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  Email Clients Review

 by Brad Rodriguez 2002-12-23
Note: This review was originally posted to the mailling list, but has been made available here

     Well, for better or worse, I've chosen an email client. You'll recall that I had narrowed it down to four possibles, based upon the rather modest requirements that the client support multiple email accounts and have some filtering capabilities. So I installed all four, and I started looking at them, keeping in mind the features of Eudora that I use every day or really like.

Email Comparison   Sylpheed     Mozilla       Balsa         Evolution

Multiple accts?    yes          yes           yes           yes

Filter criteria    headers      header/body   header/body   header/body/
   (does/does not)  contain      contain/is/   contain       contain/is/
                    regex         begin/end    regex          begin/end

Multiple filters?  2 and/or     N and/or      N and/or      N and/or
Filter actions     move/delete  move/delete/  move/delete/  move/delete/
                                  flag/label    pgm'd actn.   color
  Eudora mailbox?   yes          yes           yes           yes
  Eudora addr's?    no           yes           ?             ?
  Eudora filters?   no           ?             ?             ?

PGP support?       yes          yes           ?             yes
Attachments?       yes          yes           yes           yes
Return receipts?   no           yes           yes           no
BCC?               yes          yes           yes           yes
Msg size limit?    yes          yes           no            no
Signature files?   one          one per acct. multiple      one per acct.
Address books?     multiple     multiple      multiple      multiple
Message Labels?    no           yes,5         no            no, but flag

HTML email?        no           optional      no            optional
External actions?  yes          no            filter        no


     Evolution has the most flexible filtering -- except that Balsa allows the use of an external program as a filter, which would be VERY nice for some of the spam filtering software I've seen. But all are as good as Eudora 3. (All but Mozilla have some support for regular expressions.)

     I'm thinking that I'll be using PGP more in the future, so that's important. I also send and receive messages with "return receipts" so I'd like the client to handle that.

     A VERY important feature is the ability to leave a message on the server if it exceeds a certain size. I'm on a dialup line, and the occasional unwanted 2.5MB message does appear. It also keeps a lot of Klez viruses away. This is a "deal breaker" and is sufficient to disqualify Balsa and Evolution.

     Another Eudora feature I use a lot is the ability to give messages color-coded labels. Only Mozilla offers this. (Evolution lets you "flag" a message, which is like having one label, but I use at least four.) Of the four, only Mozilla offers this.

     I do NOT want HTML email...what's important to me is that the feature can be turned off, and the client forced to use text email. All four pass this test.

     So, the best match to my desired feature set is Mozilla. Sylpheed is a close second. Sylpheed is probably the closest to Eudora in appearance, although none of the four offers the Eudora user interface that I've come to love, with multiple mailboxes and multiple messages open simultaneously. Balsa is ok, and I frankly dislike the Evolution look and feel and its excess baggage.

     On the other hand, I may be unusual among Linux users in that I *like* a combined email-news-browser program like Mozilla. I've had a lot of problems in the Windoze environment getting my email to work with my browser and news reader. (If I didn't like Eudora so much, I might have switched to Netscape mail long ago.)

     The new user interface will take some getting used to, and I'll miss some handy features. But until someone brings out Eudora for Linux, it's a price I'm willing to pay.

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