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NorthernJourney.com: Linux for Newbies, pt. 24, Filtering mail with procmail

Jun 17, 2001, 21:45 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Gene Wilburn)

[ Thanks to Gene Wilburn for this link. ]

First, congratulations to Gene Wilburn for two years of his "Linux for Newbies" column. This month's installment centers on procmail, a traditional Unix mail-sorting tool that offers a lot of power and flexibility in terms of contextually appropriate mail clients. This tutorial explains getting mail down to a system with fetchmail, and enough procmail to handle basic sorting and some specialized actions, like storing messages in dated folders.

"Filtering allows us to set up rules or recipes that send mailing list postings to special folders, put high-priority correspondents into a "readmefirst" folder, and perhaps route all other mail into a "readlater" folder that can be scanned occasionally for anything important. Doing even this much can considerably reduce the amount of time it takes to manually process mail.

Proprietary email readers frequently offer built-in filtering rules--Eudora Pro for Windows and Macintosh has nice ones and even Pine has some filtering capabilities. These work well enough within a simple context, but if you switch operating systems regularly, work from different computers, or need advanced filtering, a proprietary solution may fall short of your needs.

The most effective method of filtering email is to intercept it before it is actually delivered and place your filtering rules there. Linux offers a superb mechanism for doing this--a program called procmail. Procmail, created by Stephen R. van den Berg, is the focus of this Newbies session."

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