March 9, 2021
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The Gmail email client

  • By Robert Bernstein
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Not Your Father's Emailer

There are rough spots of course. Currently Gmail's editor is a GTK textentry widget, so real word-wrapping isn't there yet. Being very much still in "beta" stage, Gmail is still somewhat buggy, and will crash or hang from time to time depending on precisely what series of operations you ask it to perform. However, in several weeks of constant use by this writer, with a database of over four thousand messages (quite small by Gmail standards!), no mail has been lost, either incoming or outgoing. The mail stays safely tucked away in the MySQL tables regardless of what happens to Gmail itself, and not all email clients can make that claim!

And, granted, this is not everyone's email client. It requires a working installation of MySQL to be present before Gmail can be installed. It requires a complete and up-to-date set of Gnome libraries. But both of these conditions can be met by virtually any current Linux distribution, and support is available, in the form of an email list populated by a handful of dedicated Gmail fans who have been following and debugging Gmail for months now. RPM's of Gmail binaries are available, but it builds from source code without a great deal of trouble, provided one's Gnome installation is up to date and "sane."

This young project exemplifies the founding spirit of the free software movement, which thankfully remains alive and well. Given current trends in the Linux "industry," we should enjoy projects such as Gmail while they are still with us.

About Author

About the author: Robert Bernstein (poobah@ruptured-duck.com) is a freelance writer specializing in the Open Source and Free Software movements. He has edited Linux texts for Macmillan Publishing, and written technical articles for Caldera Systems. Over the years he has worked as a land surveyor and as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Massachusetts. A life-long New Englander, Bob now lives in Esmond, Rhode Island, a village he describes as "apple orchards, cow pastures, and Victorian textile mills that speak to you from a hundred and fifty years ago."

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This article was originally published on January 7, 2001

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