Vincent Danen recently posted about email handling ( ) and since I have been dealing with emails since about 1994 or so I (wow, I must be old) thought I would share my setup and thoughts.

First, I run my own mail server, so I use greylisting and spamassassin on incoming emails to cut spam down. Things caught by greylisting I never see, and mails marked as spam by my server spamassassin I save, but file into a spam box. In practice I only look in there if there’s something someone says they sent me, but I can’t find. It’s been many years since anything legit was in there however. Spamassassin does a pretty good job with a good bayes db and all the other various tests it runs. I’m also currently running an RC ( spamassassin-3.4.0 rc5 ). Hopefully a final 3.4.0 will be out very soon. This spam box gets about 100-200 spams a day in it. These spams are the bottom of the barrel “Make money fast” type. 

After the mail comes in on my server it uses uucp (yes, really) over tcp/vpn to get to my laptop. I set this up many years ago and it works pretty great. I probibly should just move to offline imap like everyone else, but there are some nice advantages to this setup (very good disconnected, gracefully handles resuming, can prioritize), so I keep using it. If my laptop is connected to the main server via vpn, the emails transfer as they arrive. If it’s not for some reason, they wait there until the laptop connects and sends a ‘give me all pending emails’ (which it does when the vpn connects).

Once it reaches my laptop, I read my mail with claws mail. I also have the claws mail bogofilter plugin enabled, so it culls another cut of spam off the top into a spam folder. This filtering only gets around 5-10 spams a day or less. These are usually different languages that spamassassin didn’t catch, or things that are more ‘human’ seeming than the first cut.

Once claws has run bogofilter on things, my default filtering comes into play. All lists are filtered to their own folders. Nagios gets its own folder. System mails (root, postmaster, admin, etc) all go to their own. This leaves things directly to me and bugzilla going to my main folder. I always start reading my main folder first, then move on to system accounts, and only then lists. If I reply to something and need to wait for a reply to take any further action, I file that email away to a folder for the person I sent the reply to. If I answer a bugzilla bug I put the orig bug mail and my reply into a bugzilla folder. The idea is to keep my main mailbox down to ‘things I need to take action on or reply to’.

When going through list emails or things I have filtered into other folders than my main inbox, I take advantage of claws-mail’s ‘mark’ function. If there’s something I want to reply to but it’s going to take time or thought to write it up, I mark it and go on. Then, usually later in the day when I have time, I go back and look at all the marked emails. A fair bit of the time, someone else already replied with something like what I was intending to, so I just remove the mark and go on. If not, I compose a reply and unmark the email once it’s sent. Sometimes something has been marked for a long time and I go back and decide it’s not worth reopening the discussion, so I just unmark it.

Every month or two, I go and use the claws-mail archive plugin on in particular the lists that gather more than 10,000 emails a month or so. Linux kernel, fedora-scm-commits, and a few others. This keeps things nice and speedy when reading.

I also use claws-mail’s color labels on some lists. For example on the xfce commits list I have claws mark all the transifex/i18n commits in green, since I don’t care as much about them as code changes. On the linux kernel list (which I often don’t have time to really read, I have it color label posts by some folks, like linus or fedora kernel maintainers).

Additionally to all this, I use claws-mail’s RSSyl to read rss feeds. This allows me to easily mark things in rss feeds I want to reply to later or read when I have more time (for example, Vincent’s blog post to which this is a reply, so I can unmark that post now). Also, I read my work email (via imap) and gmail (via imap) in this same setup. claws-mail lets me pick which account to use to reply to something and I can have them all marked and in the same place.

This setup has worked nicely for me for a while, but of course, your mileage may vary. 🙂