phayz's blog

…it's time for a new phayz of life

Searching for the “right” application

As I often do, I have recently been trying to find just the right application to meet my needs. My latest search is for a “communications client”, whatever that means. I am usually online when I use my PC but there are also times, usually when I’m writing the Frugalware Linux newsletter, that I am not so I need offline access.

Like most people, I use both online and offline communications:

  • Online – instant messaging: usually IRC;
  • Offline – mail and RSS feeds.

For offline access I believe a traditional email client would probably suit since I use an IMAP server and so can download select IMAP folders. I have tried several email clients and the results so far are summarised below. In this case I was trying to find an application which had several features, which I know goes against the Unix way but that’s my preference in this case.

Thunderbird

* Mail

It looks good, works well in sync-in select IMAP folders, just as I want. Thunderbird’s configuration seems more complex than that of most other applications, especially when you have multiple mail accounts. Like all other mail clients, you can easily maintain a list of contacts. In summary Thunderbird works as I expect it to but I can’t seem to get comfortable with its user interface with elements that I think take up too much space. I could use it if I need to.

* RSS feeds

Thunderbird works well with RSS feeds, including allowing you to import your RSS feed list.

* Extra features?

Thunderbird can also sync calendars via the Lightning extension so that’s a bonus. The only problem here is that Lightning is an add-on, not an integral part of Thunderbird so as I upgrade I need to wait for Lightning’s development to catch up. Of course I didn’t mention above that I want sync-in of my calendar but if the application can do it I think it’s a bonus.

Evolution

* Mail

Same as Thunderbird. Evolution’s configuration dialog boxes seem a lot simpler than those of Thunderbird.

* RSS feeds

It seems that there was once an extension for Evolution to allow this but the project appears to be dead. Of course I can use something like Liferea but that means I don’t have all my offline communications in one place.

* Extra features?

Evolution offers calendar sync-ing as a native feature and works well with Google Calendar, for example.

Opera

* Mail

I like the look and feel of Opera, user interface and so like its mail interface. I particularly like that you can compose messages in a tab, which it seems none of the other two offer. There are of course reasons for and against this so it’s usually a matter of personal taste. What is annoying about Opera is trying to troubleshoot problems with mail sync-ing. It only offers a log file and then only if you manually configured it to do this. Otherwise its error reporting is poor because it doesn’t help you find what’s wrong. In summary I like Opera a lot but it’s not open source. 😦

* RSS feeds

Like Thunderbird, RSS feeds appear in Opera’s mail panel and are easily managed and read.

* Extra features?

Where Opera is lacking is that there’s no calendar sync-ing function, even as an extension. It has several other features that neither Thunderbird nor Evolution offer but they’re not really related to this blog post.

 

I haven’t yet found the “right” application but I’ll keep looking…

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