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A MozillaQuest Magazine Editor's Choice

KMail -- One of the Best E-Mail Clients

Mike Angelo -- 23 February 2005 (C)


Article Index
To learn why Linux is so much a better choice than is Microsoft Windows, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

To learn how to run MS Windows-based software and accessories in GNU-Linux, please see our article Crossover Office 2.1 Runs MS Windows Software on GNU-Linux Systems

HTML E-Mail Warning

One reason to avoid HTML-formatted e-mail messages is that they are a waste of bandwidth and hard-drive space. HTML-formatted, e-mail message file-sizes often are much larger than content-comparable text-formatted message file-sizes.

[For example, I just deleted a 93-KB HTML e-mail message that could have conveyed the same substantive information in a 3-KB text e-mail message -- or less.]

Another, and very important reason not to display HTML-formatted e-mail is that HTML-formatted e-mail is a major source of viruses, Spam, Trojans, worms, privacy invasions, and other infections and annoyances.

In short, constraining your e-mail reading and sending to text-formatted messages reduces download and upload times, saves hard drive space, helps to protect your privacy, reduces exposure to Spam, and reduces exposure to viruses and other such infections.

Just about everyone with an Internet connection or on a computer network likely uses e-mail. And e-mail is one of the most useful and most used Internet services.

On the other hand, e-mail also can be annoying at times. And e-mail can be a personal privacy and computer security risk.

That makes selecting and configuring an e-mail client very important. The right e-mail client, with the right tools and configured well, can substantially reduce and often even eliminate e-mail annoyances, privacy invasions, and security risks.

About KMail

Our e-mail client choice is KMail. KMail is Free and Open Source (FOSS) software from the KDE people. You can download it at no charge to you.

The KMail e-mail client is feature-packed. It includes features to reduce if not eliminate e-mail annoyances, privacy invasions, and security risks.

In an e-mail discussion we asked KMail maintainer Ingo Klöcker, What do you see as the top five features of KMail?

Ingo listed support for multiple anti-spam and anti-virus filters in that top five KMail features.

KMail gives you the option of sending and/or receiving e-mail messages in Web page (HTML) format or regular text (ASCII) format. However, we recommend that you neither send nor read e-mail messages in HTML format.

Stay with text. Please see HTML E-Mail Warning in the right sidebar.

The KMail Desktop

Figure 1, below shows the basic, default, KMail 1.7.1 desktop running in SUSE Linux 9.2. At the top of the KMail desktop there are a menu bar and a tool bar. Under that on the left there is a Folders panel and on the right a message display window. The HTML-formatted, KMail welcome message is in the message-display window screen-shot shown in Figure 1.

At the bottom of the KMail desktop there is a status bar. In Figure 1, the status bar shows 0 messages in the selected folder. In Figure 2, below, the status bar shows 496 messages, including 456 unread messages, in the selected folder.

The default folders-panel is set for working with a single e-mail account and a single identity. However, you can add additional folders in order to accommodate more than one e-mail account or identity.

Figure 2, below, shows KMail 1.7.1 opened in Mandrake Linux 10.1. It is configured for three e-mail accounts. Each e-mail account in the Figure 2 screen-shot also has a different identity, Maverick, Singers, and Webmaster. In our e-mail discussion with KMail maintainer Ingo Klöcker, Ingo listed flexible handling of multiple accounts and identities in the top five KMail features.


Figure 1. Default KMail 1.7.1 desktop. This screenshot was made using The Gimp while KMail was running in SUSE Linux 9.2.


KMail and the Kontact PIM

Please notice that Figure 2, below, shows KMail as a component of KDE's Kontact, a personal information management (PIM) suite. Kontact is comparable to Microsoft's Outlook PIM and Novell's Evolution.

Please notice in Figure 2 that KMail has been selected from among the Kontact components listed in the leftmost panel (sidebar). If you would like to get away from MS Outlook, give KDE Kontact a try -- and you should get away from Microsoft Outlook -- it's a privacy invasion and security risk time bomb.

That's all we mention about KDE Kontact today. Kontact is a different, but related, story for another day.


Figure 2. KMail 1.7.1 desktop configured for three different e-mail accounts and identities.

In this KMail configuration, KMail has been instructed not to display HTML messages. So, KMail let's you know the selected message is in HTML format and provides a real time option to override the no HTML rule for this particular message, or to view the actual HTML code without executing it. Please see HTML E-Mail Warning in the right sidebar above.

This screenshot was made using The Gimp while KMail was running on Mandrake Linux 10.1.


The KMail Message Composer

An important component of a good e-mail client is the message composer. KMail has an excellent message composer and editor.

Figure 3, on page 2, shows the KMail 1.7.1 message composer and editor opened in SUSE Linux 9.2. Please notice that the KMail Composer desktop looks very much like a word processor desktop.

Office on the Linux Desktop

OpenOffice 1.1 -- A Complete Office/Productivity Software Suite for GNU-Linux, FreeBSD, MAC, MS-Windows, Unix, and more

That's because KMail Composer is, in essence, a word processor, just as are AbiWord, Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Star Office Writer, and OpenOffice Writer. However, KMail Composer has tools and features specialized for composing, addressing, and sending e-mail messages.

When using KMail Composer, you have a choice of composing, saving, and sending your e-mail messages in either plain text (ASCII) format or HTML (Web page) format.

One of the special e-mail related features of KMail Composer is attaching documents, pictures, and other sorts of files to an e-mail message. In our e-mail discussion with KMail maintainer Ingo Klöcker, Ingo mentioned that KMail Composer warns about a missing attachment which spares the user those embarrassing "Oops, I forgot to attach the file." messages. Seems as though the KMail team has thought of just about everything.

More, Great KMail Features

  • Top Five KMail Features

As mentioned above, we also asked KMail maintainer Ingo Klöcker:

What do you see as the top five features of KMail?

Ingo replied:

In no particular order:

- Easy-to-use support for OpenPGP and S/MIME

- Flexible handling of multiple accounts and identities

- Integration in Kontact, the KDE groupware client

- Disconnected IMAP

- Support for multiple anti-spam and anti-virus filters


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