Tag Archives: mail

goobook: Command-line contacts

My workplace relies heavily on Google Documents and GMail right now, and so something like goobook should come in handy.


What you see there is very primitive, but as I understand it, goobook is mostly intended as an ancillary tool for mail agents, like mutt or perhaps alot. Adding goobook to those tools means you can manage Google contacts without the need for a browser as an intermediary. Which is always a good thing.

goobook needs a little configuration before it can get started; at the very least, you can add your e-mail address and password to .goobookrc, and if you need more help than that, It will generate a template for you with goobook config-template > .goobookrc. I was able to get to most of goobook’s functions just by uncommenting and editing two lines in that file, although the help pages show how to properly encrypt your password and so forth.

From there, you should be able to build your local cache (or refresh it) with goobook reload. Adding addresses works with goobook add, and so forth.

goobook probably looks simple and for what I’ve seen, it is. But I also feel like the usefulness with goobook is in splicing it with your mail client. So don’t mark it down just for seeming basic. That’s probably intentional.

goobook is in AUR in several flavors; I don’t see this in Debian but I don’t think it would be hard to add by hand. πŸ™‚

alot: With notmuch help involved, and little more

Up front, let’s say that alot is a “graphical” interface to notmuch, which you might know or remember as a mail indexer and search tool.

2015-04-14-6m47421-alot-01 2015-04-14-6m47421-alot-02 2015-04-14-6m47421-alot-03

And as you can see, alot has a lot πŸ˜› of the right stuff — good color, very flexible terminal space, on-screen help and an intuitive interface. Navigation is with enter keys and a few other mnemonics, and some keys have global behaviors, regardless of what you’re doing at any moment in time.

I would bet that, once your mail setup is complete, you’ll only need about three or four minutes to learn how to use alot, and after that, you’ll cruise through your mail folder at ludicrous speed.

A few things to remember though. … alot needs notmuch on board, which means you’re dealing mostly with the local mail concept, as opposed to relaying directly to an online mail source. If you’re looking for something that will pull down messages from GMail and let you pick through them, I don’t think this is it.

On the other hand, it does mean that you’re free to latch alot (and notmuch) on to your home-grown mail system — or as I showed above, latch notmuch onto something like offlineimap, which can yank messages off GMail and store them locally.

So technically speaking, there are options. The question becomes, how much do you want to step backwards through programs, just to take advantage of alot, when things like alpine can more or less handle the entire process in one fell swoop? Again, if you use a local mail system, alot might be preferable. For me … well. … 😐

All in all, I have to give alot a gold star for catching every point in my checklist for a good console application. I don’t think this is a game-changer for me though, since I’d have to rely on two or three other programs before alot became my mail reader, even if setup is fairly straightforward for all of them.

In AUR as alot and alot-git, but the git version wasn’t working at this exact moment in time. In Debian. And of course, as promised: ⭐ Enjoy! πŸ™‚

urlscan and urlview: With the assist

Not having a lot of experience with the convenience and immediacy of local mail service, I find that things like urlscan and urlview are sometimes lost on me.

I’ve done my best though, to try and see the fearful symmetry of urlview, which skims through text files and plucks out viable URLs, then displays them as links. How would that be useful? When sent an e-mail filled with links, of course.


From there, it’s a simple hop-skip-and-jump to your fav-o-rite browser, and you can wallow at your leisure in the murky swill of the Internet. :\

And it’s got most of the requisite points — some color, a full-screen interface, abort keys on screen. Granted, it’s simple, but not so simple as to be unnoticed.

urlscan is a re-imagining of the task, and is written in python. You can probably see the resemblance.


And you can see where there’s a slight variation on the original theme, with a top-and-bottom arrangement over urlview’s list-and-status bar style. You pick your preference.

(I did notice, just as a side note, that urlscan seemed to glance over URLs that were prefixed with http:// but that may have been a quirk in my test list.)

Other notes: urlview has a complete configuration file in /etc/urlview/. urlscan can dump its ouput to STDOUT. Both expect you to configure $BROWSER beforehand, although I believe urlview can rely on its own configuration files too. Both are in Debian and Arch/AUR.

I feel obligated to mention that both urlview and urlscan are quite happy working their magic on plain text files, and don’t rely on any mail system whatsoever to work (which should be obvious from my screenshots). So if you have a project that needs to skim for web addresses, either will probably suffice.

On the other hand, I can’t really think of many ways to use either program beyond what they’re designed for — filtering through e-mails and displaying links. Perhaps in time I will find something to use them with. … πŸ˜‰

multimail: A rubberstamp endorsement

Looking back over the past week, I didn’t do as badly as I expected, considering my schedule. By calculations I owe a post each for Monday and Wednesday, so I’ll start with multimail.

2015-01-17-l3-b7175-multimail-01 2015-01-17-l3-b7175-multimail-02

There were two hurdles to the Debian version of multimail. The first is that, in a measure of infinite wisdom, the executable that is included in the Debian version is not called multimail, but is instead just mm. I lost 10 minutes this morning thinking the Debian package was just a bunch of configuration files. 😑

The second impediment, and then one I couldn’t clear myself, was to get mail packets in a format that multimail could swallow, and if the home page is any guidance, I was looking for any of about four different formats.

It may be possible to finagle something from Google in one of those formats, but all my attempts were left with garbled text or just general incompatibility. Of course, I do also have a track record for scrambling things before they ever get going.

In any case, I was running out of time on my multimail adventure, and attempts to glean help from the Internet ran dry when I realized there were dozens of unrelated projects named “multimail” out there, and were severely obscuring my quest.

So I’ll leave it to you to judge it on its actual usefulness; my intuition suggests it may be helpful to have a tool that will retrieve your e-mail from Google, if you also rely on GMail, and then step into multimail.

But that is a project for another day. For now I’m willing to give multimail a tentative gold star on just about every other point of evaluation: Full screen approach, keypress clues in plain sight, popup menus at every corner, gorgeous use of color (with drop shadows! πŸ˜€ ), extensive customizability and a decidedly friendly approach to mail reading. ⭐ And if you get it hooked into your GMail account, tell me how it worked. I’d like to try. πŸ˜‰

notmuch: “Not much” is relative

I do my best to tinker with all the local mail tools that I collect, even when some of them are well beyond my reach. notmuch is a mail indexer, that supposedly is extensible to a practical mail reader, with the help of some outside applications.

Here’s what it can do on its own:


If you keep a local mail folder but need something to search and sort, notmuch might work well for you. I did that little bit with the help of offlineimap and one Google Mail account, and it didn’t take much more effort to get notmuch working. On its first run, notmuch gave me an interactive configuration wizard, and in the space of a minute, I was picking through my .mail folder.

notmuch has only a few commands — like search and show above — that return mail results, and from there you can manage them as you need to. I see that there are also apparently provisions for tagging messages, and dumping and restoring, a la an e-mail backup.

notmuch is another tool that, by itself, is not much. πŸ˜€ It will require something to fetch the mail, and probably you’ll want to either incorporate it into another program as a mail reader — I see that both emacs and vim are possibilities, as well as the classic mutt — and there’s still the task of replying to mail before notmuch becomes a full e-mail suite.

That’s a little more than I have time for, and to be honest, if you’re the kind of person who manages their e-mail at the local level, it’s probably something you’re better at setting up than I am. No offense taken.

But keep notmuch in mind when the time comes to sort through 3000 e-mails looking for that one person who sent you a tip about an esoteric console program. … πŸ˜‰

lumail: You can probably do better

I admit I tackled lumail with a little less than the requisite tenacity, as will be obvious from this screenshot:


That’s because the author’s own screenshots are so much better. And because I’m stuck in that gray zone of mail clients again, this time with one that is specifically written to only handle local mail directories.

And again, since I primarily work with five or six online mail services, I’d need to bring in something like offlineimap or maybe isync or fetchmail to bring all those emails down here, and then configure lumail to work with them.

Forgive me, I just haven’t got “it” today. 😐

For what I can see from from the web site and from building and running lumail, it does look like a viable option for anyone with a local mail system to navigate. I can’t say how much better it would be than any of the inborne emacs clients or sup or even mutt, but if you’re in that group of users, it might be worth investigating. You can probably do better than I did here.

Advanced users will probably want to look at this page, for some of the more complex interactions lumail can engage in. These might also spark your interest.

I feel like I’m giving lumail a short shrift, but it’s not the first time I’ve had to glance quickly at a program before moving along. It happens a lot with local mail tools, and there’s not much for me to show by plastering up a screenshot of a man page. You can do that much on your own. … 😦

lbdb: Looks can be deceiving

I mentioned bbdb last week along with charrington, as an address book tool for within emacs. Out of fairness, I feel I should mention lbdb as well, although it doesn’t look like much from where I sit.


lbdb, for what I can tell, is mostly a search tool for address books, whether created by your system or by other software. As a scientific guess, I would reckon from the configuration file that lbdb is prepared to scrape through about a dozen different address files and mail systems, as well as your /etc/passwd and other local system files, to find the person you’re looking for.

Above you can see what little there was for it it search in my .addressbook file, created by re-alpine and compatible with its “m_pine” search method. You’ll need to copy /etc/lbdbrc to .lbdbrc, add the method you need to the METHODS line, and make sure that the remainder of the variables in that file match your setup. For example, since my .addressbook file is actually at ~/.addressbook, I didn’t need to adjust line 84.

After that, lbdbq "name" would search through the file and return anything matching “name.” Easy as that.

But also as simple as that. I experimented with lbdb and its incorporated tools for about a half an hour, but what you see in that screenshot above is about the best I got out of it.

I know it’s not very impressive, but my .addressbook file is not very impressive either. If I had a few more names and addresses, then I would probably find lbdb a little more useful.

And of course, if you’re working on a system with a multitude of address and e-mail tools available, for several users or perhaps multiple systems, lbdb might give you more pause than it did for me.

Like a lot of things I come across, I have a feeling lbdb only looks unassuming because my own system is so terrifically meager. And looks can be deceiving. 😐

wanderlust: emacs plus e-mail equals … emailcs?

I’ll give you a tease of wanderlust, and then give you a few links to get you going on it.


I don’t hold any particular grudge against an e-mail tool embedded in emacs. emacs is extensible enough to handle a nifty spectrum of things — spreadsheets and chat clients to name a few — and if necessary, it can even edit text. πŸ™„

This time I just didn’t have the patience to wade through the configuration and make wanderlust work with my GMail account. It’s not impossible, I expect, and with help from the wiki and from third-party sites, I reckon it should be fairly easy.

My first attempt only brought me to the title page, as you can see above, and I just didn’t have the heart to push through to a happy ending. Use your imagination. πŸ˜‰

There. Now, by my calculations, both the emacs and vim contingents should have reached a sensible level of parity, in terms of variants, plugins and extensions. I sure wouldn’t want to show any sliver of favoritism. … :\

sup: My pet procrastination

I’ve had, for a very long time now, a link that supposedly explains how to successfully set up sup, offlineimap and ssmtp in an orbital shell around GMail. And still, years later, I haven’t tried it.

I know enough about sup to know that it could possibly dethrone alpine as my daily e-mail tool — which in and of itself is not a huge deal, since mutt nearly did that only a few months ago.

It’s just turned into my favorite thing to procrastinate about — I know it wouldn’t take much more than an hour, but still I haven’t done it. I’m like that sometimes. 😐


sup has been around for long enough to become a fixture in the console e-mail department, and mentioning it in the same breath as alpine and mutt is the best sign of that.

For what I have seen (recently and in ancient history) it’s clean and quick, and won’t take too long to learn.

All that is required is for me to finally set aside the time it would take to get it all into place. And this week is just not the right time. Maybe next week, when I’m not so busy.

Yeah right. … πŸ™„

procmail: May I refer you to someone more knowledgeable?

Sorry for the silence yesterday; Thursdays are still just too busy to tinker with computers, aside from real-life mission-critical issues. πŸ™„

It’s probably just as well, since one of today’s applications is procmail, and I am woefully underqualified to describe it.

I understand that it can forward, arrange and otherwise manage mail on your own mail server system, as well as some other nifty tricks.

But as far as I can tell it would require me to have an entire array of procmail, fetchmail, sendmail and other mini-applications working before I could get a decent screenshot.

Which again, with my piddly little Gmail accounts, makes me about the least qualified person to preach about it. 😦

So I will refer you to someone more knowledgeable, and by that I don’t mean DuckDuckGo Lite.

And what does K.Mandla always rely on, when in uncharted realms? Well, the Arch Linux wiki, of course. πŸ˜‰