Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Fetch, boy

In my eternal search for methods of combatting spam-mail (not the fine product from Hormel), I have signed up for several free POP mail servers. The idea is that I get my newsletters, tips, etc., through one of these accounts, which can be easily dropped if it gets too much spam. (The address filters out some mailling lists.)

This works, but free email popservers are somewhat quirky, and not up all of the time. My mail client, Ximian Evolution, thoughtfully informs you of this.

Every time it fails.

Sometimes, once every five minutes.

At which point it pops up a window to tell you it can't read your mail.

Did I mention the window goes on top of your current window?

Which really messes up your Tetris game.

And, as far as I know, you can't turn this feature off.

The solution, or so it would seem, is to let some other program handle these accounts, and only tell Evolution about it later. Actually, if this program feed its output to the standard /var/spool/mail directory, Evolution could read it automatically, without the regular warnings.

The classic *ix method for reading mail from assorted POP and IMAP servers is fetchmail, written by none other than Eric S. Raymond. There is a fetchmail RPM included in Fedora, so I installed that. But as sometime or other the .fetchmailrc file, which tells fetchmail where to get its mail and what to do with it, became corrupted.

OK, create a new .fetchmailrc file. The easy way of doing this is to run fetchmailconf. Unfortunately, this isn't included in the Fedora-supplied RPM. So go to the fetchmail home page and download the source RPM file, compiling it with the sudo rpmbuild method discussed previously. That works, but fetchmailconf still fails, because I didn't have the Tk GUI toolkit for TCL installed, nor the python interface for Tk. After looking around for the proper source, and by a bit of blind luck, I figured out that the python-Tk interface was in the python-tools RPM included with Fedora. So I did a

sudo yum install python-tools

which apparently installed all the proper python and tk files. At least, fetchmailconf now creates a .fetchmailrc file that doesn't make fetchmail barf.

Unfortunately, I have no real clue if it works or not, because the clunky email servers haven't gotten around to sending me any email yet.

Maybe I should ask Joe Gibbs. He can apparently fix anything, if you read the local papers.