Novell Evolution on Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard)

I never understood why the Open Source Outlook replacement Novell Evolution never took off. It would be the perfect cross-plattform and open source candidate for getting rid of the crappy proprietary Microsoft-only standard-uncompliant market leader. Instead of spending millions and millions on licenses, companies could have supported Evolution development years ago and now have a really good and free product in their hands. It never happened – maybe readers have a clue as to why.

The Mac has a pretty decent suite of interoperating PIM applications, but they still do not provide the same seamless integration that Outlook (or, in this case,  Entourage) or Evolution offer. There is an Evolution port for Mac 10.3 (Panther) and 10.4 (Tiger), which uses the X Window system and therefore doesn’t look very nice in terms of the Mac Aqua look & feel, but that’s not really important in terms of usability, as long as everything else works.

If you are on a OS 10.5 (Leopard) Mac, there is one major reason why you might want to use Evolution – it provides the – as far as I know – only LDAP-based Address book that is can actually write to a LDAP directory. I haven’t as of yet been able to get the Mac “Address Book” to connect to my LDAP server, and even if that would work, from what I have read on the web, it is read-only. Mozilla (Thunderbird) LDAP support has been languishing for years and it is read-only, too. Since for lack of time and knowledge of C, I cannot contribute to changing that situation, and therefore shouldn’t complain. But I am quite puzzled that there seems to be such little (corporate) interest in integrating read and write LDAP support into free (as in beer) software.

In any case, and to come to the point, the current ( 06/2008 – version 2.6 ) OS X port of Evolution doesn’t work on OS 10.5 (Leopard) – you’ll get an error

/opt/gnome-2.14/bin/ line 16: open-x11: command not found
Unable to find application named 'XDarwin'

What you need to do is to edit the startup script ( /Applications/ with the Scripteditor into

set results to do shell script "/opt/gnome-2.14/bin/evolution-2.6"

This way, it will start up without an error message, although you still have to confirm the running of the script each time you start evolution.

However, unfortunately most GUI icons are missing as you can see the screenshot:

I’d be happy to know about other people’s experience with Evolution on the Mac.


  • I know about the AddressBook4LDAP project, but I never got this to work, either. It is an interesting project, but the webpage says that active development has stopped. UPDATE 2008/10/16: See comments by the developer below. My problems seemed to have something to do with the slapd server configuration. After a fresh install on a different server, ABxLDAP works like a charm – a real alternative to Evolution’s address book and then closely integrated in the system. Until Thunderbird 3’s access to the Mac OS Address book is available, I can use the LDAP server as a transmitter.
  • The Chandler Project also looks promising, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have an address book!

17 thoughts on “Novell Evolution on Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard)

  1. Awesome.

    Just see if your gnome-icon-theme is installed. Also, you should see something like gnome-settings-daemon running.

    IIRC, you may need to set up your XDG_DATA_DIRS for the icons path.

    Now that I don’t even have access to a Mac machine, I cannot exactly tell you how to fix it. 😦

  2. It’s not so much that development on ABxLDAP has stopped, but that the project has reached a stage where no new features are being added. Bug fixes are still being issues as well as support.

    ABxLDAP has pretty much been replaced by Address Book Server ( which offers more features and integration options. For those still interested in using LDAP, using both applications is still an option. Address Book Server to sync contacts between Macs, and ABxLDAP to keep your LDAP directory updated as well.

    You didn’t really go into details what problems you had with using ABxLDAP. It requires an running LDAP directory server. The software is already included in OS X (No server required), but requires some configuration.

  3. Hi Alex,

    thanks for the info. What I am dealing with is a scenario where I have a linux-server running openldap, and multiple mixed clients need to connect to it (Evolution, Mozilla Adressbook, other clients on the Mac, Windows, Linux). I can setup Evolution to connect to the openldap server (using EvolutionPerson Schema), but the Mac Addressbook (at least on 10.5) won’t connect (I read somewhere that there is a Leopard bug preventing this). And maybe I didn’t do things right, but also ABxLDAP would not recognize my openldap server. I have to go back and do more thorough testing, though, to be able to find out what exactly doesn’t work, and then post to your user forum or list.

  4. Are you using a ppc based Mac? I’ve been trying unsuccessfully for months now to install Evolution on my Intel based Mac laptop. I agree that AppleMail, Entourage, and Thunderbird are all unacceptable in their performance.

    If this is for Intel Macs, where did you find the port?

  5. David,

    I was able to get Evolution running on an Intel iMac.
    (MacOS 10.5.4, Evolution 2.6/Mac).

    I had to change permissions on the launch script in /opt/gnome-2.14/bin/:

    > sudo chmod 7777 launch_evolution

    You can then ./launch_evolution

    Also here is a snippet from the Installer Read-Me:

    Starting Evolution
    Once Evolution is installed the binaries are copied to /opt. You can launch evolution from a xterm window by typing “/opt/gnome-2.14/bin/evolution-2.6”

    Some of the dependant libraries are installed in /sw

    There is a launch_evolution script copied to your /opt/gnome-2.14/bin/ directory as part of this installation. It is strongly advised to use this script from a xterm window to launch evolution as it sets a few environmental variables that are necessary for the running of Evolution.

    You can start this script from an xterm window by typing “./launch_evolution” with /opt/gnome-2.14/bin as your current directory.

  6. Panyasan:

    Here is what the Installer Read-Me says about icons:

    6) If your Icons does not appear, start gnome-theme-manager set a theme and then start Evolution. To start gnome-theme-manager type “/sw/bin/gnome-theme-manager” from a xterm window.

    I have not done this yet. Hope this helps.

    BTW, I have successfully set up Exchange functionality. This information is also in the Installer Read-Me.

  7. Panyasan

    The gnome Theme Mangager threw a lot of errors but ran.

    I selected (installed) the “Clearlook” Theme and I get icons now.


  8. Andreas:

    A typical case of “If everything else fails, read the damn manual”. 😉 Readme files, it seems, are there for a purpose.

    However, neither /sw/bin/gnome-theme-manager nor /opt/gnome-2.14/bin/launch_evolution exist in my installation. Maybe something went wrong during the installation. I’ll have to try again.

    Thanks for pointing me to the obvious, Christian

  9. Christian:

    Interesting that you do not have these directories… I on the other hand do not have, only the Unix binaries.

    I downloaded my copy of Evolution from:

    using the latest build (8/12/06). The version you had linked to seems to be an earlier (3/31/06) build. I have no idea what other differences there might be.


  10. Well, I tried to run evolution, but I get a library mismatch error:

    bash-3.2$ ./launch_evolution
    dyld: Library not loaded: /usr/X11R6/lib/libXft.2.dylib
    Referenced from: /opt/gnome-2.14/bin/evolution-2.6
    Reason: no suitable image found. Did find:
    /usr/X11R6/lib/libXft.2.dylib: mach-o, but wrong architecture
    /usr/local/lib/libXft.2.dylib: mach-o, but wrong architecture
    ./launch_evolution: line 3: 32298 Trace/BPT trap /opt/gnome-2.14/bin/evolution-2.6

    When I check the status of the first library, I can see that it is the correct library for my Intel Mac. Not sure what is going on, but I still have no evolution on my Mac…

    bash-3.2$ file /usr/X11R6/lib/libXft.2.dylib
    /usr/X11R6/lib/libXft.2.dylib: Mach-O dynamically linked shared library i386


    Dave H

  11. I have found out the reason that evolution is not working. The evolution binary installed on my system, from the tarball that was referred to in this thread, is for a ppc:

    bash-3.2$ file evolution-2.6
    evolution-2.6: Mach-O executable ppc

    This is why I was asking earlier if this worked for a Intel Mac.

    SO, How are you guys using this on an Intel Mac?? How do I get an Intel Mac binary from the distribution you referred to???


    Dave H

    1. You could use the open-source package manager Fink ( It will automatically get you the right dependencies and set up environment/path variables so you can run your programs without any problems. In many, if not most or all cases, this will require command line input, though. The upside is, it’s well maintained and there are loads of useful programs available.



  12. Making the edit to the startup script doesn’t work for me. When I open up evolution it asks me to run the startup script but it just hangs with a frozen mouse wheel. I could try using tiger’s X11.

  13. @Alex:

    I found some time to install a fresh LDAP server on a different machine and now it works like a charm! I take back everything I said about ABxLDAP further up in this post. Now I can sync my OS X Addressbook to an external LDAP server which then can be used by Thunderbird and other clients to retrieve the E-Mail addresses. Thanks for the software!

  14. I’ve been playing around with this on my Intel Mac 10.5.6, and it is working but without the icons. There are two versions of Evolution 2.6 available, but the only one that works at all on my system is located here:

    If you’re trying to install this on an Intel-based Mac, make sure your download is 164.3 M. The one released in August 2006 is 289.4M and won’t work. After installing the 164 M version, edit the startup script as Panyasan mentioned above, and it should work.

    I still can’t figure out how to go about installing the icons or changing the theme, though. Any ideas?

  15. I have this same version at on my Intel Mac 10.5.x and working but without icons, just as in your case. But if I l start /sw/bin/gnome-theme-manager first, icons will be shown after the start of the script /opt/gnome-2.14/bin/launch_evolution. So, it is not Evolution’s problem but is caused by Gnome/X11 on Mac OS X 10.5.x.

    (amiklr, thanks for the info, I have edited your post at bit).

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