The Sad State of Email Clients of Linux

By | July 4, 2014

I recently upgraded to 64-bit Mint 17 KDE.  While it seems a bit slow on my netbook, that may simply be the notoriously low powered WiFi unit the thing uses to get its 10+ hours of battery life.  This upgrade lead me once again to experiment with email clients.

Let me preface this by saying I was testing with an IMAP account hosted on 1and1.com.  Given all of the traveling I do I have been forced to switch to IMAP from POP3.  The big difference, for those of you who don’t know, is with IMAP all of the email stays on the server.

People try to call it a cloud to make it sound sexy.  Just call it what it is, a mainframe.  In the 70s and 80s we all had various “terminals” to connect with our central computer.  We could be in the building or in another country, but we could connect to the central computer.  Some time later mainframe computing model wasn’t sexy.  Now, we are all using the mainframe again, only the name has changed.

Anyway, back to the experiment.

KMail was the first I tried since it was installed by default.  It works a bit better than the last time I tried it.  Importing addresses from LDIF was a bit of a PITA.  Not much built in help on what to choose or how to really do it.  Definitely continuing in the fine tradition of Linux being “expert friendly.”

Once I figured out how to make KMail use Sent, Draft, Spam and Trash folders on the IMAP server I uncovered a fatal bug.  A bit of searching around proved I am not the only one to hit this bug.  When you delete a message from your inbox it goes away for a few seconds while the server is updated.  It then re-appears all grayed out and inaccessible in your inbox.  When you log into your Web access for IMAP you find the messages appearing in your inbox there with a line through them AND appearing in your trash folder with a line through them.  NOT COOL.  Judging from the messages I read on KDE forums this bug keeps popping up.

I tried evolution.  I used to love evolution but it has been seriously devolving over the past years.  Evolution has become hopelessly tied to the Gnome 3 desktop.  Given the major rift in icky nasty Gnome land known as Gnome2, Gnome3, Unity, Cinamon and Mate; evolution is an ever more isolated product.  No matter how many developers are currently working on evolution I would have to say the product is not maintained.  Most Linux packages try to broaden the number of desktops and operating systems they run on.  Evolution is in a perpetually shrinking world.  After configuring everything evolution didn’t even bother to prompt me for a password so it could never pull down my folders.  What a PITA to really un-install under KDE!

Some people really love Claws-mail.  Some people really love fake meat.  I didn’t use Claws for more than a few hours.  Bad, bad, bad, bad.  Calling any portion of it an “address book” is just plain wrong.  It wouldn’t even import street addresses from the LDIF files.

I installed sylpheed next.  Had high hopes for this package given the number of platforms it runs on.  Once again, a worthless address book.  Does not even have a place for street addresses and phone numbers.

Sadly, I’m back to using Thunderbird.  This is quite possibly the worst email client I have ever been forced to use, but it is the only one which functions on my current desktop AND has an address book which can store street addresses, cell phone numbers, etc.

Of course, if even one of these clients did a half assedly good job of mapping onto the address book of my email account on the IMAP server I could contemplate keeping that information there.  Have to think long and hard about that though.  Believe it or not there are people out there who believe Microsoft operating systems actually have security.  Couldn’t trust putting that kind of information “in a cloud” if it is running a Microsoft OS.  If the cloud was a REAL computer running a REAL operating system (think midrange and mainframe, you know, the kind of systems you never hear about getting penetrated), I would do it in a heart beat.

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About seasoned_geek

Roland Hughes started his IT career in the early 1980s. He quickly became a consultant and president of Logikal Solutions, a software consulting firm specializing in OpenVMS application and C++/Qt touchscreen/embedded Linux development. Early in his career he became involved in what is now called cross platform development. Given the dearth of useful books on the subject he ventured into the world of professional author in 1995 writing the first of the "Zinc It!" book series for John Gordon Burke Publisher, Inc. A decade later he released a massive (nearly 800 pages) tome "The Minimum You Need to Know to Be an OpenVMS Application Developer" which tried to encapsulate the essential skills gained over what was nearly a 20 year career at that point. From there "The Minimum You Need to Know" book series was born. Three years later he wrote his first novel "Infinite Exposure" which got much notice from people involved in the banking and financial security worlds. Some of the attacks predicted in that book have since come to pass. While it was not originally intended to be a trilogy, it became the first book of "The Earth That Was" trilogy: Infinite Exposure Lesedi - The Greatest Lie Ever Told John Smith - Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars When he is not consulting Roland Hughes posts about technology and sometimes politics on his blog. He also has regularly scheduled Sunday posts appearing on the Interesting Authors blog.