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"All I want for Christmas is... an e-mail program that works"

By mystic in MLP
Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 12:14:54 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

While people around the world discuss the new wave that will hit Internet, all that Scott Rosenberg of Salon.Com wants is a "Industrial-strength e-mail software that never lets you down". Read the article for more details.

As pointed out in the article, even though it has been recognised that email is a "killer app" no product is available on the market that takes emai,ls too seriously. In this article, Scott explains why he doesn't like Eudora, Outlook and *inx based email programs and also puts forward the expectation that he has for a nice clean email client.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


I am ____ with my email client
o happy 61%
o disappointed 23%
o GRRRRrrrrrrr.... 7%
o email? client? 7%

Votes: 114
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Salon.Com
o article
o Also by mystic

Display: Sort:
"All I want for Christmas is... an e-mail program that works" | 38 comments (25 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
Pine?! (3.71 / 7) (#5)
by joeyo on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 09:53:57 PM EST

Old Unix e-mail tools are reliable but clumsy, and not much help unless you're using Unix or one of its variants.

I beg to differ. I use pine (4.30). It's fast. It's IMAP. It has filters and rules and roles and sorting and advanced searh capabilities. And it's only an SSH (or God help me, telnet) connection away. And if I'm coming from an ANSI color client, I can even have mutt style colorization. And on top of all that, its features are well documented. What more do you want?

"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi

My dog pees on your tree (4.16 / 6) (#6)
by fluffy grue on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 11:33:15 PM EST

Mutt is a hell of a lot better than Pine. It doesn't have feature-creep, it doesn't try to do way too much, its interface isn't constantly changing in major ways (which is what soured me most on Pine), and it does support imap. Combine Mutt with Fetchmail and Procmail and you've got all the filtering and retrieval that you ever need without having a bloated, complex, messy client. You can also configure the keystrokes to act however you want, and the keystroke help is very easy to use (it prints out the current keyboard mapping for all currently-availble commands - what a concept).

Also, for the freedom zealots out there, mutt is GPL, whereas Pine is (last I checked) under a very restrictive open-source-but-not-free (a'la POVray) license.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

ha. (1.50 / 4) (#9)
by darthaya on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 12:18:26 AM EST

While the author is willing to pay money for the software, who the heck cares if it is GPLed or not?

[ Parent ]
I said 'GPL zealots' :) (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by fluffy grue on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 01:38:19 PM EST

I didn't say that it MUST be free software for everyone. However, I do personally prefer having a client whose source I can patch and fork myself, if it proves to be necessary, without having to deal with WU's lawyers. Also, for distributions like Debian which need to patch the source in order to bring it into compliance with the filesystem standard (Debian actually cares about the LFS guidelines - they even broke Bind's configuration to bring it into standards), it becomes a major PITA to properly get Pine installed.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Old Unix Email Clients BAD????? (4.14 / 7) (#7)
by maddhatt on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 11:35:58 PM EST

I beg to differ about the article's comments about email clients, I am a very happy mutt user, the keyboard combinations make for a very quick and clean email session. Large mail boxes, no problem I personally have boxes with over 5000 messages in them and I know friends with mail boxes with many more than that. The idea that we all have to have gui this and that to run our lives is ludicrous.

Voted -1 on this because the original article seems to have not point to it other than a rant against generally everything.

Let's Clarify (3.83 / 6) (#13)
by pwhysall on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 03:42:09 AM EST

What we're waiting for is a good, solid, featureful graphical client.

Tools like pine, mutt, elm, and friends (flame me if I missed your favourite) are fine for advanced users who are happy working in a textual context.

However, they're not so fine for J. Random KDE/GNOME user, who just wants to click "get mail" and hey, get their mail.

I'm not advocating by any means any kind of transition; Evolution, for example, is not a whole heap of use if you SSH into the box where you read your mail.

It's about extending the choice of email client into the graphical userspace.

FWIW, I'm using Evolution (and have been since 0.6) to read my mail, but that's only because I use X *all the time* and it integrates nicely with my Helix GNOME desktop. If I was a console user, or had to get mail remotely, I'd be using Pine. If you're after a graphical mail program, I can recommend Evolution. Especially once it's finished. It's usable now, BTW, but is still in pre-release, so expect the odd funny.
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.

GUI mail clients (none / 0) (#36)
by Tumbleweed on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 02:12:41 PM EST

I believe Balsa hit 1.0 recently - might be worth looking into - the interface is pretty, that's for sure. Don't know what features managed to make it into 1.0. I heard filtering might not make it - if that's true, one can always use procmail for filtering until Balsa filtering, or Evolution, hit their stride.

[ Parent ]
Balsa is nice (none / 0) (#37)
by pwhysall on Sat Dec 23, 2000 at 05:29:48 AM EST

However, I've always found it to be fearfully unstable, at least when I've used it to pick up mail from a couple of POP3 mailboxes. It also didn't do IMAP when I last played with it (0.7?) - which is a shame, because IMAP is better than POP3 in so many ways.
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
[ Parent ]
Huh? (2.50 / 4) (#15)
by enterfornone on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 06:29:06 AM EST

What the hell is he getting at? He is saying that Unix mailers are "clumsy" with no real evidence. I use mutt for my personal mail and have no problem navigating with it, it really isn't that hard.

And that the GUI mailers crash and lose all your mail. I use Outlook Express and Outlook at work and have never lost mail. And even if I did, backing up mail is no great effort (although much easier when you have something that reads a standard format).

Does anyone have any real gripes with their email apps, other than vague opinions and suggestions of promlems that don't exist.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
mutt. (1.26 / 15) (#17)
by srw1080 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 09:25:55 AM EST

need I say more? Just because some clumsy fuck can't use his computer... bah.

+1 to section It *is* MLP (3.00 / 4) (#19)
by dorsai on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 09:38:24 AM EST

I think most people are missing the point here... it's perfectly good MLP - agreeing or disagreeing with the article is another thing entirely... perhaps after it gets past the threshold... but don't dump it because you disagree.

Dorsai the sigless

Oh? (2.66 / 3) (#21)
by fvw on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 11:34:08 AM EST

If you think the article is utter BS, that seems like a sensible reason to -1 it....

[ Parent ]
Confused about Outlook? (3.00 / 4) (#20)
by stuartf on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 10:31:22 AM EST

He's obviously confused. The default choice of millions is Outlook Express, which doesn't store all it's messages in a single file. The corporate Outlook product isn't really designed to use against a POP3/SMTP/IMAP server (although you can), it's designed to be used against an Exchange server.

Except... (none / 0) (#27)
by kagaku_ninja on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 04:03:13 PM EST

When the IT guys want you to store your email locally on your machine, because it makes their lives easier.

[ Parent ]
Confused? (2.00 / 1) (#31)
by madbilly on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 12:07:32 AM EST

What are the .dbx files, that contain all my mail, used for if Outlook Express isn't infact storing mail in them?

[ Parent ]
Not confused... (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by stuartf on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 04:24:28 AM EST

What are the .dbx files, that contain all my mail, used for if Outlook Express isn't infact storing mail in them?

Not a single file - a file per folder...

[ Parent ]
Hooray for Gnus! (2.75 / 4) (#22)
by Paul Crowley on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 12:28:20 PM EST

Gnus may not be the easiest mail and news program in the world, but it is certainly the most powerful. It meets all the criteria he listed, and it can stand on its head singing the star spangled banner besides. If you're an Emacs fan, look into using Gnus for your daily email.
Paul Crowley aka ciphergoth. Crypto and sex politics. Diary.
Mailsmith - excellent Macintosh client. (3.33 / 3) (#23)
by ravenskana on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 12:36:38 PM EST

For all of you who either hate or never touch a Macintosh, ignore this message. :) For anyone left, I'd like to recommend Mailsmith if you don't already have a favorite client.

Mailsmith features excellent composing abilites, pulled from BBEdit, and in addition has strong filtering and searching capabilites (you can GREP in your filters and searches, which is not that common for Macintosh clients). It has great Applescript support.It is a commercial client, so one has to pay for it, but I think it is worth it. Bare Bones' technical support is fast, efficent, and knowledgable.

Sorry to sound like a commercial, but as this thread shows, people get very attached to their email clients, and I think Mac users should at least check Mailsmith out, even if they end up preferring Eudora or one of the other clients.

Oh, and whoever posted the Evolution link, thanks! I'm not familiar with it, and it looks like I might try it on my other box.

Check out Pronto! (3.00 / 3) (#26)
by stepson3 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 02:29:49 PM EST

If you are on Linux, and want to give a good GUI mail client a try, check out Pronto!
It is a GTK-based mail reader written in Perl, and storing information in a SQL database (MySQL or PostGRE).

Pronto! is the offshoot of a mail client called cscmail (www.cscmail.net, I believe). The author of cscmail decided he wanted to re-write the program in C, while some developers thought that there was still fun to be had with the perl version, so they spilt off, and pronto was born. I tried it when it was at its 1.0 release, and it was very impressive. The developers are very receptive to bug fixes and new features, and the program does anything you might wish. Importing/Exporting in mbox format, reads html mails using gtkhtml or cschtml, gnupg signed messages, multiple folders with sorting using regexps ...

I was VERY picky with mail clients ... for the longest time I just used the mailer that came with netscape, which requires you to use netscape :-/.

All in all, pronto kicks butt. :) If you've got a Linux (or possibly BSD and others, I've never tried it) box with perl and X (oh, and the perl/gtk bindings, but pronto has a very nice installer that will install them for you - see that, i forgot, it even has a graphical installer that will download files you need!), you owe it to yourself to give pronto a shot!

Unleash the Hounds (2.33 / 3) (#28)
by kagaku_ninja on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 04:28:51 PM EST

An article vaguely critical of UNIX has been posted!

My text-based email client good! GUIs double-plus ungood!

The article makes many valid points and is about more than just email. K5 clearly has its sacred cows, much like /. that everyone loves to trash.

Well, there goes my mojo, but I've learned to live without it...

right on (none / 0) (#38)
by h2odragon on Sat Dec 23, 2000 at 11:50:47 AM EST

cat /var/spool/mail/$USER

[ Parent ]
a good one (3.00 / 3) (#29)
by Milk-Boy on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 05:55:00 PM EST

the [windows] mail client that i use is mail warrior. the program size is under 700k and its a real good replacement for outlook [express] cos its packed with features and its quite good lookin' too

/me falls over
My personal favourite (2.66 / 3) (#30)
by tonyk on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 06:24:16 PM EST

The only thing I've found lacking on moving to Linux is a good gui email program. Granted mutt is pretty good, and pine is not too bad, but I would prefer a gui email client. And all of the ones I've tried so far have, well, sucked, in one way or another. KMail (which I use at the mo') is not too bad, but lacks filtering, does weird stuff to mailboxes, does weird stuff on line wraps, and it's addressbook is the worst I've ever seen.

The best email client I've ever used (and still miss after ~2 years) is YAM2 on my old Amiga. Nothing I've used has yet come close to this, though Evolution is looking promising (I'm yet to try it though).

You need a whole OS for that! (3.00 / 1) (#34)
by jonr on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 12:24:29 PM EST

Get BeOS, it handles your mail intellengty (sp). And has a built in adress book (Why would I need a new adress book for each #"$& mailprogram). And if you don't like the built in program, you can get better ones from others, and they share mailboxes!.... Just my 2c

The Bat (none / 0) (#35)
by illustir on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 12:24:32 PM EST

Strange that I haven't heard "The Bat! - The Natural Email System" mentioned here yet.
A while back I tried out every Windows e-mail client I could find and I finally settled on the Bat because it had most of the features I was looking for.

It has:

  • multiple account support (POP/IMAP)
  • extensive filtering
  • customizability of mail-templates for every folder/account
  • threading of e-mail on references/subject/from/to
  • PGP support (though still lacking support for 7.0)
  • The "Mail Ticker" (a small bar that appears on your screen when mail arrives displaying who sent it & subject etc., quite customizable and quite useful)
  • handles folders with several thousand e-mails well (I have several folders with 2000+ messages and it only delays slightly)
  • has good multi-language support (haven't tried this out myself yet)
  • a splash screen with a picture of a cute mail-bat carrying an envelope (quite irrelevant but cool still)

One thing I'll teach the wereld, willens nillens:
There is tremendous poetry in killings.
     --Risjaar, Ten Oorlog III

"All I want for Christmas is... an e-mail program that works" | 38 comments (25 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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