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Electronic Mail - email

  • Pine This is a Program for Internet News & Email - is a tool for reading, sending, and managing electronic messages. Pine was designed by the Office of Computing & Communications at the University of Washington specifically with novice computer users in mind, but it can be tailored to accommodate the needs of "power users" as well. Versions are available for various flavors of Unix as well as for personal computers running a Microsoft operating system.
  • evolution Evolution is the GNOME mailer, calendar, contact manager and communications tool.Perhaps NeXT mailer look-like, although some people might claim is Eudora-like if not others. Evolution represents the next step forward in GNOME applications. The tools which make up Evolution are tightly integrated with one another and act as a seamless personal information-management tool. Evolution is extensible and it will be possible to use it to solve a huge variety of information-sharing problems like contact makers, schedules, mailing lists and more. Evolution will import email and email addresses and contacts from older email clients like pine or Netscape.

    To setup evolution for the first time just type:

    
     		  evolution        
    
    and follow the dialogs. The information you need to know as of now is your cram login when you get the email account information dialog. Make sure you type your account with the ccrma.stanford.EDU domain as follows:
    
     		  your-login@ccrma.stanford.edu        
    
    For receiving email select the mail server type as ``Local Delivery''. Make sure your /var/spool/mail/ - directory is on the configuration path.

    For sending email make sure you select the ``SMTP'' mail server type. In the Host section type ``localhost''.

    If you previously used pine or any other mail client at CCRMA it will ask you if you want to import your mailboxes and your email addresses. Just choose the appropriate selection.

    Evolution has an extensive list of tool-tips, on-line help as well as FAQs and tips.

    To export contacts (email-addresses) in Evolution Left-click on the very first contact, now hold down Shift and left-click on the very last contact. Now right click and select "Save as VCard". You'll get a nice, 100% standard-compliant .vcf (palm compatibe) file which can be read in other address-book programs and even sync to hardware palms.

    For Mailboxes also Left-click first, Shift-left-click last, Right-click Save As. It saves as standard mbox file with an .mbox extension which might be exported to other operating systems mail clients.

    When in doubt in Evolution, highlight and right-click!

    • Evolution: More than an Email Reader

      You can filter or rather direct your email to different folders. While procmail and spamassasin can filter unwanted spam mail (see below), you can still filter way more by using the filter utilities in Evolution. But let's start on how to redirect email to a specific folder:

      Suppose you want to archive email from a particular list you are subscribed, let's say the PlanetCCRMA list.

      1. Create a PlanetCCRMA folder
      2. Go to the Tools menu and select ``Filters''
      3. On the filters window click ``Add''
      4. Name the rule something like ``planetcrma mailing list''
      5. On execute actions select ``if all criteria met''
      6. Add action if there is not one
      7. Select the mailing list criteria
      8. Then on the whitespace write ``planetccrma@ccrma.stanford.edu''
      9. On the ``then'' side below of the rule box select action: ``move to folder''
      10. and then select ``PlanetCCRMA in local folders''
      11. Email from this list should be redirected to the PlanetCCRMA folder the next time you receive email.

      It would be a good idea to take a look at different criteria in t he rules window for familiarizing with different filters if you want to classify your email and even if you want to have your own spam filters. Most email filters are created the way explained above just by changing rules and actions.

    • Evolution Contacts

      Working with contacts is also a very useful feature. Contacts not only file email address information, they also can store telephones, fax numbers, birthday information, you name it. Each contact can act like a card and as your phone book directory. In fact each contact can be a Vcard and exported to contact programs in other operating systems' software. You can attach a Vcard and send it over the Internet but perhaps the most useful feature is that you can synchronize your ``palm pilot'' with Evolution's contacts.

    • Synchronizing your Palm-Pilot

      Evolution has a built-in script which runs ``gnome-pilot'' to synchronize information to and from your pilot just by following these steps:

      1. Select your Palm ID
      2. Select the conduits of information you want to have between your desktop and the pilot.
      3. Share calendar data, ToDo's, etc.

      Whether you have a serial Palm or a USB you should not run into much trouble while trying the HotSync push button on your device. If synchronization is not working make sure that Pilot Link is properly configured. You will need to make sure that you have read and write permissions on the device, which is normally /dev/pilot. If that does not work, check /dev/ttyS0 (maybe /dev/ttyS1) if you have a serial connection, or /dev/ttyUSB0 for a USB connection. You can do this by asking your system administrator for the right permissions or in your own system by becoming root and running the command: chmod 777 /dev/ttyUSB0 (or chmod 777 /dev/ttyS0).

    • Evolution Composer: Emacs-like key bindings

      You can have Evolution's composer (compose email window) Emacs-like key bindings. On older versions there is a tab in tools/ settings/ composer and even in the composer window menus over preferences. In newer versions this setup is done via your Gnome editor preferences. For this go to keyboard shortcuts on the Gnome-preferences menu and on the Text editing shortcuts tab select ``emacs''.

  • Mozilla , is an open-source web browser, designed for standards compliance, performance and portability and is the browser of choice at CCRMA. You can also read email, news and transfer files plus it offers a very good multilingual interface. It works in a similar fashion or better than Netscape or eXplorer.

  • Procmail CCRMA is now processing email at the server level and the final delivery agent is procmail.

    Procmail can be used to create mailing lists, sort your incoming mail into separate folders/files (real convenient when subscribing to one or more mailing lists or for prioritising your mail), preprocess your mail, start any programs upon mail arrival (e.g. to generate different chimes on your workstation for different types of mail) or selectively forward certain incoming mail automaticallyto someone.

    Procmail should be invoked automatically over the .forward file mechanism as soon as mail arrives. Alternatively, when installed by a system administrator (and in the standard Red Hat Linux configuration), it can be invoked from within the mailer immediately. When invoked, it first sets some environment variables to default values, reads the mail message from stdin until an EOF, separates the body from the header, and then, if no command line arguments are present, it starts to look for a file named $HOME/.procmailrc. According to the processing recipes in this file, the mail message that just arrived gets distributed into the right folder (and more). If no rcfile is found, or processing of the rcfile falls off the end, procmail will store the mail in the default system mailbox.

    You're not supposed to start procmail from the command line. Procmail expects exactly one mail message to be presented to it on its stdin. Usually the mail system feeds it into procmail.

    There exists an excellent FAQ about Emailfilters (and procmail in particular), maintained by Nancy McGough which can be obtained and seen at: Email filtering

  • SpamAssassin If you are getting a lot of spam mail:

    SpamAssassin is a mail filter to identify spam.

    Using its rule base, it uses a wide range of heuristic tests on mail headers and body text to identify "spam", also known as unsolicited commercial email.

    The spam-identification tactics used include:

    • header analysis: spammers use a number of tricks to mask their identities, fool you into thinking they've sent a valid mail, or fool you into thinking you must have subscribed at some stage. SpamAssassin tries to spotthese.

    • text analysis: again, spam mails often have a characteristic style (to put it politely), and some characteristic disclaimers and CYA text. SpamAssassin can spot these,too.

    • blacklists: SpamAssassin supports many useful existing blacklists, such as mail-abuse.org, ordb.org or others.

    • Razor: Vipul's Razor is a collaborative spam-tracking database, which works by taking a signature of spam messages. Since spam typically operates by sending an identical message to hundreds of people, Razor short-circuits this by allowing the first person to receive a spam to add it to the database - at which point everyone else will automatically block it.

    Once identified, the mail can then be optionally tagged as spam for later filtering using the user's own mail user-agent application.

    SpamAssassin requires very little configuration; you do not need to continually update it with details of your mail accounts, mailing list memberships, etc. It accomplishes filtering without this knowledge, as much as possible.

    So, SpamAssassin can be activated on your account by adding a filtering recipe to your ".procmailrc" file, if you have one, or creating one if you don't. Beware, you can lose email if you don't configure your .procmail file properly.

    Please contact your system's administrator or staff for getting a current and correct procmail configuration and make sure you understand your regexps (regular expressions) and filters.

    An example of a ``$HOME/.procmailrc'' configured to use SpamAssassin and which you can tailor to your specific requirements might be something like (procmail man page has more details on the syntax and structure of this file):

    
     		 
    # SpamAssassin sample procmailrc
    #
    # Pipe the mail through spamassassin (replace 'spamassassin' with 'spamc'
    # if you use the spamc/spamd combination)
    #
    # The condition line ensures that only messages smaller than 250 kB
    # (250 * 1024 = 256000 bytes) are processed by SpamAssassin. Most spam
    # isn't bigger than a few k and working with big messages can bring
    # SpamAssassin to its knees.
    #
    # The lock file ensures that only 1 spamassassin invocation happens
    # at 1 time, to keep the load down.
    #
    :0fw: spamassassin.lock
    * < 256000
    | spamassassin
    
    # Mails with a score of 15 or higher are almost certainly spam (with 0.05%
    # false positives according to rules/STATISTICS.txt). Let's put them in a
    # different mbox. (This one is optional.)
    :0:
    * ^X-Spam-Level: \*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*
    almost-certainly-spam
    
    # All mail tagged as spam (eg. with a score higher than the set threshold)
    # is moved to "probably-spam".
    :0:
    * ^X-Spam-Status: Yes
    probably-spam
    
    # Work around procmail bug: any output on stderr will cause the "F" in "From"
    # to be dropped.  This will re-add it.
    # NOTE: This is probably NOT needed in recent versions of procmail
    :0
    * ^^rom[ ]
    {
      LOG="*** Dropped F off From_ header! Fixing up. "
      
      :0 fhw
      | sed -e '1s/^/F/'
    }
    
  • Using SpamAssassin inside Evolution:

    You can also use SpamAssassin directly inside Evolution. For this you will need to create a filter in order to process the message and then place it inside a ``spam folder''. Following are the steps needed while in evolution:

    1. Create a Spam Folder

    2. Go to the menu Tools --> and look for Filters
    3. Under Filter Rules, choose the ``Add'' button
    4. look for the ``Add Rule'' dialog and,
      1. Under the Criterion, ``IF,'' frame,

        1. Choose a rule name, something like ``spam-filter''
        2. Choose ``Pipe Message to Shell Command'' from the conditions list.
        3. Write the command ``spamassassin -e > /dev/null'' in the command text box.
        4. Select ``returns greater than'' from the return drop down list.
        5. Set 0 to the number box.

      2. Under the Action, ``THEN,'' frame,

        1. Choose the ``Move'' action and set the destination to your new spam folder.
        2. Click on the ``Add Action'' button.
        3. Choose ``Stop processing'' from the new action list.

      3. Move the new ``spam rule'' to the top of the filter list because Evolution performs filter rules sequentially.

    5. Some known issues:

      It is advisable to do email backups and testing before using a spam filter. Sometimes some messages will get trapped inside the spam folder. If this kind of situation repeats you might want to add another rule to your spam filter to fix the problem. Therefore, periodically reviewing your spam folder for legitimate mail is a good idea.

      Be aware that no matter how fast your computer is, adding a spam filter might slow down your mail download from the server significantly. However, depending on the volume of mail you receive, adding this kind of filtering will significantly reduce dealing with junk mail.


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