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Linux Software Technology

Linux Desktop Email Key to Success 478

littlepill writes "It looks as though email clients are vital for Linux to succeed in the desktop battle. ZDNet says, "the lack of a powerful email application could hinder the adoption of Linux on the desktop". So, even though Novell's Evolution is one viable and valid product, it seems that there is a clear "message to application vendors to focus on developing a quality email application for the Linux desktop"." I'm unconvinced- I think webmail will soon be replacing client side readers for all but power users.
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Linux Desktop Email Key to Success

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  • by ChipMonk ( 711367 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @03:12PM (#14159420) Journal
    It doesn't let you work on email off-line. Also, bringing your messages to your local machine makes them somewhat easier to protect. Are you worried about someone reading your email? Disconnect from the 'net.

    (No, it isn't the perfect solution. But I trust my system more than I trust my ISP.)
  • Prefer thunderbird (Score:5, Interesting)

    by viniosity ( 592905 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @03:14PM (#14159445) Homepage Journal
    I've used both Thunderbird and Evolution extensively. In fact, my company has asked me to recommend a mail client going forward if/when we do switch to linux. Hands down Thunderbird is the winner. Here's why:

    1. Evolution deletes mail by putting it into a virtual folder and hiding the original message in your inbox. This is ok and seamless to the end user UNLESS you happen to also use webmail. In which case your inbox will be cluttered by messages you thought you'd gotten rid of ages ago. The evolution team has flat out refused to address this issue and has been calling this 'not a bug' (which is true) since 2001.

    2. Same as above but for Junk Mail.

    3. Finding unread messages in Evolution is difficult. Sorting in general is more flexible in Thunderbird IMHO.

    4. Thunderbird is cross-platform. From a corporate standpoint this has let me train the entire staff on Thunderbird before installing linux on any workstation. Once linux is installed, they will be using all their familiar apps but without the viruses, spyware, and blue screens of death.

    5. Thunderbird will eventually get calendaring as part of Mozilla Lightning. While that's probably years away, I am patient and hopefuly that this will allow us to eventually get back full exchange-type functionality. Regardless, the calendar is not critical for our office.

    Evolution does have some great features, notably beagle integration which I would love love love to see in Thunderbird. Unfortunately I don't have the needed talent to make that happen..

    I always try really hard to use evolution because of beagle integration and I always end up going back to Thunderbird which I feel is a good enough client to satisfy the typical corporate desktop. At least for small businesses who don't need the calendar.

  • Don't think so (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 01, 2005 @03:14PM (#14159446)
    I don't think Email client is the main problem that may leave Linux failing on the desktop. I would agree that web based email is looking pretty good to take over, but linux on the desktop, in my opinion, isn't being adopted because it isn't being used at an early age (ie. MS in schools, MS Word files being required for term papers).
  • by algae ( 2196 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @03:17PM (#14159501)
    Much as I'd like to use Evolution, it's got a few show-stopping problems:

    * Leaving POP3 mail on the server is all-or-nothing. I'd like to see the "delete after X days", "delete after it's gone from the inbox" options that have existed in other POP3 clients for the past ten years or so.

    * Displaying large messages is slooooow. As a sysadmin, I regularly deal with 1-5MB log files in my email. If I have to wait 30 seconds each for them to display, I'm not gonna use that program.

    * No advanced search. You can't search more than a single mailbox at a time.

    On the upside, the GPG integration is better than any other mail client I've used. Still, until they can deal with these fairly basic problems/lack of features, it's a no-go.
  • Re:HUH? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SparafucileMan ( 544171 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @03:19PM (#14159521)
    they're calling for an exact clone of Outlook. they're not looking for power or the next big thing, like Taco. they just want it to work like windows for gods sakes so that businesses can use it without fear their employees will burn down the office.
  • by courtarro ( 786894 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @03:28PM (#14159650) Homepage
    You're a power user; that's why the editorial made the distinction. I have two close friends who use Gmail and refuse to entertain the idea of checking it using POP with an app like Thunderbird. They love the webmail interface and don't seem to mind setting it as their homepage to facilitate easy checking. Offline browsing used to be a necessity when you paid hourly for internet access, but so many people consider their internet connection a permanent fixture and don't worry about the negatives of downtime or a possible catastrophic host failure that deletes all their archives. Besides, with all the spyware worries and people's distrust of their own computer, non-power users are probably more likely to trust Google or Yahoo with their email data anyway.

    In most cases, I've had a pretty difficult time explaining the POP paradigm to less tech-savvy folks anyway. Before I manage to fix things, they don't understand why their friends are getting bounced emails about "full accounts" when their local inbox in OE is empty. Gmail and other webmail services remove that confusion and additionally provide the feature that the email-checking experience is roughly identical on any machine they use to check their mail. Non-power users simply don't consider it worth the effort to use a local mail reader.

  • by loftwyr ( 36717 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @03:31PM (#14159677)
    6. Lack of easy spam filtering. Evolution uses server (if any) spam filters. Trying to hook up Evolution to spamassasin was a pain as you only got the yes/no filter option without the SA headers being used. If I wanted to autodelete spam with a high rating, I was out of luck. Add that to 2, which made training a pain, I got upset fast.

    7. Evolution Palm integration sucks. Without the simplest things like category exchange, you end up with XXX entries in the address book with no easy way to keep different types separate.

    I gave up on it until the dev team realize that they're needs aren't the needs of the general public and certainly aren't the needs of the business user.
  • Re:AJAX+Webmail (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @03:32PM (#14159693) Journal
    I do agree that for most individuals, web mail solutions will reign supreme. However, for corporate purposes, even if accessing email occurs over web clients, the fact remains that it will have to be an internal system. I can't imagine even a moderate-sized operation putting their internal communications in the hands of, say, Hotmail.

    I would dearly love to see something like SquirrelMail expanded to include fully functional centralized calendars and contact management. I could probably drop Exchange/Outlook and all the woes that come along with them, but calendaring and contact management are the chief requirements.

  • Re:HUH? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @03:56PM (#14159921)
    Q: Where are the "decent groupware servers running open protocols"?

    A: They don't exist. I work at an IT shop that supports over 40,000 users and we went out of our way to find a solution that would scale out and provide the capability to serve email & calendaring. The Outlook/Exchange combo was by far the best solution.

    There are plenty of good email servers out there. But there aren't alot of good, robust calendar servers out there that are price competitive with Exchange. And if you need shared mailboxes, delegates, etc... the solutions are either too complicated or don't work well at all.
  • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @04:08PM (#14160056)
    I'm not sure that Evolution's Exchange performance problems can be fixed.

    If Novell uses anything other than the OWA interface to access Exchange, you're starting to tread on shaky licensing ground where Microsoft will demand that you purchase CALs for machines connecting to the Exchange server.

  • Re:E-mail or more? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NardofDoom ( 821951 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @04:09PM (#14160083)
    That's also BS. My boss was amazed that, for the first time ever, someone accepted the 'invitations' that get sent out when he schedules meetings in Outlook. Why? Because I was running OS X and Mail opened the event, added it to iCal, and responded to it. I tried the same thing in Thunderbird with the Calendar extension, and it worked the same.
  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @04:18PM (#14160174) Homepage

    E-mail. You e-mail me a note suggesting a meeting at a certain time, I look at my schedule and what the meeting's about and either shoot you an acceptance and mark it on my calendar, suggest a different time or just send back a regrets-decline note. The advantage is that this works no matter which e-mail clients and calendar system each of us is using, and works when I have priorities and things on my schedule that you aren't supposed to be aware of.

  • Re:E-mail or more? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by div_2n ( 525075 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @04:40PM (#14160368)
    Which version of Thunderbird and Calendar? Last I checked (last night), the Calendar extension AND iCal weren't compatible with the latest and greatest versions including 1.5.
  • Re:E-mail or more? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Crayon Kid ( 700279 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:11PM (#14160710)
    Yeah, that's poorly worded -- there are very, very powerful email apps for the Linux Desktop, beyond the emacs/vi/mutt/pine crowd, there's Evolution and Thunderbird (which is my email app of choice). What they really mean is a full Outlook/Exchange groupware system; and there are projects that are working on that as well.

    I agree with you about the distinction between email and groupware. But may I add that I wouldn't exactly call Evolution or Thunderbird "powerful".

    If you really want something for the powerusers, I'm thinking something more along the lines of Sylpheed Claws []. It has been ported to Windows, too.
  • by drakaan ( 688386 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @06:00PM (#14161298) Homepage Journal
    Exactly right. If Evolution could talk to Exchange the same way that Outlook does, though (rather than via OWA, which doesn't always work right), I could probably get my clients to use it based on price and usability.

    If they can't get to their mail because the web server's bogged down, they will definitely be upset about it.

  • by rsax ( 603351 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @08:06PM (#14162240)
    I've itched about this before as well - Thunderbird very well could blow away Outlook in many organizations, but the CALENDAR *SUCKS*

    It's not just the calendar. Can you maintain a shared contact list or multiple lists on a server using Thunderbird? Before someone mentions an LDAP directory keep in mind that you can't modify those LDAP contacts from within Thunderbird itself. Unless I'm missing some hidden feature.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun