When Will Linux Email Catch up to Gmail?

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Email, love it or loathe it, there's no getting away from it. On an average day I process hundreds of emails, but haven't yet found an open source mail user agent (MUA) that I really like. Ten years ago this wasn't surprising, but today? Why aren't open source mailers keeping up with the rest of the Linux desktop, and being blown away by Gmail?

In the 14 years I've used Linux, I've tried pretty much every mailer. Mutt, Pine, Alpine, Sylpheed, and the list goes on. In the last year, I've checked in with SpiceBird, Thunderbird, Evolution, KMail, and Claws (formerly Sylpheed-Claws, the bleeding edge of Sylpheed). They're all solid mailers, but it's like time stopped somewhere around 2002 feature-wise. None of the open source mail clients have truly stepped up to the plate with anything new.

You can't say the same thing about other applications. Firefox has improved by leaps and bounds. OpenOffice.org is far better today (though still clunky) than it was just five years ago. Media players have improved by a wide margin -- Banshee is every bit as good as iTunes (that may be damning with faint praise), and Rhythmbox and Amarok have also kept pace with user needs over the years.

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