Music at Zentyal’s HQ (pt. I)

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One of the most recurrent topics at Zentyal’s HQ is music. In fact it use to conclude with some actual plush toy throwings and a heavy rain of axes. Our tastes may not differ a lot, but we actually love those confrontations. So, why not writing some lines to share our tastes with you all?

Firstly I thought that it would be fine to ask my everyone at the HQ for one of their favourite songs. Though if was harder than expected, for some it was pretty hard to narrow down the scope, and others were just only lazy, here there are some of the ones I gathered. Hope you like them… or not (mind your head, axes will be flying towards it).

Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple

Julio, our quality assurance guru just kept that simple with a classic: Smoke On The Water from the great Deep Purple (Glover, Blackmore and friends). In fact this song represented one of his first hard rock songs when he was a child, so it was a good way to introduce himself into the rock world, isn’t it? You can watch a live performance on Youtube if you want.

A.D.I.D.A.S. – Korn

Let’s come close to the present with Fernando’s choice. Nowadays it could even be considered a classic, but A.D.I.D.A.S. from the American band Korn is what he needs to cheer himself up while working. Again here you have the link to the official video on Youtube.

The Final Sacrifice – Avantasia

Hard rock classics, nu metal pioneers on our list, so now you can imagine how could our talks verse about. But here shows up Zei with his choice. Avantasia is a power metal supergroup headed by Tobias Sammet, and The Final Sacrifice is one of their bests. Prepare you ears, and listen it on Youtube.

Adagio For Tron – Tron Legacy OST

Well, it seems that guitars, basses and drums cope out music taste… but Blaxter has always something different in mind. The song he sent me is from the Tron Legacy OST, and it would chill down everyone here at the HQ. Check it out at Youtube, it is Adagio For Tron from Daft Punk.

Only For The Weak – In Flames

It is time for the last song of this post. Let me show my own choice. It always gives me a plus while developing, fingers seems to type faster and everything seem easier. My choice is Only For The Weak, from the Swedish band In Flames. It is great, and by far, it is the best song of this list (of course, it’s mine!). Check their live performance out at Youtube.

Image | 9gag

A post by Miguel Julián

“Zentyal is secure by default”

Communication No Comments »

We have had special guests at Zentyal HQ during the first weeks of the year. A few staff members of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) visited us to take a training course, focused especially on security and how to optimize Zentyal server configuration to guarantee security in institutional environments. The course was jointly delivered by Zentyal and ACS Labs, UK-based IT support and service provider specialized in information security and Zentyal Partner.

Mussa Khonje, Computer Security Director at ACS Labs, UK, Nathan Soko and Duncain Taipi, respectively IT Officer and Director of Communications of Malawi Defence Force explained us why Zentyal software responds successfully to the main challenges regarding information security.

Zentyal: What would you say are the typical IT needs and challenges in defence force environments?

ACS Labs: The need to protect the banks, for example, is internationally recognized. When the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia took place in 2008, one of its effects was that people in Georgia could not draw money from banks. Since then organizations such as United Nations or NATO have implemented more rules to safeguard information security and how to tackle cyber operations. This is a new threat that is growing and changing all the time so there is a need to invest in this and it is also the direction the defence forces are taking.

MDF: Defence forces are not anymore all about armed defense, we believe that one must also be prepared for software attacks, to mitigate these attacks and to secure information. If your IT systems are being attacked or hacked, you should be able to make sure these systems can not be easily penetrated, that you are able to keep the information safe and secure the correct functioning of the government.

Zentyal: What are the benefits of Zentyal in comparison to other solutions?

ACS Labs: Zentyal’s position is unique because it is a one platform with so many solutions. It is a well-tested system, with constant security updates and also very flexible to changes on technology. With other solutions you find a big gap: you need to download the software updates and implement them to the machines, what takes a week or more, and during this time the hackers can attack your system. Zentyal offers customers fast and automatic updates.

MDF: Zentyal includes many services that in other software solutions come in different packages. Moreover, Zentyal integrates these services in all-in-one solution and it is very easy-to-use, just by clicking. We believe it is a powerful software that helps to control many security issues.

Zentyal: So, we heard that during the course you were simulating attacks to different machines in order to test their vulnerability. What were the results?

MDF: Yes, we were going into Zentyal software and other software products to test how difficult is to penetrate them. It took us five minutes to go into the proprietary product. Zentyal instead resisted the attack even though we know Zentyal rather well. When you configure it properly, it mitigates completely the attack.

ACS Labs: In the Zentyal Summit of 2012 ACS Labs tested and presented the findings we knew about the strength of Zentyal. It is intelligent to use Zentyal because it is secure by default. If you configure Zentyal very well and you have great security policy, you will always keep your infrastructure protected.

Zentyal: What would you highlight from the course?

MDF: The teacher, Mateo Burillo, went far much deeper than we expected. We believe you Zentyal guys have chosen someone who has deep knowledge about what we were interested in.

A post by Marta Cambronero

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

Agile methods improve your workflow and are contagious!

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Amid laughs, Lego plays, origami papers, plastic sheets and colorful pencils is how you could see Zentyal staff at HQ on the 21st of December. The reason was the Agile workshop Teresa Oliver had prepared for Zentyal crew. But what is Agile? Is it really useful tool to improve the project development? Teresa, founder of Skok and in charge of this Agile training session, was pleased to respond to some questions for those who still don’t know what Agile techniques can do for your work-flow.

Zentyal: What is Agile?
Teresa Oliver: It is a different way of managing projects and teams. It is based on giving value to the customer as soon as possible, as frequently as possible and adapting to the change all the time. It means not to have complex and fixed requirements at the beginning of the project, but build and deliver them at the end of it because there are many possibilities of not doing everything right from the beginning, not to have understood the requirements properly or it might also happen that customer needs change during the project. For this to work it is vital that the teams share and practice a range of values like confidence, communication, respect and absolute transparency, and this is not always easy.

Z: Why games can help to overcome these issues?
T. O.: We combine many short games to stimulate the conversation about different Agile values with other longer games such as Lego and the ones with board and pieces in order to understand the complete cycle of a project. These games helps to embrace and fix concepts much more clearly than a traditional presentation.

Teresa Oliver delivering Agile training at Zentyal HQ

Z: If I want to practice Agile methodologies, what are the first steps to be taken?
T. O.: When we -Skok- collaborate in a company, we start with a basic workshop for the whole team, comparing their common everyday work with an Agile one. Afterwards we choose a pilot project, we apply Agile principles from the start and we learn what happens: What works and what has to be adapted to this specific environment. And later we extend, little by little, the learning to the rest of the projects. It uses to be very contagious.

Z: Is it possible to apply Agile in other environments apart from software development? Some people say they use it in their lives.
T. O.: Of course! In fact it is done more and more: At universities and schools, for managing ONGs, for organizing children tasks in families, to mobilize multidisciplinary teams for transversal projects in big organizations… Agile can be useful in every environment where there is a set of people sharing a common goal and dealing with uncertainty and a fast adaptation to change.

Z: In case I want to learn more, to whom I should turn to for advice?
T. O.: Apart from books and blogs, I recommend to meet people in your local community that share these interests. In Zaragoza we have Agile Aragon, a small but very active community, that meets periodically to organize events, talks, bring people from other cities to share their experiences, make Agile programming sessions, etc. There is nothing like personal contact.

Z: How can I find my local Agile community?
T. O.: In Spain local communities are listed here. A good worldwide list, can be found here.

Thanks Teresa for making Zentyal Team a little more agile :)!

A post by Marta Cambronero

Step by step: small goals and reward yourself

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Awesomeness by small and affordable tasks

We all know that goals are important in our life. Yes, you are right, I said “life” and not only “work”. If you are used to work with goals, have you tried with them in your personal life? But I am not writing about life goals. Today I would like to write about some of those epidemics that are spreading all around the world: Poor concrete goals.

Doh! “Poor concrete” would not be the right words. Your goal in this project is to develop a huge web administration tool, users will be able to…. and administrator will be able to delete… when a “friend” is deleted a soft deletion will take place… and… do not forget to enable… is it clear? Of course it is. But, once you have to play the ball, the goal would seem to be huge and unaffordable.

We all have started a work day and felt that that day we did not want to do anything. Better sleeping habits could help, but probably the problem was the task that had to be done. Too complex? Too repetitive? Too difficult for you? Or you just simply do not like it. Let’s take a magic spacecraft.

Maybe you could fly up away your task. This would give you a clear and motivational context. Isn’t it clear? Don’t be so tight! Imaginary fuel is free, you can fly up higher and higher. Now you can see your company’s main direction and you may take a look at how it aligns to your personal and family life.

But I told you this was about avoiding “poor concrete goals”, once you have achieved a fully (I am always optimistic) motivational state it is time to dive deep into that task with we do not want to face up, let’s use again our magic spacecraft. It is everything about divide and conquer. Simple and smaller tasks use to be more affordable and motivating. Why do not use them? Now you only have to manage those tasks.

Internet is plenty of web tools that would help, but this is not about platforms, this is about you. It sounds aggressive, but it I promise, it is all about you. Sometimes simple is best. You can write them out on a whiteboard, on a piece of paper, or why not?, on a window glass with that whiteboard marker you have. But writing them out is not enough.

Apart from doing them, the key point is deleting them from your list. You can play basketball with the post-it, or you might burn it; maybe you would rather cross off the task with unusual passion. You have finished a task, you deserve a reward, so take it! No one is gonna give it to you (at least sooner enough), you have to take it by yourself. Take it and enjoy your work.

A post by Miguel Julián

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

Remember, remember the month of Movember

Communication  Tagged , , No Comments »

Movember has arrived to Zentyal

Most of you would already know about that annual event called Movember. For those who don’t here is a brief summary: some dudes (Mo Bros) let grow their moustaches during the month of November. So there it is the combination of those two words, moustache and November, that builds the Movember event. I am sure you have noticed some other Mo Bros at the TV or maybe you just thought how horrible was that young guy with that ridiculous moustache. But everything has an explanation.

We let grow our moustaches during the month of November to raise the awareness of prostate cancer, other male diseases and associated charities. We want to “change the face of men’s health”, so one our duties consists in answering everyone who ask us about our moustache with a great speech about men’s health and the importance of getting an annual check-up.

We can also ask for donations to the Movember Foundation, which also has run events all around the world to raise founds for men’s health issues like the prior quoted prostate cancer, depression or testicular cancer. So here we are. Some of us at the Zentyal’s HQ are wearing a terrible moustache, it doesn’t look nice, but we do not care about it; we are proud to explain everyone, including our workmates, why we are wearing this.

Do not worry! It looks better day by day, and you will start recognising yourself after a few days. Now it is your turn. Now you might become the next antenna to spread Movember message, you will notice that you are not walking alone as you would see other Mo Bros around.

Let’s do it!

More info | Movember

A post by Miguel Julián

We have a winning Fluffy picture!

Communication No Comments »

Congrats to @Miripi! The picture of her exclusive, customized Fluffy cube was the most voted by Zentyal staff (we really loved it!). It really seems that the quickest way to win the hearths of Zentyal staff is to wear a heavy t-shirt 😉

As promised, the winner gets a small Zentyal gift package. Miripi, we hope you will enjoy it!

Did you already make your own Fluffy? Not yet? Check out this post where you can find the instructions to make your own Fluffy.

A post by Marta Cambronero

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

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