Gnus & IMAP: a superb combination

Gnus, a (X)Emacs based news- and mailclient has been my favorite newsreader for some years now. I used to use it for NNTP based usenet reading only and I really liked it for several reasons:

  • adaptive scoring, it just raised the score of articles I read and lowered the ones I didn’t read
  • flexible and configurable
  • works within X11 and also on a shell
  • available for both, Linux and Windows

Not so long time ago, when I started to play more actively with Gentoo on my home box, I realized for the first time in my Internet-life that mailinglists could be a good supplemental for my usenet feeds and for information retrieval, especially the gentoo-user list. I’ve had always gone around mailinglists because I didn’t find them as appealing and comfortable as newsgroups and I didn’t like the idea of my mailbox being filled with hundreds of postings, mixing with my ordinary mail. Since I got my own mailserver for hosting my domain, I finally figured out that I could easily get around this problem with server-side SIEVE scripts; i.e. server-side mail filtering that sorts all incoming messages of a given mailing list in a certain IMAP folder.

Now, I’ve read several times that Gnus works well with IMAP so I thought I’d give it a try. Let’s say I didn’t regret it. Gnus handles an IMAP backend quite as well as an NNTP backend, in fact, despite some minor differences in handling the expiration of posts there is no difference for me if I am reading my local NNTP mirror maintained with leafenode or if I am reading a mailinglist stored on an IMAP folder. All powerful scoring features I adore so much in Gnus just work on the IMAP feed as well, opening a new world of information retrieval as well.

I keep Gnus running most of the time within a screen backed shell on my server, allowing me access to NNTP and mailinglists from quite everywhere I can/want to log into my box. This is some sort of freedom I really like very much and makes Gnus really a good choice for me.

I already can here Pine-fans and mutt-fans arguing that pine/mutt/whatever handles the job as well as Gnus. Well, that sort of religious discussion never was interesting to me and I can just say: yes, I believe you. But after 4 years of continiously tweaking my Gnus configuration, it just got “perfect” for me. I mean, it does exactly what I want it to do, fitting my needs and tastes. Maybe hardly anyone else could work with my configuration, but that is one of the points I like about Gnus: it’s configurable to hell… 🙂

I think I am going to publish some parts of my .gnus config file as maybe some parts may be interesting. I confess, I have hardly any Lisp-knowlege, so most parts of the file are just taken from the documentation or from other websites. But maybe there are some parts someone else wants to see as well 🙂 And getting a working configuration as a starting point could be the way for some people to try out Gnus as well.

Update (2005-06-14)
As requested in the comments, my .gnus is now available for download. I obfuscated some server entries, please look out for any .invalid domain and replace it with your domain or namespace before using this file.

2 thoughts on “Gnus & IMAP: a superb combination”

  1. Hi!

    Thanks for your feedback (the first on this site :)). I’ve updated the article, the file is now available for download. Just adapt it to your needs and rename it from “dot-gnus” to “.gnus”.

    Hope it will help you.


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