[conspire] Linux program to remove mail from server?

Edmund J. Biow ejb1 at isp.com
Wed Apr 27 16:12:19 PDT 2005

On Wednesday 27 April 2005 08:55, Bill Mosley wrote:
 > On Tue, Apr 26, 2005 at 10:36:37PM -0700, Edmund J. Biow wrote:

>I'm not quite there yet, but I do feel like something is missing when 
>I'm at a Windows box (maybe the challenge & the thrill of getting 
>something to work the way I want).
>Like ssh.  I always find it amazing that Windows doesn't come with an
>ssh client.
Well, maybe not out of the box, but there are a plethora of fine ssh 
clients for free download, like Putty, SSH Secure Shell, iXplorer, 
SSHWin, WinSCP, etc.  Before I figured out the intricacies of Samba and 
how to use command line SSH the only way I could transfer files between 
Windows and Linux boxes was with one of these tools.  WinSCP, for 
instance, gives me a nice dual pane file manager and command line. 

>>However multimedia tools are not so great.  First of all, most distros 
>>require me to jump through a bunch of hoops just to work with things 
>>like mp3s (I understand that SUSE, which always had mp3 support out of 
>>the box, has disabled
Whoops, didn't finish that thought: now that SUSE has been acquired by 
American more DMCA-encumbered Novell they have intentionally disabled 
the formerly excellent mp3 support in 9.3. 

> From what it looks like, GStreamer, Arts, and aKode (the latter two 
> are both included in the kdemultimedia packages) were all compiled 
> without MP3 support. Unlike Red Hat, where all you need to do is 
> install a single file to resolve, SUSE <http://www.suse.com> has 
> crippled their distro in such a way that it's extremely difficult to 
> fix. Considering the main components are part of a larger package set, 
> you'd need to recompile KDE's multimedia section in order to properly 
> right the situation. The problem with this would be that you're 
> throwing off the balance of package management at that point, so 
> future upgrades might have unpredictable results. It's also a 
> nightmare to recompile these packages on SUSE, as you'll end up 
> installing many development packages for the likes of KDE, Xorg, 
> etc... not to mention the need to grab source code for other key 
> pieces such as lame, flac, and taglib. The fastest way I was able to 
> cure the problem was to grab the SUSE <http://www.suse.com> 9.2 
> kdemultimedia packages from a reliable KDE mirror 
> <ftp://kde.mirrors.tds.net/pub/kde/stable/3.4/SuSE/ix86/9.2/>. While 
> this cured the problem temporarily, the next time I installed 
> something from YaST, it reinstalled its multimedia packages. Frustrating.

Guess I won't be trying to fix my borked 9.1 install by intalling 9.3 
over the top of it.  (9.1 only intermittantly recognizes my onboard 
nvidia eth0 after using YAST to upgrade the kernel; maybe I could fix 
it, but its hard to research the situation and download files without my 
access to a wire.)

Bill Moseley wrote:

>It seems like that.  It does take quite a bit more work, but I find
>now I can play more things on my Linux machine than I could on
>Windows.  That's not always the case (with say new Flash or
>Quicktime), but I'm always amazed at how often my sister running XP
>cannot play things I forward on to her.
Of course, if you were running Windows I'm sure you'd have found a way 
to play them.  :)

Bill Moseley wrote:

> I spent months looking for applications that worked like they did on
> Windows.  It was discouraging.  Mail was the application I had the
> hardest time.  I tried so many graphical clients but they all didn't
> work like my favorite Eudora.  Many seemed to want to replace Outlook.
> Someone finally convinced me to stop trying to run Windows on Linux
> and suggested I use mutt + vim.

Luckily for me, although I'm not completely satisfied with any email 
client, Windows or otherwise, I like 'Outlook: Distress' passably well & 
I never cared for Eudora, so I'm reasonably content with Kmail, 
Thunderbird, Evolution, Sylpheed, Balsa, etc. when they aren't being buggy.

And there are some Linux GUI programs that I miss when I'm in Windows, 
like kate and kjots (oh, and the unlimited 'undos' I can make in the Lin 
versions of Freecell that I've played).  And XPDF, etc. are much more 
responsive than Adobe Acrobat.  Not that I couldn't find Windows 
equivalents if I looked, though, I suspect.

A year or two ago I might have agreed with you that Linux is the wrong 
platform for point-and-click GUI desktop programs, but I have to say the 
situtation has improved dramatically over the last few years since I 
first started messing with the OS. 

At this point I'd far rather install some newbie-oriented stripe of 
Linux for a desktop operating system for a friend who's Windows 
installation has gone toes-up than reinstall Windows.  Linux is faster 
to install, I don't have to futz around with setting up office 
applications, antivirus, spyware scanners, years of service packs and 
Windows updates, a firewall, etc.  Firefox works almost as well in Linux 
as Windows (well, once you've tweaked a few things, and assuming you 
don't want, say Shockwave plugins), Evolution and Open Office are 
acceptable, and on older hardware that has sufficient  memory, Linux is 
actually faster then Windows 98, for instance, because it isn't having a 
brain-seizure every minute or two trying to run antivirus and firewall 
scans on all files. 

As long as the friend never wants to install software Linux works well.  
When they want to run Turbotax 2006, however... well, let's just say 
that few of my friends are willing to let me do more than install Linux 
to a second partition so they can mess around with it (and almost none 
of them actually do play with it much). 

However when I force my friends to use Linux, they were generally 
pleasantly surprised.  When technically 'differently-abled' friends come 
over I make them log on as a regular user on a Linux install rather than 
give them my password to Windows because Windows just doesn't run very 
well for much of anything without a privileged account and I don't want 
them to screw anything up (I've seen what they've done to their own 
machines).  Not that they don't whine about it.  "How do you get  
Internet Explorer?"

However occasionally the Linux command line tools are exactly what 
encourages friends to let me put Linux (on a second partition).  For 
instance, a buddy of my aspires to be a professional photographer, and I 
recently built him a nice SFF Athlon 64 box.  He put Photoshop and 
Microsoft Digital Image Suite on it to retouch his photos.  However 
recently he was trying to scale several hundred photos from their native 
2 MB format to 1/4 size and also produce thumb nails.  I fumbled around 
and showed him how he could take a number of photos and drag them from a 
file manager into the Microsoft suite, then run a batch edit to resize 
them.  But even with a gig of memory, the program wouldn't let him grab 
more than 35 pictures (because it was loading them all into memory). The 
whole process took several minutes for each batch of 35, and was very 

Then I took the directory of photos and put them in my Slack box and ran 
'mogrify' and 'convert' commands on all the files.  The conversion took 
something like 18 seconds and worked beautifully.  Of course, it took me 
an hour of Googling around to even learn about ImageMagick and how to 
the format commands, but then I was able to write a couple of simple 
scripts to automate the process for him. 

Unfortunately, I have serious doubts that Linux per se will ever 
supplant Windows on the desktop for most people (except, maybe, in a 
LTSP setting). 

Part of this is the Unix-techie heritage of the operating system.  For 
instance, why is every stripe of Linux (that I've ever heard of) case 
sensitive?  When are you really going to want or need two files in the 
same directory that have the same name, separated only by the case?  
Case sensitivity is the default, the easiest thing to engineer.  Making 
a file system non-case sensitive takes extra work.  And to the übergeeks 
who develop Linux it wouldn't occur to them that anyone would object to 
case sensitivity, and many of them would think it heretical if someone 
developed a non-case sensitive version of Linux.  Why would you want to 
make it less confusing and easier to use the OS for folks that don't 
even understand the "There are 10 types of people in the world" joke?

Experienced Unix administrators are a kind of elite priesthood whose 
membership requires years of dedicated study and training.  And as many 
an aspiring Linux user can attest, some of these folks seem to believe 
that the initiation to the cast SHOULD be a grueling ordeal, like a 
medical internship, and that anyone with modest computer skills is 
beneath contempt, and a worthy target of ridicule and snideness, a 
clueless newbie who should just go back to AOL and MotherSoft.  (I have 
some of these tendencies myself with my less experienced Windows-bound 
friends, and am sometimes guilty of impatience, especially when I show 
them the same thing several times.) 

The command line is only a more usable interface if you have completed 
this demanding apprenticeship.  However if the metric for usability is 
the ability to perform certain tasks (e.g. email, web surfing, 
multimedia, etc.) with the least total amount of time, effort and 
training, well, Linux ranks waaaay behind Macintosh (I gather, I'm not a 
OSX user, much), and even Windows, despite the worms, virii, spam, 
upgrade cycle, etc.

Most Linux software developers are only scratching their own itches, not 
developing software for the market.  So they wouldn't bother developing 
a Mailwasher substitute, since they are already running Exim4 on Debian 
stable, etc. Moreover, there are few Geek-Points to be earned among your 
peers developing such a program. 

It is no coincidence that far and away the easiest versions of Linux for 
grandma to use are the commercial, non-free versions being developed by 
paid programmers for the market (Xandros, Linspire, Libranet, etc.) 

But even these distros will be hobbled by the ad hoc and 
programmer-oriented Unix heritage of Linux.  The organization of the 
file system structure, for instance, is still bewildering to me, and 
must be a real pain from a package management standpoint. Programs and 
settings are scattered over a vast range of directories and files; there 
is very little standardization.   So I'm interested in the development 
of projects like GoboLinux (http://lwn.net/Articles/66290/), though that 
project is still very constrained by the Unix traditional file 
hierarchy.  LinuxStep was an attempt to break the constraints of the 
Unix tradition that didn't quite make it.
Not that it would be impossible to develop and stable and 
Newbie-friendly point-and-click OS out of GNU/Linux, witness the birth 
of OSX from BSD.  But the brotherhood of open source developers show few 
signs of desiring to put much effort in that direction on its own 
initiative (with the exception of a few freaks like Warren Woodford).  I 
remember reading an interview a couple of years ago with an important 
Gnome/Ximian developer (Miguel de Icaza, I believe) and although he 
spends his days programming a desktop environment  he generally does his 
work using emacs and vi from a console.  He probably only drops in to 
runlevel 5 to check his work...  Why would someone like that even care 
about the usability gripes of mere mortals like myself?

I'll shut up now,


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