Sunday, May 05, 2002

Living without the "Microsoft Tax"

Potential MS-Office Replacement:

Yesterday I downloaded and installed I must admit that this stuff by far exceeded my expectations. I expected some buggy, slow software, with lots of nice MS-Office functionality missing, and odd user interface. Well, not so. This stuff is surprisingly fast (I think it's faster than MS Office), didn't crash so far, nice UI, reads MS-Office documents without messing them up too much, I found every functionality I've looked for so far... word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing. What's missing is the Outlook piece, i.e. Email, Calendar, ToDo, Contacts.

Today I've been doing some Research on Cross-Platform Email Server and Client Software.

Email Servers:

What's really nice is the modular architecture of Postfix/Qmail and Courier. You can use Postfix/Qmail to receive/send email and store the Email in user directories in a standard "Maildir" format. Then you can use other software to provide IMAP, POP3 or HTTP access to this data.

Email Clients supporting IMAP and LDAP:

  • Mozilla (Open Source, currently RC1, no calendar)

  • Ximian Evolution (Open Source but Linux only, includes calendar, an Exchange 2000 connector is available for $69 per seat)

The well-known programs Eudora and Pegasus Mail are both available for Windows and MacOS only, Ximian is available on Linux only. So there's only Mozilla left, however it does only email and news, no calendar. That's really a bit sad. In summary, if the calendar is a must, you have to use Exchange Server 2000 as back-end and then Outlook for Windows clients and Ximian with Exchange Connector for Linux clients. If you can live without the calendar (at least for a while), use Mozilla with any IMAP/LDAP back-end and hope that Mozilla will add the calendar soon.