December 1, 2005 8:10 AM PST

E-mail 'crucial' to future of desktop Linux

E-mail will be the most significant factor governing the uptake of Linux on the desktop, according to a new study.

The Desktop Linux Client Survey 2005, released this week by the Open Source Development Labs, found that the lack of a powerful e-mail application could hinder the adoption of Linux on the desktop.

A lack of application support is also holding back Linux, according to the survey of more than 3,300 users.

The survey was conducted by the OSDL Desktop Linux Working Group in October 2005. It found that without quality e-mail applications, Linux on the desktop was not a feasible alternative for most people because e-mail is rated as the most important application regardless of platform.

The survey results send a clear message to application vendors to focus on developing a quality e-mail application for the Linux desktop.

Novell's Evolution, a groupware client for Linux, currently provides e-mail, calendar, task and contacts functionality and can connect to Microsoft Exchange, but there are few other alternatives.

Mozilla developers are addressing this issue. The Mozilla Foundation recently published an initial road map for Lightning, the project to integrate its calendar application Sunbird with its e-mail application Thunderbird. Sunbird has been available as a separate extension for Firefox and Thunderbird for a while, but there's been little integration between calendar and e-mail functionality.

The Desktop Linux Client Survey was carried out to find the key issues driving or hindering Linux adoption on the desktop.

Peripheral support and end-user training were the other most popular reasons cited for not deploying Linux on the desktop. Some people suggested that training issues could be alleviated if Linux supported more common desktop applications such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop.

The belief that Linux is mainly used as a developer tool was shattered by the survey, which cited employer demand as the top reason for adoption, closely followed by the need to keep up with competitors using Linux. The survey suggests a cultural shift has occurred among business, with many now willing to seriously consider open source.

Licensing costs and total cost of ownership were the most popular reasons given for deploying desktop Linux, while few people cited better security as a factor.

Karen Gomm of ZDNet UK reported from London.


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Future of Linux
I recently bought a computer with Linspire on it. I wasn't sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised that it looked like Windows.

The future of Linux really is dependent on having a suite of products similar to Office as well as SUPPORT.

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Posted by (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Kmail works perfectly fine with exchange
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

The users that were sampled did not know about KDE kmail which works fine with exchange for calendaring, contacts, and messaging.

All you have to do is enable exchange IMAP protocol for messaging and calendaring. KDE KMAIL supports exchange calendaring by default and works fine with IMAP.

Finally for Address lookup, you can configure the active directory lookup by following the example in this PDF <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

Change the name to your environment. If you don't understand it, then get your systems administrator to look at it.

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Alternatives do exist for Photoshop, its called GIMP.

And for MS office alternative, you can use WordPerfect for Linux and

The reason why those applications are not available on linux, is obvious Microsoft does not want people to use an OS other than windows. Although, its a silly proposition because you can make your cash cow fatter if it was independent of the OS.

They have it for MAC OS X which is a UNIX derivative so its possible they migrate it to Linux if they wanted to.


Posted by Nael (112 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Office on Linux
"Although, its a silly proposition because you can make your cash cow fatter if it was independent of the OS."

By independent of the OS do you suggest it be rewritten in Java? Becasue that will happen any minute now I am sure.

Also, do you honestly think MS will make much money by porting to Linux...

Sure Linux has an install base close to that of OSX, but there are not 300 different OSX distros and people who use it are actually willing to spend money.

I just can't justify the cost of buying a copy of office for Linux and probably neither could you.

Why do all the Linux advocates seem so divorced from reality?
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Link Flag
IMAP is not good
I understand what your saying about using IMAP to connect to Exchange databases, but the thing is, in offices with 100 or more people IMAP slows down quickley. Its not really a viable alternatize for business offices. I tried to use it at my last company and it just didnt work out that well, it was to slow, especially when there was a lot of network activity, and sometimes the application would sit there for a minute or two to retrive a single e-mail. What Linux needs is an e-mail app just like Outlook, that runs as fast as Outlook and connects to Exchange as fast as Outlook.
I am not a fan of Microsoft products, I am a Linux user myself for desktop and server, but the one thing that they got that definitly beats everyone else is Outlook and Exchange.
Posted by ackbar212 (6 comments )
Link Flag
I run SUSE Linux on one of my 4 computers and, frankly, I've never gotten one piece of mail from it. Yes, its configured for my POP 3 acct (I think). Very frustating--to get my mail in Thunderbird, I have to go to a computer with MS Xp on it. Can't understand what I did wrong...followed all the instructions as I read them. Just a minor inconvenience. I'm still switching as soon as MS comes out with the new OS and overcharges us poor slobs just to stay current. Bill
Posted by tr400 (2 comments )
Link Flag
On the desktop? No thanks.....Give me Windows.
Actually the reason Office is not available on Linux is that no one is willing to pay for it. Microsoft have said that publically several times.

With Vista coming up next year and XP SP2 out now there is zero reason to even contemplate using a Linux desktop anyway. Linux is starting to adopt some of the kernal architecture advantages of Windows (e.g. per processor cache lists, NX support) and become more consumer friendly but it's still miles behind Microsoft. Maybe you can use Linux for well protected web servers where Linux's many security holes are not a problem, but I cant see a reason why anyone would consider it on the desktop.
Posted by richto (895 comments )
Link Flag
Wiling to consider open source?
I like the quite "with many now willing to seriously consider open source."

Wow, in like 2000 ~85% of all buisnesses were planning on using Linux to help them move forward. Here we are in almost 2006 and they are just now considering open source?

People have been considering it for a long time, but many problems like many of the same ones that exist today have prevented it in the past.

I think 1999 was the first official "year of the linux desktop". I am going to go out on a limb and say I won't be betting money on 2006 with or without exchange support in Evolution.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Artificial Issue
"Lack of groupware on Linux" is only a problem if there is an insistance on running Microsoft Exchange. If you Google "Microsoft Exchange alternatives" you will find a pretty good selection of server/client packages available with all of the tools that one would expect from Outlook/Exchange - including support for Outlook as a client, support for web clients, spam &#38; virus filtering, group calendars and more - giving administrators the ability to mix and match in their environment to meet particular needs, which is something Microsoft's secret squirrel approach to protocols makes very difficult to do with their server products.
Posted by dosquatch (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hit the nail on the head.
I believe it, until a user can have a messaging experience that rivals that of Outlook &#38; Exchange there is zero chance of Linux even coming close to 10% market penetration in businesses.

Recently I got a new computer, while I loaded Windows XP on the system I attempted to stay away from Microsoft Applications as much as possible. Instead of Outlook I loaded Thunderbird, instead of Office I used OpenOffice, of course I set up Firefox as the primary web browser.

Despite my best efforts the lack of functionality of Thunderbird forced me to install Outlook in less than a month. OpenOffice lasted several more months until I got tired enough of not being able to easily do things I used to do (like printing enveleopes) that I broke down and installed MS Office.

Without the apps &#38; user experience, Linux adoption will remain limited to niche groups, primarily in the "Micro$oft SuX0rs !!!11one" camp.
Posted by raitchison (103 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not a problem at my company
We replaced Outlook on our Windows computers with Thunderbird (with calendar addin) about a year ago. (Most of our Windows users have been on even longer)

TB was chosen because it does lack some of Outlook's functionality (specifically Outlook's ability to infect computers and spread viruses). There was almost no complaining when this occurred and there has been none since.

Our growing number of desktop Linux users use the same apps and have never had a problem. Some of our Mac users even prefer Thunderbird.

We abandoned MS Exchange for CommuniGate Pro years ago and have never looked back. IMO, the days of needing MS Windows/MS applications at many businesses are rapidly coming to an end.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
Mozilla/RedHat Enterprise Linux works just fine for me
I'm a manager in a government science lab, and my desktop is RedHat Enterprise Linux V3. I run Mozilla 's browser and email application, pointing to my Exchange server. Everything works very well, and I never have any problems with email or attachments. OpenOffice is great... opens spreadsheets, word docs, powerpoint, etc.

I'd say it is already there. We're deploying Linux thinclients to desktops now, instead of Windows systems, and saving a bundle on hardware, licensing costs, as well as manpower to follow all the Windows patches that just endlessly stream in.
Posted by (7 comments )
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What about GroupWise
Novell's GroupWise has clients for Linux, Max, and Windows. GroupWise server will run on Netware, Windows, and Linux.

What is it about GroupWise that makes everyone completly ignore it?

It runs across multiple OS's, is less susceptible to viruses and trojans than MS, and is more secure.

Am I missing something or is it the betamax of email.
Posted by dstark--2008 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Blame Novell for GroupWises failure.
The problem with GroupWise is that Novell screwed it up. Back in the mid 90s when Novell was still a major player they had a great application, but they insisted on running the groupwise server as an NLM on NetWare, just about the worst application server platform ever.

Eventually they let you run the bulk of GroupWises functions on Windows or Unix but you were still dependent on NetWare in your environment. I think that today you could actually run GroupWise in a 100% NetWare free environment but the damage is done.
Posted by raitchison (103 comments )
Link Flag
I thought Groupwise was still closed-source...
...if so, I think they're referring to pure open-source solutions. I'm wondering whether OpenXchange might eventually fit the bill.

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Posted by MercilessUnicorn (31 comments )
Link Flag
No Linux email client does POP right
I don't get all the hype about Outlook itself -- I've never used it, but not missed anything. I don't like mail programs that "phone home" (open web bugs) or propagate viruses, though. So that isn't the standard I hold things up to.

On Windows, which is my usual OS, I use Eudora. There's literally nothing on Linux that can replace it. Eudora's not perfect (it seems to get buggier with new releases; too much code bloat) but it has the best POP3 handling, and that's what's needed for people using public ISPs. I have looked far and wide for a Linux client that can do the following:

1) Fetch POP mail, Leave Mail on Server and Delete After x Days. T'bird does this now, but not Evolution. This is needed to allow "work" and "home" computers to sync up with copies of all mail.

2) Fetch POP mail and show "unread" only if it has not been fetched previously. This is pretty easy, actually, and KMail does it well, with a separate color for "fetched elsewhere but not read here" vs. "read here".

3) Delete mail selectively from the server! This is used with Eurora to get rid of the spam, so that the "Leave Mail on Server" (see 1 above) does not apply to spam. I kill the spam the first time I see it, *after* making sure my spam catcher (Eudora's is truly awful, btw) didn't get false positives. NOBODY supports this on Linux!

There are hundreds of Linux mail clients, most being vanity re-implementations of the same "easy 80% that takes 20% of the time". Maybe that's the trouble -- it's easy with open source to piece together a partial solution, but without money riding on it, nobody wants to do the grunt work. And then when you bring up a problem, the hard core devotees assume that everyone in the world is a programmer, and tell you to "code it yourself". I suppose these guys drill their own teeth and grind their own flour too.
Posted by fgoldstein (144 comments )
Reply Link Flag
re: NOBODY supports this on Linux!
SpamAssassin looks at all our incomming mail, and dumps all "Spam" in a spam folder. Using Tbird/IMAP, we look at what is in the spam folder and 99.44% we delete. The small bit that isn't spam gets the drag and drop treatment to the appropriate folder.
Posted by (21 comments )
Link Flag
E-mail?? That's the best excuse they can come up with? That's the lamest excuse ever. I read my e-mail three times a day (or more depending on how bored I am :)) but I've never used an e-mail application like Outlook or ThunderBird. I don't use Outlook because it's obvious problems with security. The default setting run all incoming ActiveX controls. Oh, I'm sure that option comes turned off by default in 2003, but I've never taken the time to find out myself.

I use Web Mail rather than e-mail apps, most ISPs now have support for Web based e-mail. The desktop email apps save all your messages locally on your machine. What happens if your HD blows up? Good luck recovering your messages.

On a closing note, the real reason why desktop Linux is not working as expected I believe is because of dependency problems. All, or most apps are distributed as code that must be compiled. But the dependencies are not distributed with the main program. You have to bust your head looking all over the Internet for the packages you need, the correct version as well, because version 1.0.10 doesn't work, it has to be 1.0.06a. Don't tell me RPMs are the solution, because they have the same problem. You have to find an RPM made for your distro and correct version of the package, which is also a pain.
Posted by Sentinel (199 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"On a closing note, the real reason why desktop Linux is not working as expected I believe is because of dependency problems. All, or most apps are distributed as code that must be compiled. But the dependencies are not distributed with the main program. You have to bust your head looking all over the Internet for the packages you need, the correct version as well, because version 1.0.10 doesn't work, it has to be 1.0.06a. Don't tell me RPMs are the solution, because they have the same problem. You have to find an RPM made for your distro and correct version of the package, which is also a pain."

I have been using linux since red hat 7(currently using SuSe10-which is outstanding by the way), and have never needed to go look for dependencies to install anything.

Isn't it funny how the FUD spreaders aren't even current, not by years.

It is like MS security(/laugh) sucks because all you need to do to circumvent someones sign-in is to make up a new one. true for win 95, not true today. Of course, MS security is only marginally better today, but that is beside the point.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
Scandal Rag Tactics
Like a scandal rag, the headline and story has nothing to do with the facts, which were that the survey found that email was the top use for Linux desktops.
This is as bad is Nicole Kidman has wooden leg, when the truth was her daughter got a splinter.
I have seen a couple articles like this of late, which come from purportedly Linux centric magazines, who also get advertising dollars from the MS camp, so maybe this is the start of a new anti Linux campaign.
Posted by Stomfi (52 comments )
Reply Link Flag
66% of respondent are from IT field with "Active" IT Role.

That make the whole study not only vertical specific but also useless for general public.

May be OSDL should find out new way of doing IT Servey, that make more sense other than sending mails on newsgroup.

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Posted by (29 comments )
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Whats wrong with Thunderbird?!?!
Yes integration with a calendar program would be nice, but for a relatively immature product it rocks!
Posted by tdurick (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why is CNET so coy about Linux numbers?
I have no opinion in the open source/Microsoft religious wars, but I find it disturbing that CNET writers withold vital facts in these articles, as though to spice up the debate. A CNET article which appeared earlier this year indicated that just 4% of new PC's were being shipped with Linux, yet the statement
"the survey...cited employer demand as the top reason for adoption, closely followed by the need to keep up with competitors using Linux. The survey suggests a cultural shift has occurred among business, with many now willing to seriously consider open source."
implies that a big shift is happening; based on the hard numbers presented earlier, that would be not just highly subjective, but rather objectively false. I think CNET writers have an obligation to honor good journalistic practice and point out when some source's data is clashing with other significant data already published.
Posted by Razzl (1318 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You used CNET and good journalism in the same sentance. :)
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
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