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Sat, 17 Feb 2007

Is there a mail client which doesn't suck?

Until recently I was a quite happy user of the mail client mutt. I used to receive mails on my own mail server, check them for spam, and at home I used fetchmail to pull them all down, where they where sorted in different folders via procmail. Not very elegant, but working.

Sometime I read the mails directly on my server, which wasn't as comfortable as possible, since the mails where all in one big pile. So I needed to change something to sort them on the server and sync them home.

Not a big problem, you might think? Well... Sorting mails on my server wasn't a big problem (beside the fact that I needed to tweak my procmailrc a bit; I used real folders at home, but dovecot wants to have the folder hierarchy separated by dots in the names of the physical folders).

First I tried to use mbsync, from the isync package. First problem was, that mbsync doesn't like subfolders (which I didn't found out via the documentation, but from a friend using it, too). So I needed to rename all my folders (nearly 100) again to something mbsync would understand. I worked quite well and did, what I wanted to do: Syncing mails from my home computer to my mail server and the other way around. It was nearly perfect, and I would be able to read mails even without net connection. Perfect for boring train rides!

But after only one week something went wrong. mbsync started to segfault. Beside receiving new mails and doing the usual stuff (reading them, moving them to other folders) I changed nothing. But it kept on segfaulting; I didn't found out why (see #411120).

Obviously I need a working mail setup, so I searched something new... like my old mutt! Why not use mutt to access the imap server directly? Okay, I wouldn't be able to read mails while traveling around in a train... but hopefully mbsync would be fixed in the meantime.

But using mutt with imap sucks, too. While it is perfectly possible to read my mails, it seems impossible for mutt to check, which folder has new mails. No, that won't work. Thanks, I'll have a look at something else...

Perhaps I should try something new? My girlfriend likes thunderbird icedove. Nice user interface... no problem accessing my imap server... and it has some kind of offline mode. But... NO! It seems it's impossible to make system wide folder settings! Like... displaying new mails on the top instead of the bottom... or using the thread view... or setting this damn "check this folder for new messages" flag, so the folder will be checked for new mails. Damn! I won't click through every single one of my nearly 100 mail folders to set the settings I want.

Sigh... isn't there a mail setup which doesn't suck? It isn't that complicate: I want to use gpg, I want to have threading, I want my folders to be displayed properly (preferably in some kind of tree), I want to see which folders have new mails and it shouldn't be that huge (which kicks out kmail and gnus); bonus points if I can continue using my favourite editor and for some kind of offline mode.

Update: icedoves threading sucks, too. It seems to be based on the subject of the mails, not mail headers. Leading to quite iritating views on a mailfolder containing a lot of auto generated messages with similar subject.

PS: No, I haven't tried offlineimap, yet. Some people warned me to not use it. Well... perhaps I'll give it a try.

postet at 14:57 into [Debian] permanent link


Alexander Tolimar Reichle-Schmehl lives in Tuttlingen / Germany. He works as IT manager (specialized on Unix and SAN/Storage) for an international automotive supplier.