Monday, 10 September 2007

Nobodys Working #3

I've finally got some time to update on Merak.

How is it shaping up compared to Exchange 5.5?

This isn't going to be straightforward. Providing you use Outlook 2002 or higher, connect to the mail server via IMAP and install the connector plugin (which gives you the calendar functionality) then the functionality appears to be very close to what you would get with Exchange.

I'm going to have to check our licenses, but I think we've got enough Exchange 2000 CALs for the users here to allow them to use Outlook 2002.

The web client works very much like Outlook, as long as you go to http://servername:32000/mail. If you go to http://servername:32000/webmail you get a different interface! Just logging straight onto http://servername:32000 used to take you to the first interface, now it takes you to the second one. And I've absolutely no idea why.

The admin tools, although nice to use, do seem to be missing some functionality (such as mailbox aliases) but it could just be that I haven't found out how Merak does it. (Update: According to the Merak website it does do aliases - it just doesn't tell you how.)

Right, I'm off to play with Merak's Instant Messaging functionality. More later.

. . . .

That didn't take too long. Merak supports the Jabber protocol - so any IM client that supports Jabber should work with it. I used Spark which really seems to work rather well.

. . . .

Final bit for today - looking for an alternative to Outlook, which also supports calendars.

After a bit of a hunt, Thunderbird comes out as a possible solution. In fact, Thunderbird is recommended on the Marek website. Getting everything working, on the other hand, is rather less straight forward.

The instructions were, as usual, less than helpful. In fact, to get the calendar functionality working you also need to use the Lightning plugin. Now, this isn't the full story either. According to Marek's documents you should be able to connect to the calendar using the syntax http://servername/WebDAV and then use your full email address for the user name.

This doesn't actually work. Lightning doesn't have anywhere to enter your details. It turns out that you'll need to enter the following: http://username:password@servername:32000/WebDAV. The calendar syncs automatically with the server, and any changes made locally are immediately synced with the server.

Once you've set up Thunderbird to use IMAP for the email protocol and Lightning for the calendaring functions (providing you don't need shared calendars) then you've actually got a pretty nice cross-platform replacement for Outlook.

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