Friday, May 7, 2010

Making Linux Talk Microsoft live@edu

Overview

Our new mail solution will be Exchange 2010 in the form of Microsoft's Live@edu hosted environment. Sounds swell for Microsoft lovers. But, what about us Linux folk? What clients can we use to have as rich an experience as the Microsoft crowd? What to do? Sometimes, the best or only answer for users of any operating system is to use the web interface. Mostly, we'll explore the thick client options in this article.

Email

Evolution hacks seemed to work against Exchange 2007. But, all webdav has been yanked from 2010. I almost lost hope.

The best solution I've come across is Thunderbird + Lightning + xdata-provider. Lightning adds calendar functionality to Thunderbird. The xdata-provider add-on extends the Lightning to interact with the Exchange 2010 calendar. Thunderbird will speak IMAP to Exchange to fetch mail. Lightning/xdata-provider will handle the calendar.

What you'll need

  • Thunderbird
  • the Lightning add-on (available as the "lightning-extension" package in Ubuntu)
  • xdata-provider add-on for Thunderbird

Caveats

Thus far, I've had trouble editing Exchange calendar events in Thunderbird. Nor have I been able to reply (accept/decline) event invitations. Essentially, it has proven useful only for adding new events. I don't even think it has alerted me

Instant Messaging

Empathy provides Instant Messaging capabilities for your live (MSN) account.

Cloud Storage / Collaboration

As for SkyDrive, the best solution is to forget about it (until a Linux client comes along) and use DropBox. Same goes for Office Live Workspace, which will greet you with an "Windows users only" error anyhow.

A couple nice features of SkyDrive is that you can do light editing on Office documents without downloading them. The other is the SSO (single-sign-on), which saves you a click or two.

Blog / Simple Web Site.

I see no point in using Spaces, since there are better blog tools out there and this tool is in no way branded to affiliate one to UGA or any easier to use because of our agreement. Your spaces account must be unique in the spaces.live.com namespace, which already has millions of users.

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