For many users, Outlook is the de facto standard email client...if you're on Windows. And why not? It's an all-in-one groupware suite that can manage your email, your calendar, your tasks, your contacts, and much more. It's easy to use and, for the most part, reliable. But what if I told you there was a better solution, on the Linux platform, that can do nearly everything Outlook can do? On top of that, it can even connect to an Exchange Server! AND, there is a version for Mac and Windows.
The groupware client I am speaking of is Evolution. This Microsoft Outlook killer was created by Miguel De Icaza to serve as the GNOME groupware suite. Evolution will be automatically installed on any modern GNOME desktop, so there's no need for you to do any further installation - Evolution is there and ready to blow your mind.
Evolution offers the following features:
- Shared (and private) calendars
- Contact management
- Support for S/MIME
- Pidgin integration
- SpamAssassin integration
- Fully GNOME integration
- Offline IMAP support
- Integrated GPG
- Support for Groupwise and Evolution built in
- Multiple account support
As you can see, Evolution offers everything you would want/need in a groupware suite. To top that off, the interface is very user-friendly.
To open up Evolution look in the Internet entry in the GNOME start menu. In that entry you should see the Evolution shortcut. When you fire up Evolution for the first time you will have to walk through a very simple setup wizard. This wizard will set up your default email address. Don't worry, once you have completed the set up you can go back into accounts and set up as many email accounts as you wish.
Evolution will default to the Mail application. As you can see, in the image to the right, The Evolution Mail client looks very familiar. The Evolution UI was created in such a way that users would have an instant familiarity. If you have used Outlook, the learning curve is practically /dev/null.
And Evolution is very easy to configure. From the Edit menu you will find the Preferences entry. Click that and the Preferences window will open up offering you every possible configuration you will need. The Preferences window is also where you add new accounts.
In order to set up a new account you only have to click the Add button and proceed through the setup wizard again.
Another feature unique to Evolution is the plugin system. If you open the Edit menu you will see the Plugin entry. When you click on this entry you will open up the plugin window where you can enable/disable various plugins included with Evolution. But don't think you are limited to only the included plugins. Doing a Google search you will see that there are quite a few worthy plugins to add. One such plugin is an RSS reader for Evolution. Some of these plugins (like the RSS reader) can be installed easily. In Fedora I simply run yum install evolution-rss and the plugin is automatically installed.
The image to the left shows the gHacks RSS feed in Evolution. An outstanding news feed read in an outstanding groupware client.
I have been using Evolution since it's beta release days. It was an incredible piece of software from the beginning and remains an incredible piece of softare. If you are looking for an open source groupware suite, it is time you evolved.
Update: The Evolution website is no longer available, and we have removed the link pointing to the website as a consequence.