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Is There a Linux Client Solution for Exchange 2007? 385

Posted by timothy
from the switch-to-postcards dept.
CrazedSanity writes "I have been working at my state job for about 7 months now, using the Exchange plugin for Evolution to check my email. Very recently the higher-ups decided to migrate to Exchange 2007, which effectively destroyed my ability to check my email through any method other than webmail (which means I have to constantly refresh/reload the webmail window). I'm sure somebody else has encountered the problem, but I'm wondering if anybody has come up with a working solution?" Note: CrazedSanity's looking for a client that will work with Exchange in a situation where replacing the Exchange install with an open-source equivalent isn't an option.
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Is There a Linux Client Solution for Exchange 2007?

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  • Quick and dirty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cixelsyd (239) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:34PM (#25123645)
    Virtualize a Windows box with Outlook.
    • Re:Quick and dirty (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Etrias (1121031) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:40PM (#25124827)
      Not a great solution. Yeah you could do this, but then you have to get the VM up and running (VirtualBox is good for this), make sure you have some sort of Windows license, install Outlook (again, with a license that works), join the VM to the domain (if you want seamless access) and set up your profile. Hey, now that's done, every day when you boot up, you boot up your VM, log in (if you joined it to the domain), fire up Outlook and watch as your VM chews up a good chunk of your processing power running a VM to run one app.

      There's not a silver bullet here unfortunately. A VM, while handy and possible, isn't an elegant solution and it sounds like he's been working off of Evolution, so we're pretty much looking at just getting mail running. Easiest way: ask the local techs to make sure IMAP is running and install Thunderbird. Like I said, not ideal, but that's when you get when Microsoft decides not to play nicely with others.
    • Re:Quick and dirty (Score:4, Informative)

      by Piranhaa (672441) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:58PM (#25125081)

      That's an option.. But why waste resources for just 1 program. Running WINE (http://www.winehq.org) or Crossover would be a much nicer option. Last I checked, Office 2003 runs near perfectly and you don't need to spend the money or the resources on running an entire Windows OS on top of a Linux install.

      Just my 0.0002 cents

    • Re:Quick and dirty (Score:4, Informative)

      by MarcQuadra (129430) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @04:22PM (#25126591)

      Or ask if you can remote-in via RDP to a server (or even an XP box) running terminal services. RDesktop is a lot less resource-intensive than running Windows/Outlook in a VM.

      Someone in the company has to have a Windows box that can accept incoming connections.

      Heck, grab an old dusty PC, toss Windows on it, see if you can put it behind your monitor, then RDP or VNC to it.

      It's 2008, I have eleven computers in my cube; people literally do not know where to throw all their Pentium 4s. I just sent an email to our director asking him to clarify what the procedure is for getting rid of all this stuff is, since I virtualize pretty much everything now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by catmistake (814204)

      Outlook 2003 works under WINE.

      But the poster's ask brings to the front a question I've been asking for years: Linux has virtuously duplicated nearly every Windows functionity... it's almost like that is Linux's purpose, a free alternative to anything available from Microsoft. Why isn't there an OSS integrated mail/cal client that duplicates Outlook's functionality, from push to public folders to scheduling and invites to calendar publishing?? It is due. Heck, I'd even be happy with a non-OSS alternative.

  • Duh (Score:5, Funny)

    by IceCreamGuy (904648) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:35PM (#25123669) Homepage
    Just telnet in and use SMTP commands.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rpmayhem (1244360)
      Troll? I thought that was pretty funny. Have you ever tried to use SMTP commands directly through telnet? Craziness!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Yes, I did try. But my secretary didn't like the telnet user interface, she preferred IncrediMail.
      • by Amouth (879122)

        i've used it.. and some times still do to send quick messages to people..

      • Re:Duh (Score:5, Informative)

        by Albanach (527650) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:57PM (#25124051) Homepage

        I'd imagine most folk that have administered a mail server have sent mail with telnet. It's not difficult and if your new server is doing something weird it can be very useful for diagnosis.

        You just do something like:


        telnet mail.example.com 25
        EHLO me.example.com
        MAIL FROM: <me@me.example.com>
        RCPT TO: <you@mail.example.com>
        DATA
        Subject: Message sent with telnet

        Here's my message body.
        .

        • Re:Duh (Score:4, Funny)

          by bonehead (6382) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:11PM (#25124289)

          Of course, things get a little trickier if you need to attach a binary file to the message.

          • Re:Duh (Score:5, Informative)

            by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:19PM (#25124439)

            # man uuencode
            uuencode(1)
            NAME
                          uuencode, uudecode - encode a binary file, or decode its representation
            SYNOPSIS
                          uuencode [-m] [ file ] name

                          uudecode [-o outfile] [ file ]...

            DESCRIPTION
                          Uuencode and uudecode are used to transmit binary files over transmission mediums that do not support other than
                          simple ASCII data. ...

        • Re:Duh (Score:5, Funny)

          by Blakey Rat (99501) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:18PM (#25124429)

          Informative?

          A guy suggesting, seriously as far as I can work out, that you can replace Outlook with TELNET! is marked "informative?"

          • by Albanach (527650)

            A guy suggesting, seriously as far as I can work out, that you can replace Outlook with TELNET! is marked "informative?"

            Not at all. I replied to a post which said:

            Have you ever tried to use SMTP commands directly through telnet? Craziness!

            I merely pointed out that many mail server administrators will have done this frequently. It'd not crazy and not particularly difficult. Still, just because you can doesn't mean that's how you send your mail. Most of us use an MUA for day to day sending of email. I certain

            • I think there should be a separate reading comprehension moderation score. Cause sometimes some people have great answers to questions that were never asked, and other times people have horrible responses to questions they didn't understand. Then each poster's reading comprehension score would let a casual reader filter visible responses by that, as well as rating the main moderation score accordingly.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by IceCreamGuy (904648)
            If I had a genie, my first wish would be for a sarcasm HTML tag.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Informative?

            A guy suggesting, seriously as far as I can work out, that you can replace Outlook with TELNET! is marked "informative?"

            All jokes aside, if their shop is running Exchange 2007, SMTP won't be accessible for him. He'll need to talk MAPI [wikipedia.org] to the exchange server, which technically isn't even a protocol itself, but instead runs over M$ RPC.

            Anyone know how to send MAPI commands using TELNET?

        • Re:Duh...TELNET?? (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          IMHO, that's not an option. TELNET into Exchange Servers nowadays has been (mostly) blocked due to the inherent vulnerabilities, i.e.- taking over an e-mail server. Not only that, but what with IMAP, SMTP is about the last thing anyone wants in this 'make it pretty' world in the newer servers. I've gotten along with 'mail' and 'pine' for the longest time, but not everything is easy to someone who doesn't understand how to or has not learned the 'old' ways; or how an e-mail server works. Everything doesn't n

          • Re:Duh...TELNET?? (Score:4, Informative)

            by MadnessASAP (1052274) <madnessasap@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @03:59PM (#25126165)

            As the post above you mentions, I don't think you entirely get the point. Telnet as well as being a way toget a remote shell is also a great way to communicate with servers that use ASCII protocols. For instance I can enter "$ telnet google.ca 80" and type in "GET / HTTP/1.0" and it will return 200 OKAY plus the google homepage. The same goes for SMTP and FTP. So as long as the server supports SMTP you can "telnet" into it.

            The more you know.

      • by gweihir (88907)

        Troll? I thought that was pretty funny. Have you ever tried to use SMTP commands directly through telnet? Craziness!

        Huh? What is so difficult about that?

      • by deniable (76198)

        Many times, especially when some idiot qmail fanboy sets up a mail server/relay without a functioning 'mail' command. The only problem I have is not having backspace.

      • by SL Baur (19540)

        Telnet is useful for debugging all kinds of different network protocols, including problems with MSExchange. Been there, done that.

        Do you mean to tell me you have not written and debugged a sendmail.cf file?

        Now, get off my lawn.

    • by Bandman (86149)

      ugh, all these replies and not one mentioning that the guy wants to CHECK mail, not send it.

      Anybody speak text-mode-Exchange?

      Maybe this would show it who's boss

      $ cat /dev/random | nc mail.mydomain.com 135

  • by nawcom (941663)
    According to the Crossovers Compatibilities list, Outlook 2007 is rated meh (my interpretation of bronze) with a few silver ratings by other people. http://www.codeweavers.com/compatibility/browse/name/?app_id=2841 [codeweavers.com]
    This is of course for Crossover's version of wine with their proprietary fixes, for good ol gnu wine has Outlook 2007 listed as garbage [winehq.org].

    Personally, I would nag on the IT people to free themselves from depending on an untrustworthy company.
    • by Aphoxema (1088507) *

      The worst part is you end up paying for Office 2007 when you're only going to use one application that doesn't do a very good job of what it's meant for anyways.

      • by Amouth (879122)

        you can buy outlook by it's self.. you don't have to get the full office suite

      • by deniable (76198)

        You pay for client access licenses for Exchange and that includes Outlook. You buy Office for the other stuff. And Outlook does a pretty good job, but its job isn't solely as a mail client.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Scutter (18425)

      You can use Outlook 2003 with Exchange 2007 if the Exchange admin hasn't disabled access for older clients. I think Outlook 2003 works better with Crossover than Outlook 2007.

  • by skeldoy (831110) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:42PM (#25123813) Homepage
    but I realized that the webmail was actually better than virtualizing a box or trying in vain to hack the evolution-plugins. I ended up with the following solution:
    I have a terminal-window that runs a bash-script that uses wget (or curl, don't really remember) to pull down the webmail-main-page and actually grep for the "boldness" of the new messages. When ever there is a bold line somewhere in the main view it makes a noise and flashes a tcl/tk-window saying that there are new stuff on the web-mail. I tab to the correct place in the firefox, refresh and there you go.
    I know the solution is a little weird, but it works and it does what I need, so I really do not care to try out something else (except advocating OSS in my work place).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Culture20 (968837)
      The problem with OWA is that it is IE centric; FF and Konq have about 25% of the features available to OWA+IE. I use Tbird+imap for mail, and a Windows VM for configuring mail filters & settings via outlook. I've also trained my coworkers to send me emails about meetings because I don't use the calendar, and they don't complain because half of them are Mac fans.
  • evolution branch (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rufus t firefly (35399) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:47PM (#25123897) Homepage
    Did you try the work they were doing here [gnome.org]? They did mention that it's supposed to work with Exchange 2007.
    • Re:evolution branch (Score:5, Informative)

      by pinballer (655113) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:34PM (#25124759)

      I've spent considerable time trying to get this work and it is still nowhere near being mature enough to be usable.

      Don't get me wrong, it's better than it was a few months ago. It will allow Evolution to make a connection and even download most of the folder information. For us, it has trouble deciphering email addresses in the headers, doesn't display some messages at all and, most annoyingly, continues to consume all available memory until it crashes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I've spent considerable time trying to get this work and it is still nowhere near being mature enough to be usable.

        Don't get me wrong, it's better than it was a few months ago. It will allow Evolution to make a connection and even download most of the folder information. For us, it has trouble deciphering email addresses in the headers, doesn't display some messages at all and, most annoyingly, continues to consume all available memory until it crashes.

        Yeah, that sounds like early stage Evolution. It was ridiculously unstable for a long time, and still gives me occasional problems and, at the least, UI issues when connecting to a large mailbox.

        It's more one of those instances where either some company has to put a few dollars in to help out with development, or just wait it out and hope someone else does it first.

  • by nawcom (941663) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:48PM (#25123907) Homepage
    One of the many howtos on how to setup thunderbird/lightning with an exchange server: http://www.downloadsquad.com/2007/03/30/howto-thunderbird-and-ms-exchange-server/? [downloadsquad.com]
  • The only solution I've found is to enable Imap on the exchange server, and also enable SMTP for incoming mail. Then install Thunderbird.

    You can also use the ldap features of Active Directory to do lookups of people's email addresses.
    There's a calendaring plugin for thunderbird called lightning, but it doesn't seem to work with Exchange 2007 (I can't accept meeting invitations).

  • by eobanb (823187)
    I have a perfectly good solution that does not involve replacing Exchange, does involve replacing Evolution, and in fact would allow you to use virtually any client you wish. Exchange has IMAP support; it just has to be enabled. The only downside is that this doesn't sync contacts/calendars. Another possibility is using Outlook Web Access, although you wouldn't be able to use the Full interface in any Linux browser. Finally, what about Evolution-Brutus? It basically involves running some software on a Wi
  • What I did... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ivan256 (17499) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @01:54PM (#25124013)

    I just waited until the same higher-ups that forced the upgrade got so fed up with the poor performance of Exchange 2007 that they forced us to switch back.

    Took about 3 weeks.

    • by rtechie (244489) *

      poor performance of Exchange 2007 /QUOTE

      They underscoped. Hardware requirements for 2007 went up. Assuming his site didn't blow the migration, this won't happen. They probably wanted unified messaging or the improved web portal, both of which would naturally increase hardware requirements.

  • OWA? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NekoXP (67564)

    What's wrong with Outlook Web Access? Use Firefox or even Prism/XULRunner or whatever and you have everything you need.

  • OpenChange (Score:5, Informative)

    by KatTran (122906) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:28PM (#25124649)

    OpenChange is an open source MAPI client that supports all versions of Exchange up to and including 2007, it is native MAPI and thus does everything you would expect an Exchange client to do, and it does it a reasonable speed.

    http://www.openchange.org/ [openchange.org]

    There is already an Evolution plug-in that will be mainlined into GNOME 2.24. However, you can currently get it for Fedora 10 and other platforms.

    The current Evolution plug-in uses OWA web page scrapping and is really lame, and it most likely broke from web interface changes in 2007.

  • If you are not happy with just OWA (although it does refresh itself and do popup notification etc) and want something that will notify you when you get new mail, get any ActiveSync device (iPhone, iPod Touch, any Windows Mobile, some Treo's, anyone know if Android supports it?).

    It will be - portable and push-synced and if you DO want to see the email in all its glory, you can always pull up OWA for that specific message.

    Other than that, you may also want to run an old windows XP desktop somethere and RDP to

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Exchange 2007 web services API should make this job easier.

    Introduction to Exchange Web Services in Exchange 2007
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb408417.aspx [microsoft.com]

    New Programmability Features in Exchange Server 2007
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb332450.aspx [microsoft.com]

    More discussions:
    Exchange 2007
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=3891474 [ubuntuforums.org]

    http://psankar.blogspot.com/2007/10/write-evolution-plugins-using-mono-c.html [blogspot.com]
    "Exchange Server 2007 has a Exchange Web-Services Interface. IIUC Working with web

  • Conform (Score:4, Insightful)

    by not already in use (972294) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @02:47PM (#25124921)
    If your job requires Windows, perhaps maybe you should, uhh, install Windows.
  • by Shayde (189538) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @03:02PM (#25125149) Homepage

    What folks seem to be missing here is that the attraction to Exchange isn't that it's just a mail server. It's the calendaring, tightly coupled with the server that makes it work. Nothing else short of Google Apps has come close to working as well as Outlook + Exchange does.

    Now, having said that, there's plenty of good work going on integrating other systems together (I personally run standard IMAP / SMTP for mail, and use Google Calendar for my calendaring). This works great, but is not 'exchange compatable'.

    There are some other workarounds - An outlook 2007 client can be configured to publish it's calendar up into Google Calendar via some plugins - once you do that, Thunderbird + Lightning comes very very close to working the same as Outlook does, but it's not exactly an elegant solution.

    We've hit hte same problem at one of my clients regarding Outlook 2007 - Evolution no longer works, and some of hte Linux folks are stuck.

    The last bit is, as others have said, a vmware install of XP -just- running Outlook. It's not as horrible as you might think :)

  • Use Outlook with CrossOver Office. CodeWeavers supports Outlook 2003 which should provide a MAPI implementation compatible with Exchange 2007.

  • Probably IAG (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @03:16PM (#25125423)

    Our email is being moved over to Exchange.. after being moved off Exchange, to something else.

    Previously, the admins dared not place Exchange on the internet, lest it be hacked. So the only way to get your mail was via VPN. Since they configure the concentrator to only allow Windows clients with the firewalling on, you can't access anything on your local network, and yea verily, this did sucketh.

    Presently, there is a public IMAP server (running some variety of not-Exhange). And it's nice to be able to get your email without crippling your network connection, and from the IMAP client of your choice (ie, Thunderbird), installed on the device of your choice.

    Soon, they intend to move us back onto Exchange. Because they still dare not place Exchange onto the internet, it will be secured behind something called Intelligent Application Gateway [microsoft.com], which appears to be some kind of SSL proxy server.

    So our options are....

    • Use an IAG client, an MS only payware product, to tunnel IMAP.
    • Use Outlook 2007 which conveniently has the "Outlook Anywhere" feature, which seems to combine an IAG client and use XMLRPC calls, and i probably the same client implementation as....
    • Outlook Web Access, which comes in "functional version for IE" and "crap version for dirty smelly hippyware browsers"

    Given that the current solution works fine, I'm none too happy ; reading the announcement the first question that arose was "Are they idiots?", closely followed by "How fat was the wad of sweaty Billbucks they were given?"

    Your options are ; give money to MS, or use a client that sucks (OWA lite). All the other clients suck LESS than OWA Lite, but to access any of them you must give some money to MS. Minimum spend being "a copy of a MS operating system", for IE, and maximum being Outlook. I'm not sure what the license cost of an IAG tunnel client is, but since you have to run it on Windows, it's a guaranteed winner for MS.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by visualight (468005)

      My most recent employers have all been Linux focused in terms of product development, but they've all had "I only know Windows" people in the IT department.

      So yeah, what you said is pretty much how too many of them are set up infrastructure wise. All the managers, sales, and IT people use Windows/Outlook and all the people who make and support the product use Linux. Even at companies that have the word "Linux" in it's name it's like that.

      I always wonder why people charged with making business decisions ab

  • Install the ReloadEvery [mozilla.org] Firefox add-on. Right click and select how often you want to reload the Exchange web interface page.

    This could get you by until your email app supports Exchange 2007.
  • fetchexc (Score:2, Informative)

    by benjamindees (441808)

    There is a utility called fetchexc that will fetch incoming mail from Exchange 2000/2003 OWA servers. It would need some updating to work with 2007, though.

    http://www.saunalahti.fi/juhrauti/index.html [saunalahti.fi]

  • There are about two or three drop-in replacements for exchange these days, more or less open and free, and then there is the outlook plugin for evolution. Which sucks (I use it daily), because the Gods of Gnome have decided that the evolution-'platform' is going to be their next Operating System or something - extremely difficult to fiddle with, both in source and in configuration, because you need to be running two or three CORBA-like services at the same time and have god knows how many libraries in arb

  • http://www.perfectreign.com/stuff/outlook_save.jpg

    Now, we only have Exchange 2003 and I only have Outlook XP running under Crossover office, but it is a suggestion.
  • by jackspenn (682188) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:05PM (#25130719)

    MS publishes the APIs for how their RPC over HTTPS, think its current name is now Outlook Anywhere works. They do this basically so that cell phone and other mobile applications can access the Exchange server. If you want to create a Linux based E-mail app or add functionality to connect to Exchange 2007 that doesn't use IMAP or POP, the best methodology would be to create a connection using the Outlook Anywhere APIs. It could be a cool project, I would be interested in working on it with anybody who wants to step up. Perhaps a interesting approach could be to build Outlook Anyway to IMAP intermediate application that could then be employed to act as an intermediary between whatever Linux client or heck even Windows mail client you wish to use and Exchange 2007. I mean basically you could put the app on your machine, set it first to talk to Exchange 2007 and then setup mail client of choice to talk to IMAP and SMTP on intermediary app. Not saying it wouldn't introduce some delay, but if done right, it would be "wicked helpful" If done in JAVA or "I cannot even believe I am suggesting this" .NET limited to mono supported APIs, then it could be single app for both Window and Linux users. Hit me back if you would be interested in doing something like this. I think we should call it "Mailman in the Middle".

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