Product Review: ReddFish Intergalactic's Ikakura list server
Ikakura, prices start at USD $250 per license
My rating: 3.5 Green Guys
There a more than a handful of third-party add-on applications for Microsoft's Exchange Server 2000. The available products sometimes come as single purpose application and other times come as integrated packages that are designed to meet some, if not all, needs you may have above and beyond a base installation of Exchange Server. These products cover a wide range of areas, from administration to content checking to virus scanning and list servicing. Ikakura list server, by ReddFish Intergalactic is a fairly simple list server add on that will enable your Exchange Server to act a list server. I enjoyed working with Ikakura-after I got it installed and working, which was not as easy as I had hoped for.
I had high hopes for Ikakura, especially given its small package size of less than 7MB. Unfortunately things started to go down hill from the first step of the installation and configuration process. Should you decide to use Ikakura, READ the manual thoroughly before attempting installation. In these, the current and modern, days of application installation you would figure that all required modifications to the Operating System would be handled by the installer itself, but this is not true. In fact, Ikakura does not even come packaged as a Windows Installer file, but still relies on an old installer built in VB as shown in Figure 1. Ikakura, does, however come with an uninstall routine if you require it, so it's not all bad.
Figure 1 - The installer for Ikakura.
Anyhow, as I was saying, working through the installation instructions carefully is essential to getting Ikakura up and running on the Exchange server. For the rest of this discussion, it's important to know that I was working with Exchange 2000 SP2 installed on a Windows 2000 SP2 Advanced Server. Some things will look and be called different things in Exchange 5.5.
The first thing you will need to is to manually create a new Organizational Unit, as shown in Figure 2. After doing this, you will need to manually create and configure a new user account, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 2 - Configuring for Ikakura.
Figure 3 - More configuration for Ikakura.
After you've created the Organizational Unit and user account for Ikakura, you next must assign the user account special permissions in the Local Security Policy snap-in, as shown in Figures 4 and 5.
Figure 4 - Configuring the Local Security Policy.
Figure 5 - Configuring the Local Security Policy, again.
At this point you can actually install the Ikakura software, as was shown previously in Figure 1. After installing the software I highly recommend you restart the computer. Although not addressed anywhere in the product documentation, I found that a restart before actually moving on to the next step proved to be very helpful.
If you thought you were done after installing the software, think again. Now that you have set the stage for the Ikakura service to actually run you have to install it and start it. Again, these are things that I feel should have been taken care of by the installation routine. Figure 6 shows how you will have to install the Ikakura service. After you have successfully installed it, you will then need to manually start it from the Control tab.
Figure 6 - Installing the Ikakura service--manually.
Should you have trouble after getting Ikakura installed, and you may (I did) you will want to pay a visit to the Ikakura newsgroup to help get things straightened out. This is where my experience with Ikakura actually began to turn around and get better. The newsgroup can be accessed from news://ikakura.com/reddfish.listserver.troubleshooting. A useful MSKB article you may need to look at deals with the CDO.dll file and can be found at Q171440. If you still have problems with Ikakura, you may want to think about adding the Ikakura account to the server Properties from within the Exchange Service Manager. This is discussed in the manual briefly for Exchange 5.5 servers, but not covered at all for Exchange 2000 servers.
Once you've gotten Ikakura installed and started, the first thing you'll want to do is test out. The easiest way to do this is subscribe yourself to one of the distribution lists (which in this context is synonymous with Windows 2000 Distribution Group) and see what happens. If all is well, you will receive a reply from the Ikakura service in a moment or so informing you that you have been subscribed to the list. See Figure 7 for an example of this.
Figure 7 - Successful list subscription.
The list server functionality is adequate for most any small to medium sized application, but for $250.00 USD, what else would you expect. You have all of the basic commands available to you that would expect:
- Help - Asks Ikakura to send a help message containing legal commands.
- Lists [list-name] - To retrieve a list of all the mailing lists with names beginning with 'list-name'. If you leave out the [list-name] you will be sent a list of ALL the lists on this server.
- Members list-name - To retrieve a list of all the members of the mailing list 'list-name'. You must be the owner of the list to retrieve this information.
- [Silent] subscribe list-name [email-address] [real name] - e.g. subscribe "Fishing News" [email protected] Orange Roughy. To subscribe to a list called 'list-name'. If you leave out the [email-address] then your own mailbox will be subscribed to the list. If you specify the [silent] command, the new subscriber will not be sent a welcome message.
- Unsubscribe list-name [email address] - To cancel your subscription to a list. If you leave out 'email address' then your own mailbox will be unsubscribed from the list.
There are some formatting rules that you need to be aware of when sending messages to Ikakura:
- The square brackets indicate that an item is optional. Don't type the square brackets.
- A message may contain more than one command. Each command should be on a separate line.
- The list server will interpret lines beginning with 2 hyphens (i.e. --) to be the start of a signature, and it will ignore the remainder of the message. The list server will ignore any line which begins with a single quote, i.e. '
- The list server will process commands placed in the subject of the message. Only list server commands should be placed in the subject or the body of the message - don't include anything other than commands in the message.
In the end
In the end, I enjoyed using Ikakura. I have to be honest, and perhaps it's entirely me, getting Ikakura running smoothly was not the easiest thing that I have ever done. However, with careful attention to the manual and maybe with my experiences with it, you can have a smooth and uneventful installation and configuration. If had to purchase a list server for my small organization, I would definitely consider Ikakura:you should too. While Ikakura probably doesn't have the capability to compete with Lyris, it doesn't cost the $1,500 to $58,500 USD that Lyris does!