EGroupware, Group Office, and Kopano compared



Kopano groupware [14], developed by a German-Dutch company of the same name, was originally a spin-off of the Zarafa groupware server. In the meantime, Kopano has emancipated itself from the model, which has not been further developed since mid-2017, and the developers have added numerous functions.

The groupware package focuses on small and medium-sized companies, with Kopano's focus on ensuring that its users retain control over their data. Therefore, the software is available as an on-premises solution. Kopano adds more functionality through mature third-party applications already established on the market, including Nextcloud [15] and ownCloud [16].

Both the groupware solution itself and the external applications are open source software and use open standards. The Core server is based on Linux; the vendor website offers versions for download for numerous distributions. Less experienced admins can find preconfigured appliances that run in all common virtual environments.

On the client side, Kopano is extremely flexible. The software runs in the web browser of any workstation, and its own desktop applications are available on top. They integrate into existing systems and use distribution-specific applications, such as the file manager. For mobile devices, Z-Push keeps the respective data permanently synchronized. Appropriate documentation to configure the individual packages is provided on the vendor website.

The Kopano makers also distribute their groupware solution within the framework of a subscription model. The price models [17] depend on the number of users and the services required, ranging from EUR15 per user per year (Basic) to EUR30 per user per year (Pro). The prices for the Enterprise version are available on request. Additionally, a free community version is available for download, for which a separate website [18] exists.


Besides open standards and the obligatory transport encryption with TLS, Kopano uses various other mechanisms to ensure a high level of data security by cryptographically securing the content of email with S/MIME and thus enabling end-to-end encryption.

Kopano also stores email, attachments, and calendar entries in encrypted form, thus preventing unauthorized third parties from viewing them. Kopano stores email and calendar entries from the groupware's calendar module in an encrypted database, and it stores attachments on the user's own computer system or in the local cloud. The web-based client works with HTTPS; the connections between the other clients and the Kopano Core server are secured by SSL.


Kopano has a modular structure and provides the usual groupware functionalities: The Basic version comes with an email client, contact and calendar management (Figure 5), and a task management module. An electronic notebook is also on board.

Figure 5: Kopano limits itself to the essentials, such as calendar support, when it comes to groupware functions.

Users have access to the server and the data from all available clients. The additional modules, for which the manufacturer bills separately, are a collaborative office suite based on LibreOffice Online, a chat module, and a program for videoconferences.

The Kopano Documents module offers more possibilities than the office suite: It stores existing data in a distributed manner in local cloud instances. In this way, Kopano Documents works with ownCloud, Nextcloud, and Seafile installations.

Conventional file servers can also be used with Documents: The software supports common network protocols like the network filesystem (NFS) or server message block (SMB) in heterogeneous environments. Users always retain complete control over their data without having to compromise on availability.

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