Linux is a wonderfully diverse system that has a lot of potential benefits over Windows such as security, speed and specialist software. However, there are times that a user will rely on Microsoft products for their workflow, and these tools aren’t always compatible with Linux. One such problem is using Microsoft Exchange.
Exchange provides the continual connection to an email inbox running on Windows Server, or now Office 365, in the cloud. The mailbox will be mirrored on the server, just as it would with an IMAP protocol. The difference is that IMAP will poll the server at a set time and this immediacy makes Exchange a good choice for businesses and priority users.
What About Linux?
Not everyone who uses Microsoft services wants to use Microsoft Windows. Linux users have some strict choices when it comes to accessing Exchange.
The most common and easiest way to access Exchange is via your web browser. Although this is platform agnostic, it is a method that Linux users can utilize in a pinch. Simply go to the website, and enter your credentials just as you would for any email client or webmail service.
Hiri is software that seamlessly connects to Exchange. It has its own rich client for Windows, Mac and Linux and gives you full control over your email. Hiri also allows contact and calendar syncing, so this can be a good choice for businesses where scheduled meetings and events are required.
A potential downside to Hiri is that it is a paid service. Although they offer a full seven-day trial, users are looking at a $39 annual charge or $119 for a lifetime subscription in order to continue with their connections. This may seem low when considering the benefits, but for small businesses with around ten employees, those costs can mount up. Hiri is also closed source, which for open source purists can pose an ethical problem.
ExQuilla is a plugin that is available for Mozilla’s Thunderbird platform. It provides access to message reading and contacts in Thunderbird for users of Microsoft Exchange Server version 2007 and later. It can be downloaded directly from the website, or you can install it from inside the Thunderbird client.
Previously, the plugin was a paid service and required a license. However, since March 2018, and with version 60 and above of Thunderbird, the service is trial-based. As quoted on the site, “ExQuilla is not free software but is licensed on an annual basis. New users are granted a free 60-day trial license automatically.”
More information can be found on the project GitHub page and will provide useful tips and assistance should users run into any problems with installation.
Another option is to use Evolution which is commonly found in the repositories of most Linux systems and within GNOME. I will use Ubuntu as a guide to installing this, but your package manager should be able to install it.
Open a Terminal and type in the following:
sudo apt-get install evolution-ews
Once it is finished, open Evolution and follow the prompts onscreen. If this is a new install, simply add the account; otherwise, click “Edit,” navigate to “Preferences” and then click “Add.”
Enter your details as follows:
- E-mail: your e-mail address
- Password: your e-mail account password
- Username: your e-mail address once more
- Server: outlook.office365.com
These details may differ depending on how the server or service is set up. Check with your administrator as applicable.
Which is your favorite method of connecting to Exchange, and if you don’t use the service at all, what do you use? Let us know in the comments section below.
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