The deluge of spam on the Internet is threatening to seize, rather than grease, the wheels of progress. Users swamped with unwanted advertisements are desperately seeking relief, and Stalker Software's CommuniGate 3.01 mail server delivers it. Several new Internet mail features help categorize and filter messages, and new security features prevent spammers from using your server to relay mail to others.
CommuniGate consists of files containing the main server; a client application; various administrative tools; and individual gateway modules for POP, SMTP, UUCP, mailing lists, faxing, printing, and paging. New in this version is an address-book service module, for publicly publishing e-mail-address directories. This release also includes, at long last, an installer application, along with excellent HTML-based documentation. As with previous releases, you must obtain activation codes for each module you intend to buy beyond the LAN-based server-and-client bundle.
CommuniGate's SMTP module controls spam in several ways. First, and most important, it makes a distinction between local and remote users based on the originating IP address, allowing local users to relay messages to the Internet. You give selected remote users the same privileges by flagging them as "friends," preventing spammers from using the server as an intermediate relay station. Second, it can verify return addresses to ensure they're accurate; spammers often use forged or illegal return addresses. Third, it checks your local blacklists to reject mail from known spam sources. Finally, it can check external blacklists that others maintain.
These features, as well as the program's existing support for MIME content, make CommuniGate an excellent e-mail server. Alas, CommuniGate's client hasn't kept up with the times: it doesn't display MIME or HTML data in its message browser, storing them instead as attachments that you must process using external programs. Users today consider MIME and HTML display essential. An alternative is to use an e-mail client with this support, such as Qualcomm's Eudora or Netscape's Messenger, in conjunction with the CommuniGate server components.
With its modular architecture, multiple gateways, MIME support, and excellent spam control, CommuniGate 3.01 is a powerful mail server. Combine it with a MIME- and HTML-capable mail client, and you've got yourself a first-rate Internet and LAN e-mail solution.
RATING: PROS: Inexpensive; antispam features; multimedia gateways. CONS: Mail client can't display MIME and HTML data. COMPANY: Stalker Software (415/383-7164, http://www.stalker.com ). LIST PRICE: 25-user LAN-only gateway and client, $200; configured for Internet with POP and SMTP gateways, $300; other gateway modules, $100 each.
April 1999 page: 58