p>Over the past decade, electronic mail has become a mission critical business
application, surpassing snail mail, phone calls, and paging to dominate
inter-office communication. Enterprise employees are usually stuck with
IT-mandated clients used with groupware servers like Microsoft Exchange,
Novell GroupWise, and IBM Lotus Notes. But small business workers and
home users are often free to choose their own mail clients.
Outlook Express is factory-installed on Windows PCs, but as discussed
1 of this series, there can be better, safer, faster alternatives.
Here in Part 3, we take a look at several free mail clients for Windows
PCs: MemeCode i.Scribe, Mozilla Thunderbird, Opera Mail, Pegasus Mail,
and Qualcomm Eudora.
This freeware mail client can be used on Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP,
Linux (2.4 or higher), and BeOS r5, requiring a minimum 1.2 MB disk and
6 MB RAM. We ran i.Scribe
version 1.88 from a USB fob, inserted into a Windows XP SP1 PC.
compact, fast program supports POP3, (E)SMTP, and IMAP protocols, relayed
through SOCKS or web proxies as needed. Integrated contact and calendar
functions are also included (see figure at right). Extras like
spell check, LDAP services, and GnuPG or SSL encryption can be added as
plug-ins. Messages are viewed through a built-in HTML engine, but those
who prefer to display mail with Internet Explorer can do so with a plug-in.
A Windows installer is available, but not really required. We just expanded
the zip onto a 128 MB USB fob, ran the i.Scribe executable, replied to
an initial mail folder prompt, and configured POP account settings. The
freeware i.Scribe is limited to a one mail account; if you need multiple
accounts or user identities, pay $20 to upgrade to InScribe.
i.Scribe mail client supports message formatting, labeling, threading,
and prioritization. Decoder libraries for PNG and JPEG images can be added
as plug-ins. Incoming mail is passed through a Bayesian Spam filter, but
it is necessary to initialize this filter by manually classifying some
spam to seed your banned “word list.” (see figure at right). Spam
messages must also remain in the spam folder indefinitely to enable list
rebuilding—if you want to delete junkmail, you must do it yourself.
on a POP server can be previewed before deciding which messages to download
or delete (see figure at left)—this is particularly useful
for travelers on low bandwidth connections or public PCs. Freeware i.Scribe
cannot pass messages through user-defined filters, although the commercial
product InScribe can.
Mail message encryption and signature authentication can be added to
i.Scribe by installing a GnuPG
plug-in, although the current version cannot encrypt attached files. “Over
the air” SSL protection for SMTP, POP, and IMAP can also be obtained by
placing OpenSSL libraries
in the same directory as the i.Scribe executable. Mobile users running
i.Scribe can run OpenSSL by adding DLLs to the same USB fob, but GnuPG
appears to require installed software.
The i.Scribe contact list can hold plenty of data, including GPG signatures
and custom attributes. The list can be imported from various sources (e.g.,
text files, Outlook, Eudora, Thunderbird, Netscape), but importing a Eudora
name database yielded mixed results—some addresses were truncated;
others were not. The i.Scribe calendar function provides basic event scheduling
with advance notification. A separate Groupware Server (currently freeware)
can be used to share contacts and calendars with other users.
Overall, we found i.Scribe quick and easy to use. Although it has all
the basics, i.Scribe does lack some fancy UI features found in other (arguably
more complex) programs. If you’re looking for a lightweight mail client
to carry with you on USB, give i.Scribe a try.
This article was first published on ISPPlanet.com.