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I work with people who use Outlook and Exchange as their calendar platform. I need a calendar application that is compatible with this usage: it must connect to the Exchange server and retrieve and send meeting invitations.

The web app (which is enabled) identifies itself as Office 365. I have no control over the server. IMAP access is enabled but I'm not sure if that helps with the calendar.

The obvious answer is of course Outlook, and I do use it sometimes. However Outlook implies Windows, and I don't have Windows everywhere. The next obvious answer is the web app, but it doesn't work offline (plus its interface sucks). I also need a Linux application which:

  • connects to the Exchange server and synchronizes calendar data (so if I add or modify an appointment in Outlook, it's reflected in my Linux application, and vice versa);
  • understands Outlook contacts, including rooms for room reservations, and showing the calendar of other people (to find suitable appointment times);
  • understands recurring appointments and reminders;
  • understands the HTML that Outlook generates, and supports attachments;
  • saves data offline, so I can check my appointments on my laptop even with no wifi.

Nice to have:

  • Integrate with email, because people reply to emails with meeting invitations and vice versa.
  • Support for the task feature (have tasks show up on the calendar on their completion date, mark an email as “to be followed up” if mail is integrated).
  • Good integration of reminders in X11 desktop environments.
  • Not buggy.

I'm currently using Thunderbird with Lightning. It kind of works, but it's buggy. It often fails to synchronize modifications with the Exchange server, and it has a tendency to remind me of appointments after a random delay that ranges from a few minutes to a couple of hours (when it doesn't keep reminding me about last week's appointments).

Is there anything better?

  • 7
    I think this is one of the most prominent unsolved problems in IT ;-) We're suffering from “Groupware” at work, too… – mirabilos Feb 4 '14 at 22:56
  • I guess by lightning you mean mozilla.org/en-US/projects/calendar? – Seth Jul 27 '14 at 21:39
  • What's wrong with Outlook 2007/2010 under Wine? Also, you can use Outlook Web App offline. – mic Mar 4 '15 at 21:01
  • @user165604 Does Outlook even work acceptably under Wine? Does the license allow it? The offline webapp may be an option, please make that an answer. – Gilles Mar 4 '15 at 21:38
5

GNOME's Evolution. You might want to look at the documentation. Exchange support is likely not to be on-par with Outlook, but it may do what you need.

3

Outlook Web App

Outlook Web App requires an Office 365 account on a Microsoft Exchange Server 2013.

You might have Outlook Web App 2010, which is why the web app looks ugly for you.

OWA Calendar Old
(source: rivacrmintegration.com)

Outlook Web App 2013 should look like this instead. OWA Calendar

Outlook Web App (2013?) meets most of your requirements:

connects to the Exchange server and synchronizes calendar data (so if I add or modify an appointment in Outlook, it's reflected in my Linux application, and vice versa);

  • It connects to the Exchange server and synchronizes calendar data

understands Outlook contacts, including rooms for room reservations, and showing the calendar of other people (to find suitable appointment times);

  • Yes, like Outlook.

understands recurring appointments and reminders;

understands the HTML that Outlook generates, and supports attachments;

  • I'm not sure "HTML that Outlook generates" means. You can attach attachments from More > Insert > Attachments or OneDrive files.

saves data offline, so I can check my appointments on my laptop even with no wifi.

  • When you're offline, you can still view and edit appointments.

To enable offline access:

  1. To turn Outlook Web App offline access on or off, select one of the following, depending on the options you see:

    • Settings Settings icon > Offline settings .

    OR

    • Settings Settings icon > Options > General > Offline Settings
  2. Select or clear the Turn on offline access check box.

  3. Select OK (or Save).

When you turn on offline access in some browsers, you may see a message warning you that the website is requesting space on your disk. For the best offline experience, accept the request for space.

Your browser has to be Firefox 23+ or Chrome 24+.

  • The interface looks like neither of these, but my problem isn't that it looks ugly, it's that it sucks. In particular, it's extremely mouse-centric (even more so than Outlook). I've given it a quick look and it's improved since a couple of years ago, it now seems to have all the major features of Outlook. I'll experiment with its offline mode and look if I can get desktop notifications from it. – Gilles Mar 5 '15 at 21:49
3

I'm currently using Thunderbird with this plugin:

https://github.com/ExchangeCalendar/exchangecalendar

It's not perfect, but it's the best solution I've found so far after trying other options such as DavMail, which was far buggier and used more system resources. It's also open-source and actively developed.

Here's a snippet of the features it supports:

  • Support Exchange server 2007, 2010 and 2013 (Office365).
  • Sync Calendar, Task/Todo and Contact items from an EWS (Exchange) server.
  • Create, modify and delete calendar events and task/todo items. They will get synced immediately with the EWS server.
  • You can access any Calendar, Task or Contacts folder on your EWS server as long as you have the right primarySMTP or alias email address and enough permissions for the used user.
  • Manage “Out of Office”settings for each calendar mailbox.

http://www.1st-setup.nl/wordpress/?page_id=133

  • Unfortunately, Ericsson/exchangecalendar is no longer maintained, and it's successor ExchangeCalendar/exchangecalendar is not compatible with Thunderbird 60+ at the moment. – PVitt Aug 2 at 12:08
  • I've been using it with the latest builds of Thunderbird. From the readme: "See the releases page for preview builds of ExchangeCalendar version 5 with Thunderbird 60 support." – bmaupin Aug 5 at 19:16
  • Ah, nice, somehow I missed that. I'll give it a try right away. – PVitt Aug 6 at 10:01
1

(Broke this into three options for people.)

Option 1: DavMail

First, some background: DavMail's basically a server, written in Java, running on your local box or somewhere else. It used Outlook Web Access to get your mail, calendar, and other stuff and then re-sends them using standard protocols like IMAP, LDAP, CalDav, etc. A post with an explanatory graphic is here. Disclaimer: These instructions assume you are using Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick) with at least Java 5 installed. Installation Tutorial:

DavMail Install Tutorial

Option 2:

Also there is an app called outport that may be of use to you. http://outport.sourceforge.net/

Outport aims to be a generic program for exporting data from Outlook (Outlook + export = Outport. Original eh? :-) ) to various email/pim programs. It currently it can export to the Contact, Calendar and Task formats of Evolution, plus a number of generic formats supported by Outlook itself (Rich Text Format, HTML, vCalendar, vCard, iCalendar, etc). I've tested this with Outlook 2000 and most releases of Evolution 1.0.x and 1.2.x. I have not tested this with any other version of Outlook. I've received some reports of success with Outlook XP (and some bugs).

Option 3:

The best option I could find would be Mozilla Thunderbird and the Lightning plugin for the calendar. To use the offline mode use the command:

$ Thunderbird -offline

There has been some compatibility issues so please do the following: Use Thunderbird 24.0, Thunderbird 24.1.1 and up with Lightning 2.6.3 and up.

Links:

The sync issues with the Lightning add-on and Thunderbird is probably down to the refresh time. The default is 30 minutes. Try changing it to 10.

  • 1
    As I mention in my question, that's what I already use, and it's very buggy. – Gilles Aug 15 '14 at 19:14
  • 1
    Sorry pressed post by mistake was not done. I added the thunderbird info for others. – thepiman3.14 Aug 15 '14 at 19:17
  • 2
    The issues with Lightning have nothing to do with refresh time. I didn't know about Davmail and Outport, could you explain how to use them to solve my problem? Do you have experience using them? And please format your post in a readable way. – Gilles Aug 15 '14 at 19:33
  • Sorry buddy you are a rude individual and if my ideas are not worth reading into I bid you a good day. – thepiman3.14 Aug 15 '14 at 20:53
  • I formatted your answer (there was a syntax error that resulted in a quote being a heading). I guess the paragraph about the sync issue should be part of option 3, but wasn’t sure if it’s your intention so I didn’t move it. – unor Aug 15 '14 at 22:03
1

Outlook 2010 on Wine

Outlook 2010 (32-bit) has a silver rating on Wine under Ubuntu 14.04. Things that work according to the AppDB:

  • Tasks, calendar, and contacts
  • Exchange server connection
  • Logging in to Office 365 with cached mode enabled (doesn't connect with cached mode disabled)

Using Outlook under Wine is probably legal:

Microsoft's end-user licenses do not preclude operating their applications under other operating systems. Were Microsoft to attempt to prohibit such usage, by requiring that Microsoft products be run only on the Windows OS, they would be in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

There's nothing specifically about Microsoft Office there though.

Installing Outlook under Wine:

Use playonlinux for installing it instead; it's easier to use.

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys E0F72778C4676186
sudo wget http://deb.playonlinux.com/playonlinux_quantal.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/playonlinux.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install playonlinux

After launching PlayOnLinux, click Install and search for Microsoft Office, then select Microsoft Office 2010.

Outlook 2007 may work too, but the testers didn't test the calendar functionality. Outlook 2013 does not work.

  • 1
    I've used Outlook 2007 on Crossover (~16 or so) and it worked for email, but tends to freeze over time and the calendar functionality was read-only, I could not create events. Outlook 2013 is now supported by Crossover, but I've tried that too and it crashed a couple times on me. I'm wondering if 2010 is the way to go. (I'm using Office 365 mail and calendar.) – NuclearPeon Oct 2 '17 at 21:02

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