Jun 23, 2012

Hooking up Thunderbird to Exchange via DavMail (I)

I wanted to write down a good way to set up Thunderbird so as to fully work with Microsoft Exchange, since this is the typical situation that many people have to overcome in Windows environments. The solution is going to be made up by DavMail as a gateway connected to Exchange, and Lightning, a Mozilla extension aimed at providing users of Thunderbird an integrated calendaring and task management tool, which may perfectly compete with Microsoft Outlook.

DavMail is a POP, IMAP, SMTP, Caldav, Carddav and LDAP gateway which allows users to use any mail or calendar as a client (for instance Thunderbird or Lightning) with an Exchange server. The unique requirement is that OWA (Outlook Web Access) or EWS (Exchange Web Services) is enabled on Exchange.

First of all, let's get started by installing DavMail (3.9.8) on Ubuntu 12.04. DavMail is not included on the official Ubuntu repositories but you can grab it from its web page. Also mention that DavMail needs Java to work.

javi@ubuntu:~$ sudo aptitude install openjdk-6-jre libswt-gtk-3-java

javi@ubuntu:/tmp$ sudo dpkg -i davmail_3.9.8-1921-1_all.deb

Now you have to run DavMail and configure it. In my case for example, I have enabled IMAP (1143), SMTP (1025), HTTP (1080) and LDAP (1389). In addition, I have also fulfilled the URL of the server (OWA).

If you want to modify the configuration of DavMail later (there is a problem with the notification icon in this version of Ubuntu in order to open the graphical screen again), you have to edit the davmail.properties file. Also say that you can check out now the new services started.

javi@ubuntu:~$ ls -l /home/javi/.davmail.properties 
-rw-rw-r-- 1 javi javi 1471 Jun 18 19:36 /home/javi/.davmail.properties

javi@ubuntu:~$ netstat -natp | grep LISTEN | grep java
(Not all processes could be identified, non-owned process info
 will not be shown, you would have to be root to see it all.)
tcp6       0      0 :::1389                 :::*                    LISTEN      2771/java       
tcp6       0      0 :::1143                 :::*                    LISTEN      2771/java       
tcp6       0      0 :::1080                 :::*                    LISTEN      2771/java       
tcp6       0      0 :::1025                 :::*                    LISTEN      2771/java

To automatically start DavMail during the booting of your Desktop, you have to set it up by adding a startup program.


  1. HOWTO- Show Davmail in panel:
    Download and intall dconf from Ubuntu Sfw Center
    Open dconf from Unity menu
    Edit to Add 'SWT' in section Desktop>Unity>Panel
    To save, change seccion or press

  2. This:
    $ gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist "['all']"

    Will do the panel trick without any extra package.