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Communications Software Linux

Ask Slashdot: Current State of Linux Email Clients? 464

Posted by Soulskill
from the unfavorable-selection-pressure dept.
mcloaked writes "We get all kinds of news about new developments, but one subject has been lacking for some time and that is email clients for Linux (or Windows for that matter). A number of reviews (mostly not all that recent) have pointed to the main clients as Thunderbird, Evolution, Claws-mail, and Kmail as possibilities. Up to about a year ago, Thunderbird seemed to be 'the' email client with the best mix of positives. However there are no recent reviews that I have seen. In the meantime Thunderbird has moved to monthly releases, which are more maintenance releases containing security fixes but little functional change — and little new development. Thunderbird also won't be significantly altered in the future, if one interprets the available news information. Evolution is reported to be rather prone to bugs, and Kmail even more so. Claws-mail has limitations, as does Kmail. So where is the future of Linux email clients going, absent any real innovation? We need a well maintained and capable mail client, preferably with good calendar integration (webcal/Google calendar), properly supported HTML composing, good maildir format storage for local mail, and good security support (including the capacity to deal with both GPG and S/MIME encryption and signing). It needs a modern UI and good import/export facilities, as well as good integration with its address book, including import/export of addresses. Are we likely to see this kind of package as we move into the future, or will mail clients slowly disappear? At the moment it looks like email client support is dead — Are too many users moving into web mail and the cloud instead of having a properly functional mail client on their desktops?"
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Ask Slashdot: Current State of Linux Email Clients?

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  • no love for mutt? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:51PM (#42228129)

    IMO mutt is still king

  • by NEDHead (1651195) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:51PM (#42228133)

    Yes

  • mutt! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rick Richardson (87058) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:52PM (#42228139) Homepage
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutt_%28email_client%29
  • by QilessQi (2044624) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:00PM (#42228211)

    Agreed. But one problem I have with web-based solutions is that the provider is free to tinker with the interface at any time. And you know engineers... they love to change things. :-)

    What I want is for some reputable, responsible company to offer a cloud-based webmail solution with a decent interface and a very good API that supports search, address book integration, etc. Then I want a variety of clients for that API -- some open-source and maybe some not; some fully-browser-based, some standalone, some written for Android... you get the idea.

    In short: universal access everywhere, but I decide what UI I'll be using.

  • by kent_eh (543303) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:03PM (#42228239)
    What features does a mail client need that the existing ones don't already have?
    I'd rather have a relatively lean (read fast) client that performs it's core function very well, rather than a monstrosity that does a thousand things in a kinda half-assed way.
  • by loufoque (1400831) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:26PM (#42228435)

    Desktop clients are just much more powerful, don't require an Internet connection, and are not tied to a particular email service provider.
    If you're not using one, you just aren't a power user. That's all there is to it.

  • Re:Thunderbird (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mcloaked (2791017) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:27PM (#42228445)
    HTML email has a function for passing data tables and not just to change the appearance of the email. In a corporate environment replying to html mail and altering a table you have received to pass on an edited table is a standard requirement. If you are sending mail to a person who has vision problems then changing fonts and colours can be very valuable too - so there can be very good reasons to compose html mail.
  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:28PM (#42228451) Journal

    I don't want all my emails mined for advertisement or other purposes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:36PM (#42228503)

    I agree, the new functionality in Thunderbird is in the add-ons. I think it's great that the core client developers can work on, ya know, stability and bugfixes, while the community at large builds add-ons to extend functionality. Beats having bloatware like M$ outlook where everything is all inclusive, including what you don't need or want.

  • by Tough Love (215404) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:40PM (#42228533)

    Improvements are happening to your webmail all the time, it's just they are for the advertisers and buyers of your personal data ;)

    Now Google sends ads to your Gmail inbox, and claims you opted into that. You can go to settings and turn it off, but then it displays ads at the top of the screen. This is obviously going to get worse and worse. Like Youtube, where ad infestation is nearly intolerable already and rapidly deteriorating. And it is just downright creepy when Google snoops my mail and runs the same pushy, stupid ad in Youtube over and over. Moral: there is no such thing as a free lunch. Second Moral: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Third Moral: the writing is on the wall, the way of Google is the way of pain for the average netizen. Something needs to be done. Not sure what. Google is rapidly becoming what Microsoft always wanted to be: proprietor of the internet. We're probably saved from a worse fate if Microsoft or horrors, Apple managed to secure that position, but it's still bad. This kind of infrastructure needs to be a kind of commons like the highways, power grid, sewage system and so on. A life under the gaze of Google, dancing on Google's string, is just not a life I can accept, and by now it is abundantly clear, that is just where this is all heading, veneer of benevolence notwithstanding.

  • by tqk (413719) <s.keeling@mail.com> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:44PM (#42228567)

    Don't be an idiot, KISS. Use mutt [wikipedia.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @07:12PM (#42228785)

    Yeah go Mutt! Year of the Desktop for Linux? Hey everyone, use a ASCII based e-mail client! We're rockin it like it's 1950 baby!

  • by abe ferlman (205607) <bgtrio@ y a hoo.com> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @07:15PM (#42228821) Homepage Journal

    I still use Alpine (free/libre version of PINE). I hope I never have to give it up. So fast, so clean, so configurable.

  • by hduff (570443) <hoytduff AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @07:24PM (#42228903) Homepage Journal

    First, I /don't/ want my mail wherever I am. The quiet of being 'away' from the email and the phone is quite worth having. Puts a nice balance on things. Makes living in the city more placid.

    Nothing compels you to open your webmail account or answer your phone wherever you are, unless you lack self-control or suffer from "Internet addicition". If so, get some professional help and don't blame the technology.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @07:43PM (#42229033)

    The "killer feature" for me on Gmail is conversation view, where it groups messages together in conversations, so instead of a ton of disparate emails, they're grouped together in a single line and can be seen in sequential order. Back when I switched over to Gmail, it was the only thing that had this feature, and now I find it indispensable, though it does sometimes screw up (since email was never designed to actually have this in the first place).

    Do other clients have this yet? At my last job I had to use Outlook Web Access, and the job before that I had to use regular Outlook (can't remember the version), and neither one had this, and as a result, it was a complete PITA to manage work email, with all the email chains going on between other coworkers, customers, etc. I ended up having pages and pages of emails that I'd never look at, and missed a lot of emails unless someone told me about them; the volume was so large I pretty much gave up even trying to read them all, and only looked at ones that had subject lines that looked important to what I was doing. As useful as I find Gmail's conversation-grouping for my own personal email, it would have been 10x more useful for my work email, with all the CCing going on in email chains there.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @07:51PM (#42229107)

    Now Google sends ads to your Gmail inbox, and claims you opted into that. You can go to settings and turn it off, but then it displays ads at the top of the screen.

    That's the price you pay for having a free service where they house gigabytes of your email for you and give you instant access to it from any device, with 5-9s reliability.

    The catch is, whenever you access it with a web browser using the standard web interface, there's nothing stopping you from blocking the ads with AdBlock Plus. So no, it's not going to get "worse and worse", as long as they have a web interface. They'd have to disable the web interface and force everyone to switch to a closed-source proprietary client application, and that's never going to happen.

    Complaining about ads on Gmail makes about as much sense as complaining about pop-up ads. I can't remember the last time I saw one of those, thanks to pop-up blockers.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @08:05PM (#42229183) Homepage
    I access all my email just fine from both mt Linux box and my Android phone without ever using a browser. Thunderbird is the client I use on my laptop, and it supports gmail just fine, as well as accessing my corporate mail and personal website mail. I get notices on my phone when I receive email to any of those accounts in real time. We based email is for the average Joe, who finds it too "complicated" to use a real client.

    Thunderbird isn't adding new features because it is friggin' email. At some point, all the features you need have been implemented and security and bug fixes are what is of primary importance. Thunderbird is at that point, which is why that is what they are doing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:33PM (#42229755)

    Threading, meaningful subject lines, and proper message references in replies is a lost art. They all require an attention-span long enough to grasp contextual communication.

    Today's email user cannot even remember their correspondents' email address nor figure out how to use a contact list, so they just reply willy-nilly to any other message they find from that person in their inbox, or grieve their lost friend if no such message exists. The lure of social networking is that they don't even have to think about whom they are addressing anymore. The future is full of psychotic people wandering about, issuing forth monologues and an intelligent messaging system beaming these selectively into the heads of other psychotics wandering half way around the world.

  • by KiloByte (825081) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:36PM (#42229763)

    You mean, I'm supposed to run evince over remote X on a slow link? Or install it and libreoffice on a mail server in the first place? I'll pass.

  • by CRC'99 (96526) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @11:09PM (#42230309) Homepage

    Now she received Thunderbird's "Chat" feature in recent updates which includes Facebook chat, Google talk, IRC, Twitter and XMPP.
    I'm not sure why people are saying Thunderbird is not getting new features, that one came from a module for the InstantBird IM client, and Thunderbird will get all the new core features that Firefox gets in future.

    Why the hell is there a chat client in a mail program to start with? I saw this new 'feature' and died a little inside. It is a classic sign on developers losing their direction.

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