[kwlug-disc] Mutt + Procmail (+ fetchmail)

Kyle Spaans 3lucid at gmail.com
Sun Dec 14 16:23:47 EST 2008

Are there any mail gurus on the list? (I'm working my way through
guides on the internet, but I wanted to ask here too just in case anyone
else was curious, maybe this could make a good presentation topic
somewhere down the line?)

I've been using `mutt` to check my school email
(kspaans at student.math.uwaterloo.ca) for a year or so now, and I'd like
to get into more advanced usage. What I do currently is SSH into the
mail server and run `mutt` to read directly from my mail spool. This is
usually fine, but if I'm connecting with a slow connection it makes
navigating inside of `mutt` hard. Also, if I'm connecting from a Windows
machine it can be cumbersome to have to download and remove PuTTY
just to check my mail.

Therefore, I would like to move to a more offline-friendly mail-reading
system that will allow me to check my email from anywhere and keep my
saved email synchronized. In other words, I want to primarily use the IMAP
protocol so that I don't delete mail from my mail spool as I read it. I would
much rather have it copied to my local machine for reading (which is where
fetchmail will come in later). Right now, I'm working on configuring `mutt`
and `procmail` so that I can handle higher volume mailing lists from inside
`mutt`. (You can see that I'm using gmail right now, which is good for
archiving mail, but I really don't like web interfaces, they're too slow! ;-)

TL;DR version: (too long; didn't read)
My first question is: I've got my ".muttrc" pointed at my mailboxes that
procmail is correctly delivering my mail to, but all of the mail messages are
being put into single files. Mutt isn't recognizing them all as single mailbox,
but I can read single emails by navigating the mailbox file structure and
pointing `mutt` at individual files. I presume that my problem is that `mutt`
is expecting "mbox" style files (I believe this is what my mail spool is) but
`procmail` is delivering my sorted messages in a "Maildir" style -- wait no, a
search just told me that "Maildir" doesn't look like this. So it appears that
`procmail` is just creating a new file for each message that it
filters. Should I
be making `procmail` concatenate messages to a single file, or can I tell it
to make "mbox" or "Maildir" style files/directory-trees that mutt will
automatically recognize?

My second question is about navigating mailboxes with mutt. Having to invoke
`mutt -y` every time I run it seems silly, is there a better way? Also
using the "c"
command to manually specify a new mailbox to switch to seems like too much
work as well. Am I missing something?

More questions about using `fetchmail` will come later, as I get more familiar
with things.

Thanks for your advice!

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