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Chasing the Minotaur: a new email client

I've been on a quest for many years: for the perfect email client. Recently I've settled on using Mozilla as my main email tool - but that entails having the bloat of the rest of the browser, when I'd rather be using Phoenix or IE, or Safari or Camino.

But it looks like the wait may soon be over, at least according a post on the Mozilla blog, Blogzilla - Minotaur is approaching it's first public alpha release. A seperate email client, based on Mozilla's mail code, it's intended to be cross platform and with a consistant mail focused UI.

I'm looking forward to it.


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 25th, 2003 01:47 am (UTC)
Natalie and I are both currently using GyazMail which does quite a good job and, for me at least, is easier to get on with than Mail.app.

Minotaur does sound interesting, definitely something to watch out for.
Mar. 25th, 2003 02:00 am (UTC)
Pity it falls down on my main requirement: no secure IMAP. Well, to be honest, no IMAP at all!
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 25th, 2003 02:22 am (UTC)
That's one of IMAP's key features. Everything stays server side until you specifically download it.

And it has full support for folders. And SSL encryption.

To be honest, I've come to the conclusion that POP is a vile monstrousity that needs to be wiped from the face of the earth. IMAP is just so much better for the end user - and it's less hassle for the sysadmin, too.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 25th, 2003 02:35 am (UTC)
Re: D'you think this will work?
Probably not, as they have such a pile of hacks masquerading as an email system. Now, if someone was using Qmail or Exim, then it would be a lot easier.

But, then again I always approved of the old SMTP delivery techniques Demon used.

Mar. 25th, 2003 04:15 am (UTC)
Re: D'you think this will work?
Exim and Courier-IMAP a truely perfect Email server combo...

Started using it a while ago, only now really using all the features... I've got SPAM and Antivirus integrated, plus it does Virtual domains really easily. It is fast and very very stable... Oh and there are not security holes that have been there for 16 years like Sendmail.
Mar. 25th, 2003 05:08 am (UTC)
For reasons that I can't quite put my finger on, I'm not sold on IMAP. Maybe it was because I couldn't find a client I was happy with.

That doesn't mean it's not a good idea, just for some reason it didn't work for me.

Maybe a re-investigation is in order.

- Neil.
Mar. 27th, 2003 06:08 am (UTC)
As noted elsewhere and thanks to Simon's excellent arguing for, I am once again looking at IMAP.

Now I just need to get my head around Sieve as my main IMAP server is running Cyrus.

I may be sometime.
Mar. 25th, 2003 03:38 am (UTC)
Oooh! I've been waiting for that. Still haven't found anything sufficiently clearly better than Ameol to tempt me away from it so far. Mozilla's mail&news support works close enough to how I do to look very tempting, even though kjersti (An Agent/Eudora user) shudders with revulsion. I shudder with revulsion at Agent, and while I can and do use Eudora, it's a bizzare mixture of Byzantine complexity and plain ol' clunkiness.

Sod Imap, though. Server storage requirements are astronomical these days; it's sometimes awkward and nonstandard to configure; it's not quick; I do not want to trust my ISP to hold my mail store, thankyou; and POP3 is so widely supported it will be a VAST task to move across. Nice idea, ain't gonna happen soon.
Mar. 25th, 2003 03:46 am (UTC)
But disk is so cheap. Even at firewire prices, 1TB is only about $1K. It's a lot cheaper when you buy standalone SCSI or IDE discs.

Which is ridiculous when you consider I paid £900 for a 4GB hard drive only 8 years ago.

And if you're deploying NAS, look at the cost of a fully configured Xserve RAID or an Iomega NAS server.

You're missing about 5 years of price reductions in your rebuttal :-)
Mar. 25th, 2003 04:33 am (UTC)
And the modern ISP business is so low-margin...

You want the ISPs to store years worth of mail, not days worth. That's terabytes, petabytes of storage. It needs new infrastructure, new backup requirements, all sorts; it's a hell of a lot more than a few NAS units.

And what is access to big file attachments going to be like over a 56K modem, eh?
Mar. 25th, 2003 04:52 am (UTC)
Not really - we specced out the webmail system for Freeserve a few years back, and even then 3TB of redundant storage came in less than £30K.

Then you can save even further by going hierarchical.

The problem with ISPs is that they rarely treat their businesses as enterprise IT. If they did, they'd improve margins no end. And I speak as someone who designed/used to run tech for a national ISP...
Mar. 25th, 2003 06:54 am (UTC)
Fair points, tho' it doesn't address the bandwidth/responsiveness question. But [a] they've got to offer POP3 as well and [b] persuade users to change to IMAP.
Mar. 25th, 2003 07:00 am (UTC)
IMAP is fine over 56K. One key feature of a good client is a local cache...
Mar. 25th, 2003 07:12 am (UTC)
Imap per se is; I've used it. But I did specify WRT to large attachments...

And now we're moving from "IMAP-compatible client" to "good IMAP client with caching." Just watch those goalposts go! :¬)
Mar. 25th, 2003 07:16 am (UTC)
Heh, yeah, they move pretty fast. Supersonic goalposts...

But I'm unsure why you raise the attachments issue - one of the advantages of IMAP is the ability to see that there are attachments present before downloading... so allowing you to download attachment-laden messages when convenient.

Unlike sitting there wondering why a POP3 download was taking ages.
Mar. 25th, 2003 07:29 am (UTC)
This is true, but it switches the onus of understanding back to the user again, which is a bad thing. We're trying to make these machines easier and simpler!

Getting Joe Q User to understand local vs. remote storage and what an attachment is, distinct from the message itself, is - let's just say "not a desirable task".
Mar. 25th, 2003 07:54 am (UTC)
I think you're slightly under-estimating end users here - and the evolution of ISP technologies.

For one thing, web mail services like Hotmail are already showing people that their mail can be left on servers, and that attachments can be downloaded at leisure.
Mar. 26th, 2003 08:22 am (UTC)
This is true, in part - but I have users who have great difficulty in mastering such things, too.
Mar. 25th, 2003 07:46 am (UTC)
Hmmm... hey, Simon, I work for an ISP (well, it's also an ISP) in the US. D'you think you could clarify that comment? I know I have some bosses who'd like the idea of the company saving money.
Mar. 25th, 2003 08:06 am (UTC)
Ah, that's the $1000/day question! (or at least it is when I have my consulting hat on).

Key issues (and this is off the top of my head, I hasten to add)I think are:

1) removing legacy and long-term "quick-win" solutions and replacing them with redundant n-tier systems. NAS and transparent caching should be used where possible.

2) investing in core internal networks - upgrading authentication and migrating to central LDAP from RADIUS. Implementing management solutions such as Netcool, to enable proactive maintenance. Redundant systems will reduce downtime here, too.

3) stick to open standards where possible.

4) join GRIC or similar

5) begin to add usage monitoring to all services, in order to find uneconomical users and move them to alternate pricing

6) add support for mobile devices. This is the opportunity to prevent mobile operators from acquiring customers. It should be possible for a user to buy a 2.5G or better device and be able to use your services with only minimal configuration.

7) add billing systems capable of managing multiple services. Time-based billing and flatrate are commodity business models (look at AOL for an example of where these fail!). ISPs need to move away from the commodity market and find value-adds that can be used to make money... Lessons can be learnt from the behaviour of mobile operators in saturated markets, such as in Hong Kong.

(Deleted comment)
Mar. 25th, 2003 10:33 am (UTC)
Re: Groan!
Ah no, you have to make the pitch first.

Then you point out that the next thing is of course a two-week gap analysis, followed by project definition.

And then you introduce the rest of the team...
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )