At $work, the official email solution is Outlook on Windows, connected to an Exchange server. That's problematic for people with Linux on their desktop machine.

The Exchange server supports IMAP, and e-mail works fairly well using the usual suspects, e.g. Thunderbird. It also provides the web mail interface, which is fairly crap unless you use IE. (Any other favorite e-mail clients?)

The biggest problem is the Outlook Calendar. I still have found no viable Linux client that can replace it.

Any recommendations?

  • The iPhone and ActiveSync ?-) – tomjedrz May 27 '09 at 17:02
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    Sadly, I solve this with vmware and an XP VM. – sysadmin1138 May 27 '09 at 17:09
  • I'm doing it with vmware too. You might want to look at this question: serverfault.com/questions/5076/… – ehogue May 27 '09 at 17:15
  • Product recommendation questions are off topic per the updated ServerFault FAQ. – sysadmin1138 Oct 1 '12 at 21:39

11 Answers 11


Evolution can communicate with the Exchange server.

To connect to the Exchange 2007 server, you need to install the mapi-exchange package. http://library.gnome.org/users/evolution/stable/usage-mainwindow-starting.html.en#second-step


Thunderbird with the Lightning extension. I use this combination via DavMail gateway to get seamless access to Exchange. Works perfectly (and is much better/faster than Outlook 2007).

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    I've found that DavMail (or maybe Lightning?) has some problems interpreting some repeating schedules correctly. Right now, I have a notice that payday is every day. (Would that it were so.) – wfaulk Apr 14 '10 at 20:56

Have you tried Evolution? I used it for a while against an exchange server, and had no problem with calendar items.

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    The Exchange Evolution Connector works against Exchange 2003 or older. Exchange 2007 is another animal, and there isn't any fully stable way to access the calendar yet. – sysadmin1138 May 27 '09 at 17:11

Get your Exchange admins to upgrade to Exchange 2010. The web client is actually usable in Firefox, in fact it's almost identical to the experience in IE.

  • +1 for the OWA-2010. However such an upgrade may not be easy and certainly not always affordable. – adamo Nov 4 '10 at 6:08
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    That's not a 'just go and upgrade' that you're mentioning... The database and security models are vastly different between E2k3/E2k7 and E2010. Not to mention the licensing costs. Chances are that a decision has already been made whether or not to upgrade or skip this version. – gWaldo Nov 4 '10 at 6:08
  • In an ideal world this would be great... but migrating to Exchange 2010 is actually quite an expensive task, both in money and required work. – Massimo Jun 22 '11 at 16:27

If you want to use Lightning with Thunderbird, you could try installing this extension: http://gitorious.org/lightning-exchange-provider/pages/Home

It's worked fine for me so far. :)


Evolution is probably your best bet, presuming you can find a build that works on whatever your standardized distribution is.


Is there something wrong with the calendaring support in OWA (besides the poor support for shared calendars)? It should work fine with Firefox in Exchange 2007.


I've been looking for something like this for awhile. My office has been on Exchange 2010 and I've been just barely managing with IMAP. Today I Googled around again and gave it another try.

Apparently Evolution has improved their Exchange support. Check out the newer versions of Evolution and their exchange-mapi plugin. It didn't use to work for me, but I just tried it in Ubuntu 12.04 Beta 2 and it worked!

I followed this guide:


It appears that they are also working on an EWS-based plugin that will replace this MAPI plugin for the future:




Best solution:

Thunderbird 15 + the next plugins:

Lightning 1.7

ExQuilla for MS Exchange 16

Exchange 2007/2010 Calendar and Tasks provider 3.0.0-rc3

Does not require DavMail server (I could not configure davmail), does not require Wine, does not require VirtualBox+Outlook. Configuration of a new Exchange email account via ExQuilla is easy, so is the configuration of a new Exchange Calendar via Lightning and the Exchange Calendar. Just fill in the correct email address and the URL of the Exchange server during config.

The URL should be like https://blablabla.com/EWS/Exchange.asmx

Mail sync and Agenda Calendar events sync works fine, and I also discovered how to do Tasks synching by adding another Exchange agenda. So create two Exchange agenda's, edit the Exchange properties of these agenda's and set BaseFolder to 'Calendar Map' in the first Agenda, and to 'Tasks Map' in the second Agenda.


I was in the exact same boat. You've certainly found that Linux is a viable OS but you will run into snags when trying to connect to Exchange. Evolution will be your best bet but I don't think you'll be incredibly happy. Running Windows/Outlook on a virtual machine is a viable solution but it's a bit of a pain when you need to open links or attachments and want to do it on the Linux side. I ran an XP virtual machine on VMWare for a few incarnations of Ubuntu but recently rebuilt with Win7 RC1. Definitely play with it and see what suits you, but I found that it's best to play with Linux on the servers until I find a better challenger to Outlook.

  • I cannot see how this answers the question. – Zayne S Halsall Jun 28 '14 at 6:37

You could always run Outlook in Linux using one of the Wine-based commercial solutions:


Crossover is a great choice because paying for it indirectly helps Wine development. Plus, there's a free trial, so you can try before you buy.

I should mention that Outlook 2010 isn't supported by either of those options right now, but Outlook 2007 should get the job done even with Exchange 2010.

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