Open Source Email Client - OSB.01

Posted by david on 07 December 2017 at 12:53 am

This is the first of a blogging series I'm starting, Open Source Blogs, where I attempt to use only open source hardware and become as technologically independent as possible.

Over the years, I have become very dependent on Google and their products. I'm not alone, as their email and browser are #2 and #1 in their market share. The email numbers were for 2016, but the 2017 numbers will put Gmail even closer to Apple. I'd guess in volume Google has the lead from email addresses. This is about email clients, so Google hasn't taken control, yet.

More than anything, I'd become extremely reliant on the Google Inbox app for Android. It is a very good email app, I'd even say the best I've ever used. I did some research and came across an open source Android app for email, named K-9 Mail. You can view their Github project here. Now, I'd been using the best email app I'd ever used, so I didn't have extremely high expectations. K-9 isn't Inbox, but it's fully capable and it supports multiple email accounts. I don't want to just get away from the Gmail app, I want to get away from Gmail, but it takes time to migrate 13 years worth of email usage. I've been using K-9 for a week now, for both Gmail and my new email account. It gives me notifications for both accounts and I haven't had a single issue with it. If you have an issue connecting to Gmail, you may have to enable connections to "less secure" clients. It's not less secure, but they label it that way to keep you on their client.

The phone is settled, unless I find another option. Time to replace Gmail in my browser on my laptop. I run Linux Mint, plus I'm looking for an open source desktop client, so I'm not expecting MS Outlook. I used Thunderbird years ago, before I used Gmail, so I thought it would be ironic to use it as my first client away from Gmail. Thunderbird is made by Mozilla, just as the Firefox browser. Years ago, Mozilla had a suite that included a browser and email client. It was originally Netscape and I believe they had one named SeaMonkey after Netscape. Anyway, Firefox and Thunderbird were the standalone (and completely new) browser and email client introduced to replace their suite. Thunderbird came pre-installed on Mint, so I fired it up and added Gmail, along with my new account. For Gmail I'm using POP, so I can download all of my Gmail messages over the years. The last time I checked that is over 3gb of email, so it's going to take a while to get the all. No issues connecting to Gmail (Thunderbird already knows their server info), other than enabling POP access within my Gmail account.

For my new email account, I am using IMAP within Thunderbird, instead of POP like Gmail. IMAP lets you read the emails as they are on the server and whatever you do to the emails generally syncs to the server. POP lets you download the emails and, in most cases, removes the email from the server. Gmail gives you options for what happens when you use POP, including keeping a copy on the server in different forms. I wanted to remove my Gmail message from the server, so I selected to delete them when they are downloaded. We'll see if they are actually deleted. So I have Thunderbird running two email accounts on different connection types and haven't ran into any issues. I also changed the download folder for my Gmail messages, so I can archive them and to also add a bit of security. If someone gained access to my computer (remotely), they would possibly know to check the Thunderbird folder for my messages.

For OSB.1, I'm just listing the 2 clients I am using right now. For other things, I'll probably list more options. I'll also do a follow-up and introduce some other options for email, once I give them a test run. That's it for now, as always, if there's an open source option, use it.


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