Exchange alternative good enough for prime time?

Carl Youngblood carl at youngbloods.org
Sat Mar 4 19:06:30 MST 2006


I'm wondering if it's possible to use completely open-source technologies
speaking to Outlook to reproduce the experience of MS Exchange.  I have
heard that you can use WebDAV and LDAP to replace the contact management and
shared calendar features in Outlook, and of course you can use IMAP for
email.  Has anyone taken all these steps and can report on their
success/failure?  Are there any other client apps out there that are good
enough for prime time that incorporate mail/calendar sharing/contact
management all in one package and run on windows?  I have done some research
and found some candidates, all of which are in a very alpha phase of
development:

Chandler
http://chandler.osafoundation.org/

Thunderbird with Lightning integrated cal/task features:
http://wiki.mozilla.org/Calendar:Lightning

Evolution for Windows
http://evolution-win32.sourceforge.net/

Does anyone know of any good other options?  It also seems like some of
these apps still lack some key integration between the various components,
such as the ability to email an appointment to someone and have it
automatically added to your respective calendars when the recipient agrees
to meet.

It's strange to me that this lynchpin of the corporate world
(collaboration/groupware) seems as yet to be untouchable by the open source
community.  It seems that more difficult projects have already been
developed and surpassed the popularity of proprietary alternatives, but this
area is still in its infancy.  I would love to be proven wrong, but I've
just gone through the process of changing our office over to Thunderbird
because the CEO was interested in saving money and said they weren't using
calendaring and contact features anyway, only to discover that they were
using these features and actually just didn't know what they were called
:-)  There's been general griping throughout the office, and the bottom line
is we're fleeing back to MS Exchange and Windows Small Business Server
2003.  I figured maybe someone with more experience than I might have
succeeded at this and would love to hear your stories.

Cheers,
Carl



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