getting off this mailing list

Stephen R Laniel steve at
Sun Jul 3 21:38:01 UTC 2005

On Sun, Jul 03, 2005 at 03:50:44PM -0400, Ed Cogburn wrote:
> Given that fetchmail is nothing more than a shallow wrapper around the POP3
> internet mail transfer protocol

Well ... not really. Look at it instead as a tool for
accomplishing one task: getting mail from a remote machine
to your own machine. Make that tool work

1) reliably (messages aren't deleted off the remote machine
until they've been committed to persistent storage on the
local machine),

2) using any mail transport protocol (all variants of POP,
IMAP, etc.),

3) using any authentication and encryption mechanism (SSL,

and you've got fetchmail.

> I don't think a command-line tool like
> that is sacrosanct, especially for a GUI environment like GNOME or KDE,
> where the command-line methodolgy for program-to-program communication is
> actually inferior and less flexible.  Its like saying we should right a GUI
> frontend for ls, rather than simply make the system calls to collect the
> directory information directly from whatever tool you're using to manage
> files.

It's a good point, but of course we have to decide on a
case-by-case basis. If fetchmail can be incorporated into a
program easily, and it does the mail-fetching job better
than any function we could write now, then we should use it.
"No use reinventing the wheel" is one of the basic
motivations behind the open-source movement. (It fits with
Larry Wall's list of the virtues of a good programmer, the
first of which is 'laziness.')

And no, I don't think it's reasonable to call out to a
command-line tool from within a GUI application -- at least,
not usually. So turn your command-line app into a set of
libraries: I believe that's how the cURL and rsync libraries
emerged. The command-line tools came first.

Stephen R. Laniel
steve at
+(617) 308-5571
PGP key:
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