Zentyal Auth and Shared Folders configuration on Linux

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Xavy Bahillo has just published a short article on configuration of Authentication and Shared Folders on Ubuntu using Zentyal as server.

He is showing a solution with SSSD and pam_mount.



A post by Jose Juan

Introducing the Zentyal configuration backup

Communication, Community members, Development  Tagged , , , , , , 4 Comments »

I am sure that I don’t need to drill you about the importance of backing up your system. Ideally the whole system is backed up, but this costs time and space.

However, as very convenient shortcut, there is an easy (and free) way of backing up the Zentyal server configuration. With this configuration backup you can quickly restore your Zentyal server to a production state. And it does not need to be the same box, you can also use the configuration backup to apply the configuration to a new server.

The configuration backup also includes all the user and group accounts so your users can continue logging in to the services they use.

There are several ways to make and restore the configuration backup. The more versatile is to use Zentyal Cloud Service that comes with the Free Account registration: this way the backup will reside in the cloud and you could apply it to any of your Zentyal boxes. You can get a free account here.

To access to this feature in the web interface, you must click in System -> Import/Export configuration. A console interface is also available through the programs ‘/usr/share/zentyal/make-backup’ and ‘/usr/share/zentyal/restore-backup’.

How this works?

To the curious among us, let me explain its internal workings. The backup is just an archive file in TAR format, that includes the files describing the configuration.

First, the backup process writes some files with metadata, like the current date or the packages installed in the system. Then it loops through the installed modules making each one to dump its configuration.

Remember that the configuration values we see reflected in the web interface are stored in a Redis backend. So each module must dump its Redis keys and value to a file. However the Redis keys are not sufficient for all modules. Remember that the users and its related data are stored in LDAP. In this case the users module does a dump of the full directory in LDIF format.

Likewise the samba module dumps its internal database and the modules which use OpenSSL certificates to store them in the backup archive.

When the backup is finished, it is stored in your local file system: you can download or restore it from the Zentyal web interface.

For restoring a backup the same process is run in reverse, picking each of the files and importing them to our Zentyal system.

Configuration backup and the Backup module

As you may known Zentyal also has a file backup module which allows you to set the files to be backed up, the destination of the backup and its frequency.

A configuration backup is added to the backup of the selected files to have better recovery odds.

Backup in the cloud

One problem remains in this configuration backup schema and it is to store it in a remote, always-accessible location. The location which meets these requirements is the Internet, now dubbed cloud.

Zentyal Remote offers this service. It checks daily your Zentyal configuration and the contents of the LDAP directory, if it finds any changes, it makes automatically a backup and sends it to the cloud.

The number of simultaneous held backups depends on the type of edition you have. A community edition with Free Account can store one configuration backup, a Small Bussiness or Enterprise edition can have up to seven configuration backups. Furthermore, the seven configuration backup-limit only applies to automatic backups, you can have as many manual backups as you like.

Once you have your backup in the cloud, you can restore it in any of your subscribed Zentyal servers using the web interface.

Post written by Javier Amor Garcia

A post by Julio José García Martín

Zentyal supports the Python Software Foundation

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Few weeks ago the Python Software Foundation asked for help in a trademark issue that involves “Python”.

As Zentyal uses Python as main programming language for our cloud based services and in the testing of Zentyal Server, we have decided to submit a letter for helping the Python Software Foundation as much as we can.

Please, if you use Python in any way, support them!!

Check out this letter template that might help you to send your own support letter to the Python Software Foundation.




A post by Julio José García Martín

Quality and FOSDEM talks

Development, Process  Tagged , , , , , , , 1 Comment »

FOSDEM LOGOThe first weekend of February, the ULB Campus in Brussels held one of the biggest events in Europe about open source communities and development, the FOSDEM. Some Zentyalers decide to take few days off and go to that nice city and enjoy the weather (just kidding although it wasn’t that bad… ), all the talks and interesting people that get together.

Of course I was one of team members who joined the event, and besides the great beer, I especially liked a talk that the community of Libre Office gave. It was about the path they have been following lately and how they have refactored and improved such a great application. Here is a link to the video in case you want to enjoy an interesting talk.

There were two things that really touched me. The first one was the culture shift they suffer to allow them to build a better product and empower new contributors to collaborate with them. Short iterations, don’t ask permission ask forgiveness, embrace change… and the most important of all of them, have fun developing :) Fantastic!!!

The second one, was quality. They have done a big effort to build quality in the core of their project. Doing unit tests, refactoring to improve the code and its maintainability and what’s more important, giving the quality the necessary importance to reduce the bugs to a minimum. We definitively share that vision and have always considered that the best way to assure quality is to build it from the beginning, inside your products, not leaving it for the last part of the project or any other phase.

At Zentyal we have always put a great effort in building our products with the best quality. Moreover, in the past months we have done a similar switch to a more quality centered development. We are still working on fully changing our focus, but you can see already some of the improvements in the community version as well as in the Software and Security updates of the commercial commercial versions.

By the way, Libre Office has just released the 4.0 version. Check it out, at Zentyal we use it in our daily work and it’s great.

A post by Julio José García Martín

Zentyal’s Scrum

Development, Process  Tagged , , , No Comments »

After the fantastic workshop we have the last month about Agile Methodologies, the two development teams working in Zentyal decide to start doing Scrum.

scrum in zentyal
We will start doing it bit a bit, not all at the same time. In this way people will get used to it and will feel more like a Kaizen process than a big Kaikaku. Stand up’s, visualization of the workflow in a task board and retrospectives will be the starting point for the two teams. From there we hope to be adding more stuff incrementally till it starts looking more like a proper Scrum, with sprints, planning meetings and all the other stuff. We will experiment with all this, see what fit us and thrown away the things that don’t fit in our company culture.

So, as you can see we have a large path to walk. We will try to improve our process a lot and hopefully you will notice this improvement in a even better quality of our products.

A post by Julio José García Martín

Visiting BeCode’s facilities

Development No Comments »

Zentyal stuff with Xavy at BeCode

A few days ago two of us went to “La Cueva” (The Cave) at Valencia. La Cueva is the name that BeCode’s people give to their facilities, guess why? Well, it is not that cold and dark, but it does not seem to be like other development companies facilities. It is a ground floor of a building they all share, and it is also the place where they also organise open workshops for the neighbourhood (bicycle fixing, guitar lessons, WordPress workshops, …).

Inspired by the Desk Surfing movement, we decided to ask them for a place to work and exchange knowledge and opinion. Thus we arrived and they all welcomed us at their daily meeting and started working. It seemed that we arrived there at one of the coldest week in Valencia, but the environment there (and the heaters) made feel us warmer.

In those three days we had time enough for talking about many topics. We could practice with fluid interfaces with a Javascript kata with Jasmine lead by Xavy. We also share points of view about testing strategies at complex architectures (like Zentyal’s one), and we also talked about design patterns and SOLID concepts in software development.

You managed to make us feel like if we were at home, so from this little internet corner we would like to thank you all your dedication and efforts. Be sure that we will back, better sooner than later, mainly because we already miss those beer talks. Thank you for everything.

More info | BeCode | DeskSurfing

A post by Miguel Julián

Zentyal Internal Plumbing (Part I): Mail

Communication, Development  Tagged , , , , , , 4 Comments »

Hello all,

Some of our advanced users don’t have enough just interacting with the Zentyal interface, and want to go deeper in its entrails, to know the abstracted-out details. In this series of small blog posts I would try to clarify how the different components are interconnected.


I want to cover the following sub-systems:

  • Mail (Mail module only version)
  • Mail (Groupware version)
  • Samba4 and Kerberos & how it connects to other sub-systems
  • HTTP proxy

Let’s start with the Mail (Mail module only) and it’s general interconnection map:

(click to enlarge image)

This diagram also includes all the mailfilter capabilities.

Point by point:

A: Postfix is our Mail Transfer Agent, in charge of delivering and accepting mails from other mail servers.

B: The standard entry point for the SMTP protocol, it can support security via STARTTLS. Intended for communication with external MTAs.

C: Same than B, this port is intended for local users delivery.

D: Same than B, but with forced TLS communication.

E: Every time the MTA receives a new message, the associated domain can be checked against the Postgrey database, this mechanism can force retries to deter spamming bots.

F: Dovecot, our Mail Delivery Agent, distributes the mail to the users’ mail boxes.

G: Dovecot is able to accept SIEVE rules (filters, forwards, flags and so on) using this port.

H: SIEVE is sub-systems implementing a scripted language that performs the configured rules over the incoming mail. Take into account that SIEVE rules can, in turn, talk to the MTA to forward a mail again.

I: Your Mail User Agent (mail client) will retrieve the mails from the MDA, using POP, IMAP or their secure versions.

J: Amavis is a security suite that will use other components to filter potentially dangerous mail.

K: Messages are forwarded from the MTA to Amavis, checked, tagged according to their spam status and then returned to Postfix.

L: Amavis uses an unix socket to pass the messages to the ClamAV antivirus for inspection. Infected messages will be stored away in the quarantine folders, thus, they won’t be delivered to their recipients.

M: The Spamassassin suite uses multiple auto-adjusting mechanism to detect unwanted mail.

N: Fetchmail can periodically retrieve mail form external accounts and insert it in our system talking with the MTA.

O: The Webmail service can be deployed to communicate with the MTA and MUA using a webapp.

Hope this had shed some light, the next post will reuse a lot of this concepts.

A post by Mateo Burillo

Keep Learning, the Kaizen path

Development  Tagged , , , , No Comments »

I would like to share with you a story that I recently read in this post blog.

The woodcutter story

Once upon a time a very strong woodcutter asked for a job with a timber merchant, and he got it. The salary was really good and so were the work conditions. For that reason, the woodcutter was determined to do his best.
His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work. The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees. “Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!” Very motivated by the boss’ words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but could bring 15 trees only. The third day he tried even harder, but could bring 10 trees only. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees.

“I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on. “When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked. “Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”

Moral of the story : Working hard is not enough; one has to keep on sharpening one’s skills.

It amaze me when I read it the first time. It makes obvious something that normally when building software we forget, sharpening our axe. Some people will argue that it’s not the same, you don’t use and axe to program Zentyal or any other software. That’s right, it’s even worse. Our tools are more complex, and difficult to master, so things like testing, proper coding, estimation, etc. need more time to be studied and correctly used. The good news are that we, as developers, can do a lot more than sharpening an axe.

One philosophy that fits well with this story and that I really love and try to practice it’s the Japanese Kaizen. It means “continuous improvement” and it came from the Toyota Production System. In software and for me it means that we should trying to improve our process, continually. Never getting satisfied with a particular way of doing the things or the quality that we are delivering. It always can be better without a doubt. Perfection it’s not a state it’s a path.


A post by Julio José García Martín

Zentyal 3.0 Development Progress (May 23)

Communication, Development No Comments »

Roadmap Zentyal 3.0

Many of you were interested in the first post about the development status of the next stable Zentyal version (Zentyal 3.0, to be released in September 2012). As we published the post few months ago already, we thought it would be good idea to write another update summing up shortly the advances. So, here we go!

1/6 Upgrade to Ubuntu Server 12.04 LTS

As you know, the single most important change in Zentyal 3.0 is that it will be based on the Ubuntu Server 12.04, that was published in the end of April. The first Zentyal 3.0 beta installer (Zentyal 2.3) based on Ubuntu Server 12.04 was published already and the second beta installer (Zentyal 2.3-1) should be out in couple of weeks too!

How can you help? Help in testing is warmly welcome! Download the beta installer and let us know through the Forum or Trac whatever flaws you come up with!

2/6 New Samba4 Module

The first alpha version of the Samba4 module was already published in the first Zentyal 3.0 beta installer! In this first version some features were still missing, but when completed, Samba4 module will offer a full replacement for Microsoft Active Directory for users and resource management.

The second Zentyal 3.0 beta installer, that will be published in couple of weeks, will include a new version of the Samba4 module and it will introduce some fixes and enhancements as well as new synchronization scheme based on Samba LDB modules and the use of its’ LDAP interface instead of having to use the command line tools.

How can you help? Help us testing the Samba4 module! Download the beta installer and let us know through the Forum or Trac whatever issues you come up with!

3/6 Single Sign-On (Kerberos)

The Single Sign-On (SSO) feature, based on the Kerberos authentication protocol, will allow your users to access to all their network services (email, proxy…) introducing their username and password only once.

The Zentyal Development Team has been working hard on this feature and we’re now in the final countdown for publishing the Kerberos SSO features: implementation is finished and we’re in the internal testing stage. Currently we have SSO supported for mail and proxy modules, on Windows and Linux platforms. The second Zentyal 3.0 beta installer, that will be published in couple of weeks, will also include this feature!

How can you help? Stay tuned! The next Zentyal 3.0 beta installer will include this feature and we’re looking forward to receiving your feedback on it!

4/6 Zentyal Desktop for Ubuntu

The aim of this module is to ease the management of Ubuntu Desktops, an advanced version of the currently available Zentyal Desktop. Unfortunately we still didn’t have time to start with the development of this module.

How can you help? Besides testing, auto-configuration of services is based on the idea that we would provide just a framework to interact with Zentyal server, and the Community Members would implement plugins for different applications (Evolution, KMail, Thunderbird, etc.) Zentyal Forum has it´s own Zentyal Desktop board, where you can join the conversation regarding necessary plugins, give feedback, etc.

5/6 Usability Improvements

Since the last update, the Zentyal Development Team has been focused specially on improving the Zentyal server speed, responsiveness of the user interface and reliability of the configuration backend. All these enhancements will be included in the second Zentyal 3.0 beta installer, that will be published in couple of weeks.

How can you help? Stay tuned! The next Zentyal 3.0 beta installer will include these improvements and we’re looking forward to receiving your feedback!

6/6 Thin Clients Module

Zentyal Thin Clients module will help to deploy and manage a thin client installation, where user applications are transparently run on the server while they are being used on the workstations. The main advantages of this type of installations are that low-cost or outdated hardware can be used for the workstations, while latest applications are run on the server and workstation management is simplified as all clients run the same image from the server.

The first version of the Zentyal Thin Client Module (zentyal-ltsp) is already available for testing and the current features allow the users to:

  • Build and update Thin and Fat client images
  • Install local applications
  • Limit one session per user
  • Create profiles to apply different configuration to the clients
  • Enable/Disable network compression, local apps, local devices, autologin, guest login and sound
  • Select keyboard layout
  • Enter any other custom LTSP options
  • Configure Per-client Autologin and Guest Login

How can you help? Help us testing this module! Download the beta installer and let us know through the Forum or Trac whatever issues you come up with!

As you can see, there have been many advances and we’re very interested in your help in testing all these new features and enhancements to be able to deliver a great new stable release in September!

A post by Eloy Crespo

Zentyal 3.0 Development Progress

Communication, Development 4 Comments »

Roadmap Zentyal 3.0

On Sunday, 5th of February we held a brief BoF meeting in the FOSDEM 2012 to explain the development status of Zentyal 3.0, that is to be published next September. As many of you are probably interested in knowing what is going on, we thought it would be good to sum up shortly the advances regarding each major new feature/change.

1/5 Upgrade to Ubuntu Server 12.04 LTS

As you probably know already, the single most important change in Zentyal 3.0 is the change of the base system form Ubuntu Server 10.04 to Ubuntu Server 12.04. At the moment we have already published 36 alpha packages for Ubuntu Server 12.04, meaning that only two packages are now missing (Remoteservices and Zarafa) and these will be out as soon as possible!

How can you help? Testing help is warmly welcome, check out the detailed instructions and give us your feedback through the Forum or Trac. We estimate that the first Zentyal installer will be available in few days.

2/5 New Samba4 Module

Samba 4, that is currently in beta, is a full replacement for Microsoft Active Directory for users and resource management. We aim at replacing the current Samba 3 module with Samba 4 in Zentyal 3.0 and the Development Team has been working on this for some time already at good speed.

How can you help? We expect to release the first beta version in few days (included in the new Zentyal installer) and you can easily help in testing the module.

3/5 Single Sign-On (Kerberos)

The fully new Single Sign-On feature will allow your network users to gain access to all network services (mail, proxy…) with one-time log in. At the moment the feature has been defined and developing will start in about one week.

How can you help? When the feature is available, besides testing, you can help in defining the group policies that limit, or control the things the user can make on the desktop, e.g. set the wallpaper or prevent him/her changing it.

4/5 Zentyal Desktop for Ubuntu

The aim of this new module is to ease the management of Ubuntu Desktops, an advanced version of the currently available Zentyal Desktop. This is something we still didn´t start working on, but the main features will be 1. Authentication against the Zentyal server and Single Sign-On (user can log in to his/her desktop on any PC in the network and there is no need to authenticate more than once to access to all services) and 2. Auto-configuration of applications (user is given automatically the necessary applications, e.g. email, and access to, e.g. shared folders).

How can you help? Besides testing, auto-configuration of services is based on the idea that we would provide just a framework to interact with Zentyal server, and the Community Members would implement plugins for different applications (Evolution, KMail, Thunderbird, etc.) Zentyal Forum has it´s own Zentyal Desktop board, where you can join the conversation regarding necessary plugins, give feedback, etc.

5/5 Usability Improvements

Each new Zentyal version brings a bunch of usability improvements and this version won’t be an exception. This time our main focus is on improving specially:

1. The speed and responsiveness of the user interface, and
2. The usability of the Master/Slave mode.

We’re already excited about the improvements we have achieved regarding the speed and responsiveness of the UI and when we have finished, we hope that we’ll be able to say that Zentyal is fast as lightning ;)!

As to the Master/Slave mode, we’re working to make it possible to have modules that make use of LDAP in master mode. Until now, if you had a mail server and a file server on two different machines you needed three machines: a master only to manage users and two slaves, one for mail and one for files. In Zentyal 3.0 you will be able to make one of the machines master without any problem. Moreover, you can change a slave to master easily, without having to re-install as until now.

A post by Eloy Crespo

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