Your Linux Data Center Experts

A bit belated (I was going to try and do a package every Monday), but here's another review of a Linux software package I use and think would be great to bring to others attention. Today's package: claws-mail Read on for a short review of this great MUA.

My history with MUA's (Mail User Agents, ie, client email programs) is kind of a long and strange one. I started out many many years ago with /usr/ucb/Mail on Sun machines, then when using Emacs for coding switched over to a Emacs MUA called VM. VM had a lot of nice features, and I used it for many many years. Finally it turned out that it's GPG support was lacking, so I decided to look around. That search lead me to another Emacs based MUA called mew. mew is a pretty nice mailer, but at some point the XEmacs I was using started becoming unstable (would occasionally hang or lock up on me) and the last thing I need is a Mail client that doesn't work, so it was off to look around again.

I don't know how many other folks out there have similar requirements in a MUA, but I suspect it's a pretty sizable number. Here's what I look for:

  • It can use a mouse for some things, but it MUST allow you to use only the keyboard if you want.
  • Should be quick and able to read all my old 15 years of emails
  • Should have good encryption support, allowing signing and optional encryption
  • MUST be able to handle MIME emails, allowing you to save and view parts, etc
  • Optionally, NNTP news reader would be nice, since I gateway lots of my mailing lists to a local news server
  • Good upstream with responsive developers
  • Ability to handle multiple different accounts

All the other MUA's I looked at failed at one (or more) of the above criteria, but claws-mail seemed to meet them all nicely. You can use a mouse if you like, but you can very easily bind ANY command to a keyboard shortcut (just use the keyboard alt-letter to get to the menu and arrow keys to the command and then just hit the keys that you would like to do that command and the shortcut is set). It seems nice and fast here, and can easily read the MH folders I had leftover from MEW. Encryption and MIME support are excellent, as well as allowing you to not load remote images, or answer return receipt emails. There is a NNTP reader ability that works quite nicely. Upstream seems very active and responsive. You can define as many accounts as you like with differing types, etc.

There may well be features that other MUA's provide that people need, but do consider installing claws-mail and giving it a try out today. You'll be happy you did. claws-mail and all it's plugins are available via yum for fedora.

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