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10.3.2.3. Mail user-agents

There are plenty of both text and graphical E-mail clients, we'll just name a few of the common ones. Pick your favorite.

The UNIX mail command has been around for years, even before networking existed. It is a simple interface to send messages and small files to other users, who can then save the message, redirect it, reply to it and such.

While it is not commonly used as a client anymore, the mail program is still useful, for example to mail the output of a command to somebody:

mail < cv.txt

The elm mail reader is a much needed improvement to mail, and so is pine (Pine Is Not ELM). The mutt mail reader is even more recent and offers features like threading.

For those users who prefer a graphical interface to their mail (and a tennis elbow or a mouse arm), there are hundreds of options. The most popular for new users are Mozilla Mail/Thunderbird, which has easy anti-spam configuring options, and Evolution, the MS Outlook clone. Kmail is popular among KDE users.

Figure 10-1. Evolution mail and news reader

There are also tens of web mail applications available, such as Squirrelmail, Yahoo! mail, gmail from Google and Hotmail.

An overview is available via the Linux Mail User HOWTO.

Most Linux distributions include fetchmail, a mail-retrieval and forwarding utility. It fetches mail from remote mail servers (POP, IMAP and some others) and forwards it to your local delivery system. You can then handle the retrieved mail using normal mail clients. It can be run in daemon mode to repeatedly poll one or more systems at a specified interval. Information and usage examples can be found in the Info pages; the directory /usr/share/doc/fetchmail[-<version>] contains a full list of features and a FAQ for beginners.

The procmail filter can be used for filtering incoming mail, to create mailing lists, to pre-process mail, to selectively forward mail and more. The accompanying formail program, among others, enables generation of auto-replies and splitting up mailboxes. Procmail has been around for years on UNIX and Linux machines and is a very robust system, designed to work even in the worst circumstances. More information may be found in the /usr/share/doc/procmail[-<version>] directory and in the man pages.

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