Server OS Selection
GroupWise is fully supported on either Linux or Windows servers, as long as they are in the list below. Generally speaking, they should be running the latest support pack.
- SLES 12
- SLES 15 (My Personal Preference)
- OES 2018 (Based on SLES 12)
- OES 2023 (Based on SLES 15)
- Windows 2016
- Windows 2019
My personal preference is to run GroupWise on SLES 15, however I may run it on OES under the right circumstances. I also have no issue running it on Windows if that is what the customer wants. Regardless of the OS, there are some considerations for each one.
SUSE Enterprise Linux Server (SLES 15)
My preference is to run GroupWise on a standalone SLES 15 server. I have lots of reasons for this:
- SLES 15 is the latest SLES version available. It was released on July 16, 2018, and with SUSE's 10 year product lifecycle, you know it will be supported at a minimum through July 16 of 2028.
- SLES 15 and GroupWise 18 had some hiccups initially, but these were mostly resolved with SLES 15 SP2 and GroupWise 18.3. Both product sets have matured nicely and work well together.
- SLES 15 is fast and efficient. It's highly scalable and uses extremely efficient file systems.
- SLES 15 is generally simple to install and configure. You can build a server in about an hour or less.
- Compared to older versions, many of the Linux command line options on SLES 15 have been changed, and many of the older SLES 11 or SLES 12 commands are not available. This presents a significant learning curve when implementing SLES 15.
- While the GUI is not necessarily used or active, the SLES 15 GUI is much less user-friendly than previous versions.
- If you accept the default disk partitioning, you end up with a trash "btrfs" file system. This will destroy your GroupWise system and you'll be rebuilding from scratch very soon.
- If you have an OES / eDirectory environment and need your GroupWise server connected to eDirectory, SLES 15 will not give you the integrated eDirectory or other services like NSS that are built into OES. Although you can install eDirectory separately. However, I would argue that eDirectory and OES are not needed, and in fact only add unnecessary overhead to the server. (OES 2023 was recently released and is actually built on SLES 15)
SUSE Enterprise Linux Server 12 (SLES)
If I'm installing a new server, I don't recommend running SLES 12 anymore. I don't want to install on an OS that is going to be non-supported in just a few years. SLES 12 was released on October 27, 2014 and product support will end in Oct 2024. The current release of SLES 12 is SLES 12 SP5.
One reason I might utilize SLES 12 is if I have a current SLES 11 Server running an older version of GroupWise, and I want to quickly upgrade to GroupWise 18.3 without doing a full blown server migration. When I do this, I know that I will likely end up migrating data within the next few years anyway, so I'm simply delaying it in the meantime.
As a point of reference, an in-place upgrade from SLES 11 to SLES 12 is fully supported. In-place upgrades from any SLES version to SLES 15 are generally not supported and require a migration. So SLES 12 is a viable option if you need to do an in-place upgrade to SLES 12 and aren't ready to go to SLES 15 yet.
Open Enterprise Server 2023
Open Enterprise Server (OES) 2023 was released on Oct 13, 2022. GroupWise 18.4.2 and later are supported on OES 2023. I would argue that the reason for running GroupWise on OES 2023 are the same as with OES2018. However, you will now be running the latest SLES version instead of one that is reaching end of life.
What's new with OES 2023 (Related to GroupWise)
- OES 2023 is built on SLES 15 SP4 which means the general lifespan will extend for several more years.
- GroupWise runs great on SLES 15 already, and is fully supported by GroupWise 18.4.2 and newer.
Open Enterprise Server 2018 SP3 (OES 2018)
Open Enterprise Server (OES) is essentially the latest generation and version of what used to be Novell NetWare. It offers NSS file systems, eDirectory, printing, etc. For many people that are familiar with OES, this may be the logical choice. OES 2018 is a mature version of OES that has been out for many years, and is a fantastic operating system in general. Specific to GroupWise, my preference is to NOT use OES unless I have a specific reason to do so, and then if I do use OES, I only use it for the eDirectory integration. I prefer NOT to run GroupWise on an NSS volume. I discuss this more later.
Why you may want to use OES
- Product Familiarity with SLES 12 as the foundation. Overall OES is a great operating system, and since it runs on SLES, it is fast, reliable, and stable.
- With OES you are able to create NCP Volume mappings for easy access to the server from a Windows system running the Novell OES Client. This does not require you to utilize NSS volumes.
- If you have many OES servers in your environment, it may be simpler to use OES for supportability and to avoid the learning curves of having an oddball standalone Linux server in the mix.
- Access to NCP/NSS Volumes and the file system through the Novell OES Client. Although I prefer NOT to use NSS volumes to host the actual GroupWise system, sometimes it is helpful to have separate NSS volumes that can be used for various purposes. Also, for smaller GroupWise systems, I'm not as concerned about performance and overhead.
- If you have OES licensing, you can use OES to host GroupWise without incurring any additional server licensing.
Why I Dislike OES as a GroupWise Server Platform
- I could argue that there are no benefits of using OES instead of a standard SUSE Linux server installation. Many people continue using OES simply because that's what they've always used.
- GroupWise has zero dependencies on any OES services. OES is simply NOT needed.
- Running OES services such as eDirectory or NSS will add some overhead to your GroupWise server that may affect performance.
- If you're running OES services such as eDirectory or NSS, and you have GroupWise running on NSS volumes, you are prone to more points of failure than if you were using a standard Linux partition. Should NSS fail, your Post Office will be crippled.
- As of this writing, I am actually dealing with problems related to running on the NSS file system. GroupWise is hosted on NSS volumes, and something is malfunctioning that affects the NSS volume. The server becomes crippled until rebooted. If GroupWise was running on an XFS partition, the problems occurring with NSS and/or NDS would not impact GroupWise at all. We have not yet found a cause/solution yet.
Product Lifecycle and End of Life for OES 2018
Note that OES 2018 is set to go end of life on Oct 31, 2023. While OES 2018 works well, if I were to deploy a new OES server for use with GroupWise, I would use OES 2023 instead of OES 2018.
Microsoft Windows Server 2019
GroupWise is fully developed for and supported on Windows, but I generally only install GroupWise on Windows if a customer specifically requests it. It comes down to preference and comfort levels of the administrators and IT staff.
Advantages of Running GroupWise on Windows Server 2019
- Easy and familiar GUI interface that is simple to use and understand.
- If you are a mostly Windows environment, it makes sense to use Windows for consistency in the data center.
- When you need support, there is less experience supporting GroupWise on a Windows Server platform. If you have Windows OS issues, you will have to go to Microsoft to help.
- Related to the new GroupWise Web: Docker is typically a native app developed for Linux. It will run on Windows but the procedure for installing it on Windows is not as documented. You may find this to be true with other components.
- Even if you run GroupWise on Windows, you will still need Linux servers for both GroupWise Mobility Server (Mobile Phones) and GroupWise Messenger since they are only supported on Linux.
- Some people would argue that larger systems may experience performance issues on Windows compared to the same system running on Linux. This is difficult to prove due to the vast variety of factors that could come into play.
- GroupWise running on a Windows Server will require separate Windows licensing. GroupWise does not provide Windows Server licenses.
Microsoft Windows Server 2016
Although Windows 2016 is supported, I wouldn't waste any time on older versions.