Archive for the 'Claws Mail' Category

in the dim, dark days…

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Now, I don't follow libetpan or mailcore very closely, so I didn't notice this post from 11 months ago until today.

Here I was mildly amused to read, "Back in 2001, I wanted to add IMAP to Claws Mail, an email application for Linux."

Back in 2001 Claws Mail, or Sylpheed-Claws as it was then known, had just been started by a few of us, (as the development version of Sylpheed). It already had IMAP, (from Hiroyuki's code, Sylpheed's author), it didn't need to be added!!

Now, I don't claim to have the greatest memory, but this rewriting of recent history is questionable to say the least.

Unofficial Claws Mail ClamAV™ Plugin – version 3.5 unleashed!

Friday, April 10th, 2009

A new version of the unofficial Claws Mail ClamAV™ Plugin has been released. Version 3.5 supports Clam AntiVirus™ version 0.95, libclamav 6:2:0 — that is, at least it does once you apply the Personal Build patch.

Further details and downloads can be found on the Unofficial Claws Mail ClamAV™ Plugin page.

Google offers large donations to FOSS Email Application projects

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

If only it were true.

Since google launched gmail IMAP the Claws Mail development team (and several Claws Mail users) seem to have devoted a proportionately high amount of time to answering questions and working around problems that arise through gmail's IMAP implementation. The same must surely be true of other open source teams. How many wasted man-hours must that add up to through all the different development teams and how many more useful things could have been achieved in that time? How far will they set things back?

Don't believe the hype!

Sylpheed Apes Claws Mail

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Knowing the history of the relationship between Claws Mail and Sylpheed, it was amusing to read the release announcement for Sylpheed 2.5.0 earlier this week:

    * New features
          o The vertical 3-paned view mode was added.
          o The feature to save SSL peer certificate was added.
          o The option 'Treat HTML only message as attachment' was
          o The feature to confirm missing attachments was added.
          o The feature to confirm recipients before sending was added.

Why is this amusing? It is amusing because Claws Mail, (née Sylpheed-Claws), started life as the development branch of Sylpheed, where new features could be added, tested and improved before going into the Sylpheed main branch — at least, that was the agreement which was reached and the agreement which instigated the start of the Sylpheed-Claws project — in order to make Sylpheed better rather than to make a better Sylpheed. To cut a long story short, although the movement of code from Claws to Sylpheed was happening early in the project, (Actions, Colour Labels and Templates originated in Claws, for example), this movement slowed and then ground to a halt. We had code and features in Claws that were well-tested and stable and yet the migration to Sylpheed was not happening, and little or no reason was communicated as to why this stagnation was occurring. Eventually it became obvious, without ever being said, that the features/code already written in Claws were not ever going to get into Sylpheed, and that Sylpheed was a one-man-band, a one-party system, as it were. So, naturally, the Claws Mail team decided to fork the project and go in its own direction. We started out with the aim to make Sylpheed better, and ended up with a better Sylpheed.

o The vertical 3-paned view mode was added.
In Claws Mail since version 2.8.0 (February 2007). Claws Mail also has additional 'Wide message', 'Wide message list' and 'Small screen' layouts.
o The feature to save SSL peer certificate was added.
In Claws Mail since version 0.8.5claws (October 2002)
o The option 'Treat HTML only message as attachment' was added.
With Claws Mail's clearer display/layout, an option such as this is unnecessary and irrelevant.
o The feature to confirm missing attachments was added.
Added as a plugin for Claws Mail in November 2006.
o The feature to confirm recipients before sending was added.
This feature is not in Claws Mail, but I wonder who actually needs a feature like this?

Coming up: An exhaustive list of the differences between Claws Mail and Sylpheed. (See what features Sylpheed might have in 5 years!!)

Unofficial Claws Mail ClamAV™ Plugin v3.4 unleashed!!

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

The first official release of an unofficial Claws Mail plugin is now available.

It is available from the Unofficial Claws Mail ClamAV™ Plugin page here on this blog.

This latest release of the plugin will build against the ClamAV™ 0.93 (libclamav 4:1:0) release and all older versions, once it is patched, of course. The necessary patch is also available from that page.

I will continue to maintain this unofficial plugin for at least as long as I am using the plugin.

See the page for more details.

Claws Mail article in Linux Magazine

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Following the awful review of Claws Mail in issue 86 of Linux Magazine — awful because of its inaccuracies — I wrote a critical blog post and informed the editor, Joe Casad, of my post, thoughts and feelings. He quickly responded, apologising and offering further coverage of Claws Mail in the form of a full article, if I would like to write it. What a great response, it couldn't have been any better!

The article is now written and published in issue 90 and can be downloaded in PDF format via this page.

Too bad about the seagull feet, I would have preferred to see The Manticore, a "gigantic red lion with a human face and three rows of teeth [whose] nails are twisted into talons, like drills and […] teeth are cut like those of a saw"[1], or Humbaba, who "had the paws of a lion and a body covered with horny scales; his feet had the claws of a vulture, and on his head were the horns of a wild bull".[1]


[1] Jorge Luis Borges, The Book of Imaginary Beings

Claws Mail, ClamAV™, GPLv2, GPLv2+, GPLv3+, and the ClamAV™ Plugin

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Since the Claws Mail ClamAV™ plugin was dropped there have been several comments made in several places; Naturally enough, people have been confused over the incompatibilities of GPLv3 and GPLv2 — some thought it would be possible to simply release the ClamAV™ plugin under GPLv2, (it's not), some imagined that we were trying to instigate a holy war, (we're not), some thought it could easily be solved by changing the way and place the plugin is executed, (it can't), some surmised that it would be better if GPLv2 and GPLv3 were compatible, (if they were then GPLv3 would be redundant), some thought we were too hasty in changing Claws Mail to GPLv3+, (that's a matter of opinion), some think anti-virus at the user-level is useless on Linux anyway, (they've got a point), and others criticized us for not discovering that libclamav was GPLv2-only in the run-up to Claws Mail changing to GPLV3+, (hmmm!).

Now, a quick recap on what I'm talking about:

  • Claws Mail upgraded its license from "GPLv2 or later" to "GPLv3 or later".
  • The Claws Mail team were alerted to the licensing problem, (a GPLv3+ app cannot link to a GPLv2-only library), by Debian Bug Report 462963.
  • The Claws Mail team implemented what they thought was a possible solution: Making the ClamAV™ plugin a standalone plugin instead of it being part of the main Claws Mail package and downgrading the plugin's license to GPLv2+, (at the agreement of all the authors of the new code that has been added since the change to GPLv3+, which was just Colin).
  • In the meantime the Claws Mail team sought confirmation of their solution from the Software Freedom Law Center and were informed that the proposed solution was not legally distributable.
  • The Claws Mail team dropped the ClamAV™ plugin.

Some interesting points to note: When the ClamAV™ plugin was first released, libclamav was released under a 'GPLv2 or later' license. The 'or later' clause was first dropped in ClamAV™ version 0.91rc1, (libclamav version 2:4:0), which was released on the 30th May 2007. On the 17th August 2007 it was announced that SourceFire® had acquired ClamAV™. One can clearly see that there could be a connection here, and imagine that discussions between the ClamAV™ developers and SourceFire® had been taking place. Then one may recall that Snort®, the network intrusion detection system, was also acquired by SourceFire® and it also downgraded its license to GPLv2-only — and not without some controversy; for example, see this post, Snort license changes revisited, on the Inliniac blog.

In my opinion, a license change is an important thing, particularly a downgrade in the licensing of a library, which could impact on several other projects. But, when looking at the NEWS and README files of ClamAV™ version 0.91rc1 there is nothing to be found about the license change, which seems a little strange. Even stranger is that the ChangeLog doesn't mention it either! That's a bizarre oversight by whoever writes those files.

Downgrade Claws Mail? Are you crazy?

A few Claws Mail users, having upgraded without taking the time to read the release notes, and suddenly finding themselves without a ClamAV™ plugin, and panicking, (well, possibly panicking), have asked how to downgrade Claws Mail so that they can get the plugin back.

It is possible to call clamscan, clamd, or clamdscan using Filtering or Actions as an alternative, for example:

Filtering condition: ~test "clamscan --quiet %F"
Action:              move "#mh/Mail/trash"

Menu Name:    clamscan
Command Line: clamscan -i '%p'

None of these methods are as quick as the plugin however.

The best solution, it seems to me, would be for these users to keep a copy of the ClamAV™ plugin and build it themselves — as long as they do not distribute their copy of the source code they would be within the bounds of the law, as the problem here is only the distribution of source code under incompatible licenses, not in personal use.

Here is a copy of the ClamAV™ plugin source code which has been patched so that it will only build with libclamav version 2:3:0 or earlier, that is, the last version of libclamav to be released with a 'GPLv2 or later' license, making it legal to distribute. There is nothing stopping you from taking this code and patching your own local copy so that the restriction is lifted, the only caveat is that you must not distribute your locally patched copy.

You could use a patch like this and then run ./

---        2008-02-28 10:19:45.000000000 +0000
+++   2008-02-29 10:41:51.000000000 +0000
@@ -89,7 +89,7 @@

-PKG_CHECK_MODULES(CLAMAV, libclamav <= 2:3:0)

Claws Mail ClamAV™ Plugin version 3.3cvs3: clamav-plugin-3.3cvs3.tar.gz (requires libclamav <= 2:3:0)

UPDATE: Go to the Unofficial Claws Mail ClamAV™ Plugin page for the latest version.

Claws Mail drops ClamAv™ Plugin

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Due to Licensing Issues™ the Claws Mail ClamAV™ Plugin has been dropped.

It seems that Sourcefire®, the company who employ the core ClamAV™ developers, wish all the ClamAV™ code to be published under GPLv2 only, and this is Incompatible™ with the GPLv3+ license that Claws Mail has.

You might Think™ that it would make Sense™ for a library to be licensed under 'GPLv2 or any later version', but apparently not. So, Goodbye To ClamAv™. Now the Bogofilter Plugin will have to catch all the Spam™ for me, as, Essentially™, that was what the ClamAV™ plugin was doing for Me™.

Linux Magazine "reviews" Claws Mail

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Mirko Albrecht is a lazy reviewer, but I don't believe he is unique in having this quality. I am referring specifically to his article in the January 2008 issue, (No. 86), of Linux Magazine, entitled "YOU’VE GOT MAIL", which can be downloaded in PDF format here. The article claims to 'examine the strengths and weaknesses of four popular mail clients: KMail, Evolution, Thunderbird, and Claws Mail.'

Of course, being a member of the Claws Mail development team, I am particularly, (perhaps only), interested in what he has to say regarding Claws Mail, (or The Mail Claw, as the article puts it, sic), but, in passing, I'll point out the first error that I noticed: In the opening, introductory paragraphs he says, 'Some computer users also like to encrypt messages to provide protection against sniffing or to have a digital signature to validate the sender.' Of course, a digital signature does not validate the sender, what it does is show that the signed content has not be tampered with en route. Not a good start. Then we soon realise that the author's preferred application is KMail, his preferred desktop environment is KDE, and his preferred distro is SuSE. Rather than a fair, unbiased review, we get one very much based upon the reviewer's personal preferences. His opinion is the benchmark.

The author doesn't use Claws Mail, and it seems that he fired it up just for the purposes of the article. Unfortunately, it is obvious that he didn't allow himself the time to really explore it and rushed the whole thing. In my opinion, this is not really desirable behaviour from journalism, not for the magazine itself, who paid him for the article and rely upon their journalists for quality writing, and not for the readers and purchasers of the magazine who should get something better in exchange for their money.

So, what's wrong with the information that is given?

• "When looking for Claws Mail packages, make sure you do not confuse them with Sylpheed packages."

This is like saying, when looking for an application do not confuse it with another application that has a different name. Is that stupid or what??

The article actually does its best to engender this confusion. In the title it says 'Claws Mail', when we reach the section about Claws Mail it gives the heading 'The Mail Claw', then it starts by talking about Sylpheed. Next the Overview box has the title 'Sylpheed Claws Overview'. Mirko seems confused, indeed.

• "For example, SUSE users can turn to Packman for packages. Besides the claws-mail package, you will also need to install claws-mail-extra-plugins."

Or they could use the official repository. You don't need to install the extra-plugins package, there's no literal need for this — it depends upon whether you want the extra functionality that these extra-plugins provide. The main plugins, distributed with the Claws Mail source tarball, are actually part of the Claws Mail SuSE RPM package.

• "Figure 10: Claws Mail provides a lean alternative to the three Linux mail global players."

Nothing wrong with the caption, but the image it accompanies shows that Mirko has used his KMail maildir mailbox for Claws Mail. Because of this, each folder has 'cur', 'new' and 'tmp' subfolders; Also because of this, it shows Claws Mail's standard inbox/sent/drafts/queue/trash folders and also normal folders with the names 'drafts', 'outbox', and 'sent_mail'.

• "Figure 12: Claws Mail has much ground to gain. The current version has only rudimentary functionality."

This caption is completely misleading. It actually accompanies an image of an address book dialogue. I believe that the intention was to refer to the address book as having 'rudimentary functionality' but that is not what it says. If you've used Claws Mail then you will know that it does not have 'only rudimentary functionality'.

• "Claws Mail lacks a usable address book, simple integration of GPG, and a spam filter."

Not true! Claws Mail's address book is not as fully-featured as others, but this does not make it 'unusable', this is just nonsense!

GPG integration is as simple as using the GUI to load the plugins, there's nothing too complicated in that it seems to me. Thunderbird needs an Extension for GPG support, but I don't see the same criticism leveled at Thunderbird in this article.

Lacks a spam filter? Here the author is unaware of what he wrote just before, '…there are plugins for integrating SpamAssassin…', he also neglects to mention the other spam filter, the Bogofilter plugin.

• The Overview boxes

Mailing Lists

KMail gets 5/5, Claws Mail gets 3/5.

Claws Mail has good mailing list support. I believe that, in his rush to finish his article, the author didn't even discover Claws Mail's mailing list support. I believe that Claws Mail's mailing list is at least as powerful as Kmail's and, at the same time, is more flexible.


KMail gets 5/5, Thunderbird gets 5/5, Claws Mail gets 4/5

Having written filter conversion scripts, I know that there are things that Claws Mail can do in its filtering that the other two cannot.

Security GPG/ HTML

Claws Mail 2/5

An unreasonably low score. Claws Mail supports PGP/MIME, PGP/Inline, S/MIME; it also has an anti-virus plugin, using Clam AntiVirus; it has anti-phishing support built in; the two HTML viewer plugins do not load remote content by default. What more do you want??

Spam filter

Claws Mail 3/5

Claws Mail offers a choice of either SpamAssassin or Bogofilter to deal with spam. They can use address book whitelisting, can be trained via toolbar buttons or menu items, can deal with 'unsure' mails, the SpamAssassin plugin can use a remotely running SpamAssassin, can be configured in a number of ways. Claws Mail also offers the SpamReport plugin to report spam to central databases.

• "The difference between the Create Filter Rule and Create Processing Rule in the drop-down list is not entirely apparent. Both take you to the same dialog."

Wrong! They take you to similar dialogues, but the not the same dialogue. The difference between Filtering and Processing is well documented, in the manual and FAQ, etc. The reviewer should RTFM!

• "[Claws Mail] also lacks a couple of functions, such as a tray icon (which you can download as a plugin.)"

Evolution also requires a plugin for the trayicon, but this wasn't mentioned.

The author thinks that when functions are provided by plugins this means the app lacks those functions. Would he say, for example, that the audio player Audacious is useless and can't play any audio because those features are provided by plugins?

The author completely fails to mention the powerful Claws Mail Actions feature.

I could continue with this blog post but I feel that I've already spent more time on this than the author did on his article.

Could there be any morals to draw from this post?

Don't believe what you read?

Don't buy Linux Magazine, its articles are poorly researched?

Clearly, I am disappointed by this slack and lazy journalism.

Claws Mail development on Maemo

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Thanks to a very generous donation from Claws Mail user Guido Rudolphi, Colin and I are now owners of the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. This will enable us to discover just how justified the complaints from the oh-so-demanding n800 users of Claws Mail actually are, and where other improvements can be made.

As the n800 runs GNU/Linux and a modified Debian, using it is fun and easy. I don't have a wi-fi connection, so it's not as much fun as is it might be; I have to download packages on my main PC and then copy them onto the n800 via USB, so it's not quite as easy either. I wanted to upgrade the firmware, as you do when you get a new device such as this, but it was no-go, just forever waiting at "Suitable USB device not found, waiting". I guess that the device-mapping has changed since flasher-3.0 was written, but I'm still not sure. Anyway, this sort of stuff doesn't stand in my way.

Here are a few screenshots (click the image for a larger version)

Claws Mail



Having one of these devices is a big incentive to actually spend a little more time looking at the maemo bug reports and feature requests, and to spend time contributing to Jean-Luc Biord's Maemo port, but not to the detriment of Claws Mail as a desktop app, that will retain the main focus.

Let the hacking commence!

Claws Mail Maemo port:

Claws Mail at the Maemo Garage:

Jean-Luc Biord's page at