Managing IMAP accounts with Trojitá

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When using the application, you can see how much the developer has trimmed down the program. Even though Trojitá has a rudimentary register for frequently used addresses, it isn't a complete PIM suite and doesn't want to be one. It basically follows the structure of many mail clients: a menu bar and toolbar at the top, the list of folders on the left, and the list of emails and the view of one of their contents on the right.

Using the View | Layout menu, you can set the alternative Wide layout (Figure 3) that makes better use of the space on wider screens. However, this makes it harder to adjust the width of columns for subject, sender, date, and mail size. A handle is missing between the Subject and From elements for changing the column widths, and the others are a bit awkward. The setup is, however, good for a mailing list with two lines per email, similar to KMail [17].

Figure 3: Trojitá's wider view is well suited to modern laptops with panoramic displays. Unfortunately, it's a challenge to adjust the column widths.

The One at a time view shows the list of folders, the messages in each, or a single message, thereby saving space on smaller laptops or mobile devices. Trojitá somewhat unexpectedly adds new emails at the bottom of the list. Using Sorting , you have a few options to help you organize them. You can also sort by threads if you set a tree structure with Show Messages In Threads .

The Quick Search option proved to be quite useful. Among the 88,000 messages in the Linux kernel mailing list folder, Trojitá found the three util-linux release announcements in a matter of three seconds (Figure 4). Unfortunately, we couldn't find a cross-folder search during testing.

Figure 4: Fast and practical: a mailing list search in one-at-a-time view.

Especially appealing when viewing messages is the compact nature of headings, the ability to assign tags, and the appearance of mail quotes [18] with vertical-line separations. The program displays HTML emails with the standard formatting, and you can turn on external images. A zoom function is missing, however, which leads to HTML emails having too small a print to read easily on high-resolution displays. Also, a function is missing to copy mail addresses through a context menu to the address book.

The send window is also very sparse. At the upper left are the fields for the sender's identity and any number of recipients. Like KMail, Trojitá allows creating new fields. To the right is a button for adding attachments and a list of attachments, including the actual message text.

You can also use New Thread to open a new dialog or change whether the message goes to the sender, all recipients, or to a mailing list. The program also comes with some basic intelligence built in; on mailing lists with matching headers, messages go only to the list by default.


What about the program's performance and efficiency? In our tests, we let the software loose on an IMAP account with 200,000 emails, primarily those from mailing lists of open source projects. The largest folder was the kernel mailing list with nearly 100,000 emails.

The account was on a Dovecot server, one of the fastest IMAP MTAs, that saved its email in a Btrfs filesystem on a NetApp storage appliance. The test was limited to subjective impressions, because the server shared the infrastructure with other virtual machines, which made it hard to reproduce measurements. For a comparison, we accessed the same IMAP account with KMail 4.14.2 with Akonadi 1.13.

Trojitá was ready for use right after IMAP account configuration, and the access to the large folders was fast. Here, the program did well with its competitors. With KMail, Akonadi was first involved in loading all folder indexes after setting up the account, something that took an hour or more.

Trojitá showed no weaknesses when accessing the kernel emails folder. It loaded only a part of the index and not the whole thing. The program first ran in Free Access mode with a cache of 30 days. This proved to be a problem with quick folder changes or when scrolling through the list of messages. Trojitá loaded more of the index than the user could see to respond to requests more quickly.

Unfortunately, Trojitá didn't end old queries so that, when changing folders or scrolling through the message list, it took from 10 seconds to a half a minute waiting time while the IMAP server used the common memory to capacity. With threading enabled, where the application loads more contexts to show the participation in conversation threads, the effect was even more pronounced.

Once the data was stored, the client proceeded more quickly. Curiously, the Expensive Access option helped in a more expensive connection. Here Trojitá actually loaded only what the user wanted to see. The program updated the view in a matter of seconds, even when scrolling in the kernel mailing list folder. So, if you have a connection to a fast IMAP server, this option does work better.

KMail, in comparison, was also quite fast after the first scan when accessing the folder and its messages – unless Akonadi was strongly involved with background tasks, in which case it took somewhat longer. However, Akonadi also constantly ran in the background to resolve the IMAP account and store the folder indexes in the MySQL database. For large folders, KMail took some time to build the thread view fully, during which time the program was slow to respond.

Although Akonadi took considerable time with the indexes in this case of a spontaneous access to the IMAP account, Trojitá was significantly faster. To offset it, KMail provides a really useful and fast full-text search of the complete account with its Baloo tool, assuming Akonadi is running regularly in the background.

A comparison of a large IMAP accounts on Exchange showed no significant facts. Both KMail and Trojitá showed some wait times throughout, which is highly likely because of Microsoft's IMAP implementation that doesn't support many advanced commands.

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