Mail server software firm Stalkers has come under fire from some of its own users over a license enforcement action that left scores of admins scrambling to restore services. As the clock rolled over on 1 February 2005, flagship Stalkers CommuniGate Pro mail server software executed a worldwide "timebomb" shutdown, designed to pull the plug on users whose licences had expired.
Critics say the action was poorly implemented and even affected some mail server admins with valid licences. One disgruntled punter told us: "No explanation was given when the software shut down, and would then refuse to run longer than 15 minutes. Most had to figure it out for themselves. Confusion ensued because of Stalkers' policy of not making their licensing policies clear, vague statements of what version is legal to run for users who have or have not renewed their software in the past one or two years. Combined with their unqualified insistence to 'upgrade to the newest version' this caused disaster and mayhem."
Stalkers denies any customers with valid licences were hit. "There are no evidences [sic] it happened to valid license customers. The licenses are valid for versions released in one year since the license issue date. At some point we extended this period, but it didn't apply to versions which were created before the 'amnesty' was declared, so users need to update to the latest version where the amnesty was coded," a support rep told El Reg.
Stalkers said CommuniGate Pro (CGP) has 8,500 users worldwide, ranging from major telcos and ISPs to educational institutions and corporations, representing more than 58m email accounts.
Vladimir Butenko, president of Stalker Software, has posted an explanation for its licensing policy on Stalkers' mailing list here, later arguing that it had warned customers about likely enforcement action in November 2004 and promising further further crackdowns.
A continuing fierce debate on Stalkers' mailing list has spilled out onto Usenet newsgroups where the flames are flying. Stalkers has been accused on mounting an "ambush" on its own users. Elsewhere, an admin who says he had a valid licence reports problems. In other postings users call for a clearer policy for Stalker and offer each other advice. ®
Sponsored: Webcast: Ransomware has gone nuclear