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There are a number of packages that fit some definition of "open source alternative to Exchange", many of them listed at: http://alternativeto.net/software/microsoft-exchange-server/...

In my experience they are big, and tend to lean heavily on php, which isn't much of a plus in my book (mostly because of php's traditional deployment model as a web server module, and issues with session-files and db connections being shared across different scripts -- things that aren't intrinsic to php, but common enough in large project that aim to be able to install and run easily "anywhere").

I have yet to find something light weight that I prefer using, but if you really want "an alternative to Exchange", you might want to look at Kolab: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolab ,SoGo: http://sogo.nu/ (iRedMail bundles some SoGo components) or Citadel: http://www.citadel.org.

Most of them are also really difficult to setup and configure properly, and support costs aren't cheap, as many require a support contract for a commercial plugin to really do what is needed for outlook integration. In the end, for smaller orgs, office 365 may be a better option.

I find that a lot of smaller businesses don't need everything Exchange does, and larger ones should just consider Exchange. It's simply a pragmatic choice, though if someone has an Exchange alternative and makes if FAR easier to setup, I'm all for it. Contacts + Calendar + Mail + Team orchestration is integrated with Exchange+Outlook better than anything else I've tried.

Are you referring to persistent database connections and something like apache mod_php? The first one doesn't seem that common these days and the other one doesn't seem like something that the application would force on you anyway. Why do you dislike the web server module deployment model?

I'm referring to the mod_php-model. It is of course possible, even if running under apache mod_php, to treat each apache instance as an "application server", and potentially run each apache+mod_php-server in a chroot and as a different (system) user.

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