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Thunderbird integration with MS Exchange 2007/2010 Calendar(s) and Task List(s)

Thunderbird integration with MS Exchange 2007/2010 Calendaring and Tasks

CERN uses Microsoft Exchange 2010 as the base of e-mail, calendaring and other services. While this platform is well integrated with Microsoft Windows clients and with Apple Mac OS X ones, some integration features were lacking for Linux clients.

This documentation outlines the setup process allowing Linux clients to benefit from integration with Microsoft Exchange 2007/2010 Calendaring and Task lists.

While the initial installation of required software is specific to CERN SLC5,SLC6 and CC7 Linux distributions, following configuration steps shall be applicable on any modern Linux platform - running at least Thunderbird 9, Ligthning 1.1 and Exchange Calendar addons.


Software installation

As of SLC 5.8, SLC 6.3 and CC 7.3 this extensions is preinstalled by default.

As root on your fully updated (if in doubt, execute as root: yum update...) SLC5, SLC6 or CC7 system run:

# yum install thunderbird-add-ons
thunderbird-add-ons package will install following Thunderbird extensions on your system:
  • Lightning Calendar for Thunderbird (thunderbird-lightning)
  • Lightning MS Exchange 2007/2010 provider (thunderbird-lightning-exchange20072010-provider)
  • Google Calendar provider (thunderbird-provider_for_google_calendar)
  • Calendar Tweak extension (thunderbird-calendar-tweaks)
once installation of required software packages finishes, please restart Thunderbird.

Configuration (Calendar/Task List)

Configuration steps below need to be repeated twice for setting up both Calendar and Tasks List MS Exchange integration.

After restarting Thunderbird, check (Tools -> Add-ons in menu bar.) that both Exchange 2007/2010 Calendar and Tasks Provider and Lightning extensions are installed and enabled.
Select Calendar icon from main Thunderbird task bar.
Right-click in left calendar pane and select New calendar
Select On the Network calendar location and click Next.
Select Microsoft Exchange 2007/2010 calendar type and click Next.
Name Your Calendar, ensure that it is linked with your CERN E-mail account.
Check Use Exchange's autodiscovery function checkbox
Enter your CERN e-mail Firstname.Surname@cern.ch as Mailboxname
Enter your CERN login id as Username
Enter CERN as Domainname and click Perform autodiscovery.
Select https://mmm.cern.ch/EWS/Exchange.asmx as EWS server and click Select.
Note: The autodiscovery function described above does not always function properly in current plugin version (1.7.14a1): If it did not work for your account, please use the method described in this paragraph.

Uncheck Use Exchange autodiscovery function,
Enter https://mmm.cern.ch/EWS/Exchange.asmx as Server URL,
your CERN e-mail Firstname.Surname@cern.ch as Mailboxname,
your CERN login id as Username and
CERN as Domainname, then click on Check server and mailbox.

Select Calendar Folder as Folderbase and click Next to use this calendar as ... calendar in Thunderbird.
or select Tasks Folder as Folderbase and click Next to use this calendar as task list in Thunderbird.
That's it, click Finish to finish the procedure.
Note: Initially the Exchange calendar will appear as empty, watch Thunderbird bottom bar for a Jobs: X notification, as long as it appears remote calendar is loading and being processed, this takes few (3-5) minutes on a recent desktop PC. Once the initial load completed access to calendar/task list is immediate, until next Thunderbird restart.

Once your calendaring and task list integration are configured , these become visible in Thunderbird main window.

and can be accessed via Calendar and Tasks buttons.
Sample Calendar view (Exchange calendar events are the blue ones).
Sample Tasks view.
Today Pane view.

Configuration (Address Book)

Current versions (2.X) of this add-on supports also read-only access to MS Exchange Contacts folder. To configure it proceed as follows:
Click Address Book toolbar button, select Add Exchange Contact Folder and fill in following in the configuration window:
  • Name in list - an unique name for this address list
  • autodiscovery - uncheck it (does not work in version 2.2.01 of the plugin)
  • Server URL - https://mmm.cern.ch/EWS/Exchange.asmx
  • Primary email address - Firstname.Surname@cern.ch
  • Username - CERN account login
next select Check server and mailbox.
Verify that Folder base is Contacts folder and that Path below folder base is set to /. To finalize settings click Save
MS Exchange contacts in Thunderbird Address Book (read-only).

Known Problems

If multiple calendars are configured thunderbird sometimes ask for password(s) multiple times. This is due to a bug in lightning extension which will not be corrected for Thunderbird ESR version 10.X. As a workaround please install an additional extension:
# yum install thunderbird-startupmaster
and restart Thunderbird.

There is no way to refresh kerberos authentication for the calendar: the only way is to restart Thunderbird after kerberos ticket expired.