Sour Grapes
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Windows to Linux�e-mail

I took a major step in my plan to avoid ever having, for any personal reason, to install Windows Vista: I switched my primary active e-mail client from Thunderbird on Windows XP to Evolution under Gnome on Ubuntu Linux. It actually went quite easily. The way I saw it there were three things I wanted to accomplish before making the switch:

  1. Get dynamic signature generation working

  2. Make sure I had a way to deal with SPAM working

  3. Switch each of my accounts, pseudo-accounts and news & blog subscriptions over

The first was the hardest. Years ago I started collected quotations that appealed to me. Shortly thereafter I wrote a Perl script to modify a quotation at the end of a standard signature file. Then I wrote a bash script (using Cygwin) to do this every 60 seconds on Windows. Then I modified the bash script to recognize which of my several computers I was on, specify the location of the quotation and signature files on that system and run the Perl script, again every 60 seconds. It's actually quite a bit simpler with Evolution than on Windows (with whatever e-mail client I've had). I've documented what I had to do in a thread at the Ubuntu forums.

The second was the easiest. Evolutions came with 31 plugins. For some reason, both the Bogofilter junk and Spamassassin junk plugins were enabled. At first I thought all I had to do was turn off one. I gave the filters some time to start learning. After I'd marked several hundred SPAM messages, it didn't seem like any were being filtered directly to my Junk folder. Then I read another thread on the Ubuntu forums about how to enable both of them. I followed the instructions but then realized the instructions were for an earlier Ubuntu release and that most of what I had done had somehow been disabled behind my back. Around this same time, I noticed that SPAM was beginning to be filtered to my Junk folder automatically, so I let it be. It's still learning, but the amount of SPAM I have to handle manually is down to something reasonable.

The third step was quite easy too, though I had identified 13 accounts/pseudo-accounts/subscriptions to deal with. (By pseudo-accounts, I mean accounts without their own e-mail servers�particularly without SMTP servers�that I use to generate messages for different purposes; e.g., one for my business, one for personal use, one for a volunteer organization I work for, one for an anonymous blog I write, a no-spam one to which any message replies will be sent to bit limbo, etc.) It only took me a few minutes for each one of these.

For now, I've got a bunch of saved e-mail on my Windows system that I haven't gotten onto my Ubuntu system. I know it's possible, but my hope is to delete all but the really essential stuff before I copy those messages over. I've also got a bunch of contacts that I do want to copy, and I'll deal with that sooner.

By the way, I've been regularly browsing the Web from both systems for quite a while. I found a nifty Firefox add-on called Foxmarks Bookmarks Synchronizer that keeps bookmarks on the two systems synchronized almost seamlessly. Once or twice I've had to manually choose between different sets of bookmarks in a folder because I had changed them on both computers within a short amount of time. But it was easy to figure out the right answer and it's totally lovely to have the same set of bookmarks on both systems. Now if I could only synchronize them with "foreign" computers, like those at my clients', even if it meant going to my own personal Foxmarks page and clicking on links from there.

Note: I originally drafted this post on 2 Sep 2007 ~20:30. Today I've added a bunch of links and added some newer information about my experience battling SPAM. I've since made some additional progress on the Windows-to-Linux conversion, which I hope to post about soon.

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