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Re: [Nmh-workers] Should I learn nmh or GNU mailutils?

From: Bill Wohler
Subject: Re: [Nmh-workers] Should I learn nmh or GNU mailutils?
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2014 15:08:42 -0800
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.4 (gnu/linux)

Ken Hornstein <address@hidden> writes:

>>I have decided to learn the MH system and use it for all my 
>>(non-professional) email needs.
>> From what I understand, there are two different modern-day incarnations 
>>of MH: nmh and GNU mailutils.
>>I need your advice because I can't make up my mind on which to choose. 
>>Since I have to learn from scratch, and it will entail some serious 
>>investment of time, I would like to be sure I make the right choice.
> So, this is a bit of an awkward question, because we're kind of
> competitors.  Our relationship with the GNU Mailutils people is ...
> well, I wouldn't call it "friendly" competition, because mostly we don't
> interact.  This isn't out of any animosity (at least not on our end, and
> AFAICT on Sergey's end).  We're all busy, these are part-time projects,
> and I personally think it's a dick move to go and trash your competitor
> in public.  I never see any messages from Sergey trashing nmh, so I'm
> assuming he feels the same way.  I'd rather people look at the projects
> objectively and make their own decision based on their needs and
> requirements.  Obviously the developers of a project are biased toward
> the implementation they're working on.  So I would say our stance toward
> each other is "polite awareness".
> Yes, we're aware of each other; I occasionally look at GNU Mailutils to
> see what it supports, and I'm assuming Sergey does the same with nmh.
> Our biggest overlap is within the MH-E community; there are a number of
> MH-E users who use GNU Mailutils as their backend.  There are a number
> that use nmh as their backend as well (some of the MH-E developers are
> members of this mailing list), and AFAIK both implementations work
> equally well with MH-E.  I believe Sergey interacts directly with the MH-E
> people on their mailing list; I don't, I rely on the MH-E developers
> who are also on this list to keep me abreast of anything relevant.  But
> I don't think we're hostile to the MH-E people; we added a feature they
> asked for a few months ago.

As the lead developer for MH-E, I can vouch for Ken's representation of
the MH-E story.

> So, that being said ... I will try to answer your question as objectively
> as possible.  I would encourage you to get some opinions from the GNU
> Mailutils people as well for alternate viewpoints.  I hope you will
> forgive me if I talk more about nmh than I do about Mailutils; I would
> rather not give you incorrect information, and I obviously know more
> about nmh than I do about Mailutils.
> Project History:
> - Nmh is a direct descendant of the old MH project; it was converted from
>   the original MH at UCI by Richard Coleman, and then managed by a succession
>   of people; right now I've done the last two releases and will probably
>   do the next one.
>   The code has been reorganized a LOT since MH 6.8.5, but except for some
>   ancient features that we garbage collected we are essentially "MH plus
>   a lot of extra stuff".  Our biggest weakness is in MIME handling, but
>   1.5 made some important steps forward and I think 1.6 will solve some
>   of the remaining warts (there will still be plenty more, but I think
>   it will be loads better). One downside to being a descendant of MH is
>   that there is still a lot of old cruft in there; we're been working on
>   cleaning it up, but sometimes it's slow going.
> - GNU Mailutils is a clean-room implementation of a library to support
>   a mail client, and it has MH commands implemented on top of that library.
>   On the positive side that means a lot of the original MH warts don't
>   exist.  On the negative side that means that not every MH feature that
>   nmh supports exists (I don't have a comprehensive list; I would encourage
>   you to check out the documentation for the respective projects).
> Regarding features, the two biggest things that Mailutils supports that
> nmh does NOT support are IMAP and Sieve (a mail filtering language).
> Those are things that I would love to get to at some point, but they're
> low on my personal priority list and if they are requirements for you
> unfortunately nmh would not be a good choice.  There are options where
> you could use something like fetchmail to retrieve messages from an IMAP
> server and then incorporate them into nmh, but it's not integrated.

Those are the two items that I'm aware of that Mailutils supports. As
Ken says, fetchmail can pull mail from IMAP servers and mail can be
filtered with dovecot-lda with the Sieve plugin (on my list of things to

> Now, regarding support; the main nmh community participates on this
> mailing list.  In terms of documentation, we have the man pages that come
> with nmh (which I feel are reasonably complete, but lack some overall
> guidance for a beginner) and we have the O'Reilly MH book, which can be
> found at:
>       http://rand-mh.sourceforge.net/book/
> It mentions nmh briefly, but nearly everything in there should still
> apply to nmh.

...and Mailutils.

> I hope this helps, and if you have further questions about nmh please
> don't hesitate to post them here.
> --Ken
> _______________________________________________
> Nmh-workers mailing list
> address@hidden
> https://lists.nongnu.org/mailman/listinfo/nmh-workers

Bill Wohler <address@hidden> aka <address@hidden>

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