Saturday, September 17, 2005

Mail programs are annoying

I'm changing back to Evolution for my mail program. I had been using Thunderbird for quite a while but it just became to difficult to mess with. Don't get me wrong. I like T-bird much more than Evolution but the way that things tend to be setup by default in the current distros tends to force your hand. This has gotten me to thinking about email and the different mail programs I've used over the years.

My first real email program was something called PROFS that ran on the mainframe. It was supposed to be something like Groupware but it just sucked. Once I started using Linux in 1991 I became a pine user. And a very happy pine user I was, too. I continued to use pine up until the fall of 2001. Then I switched to Evolution. I didn't want to switch but it was just easier switch than to try and get Outlook/Outlook Express users to use a decent, standards based email client. Well, I used Evolution for a while but every time they would release an update for it the program would become more and more like Outlook. Thus is became more and more useless as an email client. When Evolution 2.x was released I'd finally had enough. It was time to try T-bird. I made th change in early 2004. At first it was a little squirrelly but once I found some of the plug-ins I was happily wailing along. Until I upgraded to Fedora Core 4.

It seems that in the quest to make Linux into a "desktop" OS the vendors and distro development teams are working very hard to make Linux look-n-feel as much like MS-Windows as possible. Thus there are all kinds of default setting that have everything all setup for you before you even finish the install. FC4 defaults to the GNOME desktop environment and with that, all the app bindings are preset for you. The significant app binding is the one between Firefox and Evolution. I had setup T-bird and was all set but whenever I clicked a mailto: link on a page it would start up Evolution. Unfortunately the wonderful F-fox plug-in MozEX has not been updated for a while and is incompatible with the version of F-fox. There's another plug-in called Launchy that is supposed to do the same thing but it doesn't seem to want to work at all for me. So, it was back to Evolution for me.

There are a ton of other email clients out there. KMail, Sylpheed, Mutt, Balsa plus a ton of other options. I just wish someone would make a mail program that would do what I want it to do.


  1. Personally, I think Linux engineers should give up on the whole desktop thing. Linux will never be a desktop OS. A workstation OS, sure; a server OS, definitely. But unless you knock off all the current developers and get some Apple-like folks in there who have real knowledge of desktop development and actually care about non-techie users (there's too much UNIX/techie arrogance in FOSS World to allow that to happen), Linux and other FOSS OSes will always be fringe players in Desktop World. Watching it flounder in this space is getting sad...

    Sorry to rant... I guess this subject just hits a nerve with me. It's part of the whole "Linux is eating itself" thing that drove me away from Linux in the first place. I think what FOSS developers need to do at this point is give up completely on trying to compete in desktop space and work on making the OS a killer workstation and server, one that even Windows admins would love to use. There's a chance in hell they'd be able to pull it off, too. Pursuing a space that was lost years ago to other entities is fruitless and a waste of time IMHO. As far as desktops go, Linux and FOSS has failed miserably.

  2. Hey E-man. Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel.


  3. About gnome default app bindings. If you can find the gnome preferences (they're somewhere in the menus, in gnome 2.8 there should be a 'workplace' menu). Go in there, click 'Program Defaults' (or somesuch like that, sorry I run a localized version) and then you can change it there. Usually that's the only place you need to change these kinds of things and I don't really dislike that. Just as long as you don't start running kde apps in gnome 'cause they of course have an entirely different mechanism for this. Something the stuff is intended to solve.

  4. Thanks, kromagg. I logged into GNOME and mucked about with that setting. Things seem to be working well at the moment.