Why Not Use Evolution Mail Client?

Sunday, 2007-October-21 at 15:18 6 comments

It seems to me that most people now use Web-based e-mail services ("webmail") whenever they are not using their workplace e-mail.  In the rare instance where someone does want to use an actual client, it is usually because they are:

  1. A heavy user of e-mail, in which case the clunky interfaces and slowness of webmail is to confining and restricting.  Some of the newer interfaces are better, such as Laszlomail's Flash-based interface, but even that is unbearably slow and non-customizable in comparison with an e-mail client application.
  2. Using multiple accounts.  Many ISPs give up to five e-mail accounts to a subscriber.  This enables everyone in the family to have his or her own e-mail address.  It also enables the subscriber to have a personal account such as sillybilly@example.com and a second account for more formal uses such as firstname.lastname@example.com.
  3. Someone with a busy schedule, who does not have time to wait for the latest flash banner ad to load before being able to view a message.
  4. Someone who is still on dial-up, who wants to read e-mail messages, not wait for ads to load.
  5. Someone who formerly used a free webmail service such as Juno or Warmmail, where the unblockable "partner mail" fills the inbox faster than the spammers do.  Note that not every free webmail service does this.  I note that of the big three, Yahoo! Mail and Google's Gmail do not send such messages at all, and Microsoft Live Hotmail's rare messages are only from Microsoft's own entities.

I must admit that an interface somewhere between Yahoo! Mail's and Gmail's would be very good.  Yet if you get more than a few messages, such an interface is still too slow.  From waiting for the page to load (banner ads again) to not having quick access to each and every message in your inbox (you can generally view a list of 20 to 50 messages at once), a Web-based interface simply stinks is you are trying to do something.  Fortunately, Gmail includes both built in instant messaging and the ability to use a (POP3) mail client.

In July, I wrote about the shortcomings of Thunderbird and Mozilla's decision to put it into a separate organization from Firefox.  Despite the relatively minor annoyances, I generally use T-Bird fairly regularly.

Recently, however, I have been looking to consolidate several webmail addresses into a small number of POP or IMAP accounts that would enable me to quickly retrieve and peruse messages.  The procedure for getting T-Bird to assign a different SMTP account for each POP or IMAP account begins to get on my nerves after a few times.  Since my newest computer uses Ubuntu's GNOME-based desktop, the default client is Novell's Evolution.

I traditionally uninstall it and use T-Bird (or KMail) instead.  I now know why.

Evolution goes out of its way to throw all of your messages into one common mailbox, which is one of the dumbest ideas I have seen in a long time.  There are certain times and places for reading messages from certain contacts that forward things that are just a little too risque.  That is probably not while you are getting messages from recruiters about the latest PHP opening in Orange County.

Is it possible to have seperate individual pop accounts?

This is not possible, Evolution only has one unique inbox for incoming email. Either use IMAP instead of POP or move incoming emails into different folders by setting up filters: set up a new folder and create two subfolders (for incoming and for sent mail of that account). Now set up an incoming filter (“Edit > Message Filters…”) to move incoming mail to the incoming folder by filtering on the recipient’s address and an outgoing filter to move outgoing mail to the sent folder by filtering on the sender’s address.

So let me see.  A lot of people are abandoning client software because of configuration hassles.  So we expect that someone who does use it should put up with extra hassles?  No, it is not hard to set up filters (access to IMAP is at your ISP's discretion), but I would not expect a non-technical person to do it.  Thus, Evolution is slated for replacement yet again.  When someone asks me to recommend a client solution for them, Evolution will not be on the list.

Update 2008-03-07: For those who are still willing to use Evolution, check out Joel's advice in the comments.  Otherwise, check out Claws, which is my current mail client software.

Entry filed under: Software. Tags: , .

Two Surprises No Longer Minty-Fresh


  • 1. Steve George  |  Monday, 2007-October-22 at 02:33


    It is possible to do this, it’s just that you need to use a “Message Filter” to move the e-mail from that server into a different mailbox.


  • 2. lnxwalt  |  Monday, 2007-October-22 at 09:23

    The point is that the software should not need special configuration (e.g., mail filters) to do this. It should automatically use a different set of folders for each e-mail account. This is so fundamental to using an e-mail client that it is inexcusable for a supposed "enterprise" application such as Evolution to have missed it.

  • 3. Darius Damalakas  |  Friday, 2007-November-23 at 04:17

    I use TBird everyday, and i have set up four accounts. all of them go to separate mail folders.

    common mailbox is bad

  • 4. Cleric  |  Tuesday, 2008-February-12 at 08:50

    By default Thunderbird only use ONE folder for all incoming popmails… i had more problems finding the switch (which is offered in the account creation process for some versions now) then creating a filter for evo.

  • 5. lnxwalt  |  Tuesday, 2008-February-12 at 18:09

    No, TBird defaults to ONE SMTP SERVER, not ONE FOLDER FOR ALL SERVERS. I’ve already written about this issue with TBird. For some reason, someone decided that using multiple sending accounts/servers was too confusing for most users.

  • 6. Joel P  |  Friday, 2008-March-07 at 02:51

    I agree that Evolution should automatically use a different set of folders for each account, as you have suggested, or at least give the user an easy way to do it.

    But in-case it’s useful to anyone else, the way I’ve got my Evolution set up for one folder per account is using a filter that checks for the header “X-Evolution-Source: pop://youremail@address.com/”, which Evolutions adds to the email upon receiving it. This makes it very easy to be sure that came from right account.

    Apart from this one very small once-off annoyance, I think Evolution is much better than TB. More flexible than TB (maybe apart from TB extensions), and many more features. I’d need to find a Calendar app too if I moved away from Evolution.

    Who knows, maybe the next version will have folder-per-account built in – it wouldn’t be hard to do

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