Open-source mail, calendar, and contact applications
Being the only one within a sea of cubicles who runs Linux can be a lonely affair. But if that sounds like you, don’t despair. There are a lot of ways you can connect your Linux system into the corporate Microsoft-centric world.
For managing e-mail, schedules, and contacts, most large corporations settled on Microsoft Exchange long ago, leading them to standardize on antivirus software as well. On Linux, you can run Evolution, a mail, calendar, and contact-list application that acts similarly to Microsoft Outlook. Evolution includes the ability to work with Exchange servers, as well as Novell Groupwise servers.
As an added benefit, the first feature listed on the Evolution home page is that is has no worms or viruses. Evolution comes with most Linux distributions such as Suse or Fedora.
For Web access, the popular Firefox browser comes standard on Linux. This same browser runs on Windows and Mac OS X. Unfortunately, though, many companies have standardized on using Microsoft Internet Explorer, and some even take active measures to violate Web standards to make pages render only in Internet Explorer.
With the User Agent Switcher extension to Firefox, you can configure Firefox to report that is really Internet Explorer 6 running on Windows XP. (This is called the user agent, or client.) This fools sites into believing you are indeed running Windows and Internet Explorer.
I have successfully used this extension to allow me to connect to a number of corporate internal Web sites, sites written to only support Internet Explorer. The user agent support in Firefox isn’t perfect. You cannot run ActiveX controls, for example. In addition, corporate sites that were designed to only display on Internet Explorer can sometimes render incorrectly under Firefox. The technical name for such sites is braindead.
The Opera Web browser also runs on Linux.
For messaging, you can run any of a number of messaging clients, some devoted to only one messaging protocol, such as MSN. The most popular Linux messaging client, Gaim, supports most available protocols within a single application. In fact, some Windows messaging clients, such as Miranda , use the Gaim libraries to support various messaging protocols such as AOL, Yahoo!, MSN, and so on.
For working with documents, the excellent OpenOffice.org suite runs on Linux, and comes with most Linux distributions. This suite will handle pretty much any PowerPoint, Excel, or Word document that comes your way. You can also create PDF files from within OpenOffice.org.
As a catch-all for everything else, you can run the Windows environment itself under Linux. This allows you to run quite a few Windows applications natively under Linux. The base software, called WINE, runs many Windows applications on Linux on systems with x86 processors such as Intel or AMD chips.
There’s a database GNOME of Windows applications and their status running under WINE.
In an office environment, you may want to look at CrossOver Office . Built on top of WINE, this commercial product includes enhanced support for Microsoft Office, Lotus Notes, and Quicken, among other business applications.
As an added feature, you can run many Windows-only Web plugins under Linux using this software.For the gamers, Cedega provides enhanced Windows application support with a focus on gaming. Many users stick to Windows just for the wide number of available games. With Cedega, you may be able to run your Windows game under Linux. –Eric Foster-Johnson