How to Set Up Zimbra Collaboration Tool on ECS Ubuntu 18.04

By Alex Mungai Muchiri, Alibaba Cloud Tech Share Author. Tech Share is Alibaba Cloud’s incentive program to encourage the sharing of technical knowledge and best practices within the cloud community.

In this how-to guide, we shall be looking at how we can set up the Zimbra Collaboration tool in an Alibaba Cloud ECS instance running Ubuntu 18.04. Specifically, we shall be installing the Zimbra version 8.8 community edition in a single server setup. Also, note that you can have a multi-server setup as well but our focus in this article is only the single server setup. First launched in 2005, Zimbra Collaboration Suite incorporates both email and web clients to facilitate organizational collaboration. Zimbra Inc, the company behind the software provides both a freely available open-source version and a commercial paid-for version. Our focus in this tutorial is the open source version, which we shall be installing in our ECS instance.

So, What Are the System Requirements for the Installation?

The system requirements for your VPS are as listed below:

  • An Alibaba ECS instance running Ubuntu 18.04 setup
  • You should have SSH access to your instance
  • A user with sudo privileges on your ECS instance
  • A DNS server installed on your system such as Dnsmasq

Our objective is to support an organization with about 50 users. Zimbra recommends the following specifications for your VPS to sufficiently meet such a use case:

  • Minimum 2.0 GHz CPU/Processor
  • 8 GB of RAM for a single server installation
  • A minimum of 10 GB installed storage capacity for software and logs
  • An additional installed capacity for mail and files storage, about 50 GB should be good enough for a start.
  • For better performance, it is recommended that you use SATA or SCSI and for redundancy, make use of RAID/Mirroring

Server Preparation

Zimbra advises that you should install LibreOffice in your server to be able to access its high-fidelity document preview feature when interacting with the package. Zimbra detects the presence of LibreOffice automatically and once installed it enables the use of high-fidelity document preview. Document preview is very important but Zimbra also includes a Zimbra Docs packages for this purpose.

For the preparation, begin with the step below:

Next, install the LibreOffice package by running the command below:

Run the commands below to install requisite language packages and fonts, especially for viewing documents in East Asian languages: If you are using English, you may skip this step:

Our server is now prepared for the installation process, which we shall be going through in the next few steps.

Step 1: Downloading Zimbra Collaboration Tool

We shall be working with the community edition of the Zimbra Collaboration software, version 8.8. Run the command below to download version 8.8.9 to a local server:

Now run the command below to extract the files:

Run the command below to change to zcs- directory:

Step 2: Installation and Configuration of the DNS Server

This step is very crucial since Zimbra verifies that you have MX records configured with your domain as the installation process runs. A misconfiguration results in an error. Furthermore, Zimbra requires A and MX records of the DNS to forward and receive emails. In this section, we shall install Dnsmasq for our DNS configuration.

The first step when installing Dnsmasq is to disable systemd-resolve since it usually conflicts Dnsmasq by binding to port 53. The commands below will resolve the problem:

Next, follow the below step to remove resolv.conf symlinked file:

Now we need to create a new replacement for the resolv.conf file like so:

Now, run the command below to install Dnsmasq:

Now we shall proceed to modify the configuration file located at /etc/dnsmasq.conf to introduce new configurations. Follow the steps below:

Below is one way to make the configuration adjustments.

Furthermore, you can include a setting for DNSSEC validation and cache by uncommenting on the below:

Below is a sample edited DNS for a certain environment:

If you need to make any other changes, do as necessary and then run the command below to restart Dnsmasq.

You can test the A record of your Zimbra server by running a Dig test like so:

This command should yield a result as the one indicated below:

Now, you can also do an MX dig by using the command below:

If all is well, we can now proceed to download the Zimbra collaboration tool in the next step.

Step 3: The Installation Process

Now, pay close attention to this section because you shall require something a bit outside the box. We shall be adding an Ubuntu 16.04 repository since a package for Ubuntu 18.04 is not available yet.

The Zimbra repository for Ubuntu 16.04 should be added to the /etc/apt/sources.list.d/zimbra.listdirectory. It should be done like so:

Next, we need to import the GPG key like so:

Next, run an update for the apt index like so:

Allow the update to run to completion and then run the command below to start the installation process:

We have included the option above to avoid the limitations of an unknown OS.

Once the process of installation starts running, you should see something like the one below:

Allow all packages to download and then proceed to set the administrator password

Now follow the following configurations to complete the process and effect the changes

Allow the process to run to completion, upon which you should receive a notification at the end confirming the completion of the process.

Now, for you to access the admin panel, type the address in the format below in a browser:



Zimbra is an integrated suite of solutions ranging from chat, collaboration and messaging, simplistic administration, versatile, integrated web experience and the flexibility of deployment on devices. The web client enables users to interact and share moods and feelings. What’s more, it enables users to connect on personal clouds and work both online and offline with other productivity tools such as Microsoft Outlook. On the whole, Zimbra is a productivity booster that is easy to use, robust and easily customizable. Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that you will get to experience the full collaborative experience of Zimbra on Alibaba Cloud. Cheers!


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