Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
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?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: Current State of Linux Email Clients?

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:51PM (#42228129)

    IMO mutt is still king

  • by NEDHead (1651195) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:51PM (#42228133)

    Yes

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      I like being able to access my email from anywhere, including my phone. I used to use a heavily modified Thunderbird but the few missing features in Gmail were not enough to stop me preferring the ease and freedom it offered.

      • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @07:05PM (#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.
  • Thunderbird works (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:52PM (#42228137)

    Keep using Thunderbird, It works. Try add ons if you want more features.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tough Love (215404)

      Keep using Thunderbird, It works. Try add ons if you want more features.

      When I set a Windows 7 machine for my mother and discovered Microsoft's new "Windows Live Mail" agenda, I wiped that an put in Thunderbird, which was judged as "just like the old computer". So now she spends nearly all her computer time using Thunderbird and Firefox, and a little bit of LibreOffice, so the obvious next step is step is, boot to KDE with an autologin and that will be one more soul saved from the grasping tentacles of Microsoft.

      For my part, I suffered through the nasty port of Kmail to Akonadi

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:36PM (#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 blackpaw (240313)

        I wiped that an put in Thunderbird, which was judged as "just like the old computer". So now she spends nearly all her computer time using Thunderbird and Firefox, and a little bit of LibreOffice, so the obvious next step is step is, boot to KDE with an autologin

        Did exactly that with my wife, Thunderbird, Firefox and LibreOffice. She is very happy with the result, two years running now. Never crashed, every now and then I run updates. No problems.

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      It works, but not well.
      It frequently uses a lot of disk space, RAM, and CPU. All of which abnormal.
      It also still sucks at searching, and there are frequent problems with the editor.

    • by Malc (1751)

      It kind of works. Addressbook contacts can only have two email addresses, which took on a new level of irritating recently when my wife changed her name. More annoying is the use of mbox format instead of maildir, which results in whole mail folders being selected for backup every time, so for me that could be an unnecessary few hundred MB every hour with Time Machine.

  • mutt! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rick Richardson (87058) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:52PM (#42228139) Homepage
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutt_%28email_client%29
  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:52PM (#42228143)

    Thunderbird also won't be significantly altered in the future,

    Thunderbird can sync with Google Calendar, via plugins... Here's How [techiecorner.com]. There is really only so much you can do to an email client before the only updates are security. In my opinion, that is a good thing. You want a good core client that's not over-featured (buggy) and has good security support. Thunderbird fits that bill, and with a huge constellation of plugins I don't see what the fuss is about.

  • by Albanach (527650) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:53PM (#42228145) Homepage

    I really haven't used a desktop client for email in years. Where's the gain for the user?

    I want my mail and calendar wherever I am. So why keep multiple copies of gigabytes of mail on multiple machines. I just don't see the gain for the average user. I think the lack of demand from users who are moving to webmail is why the Thunderbird is getting less developer attention.

    What I'd really like to see is improvement in the webmail interfaces available to us. Gmail is fast, but I find the interface limiting and clunky. The best I have experienced was Zimbra, but it really prefers to be run on a standalone machine and is pretty resource intensive.

    • by yelvington (8169) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:56PM (#42228167) Homepage

      I want my mail and calendar wherever I am. So why keep multiple copies of gigabytes of mail on multiple machines.

      Somebody should invent IMAP.

      • by Anrego (830717) *

        Personally I've had terrible luck with IMAP.

        Ultimately while I'm not usually a fan of web apps in general, they are a perfect solution for email (which is probably why webmail is so popular).

        • Personally I've had terrible luck with IMAP.

          What problems did you have? Not trolling, genuinely curious.

          • by Anrego (830717) *

            Mainly related to buggy server or client or both I assume.. but connection would fail in the middle of retrival, or not retrieve some messages, or things would somehow get out of sync (despite that being precisely what it should prevent).

            Even now, I use gmail and use getmail to backup using imap and I find I have to run my script several times to get all messages if there are a lot.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Then someone should make a web interface and mobile client for it so you can use it anywhere. Oh, wait...

    • by QilessQi (2044624) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:00PM (#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 Anrego (830717) *

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

        You can always run your own mail server with one of the free webmail scripts out there. Assuming you can find one that doesn't suck (I've been considering this.. does anyone have any recommendations?)

    • >I want my mail and calendar wherever I am.

      You mean, you want your email *wherever you have an internet connection*.
      • by Cinder6 (894572)

        You mean, you want your email *wherever you have an internet connection*.

        Gmail has an offline mode. I'd imagine other webmail providers offer something similar.

    • by udippel (562132)

      I really haven't used a desktop client for email in years. Where's the gain for the user?

      The best I have experienced was Zimbra, but it really prefers to be run on a standalone machine and is pretty resource intensive.

      Now let's start to think for a somewhat longer moment:

      1. The gain is there. Not in carrying around GBs, but in a constant and consistent interface, without adcrap, without changes to the whims of the writer, and without the need to download totally everything evrytime; plus the opportunity to download IF someone so desires. No, these are not asked too much.

      2. Zimbra is not Exchange, and is neither FREE.

      3. Sorry, I forgot: which was the FOSS client to connect to all intricacies of Exchange?

    • I use a desktop email client (Evolution) for a few simple reasons:
      1) I have multiple email accounts which I want to access all from the same place.
      2) More than one is legacy, with a provider that I no longer trust. I expect it to do something nasty any year now. I have downloaded all email from these accounts and deleted it from the server.
      3) IMAP works mostly OK, which allows me to use webmail when I need to.

      ---
      Problems with Evolution:
      Not as good as Outlook (Lookout!) when it comes to integrating tasks and

    • by loufoque (1400831) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:26PM (#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.

  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:56PM (#42228165) Journal

    I spent several years letting Gmail handle everything for me, but in the last few months I decided to go back to running my own IMAP server, using Fetchmail, and reading my mail on a standalone client.

    So far the state of standalone clients compared to webmail is pretty dismal. I'm using Thunderbird now but I really miss a search function that works, as well as an addressbook that doesn't have arbitrary limitations such as a maximum of two email addresses per contact.

    • by houghi (78078)

      I am also using fetchmail, but as client I use mutt. Filtering into different mailboxed is done using procmail. With the sidebar I get all that I want.

      Remote access I get using ssh and can be done with putty or any other ssh client on any device that is able to run an ssh client.

      It saves me the time for setting up imap. And when I want a quick look remotely at new mail, I just run a small script:

      #!/bin/bash
      # read only new mail messages
      #set -x
      bold=`tput bold;tput setaf 4`
      offbold=`tput sgr0`
      for M_BOX in $MAI

    • Given that you gave up Gmail's excellent reliability, scalability, and accessibility, why would you want to run your own private system?

      • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:28PM (#42228451) Journal

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        When something goes wrong, I can fix my own mail system. Google offers a *great* service, for free (or now, for a very low price of $50/year if you're a small business). However, when something goes *wrong* it can be very difficult to actually get Google to give you real honest-to-goodness end-user support. More often than not you're directed to their community forums. One of my coworkers lost access to her Google Apps/Domain account for nearly a month.

        Remember: Google's customers are the advertisers. If yo

    • as well as an addressbook that doesn't have arbitrary limitations such as a maximum of two email addresses per contact.

      Oh! For want of a Linked List! Alas, William Richard, ye shall henceforth additionally be dubbed: Bob Dick

    • by Maow (620678)

      I spent several years letting Gmail handle everything for me, but in the last few months I decided to go back to running my own IMAP server, using Fetchmail, and reading my mail on a standalone client.

      So far the state of standalone clients compared to webmail is pretty dismal. I'm using Thunderbird now but I really miss a search function that works, as well as an addressbook that doesn't have arbitrary limitations such as a maximum of two email addresses per contact.

      Interesting you say that - I recently upgraded from Thunderbird 9 to 17 and somewhat accidentally stumbled upon the search feature that resides in the toolbar. It's an order of magnitude better than the one in the Edit menu.

      Have you tried the toolbar search, which opens in a new tab and allows for a fair bit of refinement? If so, how do you find it lacking?

  • by tramp (68773)
    Most people I know go the webmail route: Gmail, Hotmail etc. Personally I prefer Thunderbird with IMAP and because I run my own mailserver I also installed Zarafa for use on the road.
    • I just don't like the idea of my mail hosted on somebody else's server. The privacy implications are just not acceptable to me. Not to mention the amount of hacking that this attracts.

  • Thunderbird (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bitsy Boffin (110334) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:01PM (#42228219) Homepage

    Thunderbird does a perfectly fine job of handling email for most users. It handles a decade or more of email for me, in a number of imap accounts for different addresses, totalling perhaps 6 to 7 gig of mail, without any problem at all.

    What exactly is it about TB that is not capable of handling your need?

    If an email client already does what you need, is complaint about slower development valid, or is it just wanting change for change sake.

    • by udippel (562132)

      Me too. But perfect?? Search is long, if not lengthy. Does it provide the features that our Exchange server offers? Did it not slow down significantly with and after 3.0? Yes, here it still does. For some years now I have been getting used to sometimes waiting 10 seconds or more for a (e.g.) 7kB mail coming in. What's it doing there?

      I for one would love a client that is as capable as Google online mail. It must be possible to be even better, since all data are local. Yes, I'm waiting impatiently for that cl

  • by kent_eh (543303) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:03PM (#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 sylvandb (308927)

      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.

      You mean like mutt or just basic file system access with cat, awk, base64, w3m and less?

      Or do you really mean that you want core function plus your feature set, and you don't want to be bothered by or care what other people want?

    • 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.

      I'd rather have a system that provides an API to its core functions, and also loads plugins to provide additional functionality so that we can make it as lean or monstrous as we like. That's what Thunderbird does, but occasionally it will need updates due to the demands of said plugins or exploits in core features.

  • Claws kept losing its configuration on ubuntu so I went back to sylpheed but that integrated badly with unity so now I am using thunderbird but it is full of bugs even after however many years of development. So yeah, pretty crap.

  • by blackpaw (240313) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:14PM (#42228331)

    Covers all the request features. However since the move to akonadi it does have a terrible reputation for bugginess, unrelalibility and resource hogging, unfortunately a not undeserved one.

    However it has been improving steadly, even drastically since kde 4.7. I've been using it as my primary even despite the problems because when its working :) it is just so good. Fantastic integration with KDE, really good handling of multiple accounts and identities. PGP & SMIME, integration with Google calendar and contact, as well as other 3rd parties. An open plugin system for extending it. And it looks *really* good, the perfect blend of functionality and sexiness - when its working :)

    I just upgraded to KDE 4.10 Beta 1 (via Kubuntu raring). There seems to be another qualitive improvement in reliabilty. Akonadi hogging the CPU seems to be fixed. Message searches are working - full text content and attributes.

    There's still progress to be made, but its made huge steps and I finally feel confident in saying Kontact is back and will make it. The developers have the feature sets done and are just focusing on bug fixing now.

    • by overshoot (39700)

      However it has been improving steadly, even drastically since kde 4.7.

      But it's still slower than an arthritic sloth on sopors. Which doesn't seem to even be on the developers' radar.

      • by blackpaw (240313)

        Its quite snappy for me.

        Devs are working on these issues. Broken functionality and bugs get the highest priority, but speed issues are most definitly being looked at.

  • I have yet to find a Linux email client that supports it, although my Android phone does it just fine. I tried Evolution once. Initial setup was most interesting. It wanted me to fill out fields with single character labels (???). Googling yielded little more than instructions that were years old and outdated for the newest version. I still don't know what it wanted and it crashed as I was guessing. It was immediately deemed worthless and uninstalled. When I'm using Linux, I'm using Thunderbird, but I can't

  • About two years ago, I had been stalwarthily been using Eudora, and could not imagine ever changing from a desktop-based client.

    But then Eudora started to show its age (specifically, problesm with SSL certificates), and I started to look around for other alternatives, and found none what so ever.

    I dug into a webclient, Roundcube, and have never looked back since, and so have a lot of my friends, so yes, i'm definately thinking that the desktop-based client is dying.

  • I've been using it since KDE 1.1, after all. But I don't know what gives with it any more.

    It used to be the compatibility champ -- all of its message stores were open format. Now it's all stashed in a binary database.
    It used to be blinding quick. Now it takes minutes to switch between one local folder and another.
    It used to update flawlessly, but the last couple of upgrades have hosed the previous mail repositories and anything that wasn't backed up offline was gone.

    KMail has some very nice features (i

  • Having tested many, my current vote is for Evolution. Mostly because it can do RPC over HTTPs and talk to Exchange 2003 and later email servers. Which is kind of a big deal.
  • Thunderbird has moved to monthly releases, which are more maintenance releases containing security fixes but little functional change â" and little new development.

    You know what else hasn't had much functional change in a while but I still use regularly? Wow, that really sounds like the beginning to a "your mom" joke. But I digress. I'm talking about furniture. Tables, wooden chairs, desks. Bookshelves too. To bring it back around to written communication, my postal mailbox hasn't upgraded in the past T-bird release cycle. When something's not broken, don't fix it.

  • My favorite E-Mail client in the past couple of decades has been Gnus, written in Elisp and running in Emacs. The only thing that keeps me from using that or its little brother, vm, is that my mail spools always seem to eventually end up getting corrupted and completely deleted with them. I keep a lot of really useful information in E-Mail and having messages around from a year (or several years) earlier has really saved me a lot of trouble several times now. I could just sync a backup somewhere, but other
  • thunderbird has the same problem as firefox, the UI is horribly slow its almost unusable.

    I use Thunderbird because its the only real email client in Linux with decent calendar integration that isn't Evolution (which itself has both eaten email and crashed several times to the point where it won't start again without having to clear out all my settings and start fresh).

    Thunderbird with IMAP and the lightning extension installed routinely (like 20x per day) locks up for 5-10 seconds and shows wrong messages (

  • Works fine for me. But yes, everyone is moving to cloud. I have even considered doing this, and i store my mail locally. Why drag a fat client around with me everywhere?

  • by tqk (413719) <s.keeling@mail.com> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:44PM (#42228567)

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

  • by markdavis (642305) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:07PM (#42228757)

    I and my 150 users use Claws-mail at work (for years). Before that, we used Sylpheed (for even more years). Before moving from Sylpheed to Claws, we researched all available options carefully. Just from memory- Thunderbird was hard to customize and clumsy. Evolution was even harder to centrally control, was bloated, and performed horribly. Kmail was too complex and tied too much to KDE (which we were/are not using). Thunderbird was our second choice, but Claws seemed like the best option.

    Claws is extremely fast, reliable, feature-packed (especially with the plugins), mature, flexible, and performs well on thin clients. On the original poster's list, the only thing it does NOT do is compose HTML Email (at least not that I am aware of) and I consider that inability a feature :) It can, however, display it fine using a plugin. And it will nicely convert them to plain text for normal use. It has a calendar plugin, but we use a web-based calendar instead.

    It is not perfect, but nothing I have ever seen or used is. For us, it is the best, overall.

    At home, I have used Kmail for many years. At about KDE 4.8 I had lots of issues with them pulling out the communications stuff and setting it up as other "services". It was complex and unreliable. Layered with a bit too much eye candy and frustration and I finally switched home over to Claws too.

    • +1

      I use Claws, too. No complaints. I used to use Evolution for many years, but it is too slow. Claws is fast and works.

  • Claws-mail (Score:4, Informative)

    by mpol (719243) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @05:27AM (#42232307) Homepage

    Claws-mail is the successor of the old Sylpheed-claws. It really is a nice and simple mailclient, which in the meantime does almost everything. Imaps, RSS, filtering, whatever. And with good usability, the buttons are all at the right place.
    I even use the Windows version at work.

    There are some thing Thunderbird is particularly bad at in my opinion. Like sorting threaded mails. I know there are extensions, but they suck.
    I also don't like the autodetection of mailserver settings. You cannot save something in a non-working state, while sometimes I just want to do that.

Lo! Men have become the tool of their tools. -- Henry David Thoreau

Working...