A Zimbra Trouble-Shooting Story

Okay, if you read this blog and others, it will seem like new technologies like Zimbra and Drupal are set and forget.  Five minute installs followed by months of enjoyment and feet on the desk.

Most untrue.

Here’s one that plagued us for almost a month– the main log in screen to Zimbra (for the web clients) would stall.  Not all the time, but maybe one out of ten times.  A typical log in is around 20 seconds.  When stalled, it may be 2-5 minutes, or not at all.  Users were unhappy.

So, we tore our hair out– the server looked fine, nothing in the logs, so it had to be the clients.  The problem was occurring on Macs and PCs, Firefox and IE and Safari and Chrome.  We tried turning off plug-ins, rolling back JIT Java compilers, the works.  Nothing seemed to prevent the problem.  Some felt we were just overloading the server, but nothing indicated that server-side.  In fact, the stalls could occur with very few users on.

About the same time, our Zimbra Admin noticed that he had lost login access to a key shared account– one that shared out briefcases, RSS feeds and a mailbox with sub folders to all users.  No go on login– we were cut off from accessing the account.

The reason– when we deleted student accounts from last school year, there were still shares in their accounts from the master account, and they may have been renamed or altered.  By deleting them, we corrupted the main account.

On that issue, we worked out complicated processes to change to a new shared account, but then our Zimbra admin found a way to remove the corrupted shares from the account, and we go access back to it.  Then he built a script to remove all corrupted share.

At that moment, the stalled logins stopped.  Apparently, they were related to the semi-corrupted shared account (for mailbox, RSS feed folder, briefcases) to most users.  Once it was cleaned up, the loading at login for users returned to normal.

Supposedly, the bug in Zimbra regarding shared account corruption when accounts are deleted with existing shares is still around.  We have a script now that removes all shares before accounts are taken out.  However, we lucky to have such a strong Zimbra admin who can write these scripts and get us out of trouble.  Cheers to him.

We like Zimbra a lot, but we are using it at a high level of complexity, and it runs at a relatively high level of complexity.  If you are considering it, proceed with growth in a careful way, and have a lead admin who understand the Command Line Interface and can write scripts.

Meanwhile, I’ll put my feet up.

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