I *heart* Outlook

May 19, 2006 | Comments Off

In my quest to further degrade myself in the eyes of other technical people, I’ve decided to come clean: I love Outlook. Feel better? I don’t. As we proceeded into pregnancy, our schedules became less possible to handle by memory alone. Leigha kept a schedule on her desk but it wasn’t always complete and not very accessible when we weren’t home. A similar thing was occurring with our contact information. What we needed was a shared calendar, and Outlook seemed like the easiest way to go.

I definately didn’t want to be running an Exchange server at home, so first I looked at some synchronization options. There’s a good resource list at slipstick.com. I initially went with a free trial of OfficeCalendar. To be honest, it worked relatively well. It just wasn’t *great*. And there were some glitches and it required my desktop to be on. It just felt like a dirty hack (which it was).

The last resort (before actually running Exchange) was to look for Exchange-compatible servers. It turns out there are a couple. Zimbra had a lot of potential. It was very pretty, but the Outlook plugin was vaporware. I also tried some other solution (Samsumg Contact?) that was a really bad hackjob on HP Openmail. Finally I ended up with Scalix. Pros: Free Outlook plugin, runs on Linux, came with RPMs. Cons: Only supports RHEL 3/4, Fedora Core 4. These weren’t awful cons.

First I setup an RHEL AS4 box to play around with it, and it worked REALLY nicely. Eventually I got tired of having a whole computer just for Scalix so I managed to move it onto the Debian box with a lot of imaginative symlinking. That’s pretty much it: We run Outlook on the desktops; we have a shared calendar and contact folder; the permissions all work nicely; it has offline synchronization; we have web access remotely; it all runs on the Debian server.

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