Why Cyrus?

Nic Bernstein nic at onlight.com
Fri Jan 19 08:50:55 EST 2018

On 01/19/2018 05:29 AM, Patrick Goetz wrote:
> The biggest ongoing problem with Cyrus is the documentation, not that 
> it's harder to install.  Cyrus is, if anything, easier to install than 
> Dovecot (modulo distro packaging, which is the main difference here). 
> The Dovecot guy writes very good documentation, and until recently 
> trying to get information about how to set up Cyrus was like pulling 
> teeth. I'm always having to appeal to this list whenever an issue 
> comes up.  Recently I set up a vacation notification system.  Super 
> easy AFTER A MONTH SPENT researching how to do it. I'm still not 
> completely clear on how to set up multiple virtual mailhosts, either; 
> my next onerous email research project.
> FastMail of course has no incentive or reason to write documentation 
> making it easier to set up your own Cyrus system(s); that's going to 
> be up to the community. 

I'm sorry, and don't wish to start a flame war here, but can't just let 
this comment pass.  Fastmail are dedicated to improving the 
documentation of Cyrus, and have on staff a person, Nicola Nye 
<nicolan at fastmailteam.com>, for that specific reason.  They've spent a 
bundle of money to improve the documentation, as have other 
organizations like Kolab <https://kolabsystems.com/> and Onlight 
<https://www.onlight.com/> (my firm).  Last year Onlight flew me to 
Melbourne for two weeks, to set up camp in the Fastmail offices and 
write documentation.

While I will agree that improvement is still needed, a remarkable amount 
has been done in the past few years.

It's the nature of almost all Open Source packages that documentation 
often lags behind features, unless the docs and code are being written 
by the same people.  Another issue common to many FOSS software is that 
people write documentation which addresses needs they perceive, just 
like people write software which addresses needs they perceive.  For 
example, I recently needed to migrate older Cyrus installations from 
2.5.11 to 3.0.5, and to add Xapian indexing.  I couldn't make sense of 
the existing docs, so I interrogated Bron and others, and rewrote those 
docs, along with touching up other sections which dealt with the various 
supported partitioning types.

Cyrus is a very capable and scalable email platform, provides a lot of 
flexibility and supports a lot of options.  This necessarily makes it 
more complex to configure, and more complex to document.

My advice to anyone who is having trouble understanding or deploying a 
feature is to come here or to the cyrus-dev list, and ask questions:

If you need to know how to do something and feel it isn't well 
documented, ask in the lists, on IRC, or log a ticket at Github. 
Seriously on that last one.  If you log an issue on Github, it will get 
seen to, by myself or others.

As for your next challenge, the term "virtual mailhosts" is a bit vague, 
so I'm not sure which way to steer you.  Do you mean Virtual Domains; 
one server receiving and hosting mail for multiple email domains?  If 
so, start here:

If you mean something else, please follow up with a separate message on 
this list or IRC (https://cyrusimap.org/imap/support/feedback-irc.html).

Lastly, I would remiss not to mention that we will always welcome user 
contributions to the documentation.  If you feel you solved an 
undocumented, or poorly documented problem, please let us know what you 
did, what you learnt, how you solved the issue.  If you can even just 
write up an email description of the problem and solution, we can shape 
it into documentation.  Often the best documentation evolves out of a 
user solving a problem and then sharing their new knowledge.


Nic Bernstein                             nic at onlight.com
Onlight Inc.                              www.onlight.com
6525 W Bluemound Rd., Ste 24	          v. 414.272.4477
Milwaukee, Wisconsin  53213-4073	  f. 414.290.0335

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