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Bartholomew Gallacher

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I didn't know that OpenSuse is well known in America; I always considered it to be a more European distribution with little followership in America.

Of course nothing wrong with it, too. Actually I used SuSE quite a long time myself, before I moved on to other distributions. SuSE in its roots was a German distribution and created by the SuSE GmbH in Nürnberg. The name initially was derived from the company name, which was "Gesellschaft für Software und Systementwicklung mbH". GmbH or "Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung" is the German equivalent to a Limited company, and the rest means "software and system development."

KDE when it was born was initiated by Matthias Ettrich, also a German software developer, in 1995. SuSE always had some KDE developers on their pay roll, and never really was using GNOME as first class citizen. GNOME was initially born as reaction to KDE, because KDE was using the Qt libraries which in the beginning were not open source like they are today.

GNOME was initiated by the Mexican Miguel de Icaza as reaction to KDE, who before was the principal author of Midnight Commander, a Norton Commander clone for the Linux console. Later Icaza went on and invented Mono, an opensource implementation of C# for Linux which some might know, because it became the foundation of Opensim.

His company, Ximian, was in the end acquired by Novell, he then founded a new company to focus on the development of Mono called Xamarin which was then bought by Microsoft. So KDE in its roots was an European thing, while GNOME definitely originated in North America.
 
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Noodles

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So even though I tried before repeatedly with no luck, the EasyTether app is suddenly magically working. So I am working on readjusting my workflow on my Laptop to being Linux based instead of Windows.

Which mostly involves setting up some proper network and cloud shortcuts to my files.
 

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  • If you are new to Linux and want a well supported, userfriendly and easy desktop based distribution use Ubuntu.
When I first started using Linux it was Red Hat that was the "distro for the masses", and my first Linux was a Red Hat variant based on 6.0.

Email clients under Linux
Second I am going to cover some graphical based clients, where also many are available on Linux.
I'll save you some time, there's really only 3 graphical clients with any appreciable userbase: Thunderbird, Evolution, Claws-Mail.
As for terminal/console, Mutt and alpine have the most use. While mutt is a terminal/console client, it does have an easy to use UI.

What about SUSE/OpenSuse? I ran OpenSuse for a while because they were among the first distros to use Gnome 3 as its gnome desktop, and I wanted to try it out. It was a good distro, but its community, and hence its knowledgebase, is largely KDE-centered
I didn't know that OpenSuse is well known in America; I always considered it to be a more European distribution with little followership in America.
SuSE in its roots was a German distribution and created by the SuSE GmbH in Nürnberg.
KDE when it was born was initiated by Matthias Ettrich, also a German software developer, in 1995
The section subheading on KDE in the old book about Linux as a phenomenon/community, "The Joy of Linux", is called "Better Flamebait through German engineering".

So KDE in its roots was an European thing, while GNOME definitely originated in North America.
And the toolkit KDE uses is from a company founded in Norway.

So even though I tried before repeatedly with no luck, the EasyTether app is suddenly magically working.
Yay! :cheer:
 

Clara D.

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I'll save you some time, there's really only 3 graphical clients with any appreciable userbase: Thunderbird, Evolution, Claws-Mail.
Is Kmail still a thing or has that faded into oblivion?
 

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So let me tell you a little story.

Maybe, 10 years or so, I bought this Netbook. It ran Windows XP. I constantly had issues with the Hard Drive filling up. After a ton of digging, I discovered there was this HP tool that was making backup images of the drive, and it was eating up all the space. I removed it, deleted these useless back ups, and.... Problem solved.

Cut to yesterday, I am messing with my newly set up Linux Mint on my current lap top. Suddenly, notifications of a full hard drive. I had this happen on my webserver when the logs filled up the drive after a couple of years, I checked that. I have been messing with Anbox and had set up One Drive access through that, I was worried it had started pulling my One Drive down, but OneDrive in Android doesn't work that way. Then I managed to get the disk use analizer to work, and discovered....

Pretty much the same problem I had ten years earlier. Some pre installed utility was dumping massive daily image back ups to the tiny 40GB partition. I stopped it, deleted the back ups, and voila, problem solved.
 
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So let me tell you a little story.
Similar though not quite the same story. My company runs a number of small AWS server instances, which by design are low on ram, disk space, etc. When one of them gets seriously targeted for vulnerability scans (damn you, Chinese!), they can quickly run out of disk space from the systemd logs piling up. We quickly learned about region blocking.
 
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Clara D.

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Speaking of filling up a drive -- with a log file that was too big to open, I quickly learned the importance of *not* logging ports 137, 138 ,and 139. o_O
 
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The last time I ran Linux as my main desktop was back when Windows XP was just out, and it ran like crap until SP3. I started with Suse and them moved to Slack because it was easier in Slack to start with the kernel install and build up, instead of find someone's installer package and remove stuff.

I haven;t run Linux in years because I have too many Windows-only programs and swapping between OS's is a pain.
 
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Bartholomew Gallacher

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Okay, since I've finally setup a dummy mail account and populated it with enough mail data from the Linux kernel mailing list let's move on.

Alpine
Alpine is a text based mail client for the *nix console. It supports all major protocols, so POP3/IMAP/SMTP, but can also use a local mail spool and infrastructure for reading and sending emails. Aside that is also speaks NNTP, meaning it can be used as Usenet client if you should still care about that stuff. Since this is not the main focus of that program though there are tons of better programs around for that task, believe me.

Alpine is a fork of the mail client Pine, which was being developed by the University of Washington, and later put under a non-free license. Pine is long gone, but Alpine is still here and actively developed.

One main emphasis of Alpine is to be as user friendly as you can be on the console, meaning it always shows you the most commonly used commands based on where you are - like Microsoft does with its ribbon in Office - and has plentiful builtin help. Also the setup can be done entirely within the program, so you don't have to edit any text file by hand.

Most screenshots are 80x24 - if you enlarge the view you can see of course much, much more.

Here's what the main menu of Alpine does look like:


And here is the message index view, in that case from the inbox:


It is also possible to sort this view by various parameters, and enable a basic threaded view:


Here's what it looks like to view an email:


And this is what it looks like when you are composing yourself an email:


Alpine is also able to file emails into different folders, or use existent ones on your IMAP account, to display and use them as you see fit:


This is a small glimpse of the setup menu; the problem with it is though that you can rougly configure 90% through it, but if you want to configure the rest then you've still got to use a text editor. Aside that some parameters are not described really in detail in the help, so you've got to lookup the web for help. Fortunate though it is quite well documented on the web.


It also has a builtin address book, but you need to tell it which addresses to add manually. The editor it uses to compose emails is Nano, which is an open source clone of Pico. Contrary to Pico though Nano is now more advanced, since it is still actively developed aside of Alpine.

This should be enough to give a small glimpse at this venerable mail client which roots go back to 1993. Alpine was back then considered to be quite userfriendly, and programmed with that in mind. Of course it has a plethora of stuff you can configure, e.g. you can use another editor if you dislike Nano, choose your own web browser to view linked web sites and so on.

Aside that it can do the usual stuff like file attachments, email encryption via PGP, mail rules, signatures, unicode email creation and so on.

Alpine out of the box also lacks color, it is just black and white like displayed here. It comes with several, predefined color sets, which you have to enable first though.

It might still be a useful program for some who prefer to use the console, but prefer a mail program which has been build around the principle to guide its user instead of being so flexibile that the user can turn it into whatever he likes. Of course, as if with all console based mail clients, if you need to write HTML emails it is definitely not the best choice due to obvious reasons, period.

Maybe the most prominent long time user of was is indeed Linus Torvalds before he switched over to using Gmail.

And here's finally a big screen colored index view:
 
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Katheryne Helendale

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Those Alpine screenshots remind me so much of reading emails on a BBS back in the day.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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True indeed, and you can of course use it just with SSH on a central server from everywhere. BBS though does not have SSL, TLS, Oauth and other modern features which Alpine has.

It still can be used to get its jobe done if you like the built in work flow, of course if you need to write HTML emails though it is definitely not a good solution.
 
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Argent Stonecutter

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This is the biggest difference to FreeBSD, which indeed derives from the original AT&T UNIX * and has a different license, the BSD license.
* Legally this is not necessarily true. Three files, general file layout and certain constants from include files were found not to make it a derived work. Linux was later sued on a similar basis but that case was dumped because the files in question were by then public domain.

I didn't know that OpenSuse is well known in America; I always considered it to be a more European distribution with little followership in America.
I got really familiar with it and pretty much every other RPM-based distro at HP because that's what we supported. It may have changed by now but ten years ago we were strictly RPM only.

I became pretty disenchanted with RPM.
 
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Bartholomew Gallacher

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Personally I have not done RPM since a decade, or so. But back then when I still had SuSE I do vaguely remember that the problem I sometimes faced when trying to install 3rd party packages was the RPM dependency hell.

RPM just complained about packages it wanted, and I had to figure out from where to got it. Unfun, totally unfun. And the command line parameters also were weird as fuck.
 

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They have a dependency management wrapper like apt does, called "yum". It didn't always help us because we were upstream of that.

See, I had to build them and understand the internal structure to customize vendor provided RPMs to make them smell like HP. They came up with a minimally-extensible format in like 1998 or something, and then instead of switching to something like a documented archive format (eg BSD tarballs or cpio/pax archives or even Microsoft CAB files) when they went beyond it, they just kept cramming flags into undocumented bits of the binary header. I seem to recall that they did use CPIO eventually, but you had to read raw binary and write out the archive from inside there.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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Mutt
The next mail client I'll be taking a closer look at it is Mutt. Mutt was created by Michael Elkins in 1995, and its appearance was initially based losely on the now extinct mail client elm. Mutt is still actively developed until today, and there's a fork called NeoMutt available as well which has tons of features mutt has not.

Mutt's official motto is: "All mail clients suck. This one just sucks less."

Compared to Alpine Mutt is clearly the more powerful program, but it also comes with a cost: Mutt does not take you by the hand like Alpine does, Mutt requires you to do your own research and get your hands dirty. Mutt is highly flexible and customisable to your personal needs, but in order to do so you will have to edit its configuration file .muttrc by hand because there is no builtin configuration menu. Also looking up the loads of documentation is a thing you will need to do in the beginning, the program is very well documented. Most people just start with a skeleton .muttrc provided by their distribution, and then adapt it to their specific needs. There are also several configuration building web sites available, like this one and tons of example configurations on the web.

Mutt is also completely editor agnostic, it does not bring an editor on its own which Alpine does. So you can use Nano, Joe, Emacs, Vim or whatever editor you like in combination with Mutt.

Alpine is a more or less inflexible mail program, while Mutt is more like a set of lego bricks you can combine to your liking. Mutt definitely has a higher learning curve, but in return gives you much more functionality and flexibility. For some people using Mutt feels like leveling up their inbox. Mutt though comes with no builtin address book, it relies on third party applications for that task instead like abook.

Mutt is able to speak the usual mail protocols, so POP3, IMAP, SMTP, but also can use a local mail spool and sender to get its job done. Like most mail clients on Linux are anyway. In case you might ask why offline mail spool is still great for some: should you be living in a rural area with no flat rate internet access this means massive cost savings for you!

The configuration I've been using here is based on this starter point:

And here's what this looks like on a terminal with a minimal configuration, not much of a looker, is it? Note though that Mutt comes with mail threading enabled by default.


This is not really a looker, so most people will want to add color to the configuration and maybe add some advanced features, too. So here's the same inbox with a more advanced configuration. I just took the Solarized light them for 16 colors from this site: https://github.com/altercation/mutt-colors-solarized which is much better to the eyes. There are tons of themes around you can try, but for now I will stick with this one.


This is what an unconfigured message view does look like - cluttered, because Mutt displays the whole message header which definitely 99.9% of the people don't want to see at all:


Luckily you can configure this as well to entirely to your liking, so that you can make the view more condensed like this:


So this is still quite basic Mutt, if you want to write an email you first press "m" and have to enter the recipient address and subject first, then the editor of your choice fires up (in this case Vim). Normally the editor would not include the mail fields can see here, so this is also part of the configuration:




When you leave the editor another view pops up, where you can still attach files to your email or edit recipieints and so on, before finally sending it:


Well, and that's more or less basic Mutt; if you want to master it you really want to learn the most important key bindings, which are always displayed under the help menu, when pressing ?:


And now for the advanced stuff what Mutt can also do, e.g. a sidebar displaying your mail folders:


You want to have a three pane view instead? Also no problem, it's just a small configuration change away:


And this is just a small glimpse at what Mutt is able to do, and how you can configure it. If you want to have even more features, than Neomutt might be worth a look at.

In short when you are looking for a light weight, flexible and extremely powerful text based mail client Mutt fits for most that spot quite nicely. It's definitely a tool made for mail power users.

I have put a copy of the muttrc I've been using here; you just need to add the solarized theme to get a view like on the images here.

If you plan to use Mutt, then a good starting point is the official Mutt wiki. Aside that tons of stuff can be found scattered around the web, as well as on Github. Overall Mutt is very well documented, and most of the configuration quite easily understandable as well. For the rest you can look at the example muttrcs of advanced users to get inspiration. And if there's something you need but Mutt has not, there's Neomutt, although many nowadays just start with Neomutt anyway.
 
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Argent Stonecutter

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ELM 4 EVAR!

Though back in the '90s I was using TRN as my mail reader.

Basically fetchmail -> filter to mail.* local newsgroups -> Cnews -> trn. Killfiles kicked the snot out of spammers.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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So basically an email to news gateway, and then kill files in your NNTP client. I still remember using CNews myself, it was slow as a whale swimming in molasses. Later I replaced it happily with INN, and never looked back. A decade later when I was really bored/curious I setup myself a NNTP server from scratch using INN with the goal to get it in the Top 1000 list - and was succesful. It was also quite easily doable, since server hardware was already quite cheap.

I used CrossPoint at the beginning in combination with UUCP dial up for NetNews - this was an share ware multi point software, which was able to speak UUCP, FidoNet and others. There's nowadays still a fork around which is GPL licensed by now and runs under Linux.

Later I used for some time strn, but most of the time it was either tin, slrn or Knews.

Long time I used a local mail spool and some bayesian fliters on arrival; I have ditched this though since then for IMAP and server side spam filtering using SIEVE. First I used Spamassassin with additional rule sets, but when this veteran became too unreliable for my purposes I have replaced it with Rspamd and never looked back since. Postfix and Rspamd makes a really good combination to get rid of most spam quite easily.

The fun thing is that aside Alpine and Mutt there are still tons of more console based mail clients around, some a little bit more obscure than others though. But probably Mutt is by far the most well known and popular of them all.
 
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Free

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Losin’, losin’, losin’,
Trolls we’re disapprovin',
Keep them trolls a-movin', killfile!
Don't try to understand 'em,
Extinguish fires, don’t fan them.
Soon you'll see quiet far and wide.
You’ll miss out on their baitin',
Their arguin’ and ravin',
They’re waitin' to be in your killfile!
 

Argent Stonecutter

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Oh yeh, I think I *was* using INN by then. The nice thing about standards is that it makes applications basically fungible.

Edit: does Alpine function as a newsreader and accidentally out people by publically posting replies to private emails that include a Newsgroups header like Pine did?