GroupWise 18.5 Web (GWWEB) Best Practices

GroupWise 18.3 was released in December 2020 as a milestone feature release of GroupWise.  With this release, GroupWise introduces a completely new WebAccess experience called "GroupWise Web". This new application no longer uses Apache/Tomcat as the platform, and instead uses Docker Containers to run a self-contained WebAccess application. There are very few options and it doesn't take much to get going. However, in the normal fashion of GroupWise documentation, even if you RTFM, you'll be scratching your head a few times as you're working through things. I'm making the assumption that you've looked at the documentation that can be found here: https://support.microfocus.com/kb/doc.php?id=7022859

Although the general process of getting GroupWise Web up and running is fairly simple, there's a chance you could run into some problems or need further understanding of what's going on. I have color coordinated the different sections for clarity and split into the following general categories:

  • TLDR Version - Get up and running quick
  • Intro to Docker & Feature Parity
  • System Prerequisite How-To's
  • Firewall Requirements and How-To's
  • Full Installation Process
  • SSL Considerations
  • Troubleshooting

The End Result / What To Expect

Below is a screenshot of the new GroupWise Web login screen. Although it does not mean everything is working perfectly, if you get this screen when connecting to GroupWise mail with an Internet browser, you can be confident that the new GroupWise Web application is running.

Too Long Didn't Read Version

This is the process from start to finish that is required to get the new GroupWise Web installed and configured. If everything works perfectly, this is all you need. If you're logged in as root, you do not need the sudo command.

Preparation

  • Create the folder /opt/novell/gw/certs
  • Copy your 3rd Party commercial certificates into /opt/novell/gw/certs
  • Rename your 3rd party certificate files to server.crt and server.key

Command Line Syntax

sudo zypper install docker 
sudo systemctl enable docker
sudo systemctl start docker
sudo docker run -it -v /opt/novell/gw:/config -e GWADMIN_SERVICE=admin@192.168.1.1:9710 -e GWSOAP_HOST_DEFAULT=192.168.1.2 mfgroupwise/web-config

sudo docker run -d --restart always -v /opt/novell/gw:/etc/nginx/gw --name gwweb -e FQDN=webmail.redjuju.com -e DNS_SERVER=192.168.1.5 -p 80:80 -p 443:443 -v /opt/novell/gw/certs:/certs -v /opt/novell/gw/logs/:/var/log/nginx/ -e GWSOAP_SSL_VERIFY=off mfgroupwise/web:latest

Notes

Note the following items that must be customized to your specific environment:

  • "admin" refers to your GroupWise Administrator user credential. It is not necessarily "admin".
  • The IP Address referenced with the GWADMIN_SERVICE directive should be the IP address of your GroupWise Administration service.
  • 9710 Is the default GroupWise Admin port but could vary.
  • The GWSOAP_HOST_DEFAULT should reference the IP address of one of your GroupWise Post Office Agents. This may or may not be the same as your GroupWise Administration IP Address depending on your environment.
  • FQDN should be the full DNS name that users enter to connect to GroupWise Web from the Internet.
  • DNS_SERVER IP Address that docker will use for DNS Lookups.
  • -e GWSOAP_SSL_VERIFY=off directive added for GroupWise 18.4. The new certificate and security requirements always tend to fail if this is not included even if the certificates are working perfectly.

Working with Docker for GroupWise Web

I won't go into a ton of detail on Docker in general, but I will cover the basics for use in the GroupWise environment. Instead of installing an RPM module and configuring Apache and tomcat, Docker provides a prebuilt "image" that just runs. It works with a simple configuration file and minimal command-line options. Many applications are now being developed in this manner.

Helpful Docker commands:

Command Purpose
zypper install docker Installs the current Docker modules from the SUSE repositories
systemctl enable docker Enables the Docker service to launch on system startup
systemctl disable docker Prevents the Docker service from launching on system startup
systemctl start docker Starts the Docker service
systemctl stop docker Stops the Docker service
systemctl status docker Shows the running status of the Docker service
docker image list Lists the current Docker images
docker stop gwweb Stops the GroupWise Web application within Docker. Docker remains running.
docker rm gwweb Cleans up the GroupWise Web application from within Docker.
docker stop gwweb
docker rm gwweb
docker start gwweb
Generally used to stop, remove, and then start GroupWise Web.
Use this if you need to stop GroupWise Web, make changes or troubleshoot, then start it again. If you have made changes to the "docker run" command line, you will need to follow this sequence.
docker restart gwweb Restarts the GroupWise Web application container.
docker pull mfgroupwise/web Downloads the latest version of GroupWise Web from the Micro Focus Docker repository
docker pull mfgroupwise/web-config Downloads the web-config utility from the Micro Focus Docker repository

"Docker Run" command line switches for GroupWise Web

The command line required to launch GWWEB via Docker is quite complex. I have provided two tables. The first one explains the generic use of each relevant command line option.  The second table outlines each of the options that are relevant/required for running GWWEB.

General "Docker Run" Command Line Options

A good reference for better understanding Docker Commands can be found on the Docker documentation that can be found here: https://docs.docker.com/engine/reference/commandline/run/

Syntax

docker run [OPTIONS] IMAGE [COMMAND] [ARG...]

Command Purpose
-d  (or --detach) Run container in background and print container ID. This is a no brainer, it wouldn't make sense to not run it in the background. 
-rm   Automatically remove the container when it exits.
--restart Restart policy to apply to a container.

Restart Always: Restart the container regardless of the exit status. When you specify always, the Docker daemon will try to restart the container indefinitely. The container will also always start on daemon startup, regardless of the current state of the container. (This is my preferred option)

Examples:

--restart always  (preferred)
--restart on-failure
--restart unless-stopped
--restart no  (default)

--name Assign a name to the container.
Example: --name gwweb
-e   (or --env) Set environment variables
Example: -e DNS_SERVER=192.168.0.1
-v Bind mount a volume. When you use a bind mount, a file or directory on the host machine is mounted into a container. The file or directory is referenced by its absolute path on the host machine. The file or directory does not need to exist on the Docker host already. It is created on demand if it does not yet exist. Reference this link to understand this directive a little better: https://docs.docker.com/storage/bind-mounts/

In the case of GWWEB, many bind mounts are used that help define locations of log files, certificates, and custom images.

Example:  -v /opt/novell/gw/certs:/certs

-p Publish a container's port(s) to the host.
Example:  -p 443:443 
--add-host Add a custom host-to-IP mapping (host:ip).  Use this if you do not have accessible DNS for name resolution. This is similar to using a hosts file on a server.
Example: --add-host gwpo.redjuju.com:192.168.185.13

"Docker Run" command line switches for GroupWise Web

The directives below are each of the actual directives needed to launch GWWEB via the Docker Run command.

Command Purpose
-d Run the GWWEB application container in the background and displays the container ID on the screen when launched.
-rm
(Use either -rm or --restart always, you cannot use both)
This directive will run the GWWEB app but remove the container when docker is stopped. It's more tedious, and I do not prefer it in most cases. When docker restarts, you will have to manually run the Docker Run command to get GWWEB working again.
--restart always
(Use either -rm or --restart always, you cannot use both)
I prefer this directive because it will cause the GWWEB app to always run even after the docker service is restarted or if the server itself is restarted.
-v /opt/novell/gw:/etc/nginx/gw There are several configuration files in the /opt/novell/gw folder that define connectivity to your Post Offices and DVA's. This directive does a "bind mount" and puts the files into the GWWEB container, giving GWWEB the ability to read these configuration files needed to connect to GroupWise.
--name gwweb This names the docker container.  When starting, stopping, or removing the app, you reference this name.

docker stop gwweb (stops the gwweb container)
docker rm gwweb (deletes the gwweb container)

-e FQDN=webmail.yourserver.com Specifies the FQDN name of your server. The name in this directive should generally be resolvable from the public Internet (unless you only allow GWWEB from inside your organization. In that case you would still assign a FQDN that is resolvable from inside your organization).
-e DNS_SERVER=192.168.0.1 Docker does not have the ability to use your system defined DNS resolvers. Therefore you must define the DNS server that Docker will use when performing DNS lookups. Note that the DNS server you select needs to be able to resolve the FQDN of your GroupWise Post Offices and DVAs.   This doesn't matter as much if you use IP Addresses for them, however the best practice from a security and certificate standpoint is to use FQDN ever since GroupWise 18.4.0.
-p 443:443 This command tells the GWWEB container to publish/map port 443 in the container to the hosts secure https port 443.
-p 80:80 This command tells the GWWEB container to publish/map port 80 in the container to the hosts non secure http port 80.
-v /opt/novell/gw/certs:/certs This tells Docker to use certificates when loading the application. It loads them from the folder listed, which is /opt/novell/gw/certs. I always use this directive, even though the documentation makes it sound more optional.  It doesn't even seem practical to try to run GWWEB in a non-secure mode without certificates.
-e GWSOAP_SSL_VERIFY=off I have found that I generally need this statement with any GW 18.4.x version. Without it, Docker can fail to connect to your Post Office(s) due to various problems it detects with the certificates. I struggle with this even if the certificates are perfectly valid. I do not know what triggers a failure, so using this has become a standard directive in most instances of GWWEB that I deploy.
-v /opt/novell/gw/logs/:/var/log/nginx/ This tells Docker to log the GWWEB application in the /opt/novell/gw/logs/ folder.
-v /opt/gwweb/gwlogo.svg:/app/assets/img/app-logo.svg

 

This instructs Docker to load a custom SVG file in place of the default one. The default image is the Blue Square with the white envelope above and to the left of the login prompt. Reference the section about customizing the login screen for more details on this option.
-v /opt/gwweb/graphic.jpg:/app/assets/img/login_image.jpg
This instructs Docker to load a custom Graphic image in the background in place of the default one. The default image is the image of 5 people putting their fists together at a table. It is placed in roughly the right 55% of the screen. Reference the section about customizing the login screen for more details on this option.
mfgroupwise/web:latest This should ALWAYS be the last item on the line. It instructs docker what image you are actually running.  This "image" is the GWWEB program code that runs inside the Docker Container.  In most cases, "mfgroupwise/web:latest" is the correct version. This could vary for a couple reasons:

  1. If you have loaded in a pre-release version and want to run it.
  2. If you have loaded a version from downloadable media (rather than the docker repositories) and need to reference the build number.

If you're using something other than the latest, you would replace "latest" with the build number that you installed.

Feature Parity GroupWise WebAccess vs GroupWise Web

It is important to understand that full feature parity does not exist between GroupWise WebAccess 18.2.1 and GroupWise Web. The initial 18.3 was severely lacking, but it has improved dramatically. Reference the "What's New" section of the GroupWise 18 release notes for details on improvements that have been made with each subsequent release. https://www.novell.com/documentation/groupwise18/gw18_readme/data/gw18_readme.html#whats_new

As a point of reference, it would seem pertinent to note that the GroupWise developers promised feature parity between the GroupWise Client and GroupWise WebAccess for years, but never fully achieved this even with GroupWise 18.2.1. Now with GroupWise Web replacing GroupWise WebAccess, it could be argued that feature parity has gone backward.

Suggestions for how you might handle concerns about missing features:

  • Install the latest available GroupWise WEB version. There are generally no reasons to run older versions, and it has improved dramatically. Continue to update it as new versions are released.
  • Continue running GroupWise WebAccess and do not upgrade until more features have been built into GroupWise Web. The older GroupWise WebAccess will continue to function, it is not mandatory to upgrade it to continue to use it. Note that you may get pushback from Micro Focus support if you open a support ticket, and it's unlikely any bug fixes will be provided.
  • Run the GroupWise 18.2.1 WebAccess simultaneously alongside GroupWise Web (using different servers)

My personal opinion of GWWEB:

I was not a fan of GWWEB when it was first released. It was very buggy, and severely lacking in features.  However, as the product has matured, it has come a long way. I find that GWWEB is now much easier to use than the old WebAccess, and in fact, I don't even like to use the old version anymore. It's too clunky and hard to navigate.  I generally recommend that customers start using GWWEB rather than try to continue with the old WebAccess version. While it is drastically different and takes some getting used to, the streamlined simplistic design and improved functionality is a tremendous improvement.

Prerequisites and System Requirements

It's easy to skim over the system requirements and assume everything is set correctly in your existing GroupWise environment. If you do this with GroupWise Web, you will be in for some challenges. Please review the system requirements and confirm that you meet each requirement.

In summary, the requirements are as follows:

  • Docker 19.03.5 or later on any Docker supported platform.

  • GroupWise 18.3 or later system.

  • GroupWise POA with SOAP enabled. SOAP must have SSL enabled.

  • GroupWise DVA with SSL enabled. ** This is likely going to be where you have issues **

  • (Optional) TLS certificates for GroupWise Web.

I have provided detailed notes on how to ensure that your system is configured to meet these requirements below.

Docker 19.03.5 or later on any Docker supported platform.

To identify the Docker version, use this command at the Linux command line:

rpm -qa|grep docker

This should produce a list of all RPM's that contain the text "docker", and one of them will show the version number. In the results below from my fully patched SLES15 SP2 system, the version of Docker is 19.03.11.

mhcfs02:/ # rpm -qa|grep docker
docker-runc-1.0.0rc10+gitr3981_dc9208a3303f-6.38.2.x86_64
docker-bash-completion-19.03.11_ce-6.34.2.noarch
docker-19.03.11_ce-6.34.2.x86_64
docker-libnetwork-0.7.0.1+gitr2902_153d0769a118-4.21.2.x86_64

NOTE: If no results are returned, Docker is not installed at all. This is normal if it's a new install. The instructions for installing and enabling Docker are further below in this same document.

GroupWise 18.3 or later system.

To ensure your system is running GroupWise 18.3 or later, use this command at the Linux command line on all servers that are running GroupWise Agents (Post Offices and/or Domains):

rpm -qa|grep groupwise-server

This should produce the rpm module that is installed for the GroupWise software. The resulting output should show you the GroupWise version you are running as shown below:

mhcfs02:/ # rpm -qa|grep groupwise-server
groupwise-server-18.3.0-137352.x86_64

GroupWise POA with SOAP enabled. SOAP must have SSL enabled.

It's very likely you meet this requirement already. But you should confirm the configuration anyway. Points to consider:

  • SOAP needs to be enabled on ALL Post Office Agents.
  • Enabling SSL on the SOAP protocol on your Post Offices is all or nothing. Meaning it's either enabled for ALL applications that use it or it's not enabled. You cannot mix and match between enabled and not enabled. For example, you cannot have SSL enabled on SOAP for use by GroupWise Web if GroupWise Mobility is set to use SOAP via non-SSL.
  • To my previous point, If you do not use SSL for soap, you MUST configure and enable it in order for GroupWise Web to function. You must ALSO consider all other applications that may use SOAP. For any application in your organization that connects to GroupWise via SOAP, you MUST enable SSL on the SOAP protocol. Some applications that use SOAP:  Legacy GroupWise WebAccess, GroupWise Mobility Service, and the new GroupWise Web application.

Generally speaking, you can confirm that SOAP is configured to use SSL by looking at the running configuration on each Post Office agent. You do this in the POA Web Console that can be launched from the GroupWise Administration page.

GroupWise POA Configuration Settings
Internet Protocol Agent Settings:
IMAP Agent: Enabled
IMAP Port for Incoming IMAP requests: 143 (Default)
IMAP over SSL: Enabled
IMAP SSL Agent: Enabled
IMAP SSL Port for Incoming IMAP requests: 993 (Default)
IMAP Read Limit: 4000
IMAP Read New: Enabled
SOAP Agent:  Enabled 
SOAP Port for Incoming SOAP requests:  7191 
SOAP Proxy Port: 7191
SOAP over SSL:  Enabled 
SOAP Redirection Table:  Show

If you find that SSL is not enabled on the SOAP protocol, you will need to install a certificate/key pair on each Post Office agent and enable SSL for SOAP on the agent configuration. SSL configuration is out of the scope of this document.

GroupWise DVA with SSL enabled

When SSL is not enabled on the DVA, GroupWise Web will function but you won't be able to view PDF or other docs from within the GroupWise Web application.

Things to understand about the GroupWise DVA:

  • The GroupWise DVA is what allows you to view PDF, DOC, and Image files from within GroupWise.
  • Each Post Office generally has its own DVA. (This is not absolutely always true)
  • The GroupWise DVA is not enabled for SSL by default.
  • All DVA's in your entire GroupWise system need to have SSL enabled.
  • The GroupWise Administration Console makes you think you're enabling SSL on the DVA but it's not actually doing what you think. More on this below in step 1 of the DVA required configuration.

If this requirement is not met, you'll experience the two things below.

Refer to the Troubleshooting/Log Files section below for information on how to configure and view the log files.

How to configure the GroupWise DVA with SSL Enabled

This four-step process enables the GroupWise DVA with SSL using a self-signed certificate:

1) Tell the POA's to connect to the DVA's via SSL

On the DVA configuration in the GroupWise Administration console, check the box that says "Enable SSL".   This tells the Post Office to use SSL when connecting to the DVA.  It does not actually configure the DVA with SSL.

Note: It's very confusing, and I don't like the behavior.  The dialog makes you believe that you are enabling SSL on the DVA, when in fact you are not. You're only telling the Post Office to use SSL when connecting to the DVA. The checkbox does nothing to actually configure SSL on the DVA. You will need to follow the remaining steps to actually enable SSL on the DVA.

2) Creating the Certificate

Creating the certificates can be accomplished entirely from a SLES 15 Linux command line. The filenames I use are dva.crt, dva.key, and dva.crt.  The dva.nopass.key in the first step named "dva.nopass.key" for clarity that it does not have a password at that step.

I like to ensure that I'm in a folder that I have created just for certificates so that I do not get them confused with any other files or certificates.

Create CSR File and Private Key
This command will create the necessary Certificate Signing Request (CSR) and also generate the necessary Private Key file. Note that in this step, the private key file does not contain a password.

openssl req -newkey rsa:2048 -nodes -keyout dva.nopass.key -out dva.csr

Assign a password to the private key

This command will assign a password to the key file you just created. You will be prompted to enter the password.

openssl rsa -in dva.nopass.key -des3 -out dva.des3.key

Sign the CSR and creates the certificate file

This command will sign the certificate and write it to file. When completed, you should find a "dva.crt" file in the same folder.

openssl x509 -in dva.csr -out dva.crt -req -signkey dva.des3.key -days 3650

3) Configure the DVA Startup File

The DVA Startup file now must be configured to load the certificate and key file. The DVA Startup file is called "gwdva.dva" and is located in the /opt/novell/groupwise/agents/share folder.

Use your favorite text editor to modify the gwdva.dva file. Locate the section titled "Enable SSL for Https" and add the following four (4) lines to it:

−-httpssl
−-sslCert /opt/iso/certificates/dva.crt
−-sslKey /opt/iso/certificates/dva.des3.key
−-sslKeyPassword $q~Nk:_@@cSxk{3ptCALhlHfc

  • Ensure that you put your own Key File password, not the one shown above.
  • The Password is in clear text. I am unaware of a way to change this.
  • Ensure that the path/filenames specify the correct location of the certificate and key file.

4) Test and Confirm SSL Status on the DVA

Once the configuration changes have been made, log in to the DVA Web interface and confirm that the DVA shows that SSL is enabled and active. The default port is 8301. Assuming you have not changed the default port, you access the Web Agent at the following URL:

https://xx.xx.xx.xx:8301 (Enter the IP address of your Post Office Server here)

If the URL connects securely (and/or asks you to confirm the validity of the certificate), this alone would suggest it is working. However, you can also confirm the status of SSL in the two different places as shown below: