I will say again, for the record, I am not a fan of bloated GUI desktops like KDE and GNOME. I am a GUI minimalist and use the fluxbox window manager for my “GUI desktop”. However, I do like some of the applications that are available for both KDE and GNOME. For a long time now I have been using Kmail and then Kontact with Kmail for my e-mail needs. With Kontact/Kmail I have saved a few thousand messages in Maildir format going back several years, have dozens of contacts both personal and professional, and over 200 filters to keep messages organized. I have been pleased with Kontact/Kmail … until now.
You see, the KDE folks decided to pretty much dump everything prior to KDE4 and rewrite KDE4 and applications for same from the ground up while rethinking everything to make it “better”. While this is a commendable idea, it stinks in the real world out here where we who rely on these applications for real work get to deal with the consequences of these actions. Frankly, I blame both the KDE project and the many distributions that jumped on the KDE4 bandwagon before that thing had enough wheels. My best friend in the world, who is a former KDE fanatic, has stated she will never use KDE again after moving all her stuff to GNOME. My friend is so adamantly opposed to the direction of KDE4 that she refuses to use any QT applications that are designed for KDE and has completely migrated to all GTK / GNOME based applications. She was determined to do this because of all the problems she had with the “new” and “improved” KDE4. The last straw for her was when Amarok “broke” and no longer worked like her beloved Amarok 1.4. I had to help her with her Kontact to Evolution migration, which for her needs was fairly simple. Now it is my turn, and it is not so simple for me. I have actually dreaded having to make this move.
Why leave Kontact? After upgrading my Linux distribution and all the applications for same, my Kmail address book is not working correctly. It now uses akonadi or whatever for managing the contacts and will just stop responding after a while. Given enough time, I could likely figure out how to fix it. I do not believe I should have to figure out how to fix it. The address book / contact list should just work always. Even after a major update it should still just work always. I honestly do not have the time to fix it, then hope it does not break again with the next KDE4 update, then fix it again when it breaks again. All this is a result of the KDE folk deciding on a rewrite and the Linux distributions deciding to include alpha level KDE4 software. Thus, I am moving to something that is stable and I can expect to keep working even after an upgrade.
Enter Evolution. Before closing Kontact for, hopefully, the last time I restarted it to get the address book working long enough to export my contacts. Then I closed Kontact and copied my Maildir mail from Kmail to a new ~/mail/ directory in preparation for migrating to Evolution. Unfortunately I know of no way to export / import my 200+ filters I have created in Kmail, so I will just have to recreate those as needed while using Evolution. I then started Evolution for the first time and ran through the setup of my initial e-mail account. I have several e-mail accounts that would have to be added later. Then the “Evolution Setup Assistant” got to the “Importing files” screen. I deselected both options and clicked the [->Forward] button. Nothing happened. No matter what I did on this window, no going forward. So, I canceled, started the process again and got the same result at the same spot. This was not looking good.
I opened an xterm and restarted Evolution setup by typing evolution at the command prompt. When I got to the page that was hanging, the xterm terminal window displayed this:
(evolution:29817): Gtk-CRITICAL **: Page flow is broken, you may want to end it with a page of type GTK_ASSISTANT_PAGE_CONFIRM or GTK_ASSISTANT_PAGE_SUMMARY
A critical error was not going to let me proceed. I pondered the problem a bit and then decided to try running the setup from within a GNOME session. Luckily under Linux I can switch to a console screen, login with my user account and then type startx gnome-session — :1 to start GNOME without having to exit my preferred fluxbox. Regardless, that did not work either. Then I noticed I had some updates waiting for installation. On a hunch I checked the updates. Sure enough there was one for Evolution. Figuring this could not make things worse, I installed the update to Evolution and removed the .evolution directory that had been created during the failed setup. That solved the problem and I was able to get Evolution set up with an initial e-mail account.
I then restarted Evolution and imported my contacts. Since I had exported the contacts from Kaddressbook to a LDIF file the import worked flawlessly. Then I had to set up a “bogus” account to access the ~/mail/ directory with all my Maildir files in it. I created an account named Maildir and pointed it to that directory. Evolution “saw” all my old e-mail and displayed the “folders”. The old Kmail Maildir directories that began with a period had to be reorganized to get Evolution to work correctly with the Maildir structure. The new directories have no preceding period. I had to close Evolution and use a file manager (mc) to get rid of all the directories that had a leading period after I reorganized everything.
At this point I began to set up all my e-mail addresses, both business and personal, and began creating filters to organize the messages in the Maildir format as that is what I prefer. Since I had over 200 filters in Kmail I am obviously not going to be able to recreate them all from memory. I plan to recreate them as needed while sending and receiving e-mail. This is how I managed to get that many filters in the first place. This will let me learn the Evolution filtering system as I go along. So far, I am not too fond of the separate inbound and outbound filters. In my opinion both should be accessible from the same window without having to switch back and forth. I seriously miss the Kmail filter option to set a single filter to work for both inbound and outbound messages. But I will get used to the new way even though I find it irritating to need to create two filters that are just alike, one for inbound and one for outbound, to keep my messages organized.
What I would have liked to see for this migration:
- Evolution setup asks me if I am migrating from Kontact/Kmail and just handle all the grunt work for me. Yeah, I’m lazy and just lay around all day so I have time to do this myself … not.
- Evolution filters give an option to import filters from another popular e-mail application. Like maybe, oh let’s just pick one at random, Kmail.
- Evolution DEFAULT to using Maildir.
Now that I am using Evolution I look forward to not having to change my e-mail application ever again for as long as I live. Amen.
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Edit Wed Sep 29 01:46:16 CDT 2010: Add URL for mc project site.