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Steve Carl

Daily DAVMail

Posted by Steve Carl Oct 21, 2010

DAVMail's the best, and right now, only way I have found to access my MS Exchange email from Linux other than using the web interface. I have written about it many times here.


If your MS Exchange admins turn off WebDAV in Exchange 2007, or if you have Exchange 2010, DAVMail quits working with its default settings, You have to place it into EWS mode. That is simple enough, as all you have to do is install 3.8.5 or later of DAVMail, and then manually enable EWS by editing in your home directory. Here are the top few lines of mine:


#DavMail settings
#Thu Oct 14 15:26:57 CDT 2010

#DavMail settings

#Thu Oct 14 15:26:57 CDT 2010







Easy enough. However, there is a reason that EWS is not enabled by default, or even an option someplace in the GUI, and that is that it is not done yet: According to the roadmap, it is meant to be fully baked by 4.0.


It is working very well for me for email, but the calendaring is pretty iffy at times: I get timeout messages, and most of the time the calendar is not displayed, forcing me back to the web interface for now when I need to calendar.


I would be annoyed, but 1) It is very clear the EWS feature is not ready yet and they never said it was, and that most of the work being done right now is around the calendar and 2) It is being worked on, which is more than I can say about some of the other projects I have tracked over the years on this.


Really: Want to calendar / email from Linux? Way way way easier if it is someplace like Google, and maybe that is the point. Maybe the future of email / calendaring is the cloud, and in-house MS Exchange is not getting any significant attention from the Linux community because they see it as wasted time and effort. Could be. Bigger companies seem to be staying with in-house email right now though, and a pretty big chunk of that is MS Exchange, so I am glad to have this way in.


My problem then was how to test more current versions of DAVMail than were on the released list: The mail list made it clear there was daily activity there, and I was getting impatient waiting for it to spin out to the SourceForge download site as point releases. I kept seeing daily fixes that looked interesting and potentially helpful.


In the mail list I also kept reading that it was easy to build from source the daily updates, so I decided to try it. This web page contained the main bits of knowledge:



Beyond this, I had to 'apt-get install' Subversion (svn), Ant and the Java JDK (rather than the JRE I previously had):


ii  ant                                       1.8.0-4                                         Java based build tool like make
ii  ant-optional                        1.8.0-4                                         Java based build tool like make - optional libraries
ii  sun-java6-jdk                     6.22-0ubuntu1~10.10                 Sun Java(TM) Development Kit (JDK) 6
ii  subversion                          1.6.12dfsg-1ubuntu1                  Advanced version control system
ii  subversion-tools                 1.6.12dfsg-1ubuntu1                  Assorted tools related to Subversion


All this is Ubuntu 10.10, but would work on any Linux, given the right packages and pre-reqs. DAVMail works far better with the Sun provided Java rather than the other versions that are appearing in the various distros right now. While it is easy to get the Sun Java going in Ubuntu, it is not always as simple as it could be in some of the distros. In Fedora for example the "Unofficial Fedora Guide" is a big help.


Depending on your distro, this might be the most difficult part of the install, or it may be a simple apt-get. I would also imagine that this is something that will change with time, as the open JDK's get more compatible, or as the Java community starts writing code to match the open versions rather than Sun's. I don't really follow this area closely, so I have no idea which way that wind is blowing. All I know is that right now, the Sun version works better with DAVMail.


Once the tools are in, it is simple to get a daily build going. Here is my simple script for that (I created the svn subdirectory in my home directory first):


cd ~/svn

svn checkout davmail

cd ~/svn/davmail


cd ~/svn/davmail/dist

sudo dpkg -i *.deb


All this takes about 15 seconds on my Dell M4500 before I am entering the password for 'sudo'. Easy to run every day, and so far I have seen no issues with being bleeding edge current. If I do, I'll probably add a bit of code to keep the last version "just in case". In the meantime, I'll keep testing the calendar with Evolution and post here when it starts working reliably.


That will be a great day.

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