[conspire] Linux program to remove mail from server?

Ross Bernheim rossbernheim at speakeasy.net
Wed Apr 27 19:33:50 PDT 2005

On Apr 27, 2005, at 4:12 PM, Edmund J. Biow wrote:

> 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?

It reminds me of the Amateur Radio situation. The  Extra Liscence 
holders had learned Morse code and were bound and determined that all 
new hams would have to learn it even after the use of Morse code had 
long past its usefulness. The result was a decline in the number
of new hams and the demise of the whole of amateur radio in the US of 
A. Japan has far more hams and amateur radio manufacturers than the US 
now, despite a smaller population!

Your comments about Linux and the administrators and developers are not 
too far off the mark, but things are changing rapidly. A couple of 
years ago, my rants on lack of usability were a regular thing. Things 
are improving quite a bit in that area. One problem is that Microsoft 
is often held up as the model for usability. The preoccupation with 
Windows is a real puzzle to me. Windows is a second rate copy of the 
Macintosh interface.

Mac OS X is a far better model for usability, though there are a lot of 
good things to be mined from OS 9 and from the utilities added to both 
to provide additional features. I particularly liked the Apple menu 
under OS 9 and earlier.  It was a folder that you could drop things 
into and they would show up under the Apple menu as a drop down menu. 
It was hierarchal so that you could drop an alias of the hard drive 
into the apple menu items folder and it would appear in the Apple menu 
and by navigating the drop down hierarchal menuing system you could 
navigate to anywhere on the disk quickly and easily.

One of the great complaints that I hear about the OS X interface is all 
the eye candy. I agree that some of it is excessive, there is a lot of 
that is quite good at improving the interface. The high contrast 
colored buttons to close, reduce and maximize the window are far easier 
to see and use than the grey on grey that is prevalent in Linux and 


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