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In search of something not Evolution.

It's funny how these things come in waves; I was in the process of evaluating KMail as a replacement for Evolution and watching it regenerate its local IMAP cache three times for no apparently reason when I saw Hub's post about KMail 1.9.2 deleting his Inbox. Ouch.

Lately I have been getting behind on my email answering queue and last week I spent a solid two hours in Evolution just answering, sorting and organizing my email on IMAP. When I was finished, some eight to ten Evolution crashes later, in a fit of rage, I set out to replace Evolution for good. Before I abandoned it though, I considered the possibility that my hate for Evolution is an isolated phenomenon. So, in a very unscientific sampling, I did a quick IMAP query on the several thousand emails that I have in my GNOME IMAP folder for any email headers matching X-Mailer *Evolution*. The result? Fewer than a third of email posted to the GNOME mailing lists that I'm subscribed to come from Evolution user agents. So, maybe it's not just me.

Over the weekend I gave Sylpheed Claws GTK2 a good run. It's nice, pragmatic, easy to use. It seems to lack Palm Pilot integration and doesn't really answer the calendar part of my needs but I'm willing to overlook that. So far my only major hate for it is that it blocks on spam filtering. Which means that the UI freezes for a good two-three minutes when I check my Inbox in the morning (I receive a lot of mail).

I'll give KMail a bit more of a chance. It also blocks on spam filtering and right now it's trying to spam filter every email I've ever received even though none of them are marked as "NEW" - I guess "Act on new/unread mail in this folder" means "everything that KMail has never seen". If KMail doesn't work for me (so far not looking good), I'll probably be stuck with Thunderbird, as well. It's funny: when I look back three or four years, I don't remember IMAP clients sucking this bad. Have we digressed?


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 18th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC)
Obviously Thunderbird is still the best IMAP client, even though its UI is not the best, and there are a lot of mis-features/bugs in it. And also it needs to have saner default.

Evolution is just unsalvageable.

KMail was promissing until this happened. Apparently the "disconnected IMAP" bug has bee around for more than a year...
Sep. 18th, 2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
I'll take evo with its Thousand Leaks From Hell every day over Thunderbird, and twice a day over KMail (and yes: I use evo on IMAP for work and over POP for my personal mail).

Emmanuele / http://log.emmanuelebassi.net
Sep. 18th, 2006 07:20 pm (UTC)
Use Thunderbird!

I personally ever hated evolution because it is so slow and crashes that often.

I use Thunderbird which in 2 years with heavy IMAP (1 account) and POP3 (2 accounts) never crashed. I only in the early days had some problem with enigmail which caused some crashes but that seems to be fixed.

Of course Thunderbird cannot be fully compared to Evolution, it lacks palm support (AFAIK) and does not (yet) have a working calender. Both are things I don't use though.

Sep. 18th, 2006 07:23 pm (UTC)
Sylpheed is nice
Every now and then I evaluate some GUI-based email client to replace Mutt. I think I tried Evolution three times, and each time ran away screaming.

Sylpheed was the one I liked best. (Not Sylpheed Claws, its UI was too cluttered and not-pretty.) What impressed me most was that it took about two seconds to open an IMAP folder with 14000 messages, which is considerably faster than Mutt can manage on a local Maildir.

I filter my spam directly on the IMAP server, with procmail and SpamBayes, so no blocking. SpamBayes can connect and filter an IMAP mailbox, if you do not have a shell account on the server. The bad part is that SpamBayes lets through tens of spam emails into my inbox every day. Maybe I've been training it incorrectly.
Sep. 18th, 2006 07:25 pm (UTC)
needs have changed
3 or 4 years ago, mail volumes were a lot lower and spam wasn't nearly as bad (most people I know didn't do client-side IMAP filtering 3-4 years ago like they do now).

as needs go up, complexity goes up, stability goes down and bugs go up. that is the way of things.
Sep. 18th, 2006 07:53 pm (UTC)
I've not had Evolution crash on me in the last few months. Okay so it's a memory hog (improvements in the latest version which I don't have yet, I understand) and there are some things that definitely need to be better (I strongly feel it should be split into seperate but related apps - evolution-data-server should be enough to allow the mail side to do addresses and to allow emailed appointments to be handled smoothly, surely), but I don't get this hatred a lot of people have for it. Basically it seems to me to be a pretty good and reasonably solid client.

Certainly no worse than anything else I've used. The IMAP is pretty shit, sure, but so's every other IMAP client I've ever used.
Sep. 18th, 2006 08:34 pm (UTC)
a difference in volume?
Perhaps we have different email volumes? I have 2 POP accounts and 3 IMAP accounts. Each of my IMAP inboxes has about 1,500 email messages in it. Some of my mailing list folders have several thousand messages.
Sep. 18th, 2006 09:47 pm (UTC)
Re: a difference in volume?
Hmm. I've got two IMAP accounts, one of which is IMAP/S. Some of my folders run into thousands of messages, but they're generally archival and not accessed on a hugely regular basis. Maybe you're running into problems that only manifest severely with really large folders.

Typically, of course, they're going to be the kind of bug that's hard to find and fix. I've always hated those.
Sep. 19th, 2006 04:47 pm (UTC)
Re: a difference in volume?
My setup (see my post below) results in a single bloody large IMAP account. Some of the folders in it had, until recently when I moved most of the older messages in them to archive folders that courier doesn't serve, somewhere north of 100,000 messages each. This didn't cause Evo any problems except some hard disk thrashing when it checked new mail for these folders. My surmise is that, for some reason, Evo is worse at dealing with remote IMAP servers than local ones. It's the only way I can reconcile my experience with that of others.
Nov. 24th, 2006 04:19 am (UTC)
Re: a difference in volume?
Hmmm..., came here in the search for information about moving from Evo to T-Bird - which is still a serious issue and why I wanted to move: on my partner's machine she uses T-Bird and when upgrading or moving email from one machone to another all you have to do in T-Bird is to copy one set of directories. In Evo you have to move three (1. ~/.evolution/ & 2. ~/.gconf/apps/evolution/ & 3. ~/.gnome2_private/Evolution), which is two more than the Novell manual tells you and which still does not seem to move the account data!, only email and other configuration. I have done this many times and therefore thought that when doing it for my partner is was so much easier and it works, simply -done.

Now that Thunderbird also offers virtual folders in an extension I might want to make the jump, but I have five POP3 accounts (and two insignificant imap), together they count more than 20.000 emails, and if you have to move them manually as suggested here: http://www.linux.com/article.pl?sid=04/09/10/1446217 it would be a bit of job - and still the account settings would be missing.

All in all, like with all other things in life, it all depends on where you ended up starting out - which often depends in luck, chance or maybe learned choices, but what is better than another mail client is not an objectively given fact: it might work for me, not for you, and it might not be easy for me to where to where you and vice versa.

The bottom line: better import/export features between clients is what is needed and better backup conditions for some, like Evolution, is certainly needed.
Sep. 18th, 2006 08:13 pm (UTC)
Hi Jason,

I'm a Sylpheed-Claws developer, and just wanted to address your concerns:
For the calendaring, there's a vcalendar plugin; although the display isn't as pretty as Evolution's, because the items are displayed as a list, it handles meetings requests, ical import/export and free/busy integration correctly. See http://www.sylpheed-claws.net/plugin.php?plugin=vcalendar (the page describe what is available with the last RC, or next week's release).
For the antispam filtering, yes, the SpamAssassin-based plugin is slow as hell, as is SpamAssassin; but in the next release, 2.5.0, planned for Monday 25th, we'll have a fast and powerful Bogofilter-based plugin.
Palm pilot integration is provided in the addressbook via jPilot, it should work - but there are no guarantees here as we don't have the hardware available.
Sep. 18th, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Sylpheed-Claws
Thanks for the tips. Am I understanding correctly that this new Bogofilter plug-in will be threaded non-blocking?
Sep. 18th, 2006 08:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Sylpheed-Claws
Nope, it'll still be more-or-less blocking, but the fact that it is at least 10 times faster than Spamassassin makes it totally bearable... (I'm not kidding, it's really fast as hell - it takes 10 seconds to learn from 1.5k mails)
Sep. 18th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)
web mail?
maybe quality of gui clients has gone down because everyone is using webmail clients, in particular: google mail?
Sep. 18th, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC)
About a year ago I took the time to set up a proper incoming mail system: my email from various accounts is collected by fetchmail, sorted and spam filtered by procmail (using spamassassin for the spam filtering) and delivered in Maildir format to ~/.Maildir . I then use courier-imap to serve it out from there to the local network. I can then use Evolution on any of my machines to connect to the courier server and read all my mail from all accounts. For remote access I also run squirrelmail. In this particular setup - accessing an IMAP server on either the local machine or the local network - I've had absolutely no trouble from Evolution (during the period, I guess I've used v2.4 through to v2.8, or something like that). This probably produced the biggest improvement in my efficiency of of _any_ change I've ever made.
Sep. 19th, 2006 03:49 am (UTC)
Re: email
I do do server side mailing list filters. It filters roughly 1,000 email messages per day. But I still get about 250 spam per day and I really like being able to send the 5% that slip through to the learning engine by highlighting and a single button click. Not sure if it's really helping but it feels like I'm sticking it to the man, er, or something.

BTW, nice Pride photos. Looks like fun. :)

Added you to my FL.
Sep. 19th, 2006 05:40 am (UTC)
Re: email
Well, I have that covered too: I have a folder called spam. I also have a cronjob which runs sa-learn --spam /home/adamw/Maildir/.spam/cur > /dev/null 2>&1 every hour. So whenever some spam slips through my filter I just drag it to the spam folder and from there spamassassin will learn it as spam. Neat, yes? :)

Yeah, Pride was fun. Expensive, but fun. :)
Sep. 19th, 2006 07:55 pm (UTC)
Re: email
I've got pretty much the same setup as above (fetchmail/Exim/procmail/SA/dovecot/squirrelmail + 'missed-spam' folder & cronjob) and it's been working like a charm for a couple of years. Mail volumes are down (I forced myself to unsubscribe to some lists), but it can handle quite a lot.
Sep. 18th, 2006 10:02 pm (UTC)
Two more options
I've been seriously considering Tinymail. I know it's not designed for normal desktop use, but it looks so much nicer than Evo. :-)

The other thing I'm trying to set up is Roundcube. It's low-version-number beta, it's probably not very mature, but (a) it looks cool, and (b) I can run it off my own server. I like the convenience of webmail, but I don't care for Google knowing my every word.

Sep. 18th, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC)
Palm Integration
I believe that the gnome-pilot evolution conduit actually only talks to eds, so you should be able to get away with using 'Dates' and 'Contacts' for calendaring & address-booking (though you're still stuck integrating them into whatever email client you choose...)

Sep. 19th, 2006 12:23 am (UTC)
I have not tried it yet, but anything is better than evo.
Sep. 19th, 2006 07:31 am (UTC)
KMail in ubuntu does not block
If you are running Ubuntu you can just use kubuntu packages and the guys at kubuntu have actually created the most stable KMail I have seen in quite some time. Plus it actually uses multithreading for things like filtering.

I like kmail best, with ease, but, yeah, kmail can be a bitch if it crashes several times in a row and you end up manually refreshing your imap-cache.

deb http://kubuntu.org/packages/kde-354 dapper main
Sep. 19th, 2006 09:45 am (UTC)
Just use Thunderbird, my life has changed since I replaced Evolution for Thunderbird.
Sep. 19th, 2006 11:12 am (UTC)
KMail DIMAP bug
Yeah, I've been bitten by the KMail cached IMAP bug too - it ate something like 2000 messages. If you can possibly use the non cached IMAP I'd really recommend that you do - I've never had it misbehave and certainly not lose data. I'm steering very clear from the cached IMAP from now on =)
Sep. 19th, 2006 04:43 pm (UTC)
Evolution gets worse with every major release. OK, the UI may get nicer; it's the data integrity issues that kill it. IMAP is horrible, mailbox sync does not lock properly, and nobody is there to come up with fixes.
Jan. 24th, 2007 12:14 pm (UTC)
I've had it
I run Ubuntu in a VM at work and initially used Evolution to connect to the Exchange Server. I was amazed at how well it worked until I realised how often it crashes. Nothing else on my system crashes much at all and Thunderbird is so much more stable.

So... after a few months, I'm giving up on it and using Thunderbird and the Exchange web interface instead. What a shame :-(
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )


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Jason D. Clinton

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