UC clients: something for Linux users

In a corporate environment, we find people with different skills, education, believes and personalities trying to work together and manage to communicatoe even in different languages. Unified communications (UC) should be like that by allowing communication on different technologies and platforms. I already write about how Windows and Macintosh users can communicate, so I would like also to include Linux environment.
Linux community is large and very supportive, so you will find several solutions for UC. But if we want to integrate on an OCS, Lync or Cisco UC solutions we might face a real challenge. UC should cover at least the presence, IM and voice communications and, in those terms I couldn’t find so far any ideal solution. Cisco allows softphones, and for MS we have some presence, IM and some extra features. Let’s look at what we have for Lync Server.

With OCS 2007 R2, Microsoft create several solutions that allow different platforms to reach their services. Communicator Web Access 2007 R2 (CWA) is a web service that will allow OCS access to presence and messaging features. OCS and Lync clients for mobile phones use these web services.
Microsoft also includes a Web client in this server that is works great on most of the browsers.
So if your IT team deployed an CWA server, users with a browser can access co-workers presence, contacts and communicate with Instant Messaging.
If you are a Linux user you can see CWA client user interface on the left picture. It is similar to the MOC 2007 windows client, but you can only show your presence, find contacts, and send / receive IM. There’s a destkop sharing capability, but you must have IE and a windows operating system.

It is strange, but there is no CWA version with the Lync 2010 server release (there is Lync WebApp, but it is only to join live meetings). For now we have two solutions:
> Outlook 2010 Web App – integrates both user mailbox with presence and IM on a browser interface;
> CWA 2007 R2 – you can still use or deploy this service. There is even documentation to configure CWA and Lync 2010.

Pidgin UI with Lync user

If you don’t like this Linux approach and do not want to deploy CWA services, I found a free client solution called Pidgin that, used with a plugin call SIPE, can login with an OCS 2007 server and… Lync 2010 as I confirmed with this picture on my lab environment.
It is capable of resolve and connect automatically to the server and supports encryption (TLS) and looks that it can also use exchange server.

This was installed on a CentOs 5.5 computer. I had some dificulties since I couldn’t find precise instructions, so here’s how to install SIPE on CentOs:
> Install CentOs/RedHat version for Pidgin;
> Download the latest SIPE version;
> install the files required to compile SIPE
(yum install libpurple-devel gcc libtool intltool glib2.0-devel gettext-devel libxml2-devel);
> Extract SIPE package (tar -xzvf pidgin-sipe-1.6.2.tar.gz) and change to that directory;
> Compile and install the plug-in
./configure –prefix=/usr
[sudo] make install
> run pidgin and when adding an account you shoul see the office communicator on the protocol options.

As you can see so far from my blogs, if you have Lync server deployed in your company, Windows MAC and Linux users can experience (at least some) UC experience by exchanging presence and IM messages. But I will soon show that you can extend it to many others…

Comments and future posts suggestions are allways welcomed.

Continue on 11/mar/2012 – something more for linux desktops (voice)


4 thoughts on “UC clients: something for Linux users

  1. marros 26/10/2011 / 17:44

    I followed your instructions, but office communication doesn’t show up in the protocol options. I am using Centos 6. Any ideas?

    • marros 26/10/2011 / 17:50

      Sorry, after doing some snooping, I realized the lib files went in to /usr/lib not /usr/lib64.


  2. Karan 01/02/2012 / 05:14

    is there any way you could have online video and voice enabled?
    may be some plugin could do..

    • LuisR 01/02/2012 / 08:38

      Whether is a full client or a plugin it all comes to the same thing:
      You need a some kind of software developped for Linux to access your computer multimedia system and to encode and decode the right protocols.

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