Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 16th Jun 2017 22:03 UTC
Internet & Networking

It was almost four years ago I switched from webmail to a customized email configuration based on Notmuch and Emacs. Notmuch served as both as a native back-end that provided indexing and tagging, as well as a front-end, written in Emacs Lisp. It dramatically improved my email experience, and I wished I had done it earlier. I've really enjoyed having so much direct control over my email.

However, I'm always fiddling with things - fiddling feels a lot more productive than it actually is - and last month I re-invented my email situation, this time switching to a combination of Mutt, Vim, mu, and tmux. The entirety of my email interface now resides inside a terminal, and I’m enjoying it even more. I feel I've "leveled up" again in my email habits.

I'm fairly sure a number of OSNews readers use similar setups.

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Sounds good, but ...
by WorknMan on Fri 16th Jun 2017 22:57 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

A lot of the email I get these days is (unfortunately) full of images and HTML markup. How does it handle all of that?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Sounds good, but ...
by inewham on Fri 16th Jun 2017 23:26 UTC in reply to "Sounds good, but ..."
inewham Member since:
2005-09-26

I use mutt for my personal email too - I just have it set up so that I can view html in lynx. Its not going to show images in a terminal but that's very rarely a problem, 99% of html email gets deleted long before I care enough to open it with something else (if it gets past the spam filter).

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Sounds good, but ...
by WorknMan on Fri 16th Jun 2017 23:54 UTC in reply to "RE: Sounds good, but ..."
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Email has been dead to me for personal use for years. Now days, I just use it for bill pay notifications and such. Almost all of that is HTML-based.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Sounds good, but ...
by Moochman on Sat 17th Jun 2017 07:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Sounds good, but ..."
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

What do you use instead of e-mail, pray tell? Facebook? WhatsApp?

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Sounds good, but ...
by WorknMan on Sat 17th Jun 2017 13:21 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Sounds good, but ..."
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Facebook Messenger or SMS. But then again, there's only like two or three people I keep in touch with regularly, so ...

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Sounds good, but ...
by CATs on Mon 19th Jun 2017 06:23 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Sounds good, but ..."
CATs Member since:
2017-06-09

Facebook Messenger or SMS. But then again, there's only like two or three people I keep in touch with regularly, so ...

E-mail and chat (FB Messenger) are completely different things. SMS also serves totally different purpose than e-mail. Apparently, you never used e-mail as it is supposed to be used in the first place, thus you have no problem to stop using it. The rest of us — we have no alternative.

Reply Score: 0

RE[6]: Sounds good, but ...
by agentj on Mon 19th Jun 2017 16:25 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Sounds good, but ..."
agentj Member since:
2005-08-19

Is email even useful for anything anymore ? We can easily send images, files, movies, audio and video calls via messenger apps directly. The last time I used personal email for something serious was maybe 5 years ago (except misc. messages from bank). What does email have ? Pathetic text/html only functionality and mediocre file sending capabilities.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Sounds good, but ...
by CATs on Mon 19th Jun 2017 17:02 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Sounds good, but ..."
CATs Member since:
2017-06-09

Is email even useful for anything anymore ? We can easily send images, files, movies, audio and video calls via messenger apps directly. The last time I used personal email for something serious was maybe 5 years ago (except misc. messages from bank). What does email have ? Pathetic text/html only functionality and mediocre file sending capabilities.

You have obviously never worked in any corporation or even medium-sized company. There are exactly ZERO alternatives to e-mail in any mid- to large-size companies. And even small ones would have a great difficulty doing business with customers without e-mail.

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Sounds good, but ...
by CATs on Mon 19th Jun 2017 17:35 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Sounds good, but ..."
CATs Member since:
2017-06-09

Now, more to the point, detailed explanation...
Example: a threaded view of a conversation that happened over the course of 6 months and involved let's say 8 people plus few group mailboxes/distribution lists, plus some external partners. There were many replies, some forwards, some replies to forwards, some appointments (calendar items), some attachments. You can see separate e-mails from that conversation in certain folders in your mailbox, but you can also see that entire conversation as a whole. There's a signature with phone number after every single reply/forward, so that you can very quickly contact any person involved without hunting for his contacts.
Since it's a very long and complex communication, some people used formatting to emphasise some parts of their long text, and to de-emphasise others. This makes it much easier to read quickly. Some included hyperlinks to KB articles, some copied portions of articles with the formatting (bullet lists, tables, etc.).
And you have a mailbox of 5 gigs, full of conversations like this, all easily searchable by many different parameters, all securely residing on both server AND your computers, accessible from any device with network connection. And you can be confident that you can reach any company and almost any person in the world by e-mail without them having to set-up an account to a specific IM provider (Facebook, Skype, Viber, WhatsApp...). And you don't need to have a gazillion of different IM accounts yourself, because e-mail is universal, decentralised, does not require you to be tied to any particular provider... Hell, you can just as well run personal e-mail yourself if you so choose, and no one will care.
Now tell me, what other alternative would allow me to do all that?

Edited 2017-06-19 17:37 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Sounds good, but ...
by spacexplorer on Tue 20th Jun 2017 13:21 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Sounds good, but ..."
spacexplorer Member since:
2017-06-20

They are usefull for many aspects. The first is freedom: you can easily run your own mailserver without depend on any other service. You can communicate with any over server without specific clients or OSes. With "offline" mail setup you also own your own messages, you can search them offline, backup them as you like, migrate them to any other service.

If Facebook decide to delete FB Messenger what you can do?

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Sounds good, but ...
by WorknMan on Mon 19th Jun 2017 16:44 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Sounds good, but ..."
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Apparently, you never used e-mail as it is supposed to be used in the first place, thus you have no problem to stop using it.


Well, I guess it's a good thing we have your holiness to tell the rest of us how email is supposed to be used. Who knew we were doing it wrong all those years?

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Sounds good, but ...
by CATs on Mon 19th Jun 2017 17:06 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Sounds good, but ..."
CATs Member since:
2017-06-09

"Apparently, you never used e-mail as it is supposed to be used in the first place, thus you have no problem to stop using it.


Well, I guess it's a good thing we have your holiness to tell the rest of us how email is supposed to be used. Who knew we were doing it wrong all those years?
"

It's one thing to be clueless, and entirely new level to be proud of your cluelessness like you do... Apparently, entire world is blind and stupid to be clinging to such an outdated, redundant and unnecessary technology as e-mail, and only a few tech geniuses here on OSNews know THE TRUTH -- that e-mail can be replaced by Facebook chat... For gods'es sake, get over yourself, people...

Or to be more precise: get out of your mother's basement and try to see a little further than just your own yard.

Edited 2017-06-19 17:07 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Sounds good, but ...
by grandmasterphp on Sat 17th Jun 2017 11:17 UTC in reply to "Sounds good, but ..."
grandmasterphp Member since:
2017-05-15

As someone that has worked on sending mails recently through services such as SendGrid. You should send a text version and a HTML version of the mail.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Sounds good, but ...
by MacTO on Sat 17th Jun 2017 22:41 UTC in reply to "Sounds good, but ..."
MacTO Member since:
2006-09-21

I have found that personal correspondence is typically plain text. Some of it is sent with plain text and HTML, but the content is always identical. Bulk emails are much more likely to depend upon the HTML component.

There are two ways that I deal with that. Bulk emails are typically sent to an account that has a webmail interface and can be accessed via a graphical client. Personal correspondence is sent to a separate account (where the provider offers shell access and various email clients). The second method is to purge most bulk emails without even opening them. Simply put, most of them are not even worth my time.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Sounds good, but ...
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 19th Jun 2017 13:54 UTC in reply to "Sounds good, but ..."
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Not well. I had a mutt based set up, but used a company web mail client for the non text based emails. Most human to human emails are text so it works fine for those. I dropped it as there were more and more automatically generated html emails I had to work with. Just became a pain to have both.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Sounds good, but ...
by spacexplorer on Tue 20th Jun 2017 13:16 UTC in reply to "Sounds good, but ..."
spacexplorer Member since:
2017-06-20

Mu devs build a nice webkit-based minisoftware who read a message and output a nice rendered pdf.

it's part of mu suite, toy dir. on Debian-based system is named maildir-utils (they dislike short names...), on Arch is in AUR: mu-git. I personally use it inside Emacs via pdf-tools and it's very nice. Of course, it's not a good answer for terminal-based MUAs...

Reply Score: 1

DeepThought
Member since:
2010-07-17

No way. Though I myself never send emails with HTML or inline images, I constantly receive such from customer.
Since years I have this footer:
PS: I prefer ASCII only email and pictures attached! NO HTML!

At university I loved Pine and working inside a terminal. But today, I cannot imagine to have a non-HTML, non-GFX email client.

Edited 2017-06-17 06:18 UTC

Reply Score: 3

CATs Member since:
2017-06-09

No way. Though I myself never send emails with HTML or inline images, I constantly receive such from customer.
Since years I have this footer:
PS: I prefer ASCII only email and pictures attached! NO HTML!

At university I loved Pine and working inside a terminal. But today, I cannot imagine to have a non-HTML, non-GFX email client.

Basically, people who are able to use text-only e-mail clients, are using e-mail solely for personal chats and nothing more serious.

Reply Score: 1

no, never again
by l3v1 on Sat 17th Jun 2017 06:58 UTC
l3v1
Member since:
2005-07-06

Not funny. I've been around computers long enough to know enough various ways to accomplish things to easily come to the conclusion that I'm not willing to go back ~20 years in comfort and functionality (mind you, there's functionality and then there's functionality). I've used mutt (as well as other clients) back in the day, but this day is not back then anymore.

Having said that, everyone should use whatever they feel comfortable with.

Reply Score: 3

Emacs + wanderlust.
by Berend de Boer on Sat 17th Jun 2017 08:10 UTC
Berend de Boer
Member since:
2005-10-19

I'm using Emacs + wanderlust + imap server in the office. Having access to your email offline and online needing only minimal bandwidth works has worked very well for me.

And obviously customisation options are a lot better. I can reply with proper From/footer based on sender for example.

Reply Score: 1

v NMH
by Dr.Cyber on Sat 17th Jun 2017 10:20 UTC
RE: NMH
by grat on Mon 19th Jun 2017 01:02 UTC in reply to "NMH"
grat Member since:
2006-02-02

Bah! You and your oh-so-easy-to-use nmh. Real hackers use mh, and patch their outdated, obsolete code with arcane diff files.

At one time, when I had a 70+ line .tcshrc (just config options-- the aliases were in .aliases) file, I used mh, and then switched to nmh. Being able to use tcsh or bash to manage your mailboxes was verra cool, but it got old-- probably about the time everyone started sending Outlook messages as full base64 encoded mime for two words of text.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: NMH
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 19th Jun 2017 14:08 UTC in reply to "RE: NMH"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

That's absurd. Real men use MUSIC/SP. If your email client isn't written in an unholy combination of IBM 370 assembler and FORTRAN, well you're missing the good stuff.

Reply Score: 2

rklrkl
Member since:
2005-07-06

...it became increasingly frustrating to deal with modern emails, which would come with HTML, images and quite often no text section at all.

You'd end up with the mail client often having to launch a Web browser to render a mail (and good luck if that's set to lynx!). I eventually gave up and switched to Thunderbird, which works well enough for me.

Reply Score: 3

A combination of two
by Mikaku on Sat 17th Jun 2017 15:07 UTC
Mikaku
Member since:
2007-05-03

I use 'alpine' in all servers and Thunderbird in my desktops.

Reply Score: 1

modmans2ndcoming
Member since:
2005-11-09

Since efficiently managing my email isn't part of my productivity habits anymore I don't see the need to spend too much time worrying about it.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by CATs
by CATs on Mon 19th Jun 2017 09:20 UTC
CATs
Member since:
2017-06-09

I also used to do things like that when I was at school and had too much free time. I remember once classmate pointing out to me that "Well, you can send your e-mails over telnet using SMTP commands, but what's the point?". And now I fully agree with him — the only point to all that is "just because I can".

Reply Score: 1

LOL
by Kancept on Mon 19th Jun 2017 20:08 UTC
Kancept
Member since:
2006-01-09

FTA: "It’s been really nice to have all my email sitting around as nothing more than a big pile of files like this."

Our emails were individual files that we could mine for data in BeOS. Used it all the time. He's just now getting around to this.

Looks like everyone is going back to simplicity. Odd.

Reply Score: 1

RE: LOL
by CATs on Tue 20th Jun 2017 06:23 UTC in reply to "LOL"
CATs Member since:
2017-06-09

FTA: "It’s been really nice to have all my email sitting around as nothing more than a big pile of files like this."

Our emails were individual files that we could mine for data in BeOS. Used it all the time. He's just now getting around to this.

Looks like everyone is going back to simplicity. Odd.

My first IT company that I worked in had corporate mail server that used same principle: 1 e-mail = 1 file. 1 IMAP folder = 1 folder on disk. You could either use e-mail client, or just browse your mailbox folder on server using simple file explorer.

Reply Score: 1

Modern Email
by whartung on Tue 20th Jun 2017 00:04 UTC
whartung
Member since:
2005-07-06

My brother has effectively abandoned not just email, but the phone and seems to live content with just Facebook Messenger.

Since this was the only way to communicate with him, then, I, too, am on Facebook Messenger. I learned all of this after I mailed him a phone so he would call me. Probably be the last phone conversation I'll ever have with him.

Similarly, there's this "pressure" for folks to use these alternative communication mechanisms -- HipChat, Slack, etc. even at the corporate level. But what's so curious about these is that they just create these islands. It must be just me, but I've found it impossible to join "public" HipChat channels, as they're not part of my company's "rooms". (Oh, and we've left HipChat now we're Slack -- ok).

Meanwhile, we still have extensive email, with gratuitous top posting, attachments, forwards, thread follows, "reply alls", etc. etc. When reading email was difficult, folks strived to minimize it. Now email is a huge, rich formatted page grandly displayed on this drive-in-theater sized 27" inch display. This email is not well suited for an 80x25 green screen.

It was interesting to see the notes and comments on essentially the complete failure of encrypted email. It's interesting because we do use encrypted email here. We use it as the transport for healthcare information. SMTP is effectively the underlying transport for S/MIME encrypted payloads. But that whole mechanism is transparent to the user. We interface to it with standard IMAP clients. I send plain text email, they receive plain text email but it's encrypted on the wire over SMTP. The key/certificate/trust management is all handled by the servers. Cert discovery is done via DNS.

it's an invitation only club, because of the trust infrastructure, but it's encrypted email and works pretty well. We're moving a million messages/month on our infrastructure.

But it really solves a lot of the issues that surrounded email encryption.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Modern Email
by Alfman on Tue 20th Jun 2017 06:04 UTC in reply to "Modern Email"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

whartung,

Similarly, there's this "pressure" for folks to use these alternative communication mechanisms -- HipChat, Slack, etc. even at the corporate level. But what's so curious about these is that they just create these islands. It must be just me, but I've found it impossible to join "public" HipChat channels, as they're not part of my company's "rooms". (Oh, and we've left HipChat now we're Slack -- ok).


You are absolutely right about these "islands". I was thinking the future of technology would be unification across devices and services, but in fact it's been quite the opposite with consumers being divided between services.


It was interesting to see the notes and comments on essentially the complete failure of encrypted email. It's interesting because we do use encrypted email here. We use it as the transport for healthcare information. SMTP is effectively the underlying transport for S/MIME encrypted payloads. But that whole mechanism is transparent to the user. We interface to it with standard IMAP clients. I send plain text email, they receive plain text email but it's encrypted on the wire over SMTP. The key/certificate/trust management is all handled by the servers. Cert discovery is done via DNS.

it's an invitation only club, because of the trust infrastructure, but it's encrypted email and works pretty well. We're moving a million messages/month on our infrastructure.

But it really solves a lot of the issues that surrounded email encryption.


In my opinion I believe email is massively screwed up, with so many hacks and inconsistencies that even something as basic as determining a sender is non-trivial without implementing tons of RFCs that you can't enforce because other services don't implement them, etc. As an administrator the whole thing is unpleasant, and as a programmer I'm annoyed because I know we could replace it with better and easier technology today.

But therein lies the problem, I don't believe commercial interests will be supporting any new federated services in the future, they strongly prefer proprietary ones. Email is the last major widespread federated communications medium of it's kind and I'd wager it's never going to get a a major overhaul. Instead we'll just extend email indefinitely with hacks that only work for select users using the correct software.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Modern Email
by CATs on Tue 20th Jun 2017 06:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Modern Email"
CATs Member since:
2017-06-09

In my opinion I believe email is massively screwed up, with so many hacks and inconsistencies that even something as basic as determining a sender is non-trivial without implementing tons of RFCs that you can't enforce because other services don't implement them, etc. As an administrator the whole thing is unpleasant, and as a programmer I'm annoyed because I know we could replace it with better and easier technology today.

Such as?.. I agree that protocol itself is archaic and screwed up, but it's still the best that we have for the purpose. There is sadly no drop-in replacement at the moment.

But therein lies the problem, I don't believe commercial interests will be supporting any new federated services in the future, they strongly prefer proprietary ones. Email is the last major widespread federated communications medium of it's kind and I'd wager it's never going to get a a major overhaul. Instead we'll just extend email indefinitely with hacks that only work for select users using the correct software.

I disagree about "select users using the correct software". E-mail, being as feature-rich as it is, is still surprisingly universal, with most important and critical features being supported among most servers and clients.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Modern Email
by Sidux on Wed 21st Jun 2017 08:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Modern Email"
Sidux Member since:
2015-03-10

Fun thing is that back when they were released you could unify them via standard protocols.
Things went downhill when companies took business into consideration by the fact that they were making money from people actually using their platform.
From technical perspective that is possible even today but profit wise it's a show stopper.
Facebook Messenger is not even close to what iMessage can do on iOS or a proper email server/client setup, thus having more "pro" features.
It's just another way to get in touch with people without paying too much taxes..

Reply Score: 1

RE: Modern Email
by dionicio on Wed 21st Jun 2017 14:39 UTC in reply to "Modern Email"
dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

Have been pressured A LOT, to move to WhatsAPP.

Having both Alphabet and Face-book in the stack I stood on [besides FW and HW "acccidents"], proved too much for my sense of equilibrium.

Reply Score: 2

Smooth exercise...
by dionicio on Wed 21st Jun 2017 13:54 UTC
dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

And a sign about e-mailing still unnecessarily complex.

Reply Score: 2

Just as XHTML...
by dionicio on Wed 21st Jun 2017 13:57 UTC
dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

E-mail should be modularized, also.

Reply Score: 2