Sunday, 20 September 2009

Using Evolution with Exchange Server

Evolution is to Outlook, as Thunderbird is to Outlook Express. While Thunderbird will let you get your email from your ISP, and from Google (and sometimes, when it fecking works, hotmail), Evolution's big selling point is that it works with Exchange. Exchange being Microsoft's email server.

To get Evolution working in either Ubuntu or Arch you need to install the following packages:
evolution evolution-exchange

When you have installed these, you configure Evolution as follows:
Add an account and specify type as Exchange Server.
You then set these variables:
Receiving E-mail → Username = [domain]/[logon_name]
Receiving E-mail → OWA URL is https://[mail_server_name]/exchange
Receiving Options → Global Catalogue Server Name = [mail_server_ip_address]
Default → Sent Messages Folder = set to Exchange not Local
The system should auto find the exchange account if you click authenticate.
Public Folders are accessed by going Folder → Subscriptions, and choosing Exchange Server.
[domain] examples would be,, smoobanditprivate.local

Once you pop in your password you should find that Evolution connects and starts downloading all your mail.

However, this is buggier than a trap for Indiana Jones. Every so often, including more than once per day, it will fubar its connection to the exchange server. It either denies there is any mail, or tells you you have 3 messages in the last 3 months. Sometimes this is accompanied by an error saying that it has lost connection to the backend something or other. Sometimes not. The only way to fix this, that I have found, is to open a terminal and run these commands:
evolution --force-shutdown
cd ~/.evolution/mail/exchange
sudo rm -rfv ./[domain]
Then re-run Evolution and it will re-sync to Exchange. This is OK, unless you have something stored locally and not on the server. For instance, if you were drafting an email when the connection fubarred, then you would lose that because it would only be stored locally. Bastard.

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