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Evolution

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 10:18 am

2008-2-7
10:18 am

I defend it to the death.

But sometimes I feel like an apologist.

There is simply *no way* any sane person out there can be using Evolution with LDAP contacts and not want to kill himself or herself on a regular basis.

It was bad enough when I had only one LDAP backend. Hangs in the Evolution UI while it was asking the evolution-data-server through bonobo for contacts, and just freezing everything (What good is moving stuff out-of-process if you actually block completely waiting for a reply ?) I think I killed evolution-data-server four times daily just to unfreeze the UI, losing of course the autocompletion that makes having your contacts LDAP useful in the first place.

Now that I finally decided I’ve had enough of having 3 copies of my personal contacts across my various machines, I moved all of them to a different LDAP server as well. Now the autocompletion makes Evolution freeze pretty much every time. Looking at the backtraces it looks like there is a *global* lock for all LDAP functionality, so if one server has a problem everything stops working. And the LDAP servers don’t even have a problem, so I don’t know what’s going on. I’m afraid I’ll actually have to try and build Evolution myself and fix stuff, which can only go wrong.

Side note – in the process of trying to move my contacts from my work machine to the new LDAP, halfway through the process I pressed delete when I thought I had a contact focused, but I had the address book focused. Oops. Then I moved through my laptop contacts, and I managed to do it again. Oops. The other two machines that have contacts are either without power supply or locked up in a garage in Brussels. Oops.

But hey ! If YOU use Evolution with LDAP contact backends, please let me know if it’s working out for you! I want to get this Stuff To Work.

21 Comments »

  1. Thanks for blogging on this. When rockstar programmers like you complain, maybe something will happen. When a nobody like me complains about GUIs blocking on network I/O, all I get is abuse. Usually along the lines of “come back with a patch” or “if you’re not a coder you can just fuck off”.

    Here’s hoping the Evo guys and gals will finally take some notice. It’s this crap that makes me consider ditching Evo about every second day.

    Comment by John Williams — 2008-2-7 @ 10:33 am

  2. LDAP… I had my fair share of pain with it, too. After adding my server I can normally access it once without a problem. After that: bang. As you described, evo freezes or crashes or just does not do anything LDAP related at all, while working fine otherwise. If you can fix LDAP, you are my hero. Other evolution hero-rewards: a) get rid of bonobo and make toolbars sane b) get rid of some 10-years old UI (some of the dialogs are TERRIBLE!) c) use gecko or webkit as the HTML engine

    Comment by Michael — 2008-2-7 @ 10:55 am

  3. I was using Evolution with LDAP contacts and Exchange plugin but gave up. I just couldn’t justify having “evolution –force-shutdown” in the top ten of my commands anymore. Now I’m using Outlook with Codeweavers Crossover for work stuff. It’s a terrible mail client, but the group calendar is nice. I’d really like to use a Free Software alternative, but since I have no control over the server side, I’ll have to use a client which works. Evolution doesn’t.

    Comment by Eetu Huisman — 2008-2-7 @ 11:01 am

  4. It never hurts opening a ticket in upstream Bugzilla so that you track what you do, and get in touch with developers and other users to collaborate more efficiently.

    Comment by Lubomir Kundrak — 2008-2-7 @ 11:08 am

  5. I too was using the Exchange plugin and it used to work decently for a while but the it started to loose contact with the Exchange server and I also had to start doing “evolution –force-shutdown” frequently, very annoying. I reverted to using the ipam protocol instead. I recently added a LDAP server and experiance the same lock-ups very frequently also very annoying. The UI should not freeze while waiting for a LADP server reply!

    Comment by Per-Erik — 2008-2-7 @ 12:09 pm

  6. thanks to Thunderbird we have a sane email client on linux to get stuff done… use it.

    Comment by Thunderbird — 2008-2-7 @ 1:03 pm

  7. Sounds similar to my experiences trying to use the Exchange connector. At my last company all mail was done through Exchange; I never got it to work to a standard I’d consider acceptable. As newer versions came out, the stability improved a bit but it was never great. I think my worst experience was when I found that a runaway exchange connector backend process was effectively flooding the network with data and using up all my CPU. And Ximian used to _sell_ this thing?

    Suffice to say the whole experience has left me with a very poor opinion of Evolution as a product.

    Comment by fraggle — 2008-2-7 @ 1:05 pm

  8. Fixing LDAP in Evo would be a blessing.

    Please please please make it work!

    Comment by Nico — 2008-2-7 @ 1:31 pm

  9. I bet you’re a creationist.

    Comment by Johan — 2008-2-7 @ 1:39 pm

  10. It works for me. Autocompletion is always fine. Occasionally have a hang in the contacts editor – or the contacts editor wont let me save changes.

    Comment by Karl — 2008-2-7 @ 4:16 pm

  11. Thomas: what did you use to set up your LDAP backend? I was thinking about doing something similar using Fedora Directory Server but there are no simple howtos. I would think this kind of thing would be a common enough situation that it would warrant a “here’s how to set up a shared address book in 5 steps” (preferably fewer).

    Comment by Andrew Overholt — 2008-2-7 @ 5:42 pm

  12. Weird bugs in evolution’s ldap handling make this happen for me;

    http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=361413

    I use evo, I defend it, I can’t even use LDAP contacts!

    Comment by Karl Lattimer — 2008-2-7 @ 5:51 pm

  13. @Thunderbird. I’ve used a lot of graphical mail clients, and Thunderbird had great LDAP support IIRC. However, as bad as Evolution’s LDAP support was (and as useless as its OpenPGP support was) I continued to use it because I want my data in Evolution Data Server so that my other EDS-aware apps can do cool things. Thunderbird has not had the level of integration that I desire.

    @Thomas. Go for it!

    Comment by Kurt McKee — 2008-2-7 @ 5:55 pm

  14. I use Evo every day, because I need to connect to Exchange. It also uses ldap for contats, and I have a lot of the same experiences you have. To make it worse, it randomly locks up for 15 seconds at a time.

    Comment by Jason Martens — 2008-2-7 @ 7:28 pm

  15. Just a me too joining Thomas’ question. I too would like to hear how you set it up. Thanks!

    Comment by Pieter — 2008-2-7 @ 7:37 pm

  16. I’ve been using Evo with LDAP for years. Recent releases have become worse. At work and home I’m running Debian Unstable (Evo 2.12), at work it is usually okay. At home I have to use killev on a regular basis due to LDAP hanging.

    Another pet-peeve is you can’t really keep business details in LDAP, since both sn and cn are required fields, which doesn’t make sense for most businesses.

    Can Thunderbird update LDAP contacts now? When my wife was using it last year it was read only.

    Comment by Andrew Ruthven — 2008-2-8 @ 2:39 am

  17. Thomas,

    I would look at your issue in LDAP Backend. It hasn’t got any developments recently except few bug fixes. I will look at http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=361413 as well. Thanks.

    Comment by Srini — 2008-2-8 @ 6:06 am

  18. I use both evo and thunderbird for email. As I dual boot, I do all email via imap, and all address lookups via LDAP. When I need to I ssh into the server and use mutt locally, with an LDAP lookup in it. Each mail client has their pros and cons.

    I actually think Evo’s type ahead completion is great, as is it’s handling of multiple mail: addresses for the one person. ( I currently use the standard based schema, not evolutionPerson ).

    Earlier versions of Evo caused me grief WRT lock ups on searching, but to my recent memory, I don’t recall having the same level of crashes and lock ups with the LDAP look ups.

    Mind you my address book is read only ( I edit contacts via a different means ).

    I think the greatest annoyance with LDAP is the different Schema’s for evolutionPerson, mozillaPerson and office ( MS’s attributes ). There really should be a unified “email person” objectClass all the MUA’s should use.

    Anyway, just adding in my 2c. I might have been lucky of late, or given that it’s only my ldap server, it’s on a small local network with just me using it.

    Comment by Pete — 2008-2-8 @ 12:54 pm

  19. I’ve had the same issues, and even more with the Exchange connector. I even have issues with the UI when the contacts are local.

    I would use Thunderbird but their IMAP parsing stuff sucks.

    I’ve filled bug reports on both clients with nothing useful back.

    Good luck =/

    Comment by Felipe Contreras — 2008-2-8 @ 10:25 pm

  20. I have this LDAP Autocompletition issue:
    It works just once!
    First time I’m able to search into my LDAP contacts, second time it stops to work and i need to pgrep evolution-data-server | xargs kill -HUP to unfreeze the UI.

    I hope someone will be able to fix these issues

    Comment by Francesco — 2008-3-11 @ 4:59 pm

  21. God help you if you try to run Evo through a hosted exchange backend like Rackspace. This reminds me of Vista hangs where I would try to do as much work as possible in my 4-10 minute span before a BSOD took out the client.

    Guess it’s time to put the VMWare XP clone back on here. Damn.

    Thank you for bringing this up, god I hope someone is listening.

    Comment by Ian Armstrong — 2008-4-25 @ 7:42 pm

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