Since we started using Eclipse PDT as our primary IDE at Netbasic, there is nothing stopping us from moving to use Linux (for me, specifically Ubuntu) as our operating systems.
Except for one thing… Outlook. It’s a huge drawback because, like most corporate offices, we use calendaring functions, tasks, global address books, and loads of other features on our Exchange server. I did a bit of Googling and found out that since 2007-odd, Evolution (the default mail client with Ubuntu) supports Exchange out of the box. Always wary of things like this, to check it worked, I loaded up a new Ubuntu VM and fired it up. There was a bit of confusion getting it to work, and it repeatedly asked for my password. Once it finally got it working, it slowly loaded. I tried going through a few folders, and it was repeatedly slow. I did another quick Google, and others shared the problem. I restarted Evolution and then it repeatedly asked me for password.
Essentially, it’s obviously a hack to get it working efficiently, which really isn’t what a corporate environment needs. The beauty of Outlook is that you stick in the name of the user, and it loads up everything. In any corporate environment, this is a huge stumbling block for people considering switching to Linux who use Exchange servers.
There are two solutions I see to this – fiddle with Evolution more until it works, or use VirtualBox to run a little VM of Windows with Outlook (see this guide). Personally, I wouldn’t mind running VirtualBox to do it at work, it would provide me with other advantages too…
Update 23rd Oct ’08: Well it turns out I was wrong. I’m not sure if it was simply a problem of me running it in a VM and having network issues or something, but I just tried it here at home using exactly the same settings and it actually works like a dream!
Unfortunately, I asked our tech lead, Kelvin, and I’m not allowed to install Linux on my work PC (unless it’s in a VM) due to him “being able to access stuff”… although I don’t see why not as I can set up everything just the way other networked PCs are set up in Linux. I tried to set up Ubuntu in a VM image, and supposedly VMware supports multiple monitors, but I couldn’t get it to work, so until I can convince Kelvin otherwise, I’m stuck with Windows….