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Posted Jun 17, 2004 15:31 UTC (Thu) by rfunk (subscriber, #4054)
In reply to: Review Requests by larryr
Parent article: The Grumpy Editor's guide to mail clients: introduction

As part of the team working on reviving development on fetchmail, I'm
interested in why you hate fetchmail.

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Posted Jun 17, 2004 16:31 UTC (Thu) by larryr (guest, #4030) [Link]

I'm interested in why you hate fetchmail.

Put succinctly, because I think it does not make simple things simple. For example I would expect what I consider to be a trivial thing, get new messages from a POP account and put them into a Maildir, to be trivially simple, essentially something like
fetchmail --mailbox /my/maildir/path/ pop3://username:password@host
For me, getting fetchmail to do this was far from trivial, but then I have to admit I do not find the fetchmail user interface (command line options and configuration file) to be at all intuitive, so I may not be understanding. I found that fetchmail did not seem to be happy about running multiple instances at once, about delivering directly to a Maildir, about having multiple independent POP accounts on the same host, and about running without a configuration file, all things which I think should just work right out of the box for a program called "fetchmail".


Posted Jun 17, 2004 18:31 UTC (Thu) by rfunk (subscriber, #4054) [Link]

Thanks, that's good to know. Some of the developers (including me) share
at least some of your concerns, so I think things may improve a bit in
the future. Probably not in the next release, but possibly after that.


Posted Jun 17, 2004 21:28 UTC (Thu) by lakeland (subscriber, #1157) [Link]

While I've got a developer listening... ;-)

I run fetchmail systemwide to get mail from my backup MX. The only way I
found to do this was to add a new user to my system, and add fancy a
procmail rule for forwarding the mail on. Fetchmail
supports /etc/fetchmailrc, but that file does not appear to allow delivery
to more than one user??

My solution works perfectly, but I think it is
ugly and it was a pain to set up. Anyway, I'm not sure how many people
are in the same boat -- most people
nowadays are probably are sitting on single user systems.


Posted Jun 17, 2004 21:49 UTC (Thu) by rfunk (subscriber, #4054) [Link]

It sounds like you might want multidrop mode. Search for that phrase in the man page and see if what it says there helps.

If that doesn't help, post your intentions and configuration to the mailing list.


Posted Jun 17, 2004 21:55 UTC (Thu) by lakeland (subscriber, #1157) [Link]

Cool, thanks :-)

Fetchmail is ... unfortunate.

Posted Jun 19, 2004 17:58 UTC (Sat) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

Its config "language" is an excellent example of overly-complex geekiness. A few years ago I wrote and supported Trestlemail, a wrapper for Fetchmail. Easily 80% of my support questions were due to confusion with Fetchmail's config syntax and cryptic errors, not due to anything in Trestlemail. It wasted a lot of my time. All you need to do to fix this is to adopt a nice traditional config file format, something like " user=me pass=hiho options=fetchall". It would take less code and a lot less documentation. For some reason, though, ESR still thinks that Fetchmail's UI is really groovy.

Have you noticed that Fetchmail has had an amazingly poor security history for such a simple program? This isn't too surprising: the code stinks. It's the groaning result of years of accretion. I am convinced that it would be easier just to do a ground up rewrite than actually try to fix it and audit it.

I recommend that people look to pretty much any alternative (Charles Cazabon's getmail is my favorite) before they resort to Fetchmail.

... in my opinion, of course. :)

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