Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(July 2002)

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Subject: Re: OT? browsers or other viewers (was Re: The role of the mailing list)
From: J C Lawrence <claw @ kanga . nu>
Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2002 10:27:47 -0700
To: KHLsv <karhunhammas @ Lserv . com>
Cc: list-managers @ greatcircle . com
In-reply-to: Message from Beartooth <karhunhammas @ Lserv . com> of "Sat, 13 Jul 2002 11:15:02 EDT." <Pine . GSO . 4 . 43 . 0207121043390 . 11162-100000 @ saltmine . radix . net>
References: <Pine . GSO . 4 . 43 . 0207121043390 . 11162-100000 @ saltmine . radix . net>

On Sat, 13 Jul 2002 11:15:02 -0400 (EDT) 
karhunhammas  <Beartooth> wrote:

> I'm trying to get to an MS-free machine...

This is pretty far off the list-managers topic, so I'll take this
off-list after this message.  I'm posting this to the list in case
others wish to join the how-to-filter-your-mail-under-unix discussion

> I run pine in a shell account that I ssh into on my ISP's machine, and
> when I get one of the rare pix I want or need to see which isn't on a
> web site, I forward it to a second ISP; next time I reboot to W98, I
> then read with eudora, which kicks pix to Opera 6.04 to display.


The background logic is going to go something like this:

  You have email.
  It is resident in your ISP's machine.
  Some of that email contains MIME attachments of images which you wish
    to view
  To view such images whatever program you run has to have access to
    your local system's graphics display.
  Under Linux that means that it has to have access to your X Display as
    defined by the $DISPLAY environment variable.
  If you are SSHing into your ISP you could use X11 forwarding to do
    this (ie the image viewer runs on the ISP's machine but displays on 
    your system).
  This works well. but is a) bandwidth intensive and very slow if you
    are on a slow link, b) won't work if your ISP has disabled X11
    forwarding on the server side, and c) won't work if your ISP doesn't
    have the appropriate image viewing applications (eg xv) installed on
    their shell account servers (likely).
  Conclusion: Whatever you run to process those images almost certainly
    has to be run on your system (where it will inherit your
    XAuthentication and thus access to your X Display.
  Your ISP provides access to your mail via POP3 or IMAP.
  There are a wide variety of IMAP and POP3 clients available under
    Linux.  Check for a partial and large list.
  Many of them have the ability to either fork image viewers or display
    images inline with the main application (or both).
  IIRC Mulberry (already mentioned and recommended here) is an example
    of such an IMAP mail client that will display images inline.  The
    Mozilla mail client, XFMail, exmh, etc are other examples.

Further logic:

  You have a (small) disk quota for your mail spool.
  You have problems remaining within that quota.
  You likely have considerable local free disk space, or if not, can
    acquire such for minimal cost (20Gig drives can be had for ~$20 
  If you fetched your mail from your ISP and stored it locally on your
    system you then wouldn't have the problems of maintaining your disk
    quotas on your ISP.
  Doing this would make your mail system faster and more responsive, as
    well as giving your greater choice in possible mail clients to 
  There are many possible ways to fetch your mail to your local system.
  Several are specific to various mail clients (eg XFMail has its own
    POP3 and IMAP fetching code).
  The most frequently recommended tool to use to fetch remote mail to
    your local system is `fetchmail`.
  Setting up fetchmail is quite trivial.  It shouldn't take you more
    than about 10 minutes to get it right.
  Depending on your distribution (Debian makes a particularly good job
    of this) it may take longer to figure out how to automate fetchmail
    in the way you want.
  Caveat: fetchmail generally relies on your having a locally running
    MTA (mail server).
  You can run fetchmail without a local MTA but its not recommended.


  Once you have your email being locally delivered inserting mail
    filtering tools into the pipeline like procmail, hldfilter, IFile,
    Sieve, maildrop etc.
  Sieve is probably the easier/cleanest, but is also the most limited.
  Procmail is the most commonly used (old man on the block).
  Procmail is also the one for which there is the most third party
    support (eg external tools, HOWTOs, recipes etc that plug into, 
    extend, etc procmail)
  Procmail has a reputation for being complex and scary among people who
    don't use it.
  I've taught half a dozen people or so how to use procmail who had that
    scary view, and all exclaimed, "Oh!  That's really simple!"
  Procmail deserves respect.  Incredibly systems can be built with 
  Like many Unix tools procmail just does what you tell it, so its up to
    you to make sure you tell it what you want and that what you do tell 
    it actually means what you want.

With procmail or one of the other mail filtering tools, you can filter,
tag, sort, massage, etc etc etc your mail long before your mail client
ever sees it, or do all sorts of other variously clever automations.
The stuff I commented on earlier (interesting folder etc) is an
automation I do with procmail.  The exact details are a bit spiffier
than I initially described:

  Mail comes into my system (via fetchmail).
  Procmail delivers that mail various per-list folders, does SPAM
    scanning with SpamAssassin etc.
  I subscribe to a little over 600 lists.  
  Some are high traffic; high enough that I don't want to read the whole
  I have procmail setup to deliver mail from those lists to a list
    specific folder (typically <listname>-L).
  My procmail filter will also check the messages it delivers to that list 
    against a list of key words, regular expressions and other bits and 
    place a second copy of matching messages in a folder called 
  Generally I only read the -interesting folder.  If I find something
    there that is particularly interesting I can go read the original 
    thread in the main folder, or just add key words and patterns to my
    filter so that such future messages get copied to -interesting.
  But, there's more.
  Should I reply to a message on that list (either from the interesting
    folder or in the base list folder), my procmail filter will notice
    that message coming into my <listname>-L folder and grab a copy of
    the Message-ID.
  Any subsequent messages which appear from that list which reference
    that Message-ID in their References: or In-Reply-To: headers will be
    copied to the -interesting folder by my filter and their Message-IDs
    logged as well such that any future messages which reference them
    will be copied to -interesting etc.
  The result is that once I reply to a thread on such a list the entire
    subsequent thread will get copied to my -interesting folder.

Oh, and should you decide to walk down the route mapped above I'll offer
what help I can off-list.
This might sound very neat and tidy.  Actually its a great steaming pile
of turdish hacks that has kind of grown organically (been deposited in
great abortive plops more like) over the years and really works more in
spite of itself than otherwise.  But, it does mostly work and does
pretty well do what I want...

I guess I really should clean it up enough to package or generally
release it.

> Question (after all that! for which my apologies): on one MS-free
> linux hard drive, running pine either natively or (preferably) on an
> ISP machine by ssh (where 'tunneling', whatever that is, is disabled
> for security, btw), is there a best way to proceed when you do want to
> view a pic, in or attached to email, which is not a URL?  If so, is it
> a browser -- or the Gimp, or some such that I've only heard of? And if
> a browser, which?

Some MUAs can/will display pictures inline with their display (ie most
of those that have a GUI).  For example the exmh I use here will display
most image types inline with the message, but will fork an external
image viewer for the rest.  I have it configured to use xv, tho it
defaults to electric-eyes.  Both are decent image viewers.

> What do most of you, who do carry pix, recommend to your subscribers? 

I don't touch that area.

> Or if you don't recommend, do you know what they do?  


> linux greenhorn...

At a more general level I'd recommend you hook up with your local Linux
User's Group ("LUG".  They can be an invaluable resource, especially if
they also run "InstallFests"(basically places to bring your systems and
get help from other members if you're having difficulty).  Such user
groups and their mailing lists can be confusing (and excessively
political internally), but with a little bit of persistence and
earnestness are often invaluable.

If you don't have a local LUG (heck, even if you do) I'd recommend
joining the SVLUG mailing list (  That's the Silicon
Valley Linux User's Group.  As you might guess there's rather an excess
of talent on the list.

J C Lawrence                
---------(*)                Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas. 
claw @
 kanga .
 nu               He lived as a devil, eh?  Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.

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