Some things that I didn't like in Thunderbird during this last year:
- Synchronizing between different computers was not straightforward. Mails were in the IMAP server, so that was not a problem, but I wasn't sure how I could easily synchronize news (from newsgroups), filters, etc. in different computers
- For some reason, Thunderbird would mark some messages as read, even when I didn't say so (quite dangerous, as once I read a message, I normally don't go back to it).
- The IMAP connection to my server was very slow after having thousands of messages, so I ended up archiving messages by year. This was a bit annoying, since from my home computer then I could not access those messages.
- Probably related to the archives, when searching for messages, sometimes a relevant message would show up in the search results, but when I tried to open the message, then nothing would show up. I would have to remember the date of the message and go and find it manually. Not very convenient.
- Many times Thunderbird complained of server timeouts. As a result, messages that I thought were deleted, actually remained in the server and other oddities...
My current mail setting now involves two accounts (work and private), which are backed up in a third account (which I never touch, this is just a repository of ALL the mail I get). At my workstation I run fetchmail to download locally (and delete from the mail accounts) all the e-mails I get in both accounts (the setting for this only involves creating a .fetchmailrc file where I specify the servers, accounts, etc.). (sendmail also needs to be running in the machine).
The Gnus manual (the PDF version) has 435 pages, so configuring it to your taste is going to take a while, but it is (like Emacs), incredibly flexible and powerful. For me the main features that I was looking for were:
- Reliability (I hate when software starts doing "things" on its own).
- Possibility of having exactly the same environment and configuration, no matter where in the whole Internet I was located.
- Good filing and searching of messages.
- mail is sorted into different groups, and those in the "MailingList" groups are deleted automatically in one week (unless I say otherwise), and other Mail is never deleted (unless I say otherwise);
- the search engine works really fast and well (actually much better than the Thunderbird search engine);
- this works inside Emacs, which I run in text mode (emacs -nw), inside GNU screen (well, actually Byobu), so wherever I am, I only need to connect through ssh to my workstation, and I have full control and exactly the same configuration everywhere.
And this is how it looks right now. The "Folder" view:
The messages view in one of the groups:
I have only used it for a couple of days, so I'm not sure how it will score against Thunderbird in a year from now, but so far I didn't have any problems, and it looks a better approach for my needs. I will report back in a year!