Evolution 1.0, an e-mail client and personal information management application from Ximian Inc., is one of the slickest open-source products eWEEK Labs has reviewed, providing companies running Linux- or Unix-based desktops and workstations with a compelling analogue to Microsoft Corp.s Outlook groupware product.
However, Evolution, which began shipping in December, is just as notable for Ximian Connector for Exchange, a proprietary, licensed add-on that provides interoperability with Microsofts Exchange 2000 mail server.
In eWEEK Labs tests of a late beta version of the Exchange connector—which is set to ship in January—the add-on granted us access to the same sorts of calendaring, tasks, contact and e-mail resources that an Outlook user would enjoy.
To use the Exchange connector, however, Evolution requires that OWA (Outlook Web Access) be enabled on a companys Exchange server. Companies that choose to disable this feature on their Exchange servers for security reasons—Microsoft released OWA-related security patches in June and September—will not be able to use the Exchange connector.
Evolution is freely downloadable from Ximians Web site, and the Exchange connector will cost $69 per user. Ximian plans to extend support to Exchange 5.5 in mid-2002.
Without the connector, Evolution works with Post Office Protocol and Internet Messaging Access Protocol mail and with Unix mbox and Maildir formats. Evolution also supports Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and the iCalendar and vCard appointment and contact exchange standards.
The software works with the variety of Linux distributions on which GNU Network Object Model Environment, or GNOME, runs, as well as with Solaris 8.
Evolutions interface is similar to that of Outlook, and its feature set was likewise familiar, with facilities for tasks such as rules-based e-mail filtering.
Unlike Outlook, however, we were able to create virtual folders from the filtering rules we created. The contents of these virtual folders updated dynamically, and a particular message could appear in multiple virtual folders.
Technical Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.