Happily I have now resolved the two errors that were causing me problems. The first error -"Could not connect to Evolution Exchange backend process" - was caused by the wrong version of evolution-data-server running in the background. The problem seems to have been related to the evolution-data-server entry in the bonobo-activation-config.xml file - which I swear I had already updated. The second error - "Could not create composer window" - was also fixed by adding an entry to the bonobo-activation-config.xml file: this time, for gtkhtml. The key here was to rebuild gtkhtml with --prefix so the new version got installed into a different directory. I then put the new path in the bonobo-activation-config.xml file so that it was the new version that got called by Evolution not the version originally installed. This is an important lesson learnt. There is so much integration between gnome applications, like Evolution, and the gnome desktop that you really need to keep any updated builds separate.
So what is Bonobo? Bonono "is the GNOME architecture for creating reusable software components and compound documents." (See here.) It is a set of CORBA interfaces
which will ultimately provide the ability to [do] a lot of things that users of GUI-systems such as MacOS and Windows have gotten used to, such as embedding spreadsheets in word-processing documents, reusable user interface controls, scriptable components etc. (Here.)
It's COM for Linux. I won't go any deeper into this now. Suffice to say, I think, that unlike COM, CORBA has never really been wholly embraced by developers. Rightly or wrongly, it has a reputation for being overly complex - as if COM is not complex enough. However, it is clear that by editing the bonobo-activation-config.xml file we have some control over which version of a component gets called.
So Evolution 2.10.2 is working! What's more, Fedora 7 ships with version 2.10.1, so maybe my efforts have been of some practical value: I will still be running software I build myself on Fedora 7. I did finally find some instructions for building Evolution - although much too late for me. The website is http://www.go-evolution.org/ Thanks to Novell for providing a link on the main Evolution site... not. I have to say I have to disagree with the author of the instructions. They start off saying "building it ain't really hard at all" which is true; but then in the very next sentence go on to say:
Normal users (who aren't planning to start developing Evolution) shouldn't be reading this. Really. I'm serious about this! You will probably not understand a single thing about this documentation if you don't have a strong Linux-development background!
This is developer bull. You do not need to know anything at all about development to make and install software on Linux.
But that is enough about Evolution. Fedora 7 is out and its time for something new.