Use an alternative email client

The default mail client provided with Ubuntu, Evolution, is something of a benign monster. It's packed with features and is aimed squarely at business users. It's quite clearly modeled on Microsoft Outlook. Personally, I can't help feeling it's overkill for more modest needs. Below are listed two alternatives, each of which can be installed using Synaptic, and each of which are more than adequate alternatives.

Claws Mail

This is an email client with the emphasis on simplicity, although that doesn't mean it's light on features. It integrates well with the GNOME desktop used by Ubuntu and, in my opinion, has the look and feel that email clients used to have back in the 90s, before they started trying to organize our lives (although the look and feel can be changed via themes—see for more information and downloads). Thus there's no calendar or to-do list, and even composing HTML email is a feature too far (although you can view HTML mail sent by others). You do get live spell checking and email filtering, however, amongst other up to date and indispensable features, and the program

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Figure 3.23: Claws Mail (see Tip 95, on the previous page)

utilizes a plugin structure so many additional functions can be downloaded from the website (see for downloads).

You can install Claws Mail by searching for and installing the claws-mail package. See Figure 3.23, on the next page for an example of the program running on my test PC. Once installed Claws Mail can be found on the Applications ^ Internet menu. When first run it walks through a setup wizard in which you must enter your mail server details.


Few people realize that Firefox isn't Mozilla's only product. Thunderbird is its email client offering, and is perhaps the second most popular open source email client in use today. Not without reason—Thunderbird packs in the features you might expect of a modern email client, such as powerful search, filtering, and junk mail detection, but keeps everything simple and usable. It also integrates a Usenet (news groups) reader program and comes ready-configured to work with Gmail accounts.

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As you might expect, it features the same HTML-rendering technology as Firefox, so HTML emails always look like they should.

Like Firefox, Thunderbird is extensible via add-ons, many of which can be downloaded from and some of which improve Thunderbird's functionality extensively. To install add-ons, right-click the download link, save the add-on to the hard disk, and then click Tools ^ Add-ons. Then click the Install button and navigate to the downloaded file.

Thunderbird can be installed using Synaptic. The best way of doing so is to search for and install the thunderbird-gnome-support package, which will install Thunderbird along with software that helps it integrate into the GNOME desktop used by Ubuntu. You might also want to add-in the relevant language settings package for your area, so that spellchecking will work correctly—use Synaptic to search for thunderbird-locale and select the correct package from the list.

Once installed, the program can be found on the Applications ^ Internet menu. When it first starts it will walk through a wizard during which you can configure it to work with your email servers.

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