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Re: For the complete novice. Backend. Mail in gnus.

From: Hadron Quark
Subject: Re: For the complete novice. Backend. Mail in gnus.
Date: Mon, 03 Jul 2006 12:33:29 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.110004 (No Gnus v0.4) Emacs/21.4 (gnu/linux)

Don Saklad <> writes:

>           Thank you!
>           For complete novices, how would determining the best
>           choice for the backend actually be done?...

It isnt easy and yes a lot of resources do seem to expect you to be
familiar with a lot of things in order to understand.

However, if you use something like gnus then you must expect a learning
curve too.

Personally I use fetchmail with procmail to populate my maildirs
(MAILDIR format) as my "backend".

I chose it because I have POP3 email accounts and wanted a seperate file
for each email. And it was reasonably well documented. And the evolution
email client can read maildir format. I'll explain how I set it up.

I have a ".fetchmail.rc" containing lines something like this:


# Configuration created Thu Mar 16 00:59:32 2006 by fetchmailconf
set postmaster "post master email address"
set no bouncemail
set no spambounce
set properties ""

# Defaults ===============================================================
# Set antispam to -1, since it is far safer to use that together with
# no bouncemail
timeout 300
antispam -1
batchlimit 100

poll with proto POP3 port 995
    user '' there with password 'password' is 
'' here ssl
         mda "/usr/bin/procmail";


There is a fetchmailconf program and many resources on the web in how to
get it working. But on my system, fetchmail installs a special "crontab"
file which means that cron (a system scheduler) runs "fetchmail" every
20 minutes in order to *fetch* mail. 

The "MDA" or "mail delivery agent" is responsible for receiving the mail
from fetchmail and "delivering it". Here I use "procmail" to
deliver. procmail is then configured through ".procmailrc" to deliver
the mail to a MAILDIR setup. I use procmail because I have more than one
email address and wish to keep them in seperate directories. Here is a
sample .procmailrc which tells procmail how and where to deliver email
which fetchmail has fetched from the net:

******start sample*****


#separate directories for my mailing lists
* ^

# other accounts here.....


MAILDIR is an easy file based solution. AFAIk all you ned to do is
create ~/Mail/user-name and then three directories : cur, new and
tmp. Noe the MAILDIR setting : this is the top level.

You then tell Gnus to use these directories : I have this in my .gnus.el
file -


(setq gnus-select-method '(nntp ""))
(setq gnus-secondary-select-methods
      '((nnmaildir "MyMail" (directory "~/Mail/"))))


where "Mail" here is your top level mail directory in maildir
format. These will be seen as message groups in Gnus and you must
subscribe to them  : remember that Gnus is primarily a news reader where
its functionality is also very adept at dealing with email too - this
can sometimes lead to confusion. But it works - and very, very well.

It is hard, but if you use google and look in group responses you will
get there.

The first thing to understand is the backend : get fetchmail working
with possibly a gmail or hotmail account fetching from their POP3
servers. You can run fetchmail at the command line on Linux via
"fetchmail" and see it at work. Then you can browse your maildir
directories to see that fetchmail has passed the mail to procmail which
in turn has placed the maildir files into your maildir hierarchy.

Stick with it : it is *not* easy - dont get disheartened but do be
prepared to do some learning. If you stay cool, you'll get there.

>           The initial steps need a better description, easier for
>           novice users than what current resources provide.
>           As well intentioned are the energies that went into current
>           resources, they assume users to be more patient can be
>           reasonably expected, more knowledgeable than novice.
>     For the complete novice setting up mail in gnus, in that
>     context what is the robust definition or definitions of this
>     term?...
>     backend
>     A definition or definitions that makes the term backend
>     completely clear for any novice.
> Possibly it could be this easy:
> "A mail backend system fetches and formats email for later
>  manipulation and display by a compatible front end. GNUS
>  provides one such frontend User Interface".
> Here are listed different backends and the storage format which a
> front end must be compatible with in order to use that data


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