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Accessing MS Outlook and Access Database in Linux Mandrake

Posted on 2004-03-22
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Our company is desperate to change to a Linux OS rather than windows and have just installed Linux Mandrake 9.1.  We need to use our existing Access client database in Linux and have had limited success with Office CrossOver software.  It enables us to access the Database but has various "glitches" with things like fil search and mail merge.    We are also looking to access our Outlook mail (with no success), is their a way to do this.  (We will eventually look at converting fully to Linux replacements, but as a company need to bridge this transition).
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Question by:essentialhealth
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by:Gns
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Apart from CrossOver Office (and perhaps the alternative to keep a "server" in windoze and do something interesting with UnixODBC)... I think you are looking at converting your access dbs to something different. Free alternatives like MySql and Postgresql with some scruipting for the frontend could perhaps replace it/them? If you do it like a web app... your current brew of windoze clients would benefit from it too.

Evolution should be able to talk "seminative" with M-Sexchange. For locally stored Outlook stores... Things are a bit more bleak. If you do have an exchange server, enabling IMAP in it will make any linux emailclient app work for you.

-- Glenn
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by:essentialhealth
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What would the "interesting" thing be to do with UnixODBC? We are willing to convert the access database, but are looking for a "transfer" type program to take across all fields and associations.  Our company is insurance so information is too sensitive, we feel, to have it as open as a local web app.  

We have investigated IMAP, but are confused as to the setup and how our email share would be configured!  (Remember you are dealing with people who have been running Outlook and have shared emails via Questers Outlook Folders for the past year. http://www.outlookfolders.biz/Lang/English/OLWorkgroupFolders/olw1.htm
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Gns earned 250 total points
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> What would the "interesting" thing be to do with UnixODBC?
Not that interresting really, Keep the database as is, and build a new frontend using ODBC to access it somehow. Getting that to work would perhaps be ... "interresting":-).
One could think of using that to "transfer" data from access to a database running on linux... Would still need a fair amount of tinkering.
Moving to a new database is nontrivial and might require some external help in doing(?), unless you have some inhouse know-how (dba, programmer, guru, enthusiast:-). It would entail a fair amount of work, since there are no really good "export tools" for access... Sure, you can dump the data of individual tables etc, but then you'd have to "reconstruct" it yourself in the new environment. Not necessarily bad, but some work... Hm, this looks a bit promising, but note the limitations: http://www.convert-in.com/acc2sql.htm (perhaps a bit more polished than http://www.mysql.com/Downloads/Contrib/access_to_mysql.txt)
This excellent paper should elucidate what's involved: http://www.kitebird.com/articles/access-migrate.html

> Our company is insurance so information is too sensitive, we feel, to have it as open as a local web app.
A local webapp with ssl and some logon security would probably be enough to "shield" you from any sensitivity concerns. Then again, a linux native app would perhaps too:-).

> We have investigated IMAP, but are confused as to the setup and how our email share would be configured!  (Remember you are dealing with people who have been
> running Outlook and have shared emails via Questers Outlook Folders for the past year. http://www.outlookfolders.biz/Lang/English/OLWorkgroupFolders/olw1.htm
Yikes. What <expletive not entered>.
What you have is essentially "serverless outlook" (How does this work? All accounts on the "server outlook"? Urgh), which probably is unuseable from a linux standpoint. IMAP is a protocol pretty much like the POP protocols, but designed for storing the mails mainly on the server... And most mailservers support it (even buggy exchange). I understand your confusion, since you essentially don't have a mail server, so one of the basic assumptions for IMAP is lacking completely.
In converting completely to Linux you'd be looking at setting up a mailserver with IMAP support. This is good mostly;-). You'd also be looking for a calendar and contact app to suit you... Might one suggest that you look long and hard on the sometimes very nice webapps avalaible? A combined webmail/calendar/addressbook groupware would probably be the easiest transition (there are several such, like hord, phpGroupWare etc... Likely you've got some in your linux distro:-).

-- Glenn
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by:essentialhealth
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Thank you Glenn - Its done the job we wanted (which is closing the door on some timewaster issues and opening the door on those that have a bit of mileage!).
Not a miracle solution to our problem (one always wishes for) but information in a clear and diverse manner (might be of interest to say that we now have another system trying out SUSE 9.0 Pro!) Lets see what that offers!
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by:Gns
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Good Luck!
Hopefully you'll find the experience rewarding.

One last bit about mail... As you have it now, I suspect that your ISP actually host the mail accounts for incoming and outgoing mails. In your new setup you needn't change this if you don't want to. One can use the fetchmail program to "plunder" the mailboxes via a variety of protocols (POP, IMAP etc), and then "remail them" to the local server. In effect doing exactly what your Quester setup does today... The upside on this is that you need not bother with network issues (like DNS MX records etc) on the internet, while the downside is that you need interract with your ISP when you want to add an email address.
Or I might have missunderstood your setup completely;-).

Anyway, in some ways I truly envy you the fun work ahead!

-- Glenn
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