I ♥ Free Software: Mutt

Today is Valentine’s day, a day to celebrate love. But at the Free Software Foundation Europe, we like to challenge traditions. So we thought: why not also celebrate Free Software on this day? Because what makes Free Software so great is the people who make it, it’s the community!

And what better personal example than my use of the mutt email agent to explain why this community is truly important?

I’ve always been a bit curious about mutt. Mutt is a program that lives in your terminal, and basically all it does is show an index of emails in mailboxes, then lets you view these emails. In the pure UNIX tradition, the rest is left to other tools. So every tool has its focus on what it’s good at; and everything is glued together with open formats and protocoles.

The reason why I’ve been always curious with mutt is because email is a big part of my workflow (and my life); but I felt that the way I managed email sucked.

So when I wanted to have a look in mutt, which is quite austere, I went to “mutterwares”, i.e. tupperware meetings for mutt users. Just like Mozilla launched the TupperVim to gather vim users to share tips, experiences, plugins, configs and so forth.

Now, I have been using mutt for nearly a year, and I don’t think I’m ever going back to something else.

Last Monday, there was a 3rd Mutterware in Paris, in which Zack demoed two programs he wrote: notmuch-mutt and org-mutt.

Notmuch-mutt enables you to index your entire email archive, so you can tag emails, search for emails, etc. It also has a killer-feature: from any email in any inbox, you can reconstruct the entire thread to which it belongs, no matter where the rest of the emails are stored (for instance, if you archive your email in other mailboxes).

Zack reconstructed the thread about Mutterware by pressing F9 in mutt with notmuch-mutt

Org-mutt enables you to glue mutt and org-mode together. So you can easily create a new task from an email, and you can link that task back to mutt’s view of that email.

During this mutterware, Zack helped me find why I couldn’t get org-mode to work, and so we fixed a bug! I still have to get something fixed, but it’s already very useful and great. Update: It’s fixed.

So, thanks a BUNCH to Zack and to Michael R. Elkins, mutt developer.