2006-05-06: 20:00 UTC     LDAP Address books and SyncML beta test

LDAP is an acronym for 'Lightweight Directory Access Protocol'. Most modern desktop email clients support accessing directories with the LDAP protocol. For our purposes the directory is an address book.

Initially each account has an account address book and a personal address book for each mailbox account. Both address books are visible in the IMP4 web clients and in the LDAP only Squirrelmail web client on the beta test site. Personal address books are visible in the IMP4 and Squirrelmail clients on the production site and the beta site.

Personal address books are read/write in the IMP4 and Squirrelmail clients. Mailbox accounts configured for full management access have read/write access to the account book in the IMP4 clients and the LDAP only Squirrelmail client on the beta site. Mailbox accounts not configured for full management acess have read-only access to the account book. Desktop email clients implement read-only access to LDAP directories.

Desktop client access parameters
LDAP Server name
Personal address book
Auth, Bind DN, (Account in Outlook)
Search base, Base DN, (Advanced tab in Outlook)
Account address book
Auth, Bind DN, (Account in Outlook)
Search base, Base DN, (Advanced tab in Outlook)

The LDAP password has to be set before you will be able to use LDAP from a desktop client. Mailbox account LDAP passwords can be set in the Manager on the mailbox management page. Choose LDAP Password in the Action select box. Choose Account -> LDAP Password to set the account LDAP password.

Thunderbird and Seamonkey configuration
Address Book -> File -> New -> LDAP directory
Name: Your Choice
Hostname: ldap.mxes.net
Base DN: ou=your_mailbox_name,ou=ab,dc=mxes,dc=net
Port number:     389
Bind DN: cn=your_mailbox_name,ou=auth,dc=mxes,dc=net
Click OK

Outlook and Outlook Express configuration
Tools -> Accounts -> Add -> Directory Service
Internet directory (LDAP) server: ldap.mxes.net
My LDAP server requires me to log on: Check this box
Click Next
Accout name: cn=your_mailbox_name,ou=auth,dc=mxes,dc=net
Password: The LDAP password you set for your_mailbox_name
Log on using Secure Password Authentication (SPA): DO NOT CHECK THIS BOX
Click Next
Do you want to check addresses using this directory service:     Your choice, probably Yes.
Click Next
Click Finish
Click Properties
Click Advanced
Search Base: ou=your_mailbox_name,ou=ab,dc=mxes,dc=net
Click OK
Click Close

No Windows email client will update or write to an LDAP directory.
LDAP will not magically sync address books.
No Windows email client will display the contents of an LDAP directory.
LDAP directories are only searchable by Windows email clients.
Thunderbird has the option to download an LDAP directory but Thunderbird attempts an anonymous bind to do the download and that will not work.

Planned enhancements for second quarter 06.

  • Additional account level address books
  • Finer grain account book access control
  • Better support for Thunderbird and Outlook data fields

Early in July the following changes are planned

  • Access to the IMP4 Private Address Book will be removed. Currently this address book is visible only to mailbox accounts that have existing entries in that address book.
  • The current Squirrelmail Personal Address Book will be removed. The LDAP address books will become the only address book available in the Squirrelmail clients.

SyncML beta test

SyncML is an acronym for "Synchronization Markup Language". The SyncML protocol shows promise in keeping data synchronized between desktop clients, web clients, PDAs/cell phones, and other SyncML servers. SyncML support in PDAs and current generation cell phones is widespread. Support in desktop clients is spotty.

Our SyncML server is very much beta and will be in that state for a while. Each SyncML client implements the protocol in a slightly different way leading to interoperability problems. SyncML is more of a concept right now than an established standard protocol. Hopefully that will change.

Please contact support if you are technically oriented and would like to help test SyncML.

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