Chapter 6. Electronic Mail Clients
Modern email readers have graphical interfaces and tend to offer similar features in a similar manner. In addition to delivering your electronic mail, most allow you to maintain contact lists and many include calendars. Email readers usually also let you read newsgroups, which are one of the oldest features in computer networking and still offer
One of the most popular email readers and contact managers, Evolution, was described in Chapter 3. In this chapter, we show you some interesting ways to use other graphical email readers productively, and give you the background you need to carry out some more advanced
At this point, it may be worthwhile to point out the difference between a Mail User Agent (MUA) and a Mail Transport Agent (MTA). The program that you interact with when reading or writing email messages is the Mail User Agent, like the ones described in this chapter. Mail Transport Agents are the software that then relays the messages across the Internet to the receiving party, which gets the message delivered into the inbox of his or her Mail User Agent. An example of a Mail Transport Agent is Postfix, which we describe in "The Postfix MTA" in Chapter 23.
6.1. Using KMail
KMail is a very
Figure 6-1. KMail mailer
KMail has a lot of features and settings, but we'll just cover some that get you started quickly and leave it to you to explore KMail further. As you can see in Figure 6-1, the KMail window is divided by default into three parts. On the left, you see a tree of your folders (at first startup, you will have only the default folders, of course). The upper part of the right side shows a listing of messages in the currently selected folder, and the lower part of the right side shows the currently selected message. You can change how the space is distributed between these parts by dragging the separator lines between them. The latest KMail versions even have a fourth part that lets you drill further into the structure of an individual message by displaying the MIME
Before you can use KMail, you have to set up some information in it. Select Configure KMail from the Settings menu and then
Let's start with the outgoing mail, which you will find on the Sending tab of the Configure dialog box (see Figure 6-3.) Click the Add button. You will be asked whether you want to use SMTP or talk to a
installation directly. In almost all cases, if you have an MTA installed locally, you will want to select SMTP. Then, on the General tab of the SMTP transport configuration, give the transport a name (which you can choose arbitrarily because it exists only for you to recognize the settings later and will not be used in any network communication). In any case, you need to enter the hostname of the port. The port is almost always 25; the hostname should be given to you by your provider. If you have a local MTA installed and want to use it, simply enter
. If your mail server requires authentication (check with your provider if you are unsure), check the appropriate checkbox and fill in the login name and password. This is less common than you would think, however; most ISPs protect themselves against being used as spam relays either by only accepting outgoing mail from IP addresses that they have provided
This should be enough to let you send outgoing email, but we recommend that you take a few additional steps to make this as secure as possible. KMail makes this easy for you by autodetecting the security settings of the SMTP server you are using. Go to the Security tab and click the button labeled "Check what the server supports." KMail will check the connection to the server and use the settings with the highest supported security and encryption. Alas, many providers run their mail servers without any encryption at all.
Figure 6-2. KMail identity configuration
Now let's continue by configuring the receiving end. Close all subdialogs until you are back at the Network configuration group, and select the Receiving tab. Here you can set up a number of accounts to be queried. This can be useful if you have more than one provider that stores email for you. Click the Add button and select the type of mail server. If you run your own MTA locally, you need to select Local Mailbox. Usually, you can then accept the defaults on the next page (but change the name to something more appropriate than "Default").
If you retrieve your messages directly from your provider's server, you need to select either POP3 or IMAP, depending on what your provider supports. In the dialog that appears again enter a name of your own choice, then specify your login name, your password, the name of the host that stores your email, and the port (usually 110 for POP3 and 143 for IMAP). All this information should be given to you by your provider or system administrator. You can leave all other options as they are for now, and experiment later with them.
Figure 6-3. KMail identity for outgoing mail
As an aside, recent KMail versions have a feature for retrieving your messages that make it stand apart from many other email
Close all dialogs with the OK button. You should now be ready to retrieve your email. To do so, select File Check Mail from the menu. This will retrieve all messages from all incoming mailboxes that you have specified. If it does not work or you get any error messages, check all the values you entered on the various configuration pages again and compare them to the information given to you by your provider or system administrator. The most typical error is a typo in the hostname, username, or password.
If you are using disconnected IMAP, the Check Mail menu item does a lot more than checking the server mailbox for new messages: it ensures that the server and your local mailbox are in the same state, which may include deleting messages from the server, changing flags, and so forth.
To send a message, press Ctrl-N or select Message
New Message. A composer window opens where you can type in the recipients address, the subject, and the actual message body. An intelligent autocompletion will come up with suggestions as you type; these suggestions are pulled both from your address book (if you keep one) and from
If you have configured more than one identity, you can also select the one to be used for this message. When you are done composing your message, press Ctrl-N. Depending on how you have configured your outgoing mail transport, the message will either be put into the output folder and wait there for further handling (this is the default) or be transmitted directly. If you want to override your setting for a particular email, just select Message Queue or Message Send Now from the menu bar of the composer window.
Messages put into the output folder are by default not sent automatically. (You can, however, configure KMail to always send messages in the outbox when it checks for incoming messages.) To send all messages in your
If you have problems sending your messages, check the settings you have made for typos. As mentioned earlier, to prevent the relaying of
You should now know enough about how to use KMail in order to continue exploring the mailer on your own. One of the first things you may want to do (
If you find you are not only using KMail regularly but also the address book and calendaring components that come with the KDE desktop, KAddressbook and KOrganizer, and if you would like those applications to be integrated into a common main window, you should take a look at Kontact. It is a wrapper application that "swallows" the individual application
Figure 6-4. The Kontact overview window
All the individual components that are available appear on the button bar on the left side of the window, where you can click on them to bring the respective component to the front. In most of the Kontact applications, these buttons also act as targets for drag-and-drop operations, which means you can, for example, drag an email message on to the Todo view button to create a new task based on that email. Experiment with dragging things onto the different
It should be noted that the components available inside Kontact are exactly the same applications that are available standalone, such as KMail or KAddressbook. This means that you can start one of them individually, whenever you do not want to start Kontact for some reason, and keep working with the same data and settings. All of the functionality available in Kontact is also available with the standalone applications. Since Kontact uses KParts, it can be extended with other components, not just the ones that are shipped with it; several third-party components already exist, such as a news feed reader component. To find out which components are currently installed and available, use Select Components from the Settings menu.
One of the most prominent integrative features of Kontact is the summary view. Click the Summary button on the sidebar to activate it. The page that appears is filled with information from each of the application components. The mail part shows a configurable summary of folders with unread mail. Clicking one of the listed folders will take you directly into that folder in the mail part. Similarly, the calendaring component shows any upcoming events, birthdays of people in your address book, and currently open