install and setup/alter in some ways, but ClearOS wins out in some features once you get the hang of it. also Zentyal leads in some things like ext4 filesystem, and ClearOs leads in some things, like centralised reporting and management.

    Depending on your intended useage Zentyal might work out cheaper though.

    Both are well suited to a number of uses, it really depends what you want out of them, try them both out on the hardware and see which one works best for you.

    Personally I prefer ClearOS and I think by the sound of it V6 should be a good step forward.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, October 12 2010, 06:25 PM - #Permalink
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    Hi James,

    I'll address a couple of topics :-)

    1) From a feature-for-feature technical perspective, the two software products are quite similar. The divergence really comes from the two commercial organizations that back the products. ClearCenter is a partner/MSP focused organization. You can thank the CEO for that! Mike founded and led DirectPointe (an MSP) before taking on the leadership role at ClearCenter. That focus is the reason ClearCenter won Best New Product at CompTIA's Breakaway 2010 event in Texas (offtopic: still waiting for that armadillo race rematch). A lot of the software development resources at ClearCenter are focused on making life easier for MSPs, for example:

    - the upcoming Central Management feature
    - the constant push from Mike to get improved/centralized reporting shipped with ClearOS


    2) Zarafa and Google Apps will be new groupware offerings in ClearOS 6.0. You can get Zarafa working today, but it takes some technical know how. We'll have a point-and-click install available when 6.0 hits the streets in early 2011. Kolab is also available if you are one of the few brave folks focused on deploying Linux desktops.

    Peter
    CTO ClearCenter
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, October 08 2010, 06:37 PM - #Permalink
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    As a follow up - can someone provide some info on Groupware? How good is ClearOS at mimicing functionality from the likes of exchange? Shared calendars, etc. How well does it integrate with outlook?

    Cheers!
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