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In my previous post on using Fedora on my Dell Precision 5520, I described some of my experiences in using Fedora on that laptop. This is a quick update on those experiences.

Fedora 27

Since the previous post, I have updated Fedora to version 27. The update was very smooth using the command line instructions from Fedora Magazine--by the way, I really enjoy many of Fedora Magazine's articles.

In general, Fedora 27 has been a solid release and very usable. I have found some bugs here and there, but some of those are more with the upstream projects than with Fedora 27 itself, I suspect.


In my quest to become independent of macOS and my Mac (and not have to transition to Windows either), one of the key pieces of software I have used as an Microsoft Outlook replacement is GNOME's Evolution software.

Probably over 10 years ago now, I tried Evolution on our corporate network and things did not go well at all--I tried moving some e-mail around and Evolution decided to resend the email instead of just moving it--even e-mail that I had not originally sent. Thankfully something failed in the process and only 10 or so e-mails were sent out, though, a few had some wide distribution, to my embarrassment. It very well could have been user error, but the whole experience didn't give me confidence that I could actually use Evolution on a regular basis to get mission-critical work done.

Fast forward to today and Evolution has worked very well, despite having an incredibly large Inbox on the organization's Exchange server (imagine 45,000 or more e-mails at its peak). Borrowing the settings from my Mac with regard to server settings, the transition to using Evolution on Fedora 27 was fine.

One annoyance I have had for weeks or a few months is that I would get regular warnings and error messages that Evolution needed to reconnect to various Exchange resources. This has been very annoying and I started to consider some other e-mail client alternatives until I was trying out some other desktop environments other than GNOME--specifically, I tried Plasma (by KDE), Xfce and MATE. When using Plasma or Xfce, all of a sudden, Evolution didn't have any connection problems--how weird! I finally broke down and submitted a bug report to the Red Hat Bugzilla site and have been getting assistance from Milan Crha, who appears is listed as a maintainer for Evolution on the main web site.

After some back and forth, it turns out that the problem was glib-pacrunner and not Evolution at all. Basically, it appears that if I use the Automatic Proxy script approach for defining a proxy when I am behind the corporate firewall, glib-pacrunner, which handles proxy queries for GNOME applications will occasionally crash. When I use manually set proxy settings in GNOME, I don't have the problem any more.

I regularly use S/MIME encryption and decryption as a part of every day use. Like in the days of Mac Office 2011, at the moment, I have to export the public certificates for people that I need to encrypt mail to and then import those into Evolution. While we have a directory server that serves the public encryption certificates for people at the organization and sister organizations, there hasn't been an easy way to just automatically find and use the certificates with GNOME. For now, I am using Apache Directory Studio to learn about how our directory is structured and to export public encryption certificates for sending people encrypted e-mail. While this does not have the convenience of Mac Office 2016, which can directly import the certificates on demand, I send encrypted e-mail frequently but to a rather limited list of people so this approach is managable.

As I mentioned above, I tend to have a gigantic Inbox on the Exchange server (with 40,000+ e-mails). Despite this, Evolution works pretty well, which is impressive. That isn't to say there are some times where things a little slow, but I suspect most e-mail clients would have that problem.

Evolution also has access to my Exchange calendars, to-do lists, contacts, and notes. They all seem to work well and interoperate fine with Exchange.

All in all, except for the inconvenience of having to occasionally import mail encryption certificates manually, Evolution has been quite stable and an incredibly productive tool for me. The default fonts and some other interface features can probably be improved, though, it was interesting to see Evolution run under Plasma and Xfce, sometimes with better font settings than what I run under GNOME.

If you are curious, there is a Evolution Exchange Web Services (evolution-ews) feature parity matrix that gives you some insight into what Evolution can do.