Clarkconnect 4.2 Community Edition - Open Source Linux Gateway/Mail/Proxy etc

By tonyhughes Hughes, in , posted: 9-Mar-2008 23:14

I have successfully installed and configured Clarkconnect 4.2 at home (an open source CentOS [RHEL derivative] based pre-configured gateway/server/proxy etc with friendly web-GUI and other customisations).

This is not a review as such, just a record of what it does for me. It might help convince you to take the small, easy leap into a decent setup at home for yourself.

Completely replacing the external hosting of my primary domain for mail etc (prev. at Dreamhost). Dreamhost still hosts lots of my other stuff, but I really wanted to get my mail back in house, and a little less of a 'mickey mouse' setup than it was before (lots of forwarding in and out of Gmail to make use of their spam filters).

I also took the time to re-design my LAN to remove the wireless bridging that was occurring between different physical parts of the network (I had servers hanging off a wireless bridge which was not ideal), and also to implement a decent firewall, caching proxy, DNS, and other services.

Clarkconnect fits the bill perfectly, and has matured a lot. Since 4.0 their is a limit of 10 mailboxes in the free community edition, but unlimited users etc. Seeing as I only need <10 mailboxes here, this limitation has zero impact on me.

CC's features, and how they are used in my setup.
  • Firewall, Networking and Security:
My DSL modem DMZ's the Clarkconnect box (AMD2100+ 2GB 10GB 320GB 2xNICs) through one network card. The CC box is the only device that can directly access the internet.
  • VPN / Virtual Private Networks:
Setup but not tested in my setup yet, a pptp VPN will allow me to connect my eeePC or Macbook up over an internet connection, and securely access all resources (Printers, network shares, mail server etc) as if I was plugged in or wireless at home. Of course mail servers can also be accessed normally over the internet as well.
  • Web Proxy and Filtering
Buy utilising the web proxy and filtering capability, I can use caching to improve some browsing, and also filter sites etc. The site filtering doesn't seem overly-powerful, but I am yet to explore it properly.
  • E-mail
pop/smtp/imap/webmail all built in, and co-existing perfectly. The anti-virus and anti-spam is great, and working well. I have just upped the aggressiveness of the spam filters slightly, and with relatively few false negatives, and no false positives, I safely have the server automatically putting all tagged spam into an IMAP spam folder under each mail account, to be checked periodically by the user in Outlook, Horde, Kmail, Thunderbird, Evolution etc. I have all genuine mail also being forwarded to my gmail account for archiving (great storage and search if required, and I don't have to maintain a huge mail archive).

A local mail server on the network also means, that although my mail comes to and from the internet to the server at normal DSL speeds - that all happens behind the scenes - when I interact with the mail server from my PC or laptops, the mail goes at nearly 100MBps (faster still when I upgrade all the network cards and my switch to Gigabit ethernet in a few weeks, I think I will get the Airport unit with 802.11n and Gb ports).

LAN speeds make IMAP a very nice protocol to use.
  • Groupware
I have not made use of groupware functionality yet, and have yet to decide on a centralised contact list strategy for myself (Apples Mail, Outlook, and Thunderbird contact syncing is my Utopia).
  • Database and Web Server
Unused yet, but web server will host whatever I need to throw up on the net quickly (photos, files etc for people to view/download).
  • File and Print Services
Private network shares per user is extremely good, to centralise the storage of all important data (backups, images, photos, music etc), and I will add a second OS drive and a second data drive soon to let me use CC's software RAID functionality. My mobo has SATA raid onboard, but software RAID suits my needs too.

I have these devices making up my LAN. (In order showing where in the network they sit, from top to bottom).

Clarkconnect Box
16 Port FE Switch
PAP2T#1, PAP2T#2, Compaq Desktop, Trixbox IP PBX, Netgear 11g WiFi, Network HDD
                                                                            Macbook, Asus eeePC

Overall, I am very happy with Clarkconnect 4.2. It's been rock solid, and does everything well. Far quicker and easier than DIY with any given Linux distribution, lots of community support (good forums too), and Point Clark Networks offer a free intgrated DDNS service, and and update service for packages, filters etc.


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