# Email for l33t h4x0rz

A couple of people recently asked about my email setup, so I figured it might be best to simply document some of it here.

I run my own mail server for jtobin.io, plus another domain or two, and usually wind up interacting with gmail for work. I use offlineimap to fetch and sync mail with these remote servers, msmtp and msmtpq to send mail, mutt as my MUA, notmuch for search, and tarsnap for backups.

There are other details; vim for writing emails, urlview for dealing with URLs, w3m for viewing HTML, pass for password storage, etc. etc. But the mail setup proper is as above.

I’ll just spell out some of the major config below, and will focus on the configuration that works with gmail, since that’s probably of broader appeal. You can get all the software for it via the following in nixpkgs:

mutt offlineimap msmtp notmuch notmuch-mutt


## offlineimap

offlineimap is used to sync local and remote email; I use it to manually grab emails occasionally throughout the day. You could of course set it up to run automatically as a cron job or what have you, but I like deliberately fetching my email only when I actually want to deal with it.

Here’s a tweaked version of one of my .offlineimaprc files:

[general]
accounts = work

[Account work]
localrepository = work-local
remoterepository = work-remote
postsynchook = notmuch new

[Repository work-local]
type = Maildir
localfolders = ~/mail/work
sep = /
restoreatime = no

[Repository work-remote]
type = Gmail
remoteuser = FIXME_user@domain.tld
realdelete = no
ssl = yes
sslcacertfile = /usr/local/etc/openssl/cert.pem
folderfilter = lambda folder: folder not in\
['[Gmail]/All Mail', '[Gmail]/Important', '[Gmail]/Starred']


You should be able to figure out the gist of this. Pay particular attention to the ‘remoteuser’, ‘remotepass’, and ‘folderfilter’ options. For ‘remotepass’ in particular you’ll want to generate an app-specific password from Google. The ‘folderfilter’ option lets you specify the gmail folders that you actually want to sync; folder in [..] and folder not in [..] are probably all you’ll want here.

If you don’t want to store your password in cleartext, and instead want to grab it from an encrypted store, you can use the ‘remotepasseval’ option. I don’t bother with this for Google accounts that have app-specific passwords, but do for others.

This involves a little bit of extra setup. First, you can make some Python functions available to the config file with ‘pythonfile’:

[general]
accounts = work
pythonfile = ~/.offlineimap.py


Here’s a version of that file that I keep, which grabs the desired from pass(1):

#! /usr/bin/env python2
from subprocess import check_output

def get_pass():


Then you can just call the get_pass function in ‘remotepasseval’ back in .offlineimaprc:

[Repository work-remote]
type = Gmail
remoteuser = FIXME_user@domain.tld
remotepasseval = get_pass()
realdelete = no
ssl = yes
sslcacertfile = /usr/local/etc/openssl/cert.pem
folderfilter = lambda folder: folder not in\
['[Gmail]/All Mail', '[Gmail]/Important', '[Gmail]/Starred']


When you’ve got this set up, you should just be able to run offlineimap to fetch your email. If you maintain multiple configuration files, it’s helpful to specify a specific one using -c, e.g. offlineimap -c .offlineimaprc-foo.

## msmtp, msmtpq

msmtp is used to send emails. It’s a very simple SMTP client. Here’s a version of my .msmtprc:

defaults
auth           on
tls            on
tls_starttls   on
tls_trust_file /usr/local/etc/openssl/cert.pem
logfile        ~/.msmtp.log

account work
host           smtp.gmail.com
port           587
from           FIXME_user@domain.tld
user           FIXME_user@domain.tld

account default: work


Again, very simple.

You can do a similar thing here if you don’t want to store passwords in cleartext. Just use ‘passwordeval’ and the desired shell command directly, e.g.:

account work
host           smtp.gmail.com
port           587
from           FIXME_user@domain.tld
user           FIXME_user@domain.tld


I occasionally like to work offline, so I use msmtpq to queue up emails to send later. Normally you don’t have to deal with any of this directly, but occasionally it’s nice to be able to check the queue. You can do that with msmtp-queue -d:

$msmtp-queue -d no mail in queue  If there is something stuck in the queue, you can force it to send with msmtp-queue -r or -R. FWIW, this has happened to me while interacting with gmail under a VPN in the past. ## mutt Mutt is a fantastic MUA. Its tagline is “all mail clients suck, this one just sucks less,” but I really love mutt. It may come as a surprise that working with email can be a pleasure, especially if you’re accustomed to working with clunky webmail UIs, but mutt makes it so. Here’s a pruned-down version of one of my .muttrc files: set realname = "MyReal Name" set from = "user@domain.tld" set use_from = yes set envelope_from = yes set mbox_type = Maildir set sendmail = "~/.nix-profile/bin/msmtpq -a work" set sendmail_wait = -1 set folder = "~/mail/work" set spoolfile = "+INBOX" set record = "+[Gmail]/Sent Mail" set postponed = "+[Gmail]/Drafts" set smtp_pass = "FIXME_google_app_password" set imap_pass = "FIXME_google_app_password" set signature = "~/.mutt/.signature-work" set editor = "vim" set sort = threads set sort_aux = reverse-last-date-received set pgp_default_key = "my_default_pgp@key" set crypt_use_gpgme = yes set crypt_autosign = yes set crypt_replysign = yes set crypt_replyencrypt = yes set crypt_replysignencrypted = yes bind index gg first-entry bind index G last-entry bind index B imap-fetch-mail bind index - collapse-thread bind index _ collapse-all set alias_file = ~/.mutt/aliases set sort_alias = alias set reverse_alias = yes source$alias_file

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subscribe my_favourite@mailing.list

macro index <F8> \
"<enter-command>set my_old_pipe_decode=\$pipe_decode my_old_wait_key=\$wait_key nopipe_decode nowait_key<enter>\
<shell-escape>notmuch-mutt -r --prompt search<enter>\
<change-folder-readonly>echo ${XDG_CACHE_HOME:-$HOME/.cache}/notmuch/mutt/results<enter>\
<enter-command>set pipe_decode=\$my_old_pipe_decode wait_key=\$my_old_wait_key<enter>i" \
"notmuch: search mail"

macro index <F9> \
"<enter-command>set my_old_pipe_decode=\$pipe_decode my_old_wait_key=\$wait_key nopipe_decode nowait_key<enter>\
<change-folder-readonly>echo ${XDG_CACHE_HOME:-$HOME/.cache}/notmuch/mutt/results<enter>\
<enter-command>set pipe_decode=\$my_old_pipe_decode wait_key=\$my_old_wait_key<enter>" \

macro index l "<enter-command>unset wait_key<enter><shell-escape>read -p 'notmuch query: ' x; echo \$x >~/.cache/mutt_terms<enter><limit>~i \"\notmuch search --output=messages \$(cat ~/.cache/mutt_terms) | head -n 600 | perl -le '@a=<>;chomp@a;s/\^id:// for@a;$,=\"|\";print@a'\\"<enter>" "show only messages matching a notmuch pattern" # patch rendering # https://karelzak.blogspot.com/2010/02/highlighted-patches-inside-mutt.html color body green default "^diff \-.*" color body green default "^index [a-f0-9].*" color body green default "^\-\-\- .*" color body green default "^[\+]{3} .*" color body cyan default "^[\+][^\+]+.*" color body red default "^\-[^\-]+.*" color body brightblue default "^@@ .*" # vim: ft=muttrc:  Some comments on all that: set mbox_type = Maildir set sendmail = "~/.nix-profile/bin/msmtpq -a work" set sendmail_wait = -1 set folder = "~/mail/work" set spoolfile = "+INBOX" set record = "+[Gmail]/Sent Mail" set postponed = "+[Gmail]/Drafts"  Note here that we’re specifying msmtpq as our sendmail program. The -a work command here refers to the account defined in your .msmtprc file, so if you change the name of it there, you have to do it here as well. Ditto for the folder. (If you’re tweaking these config files for your own use, I’d recommend just substituting all instances of ‘work’ with your own preferred account name.) The negative ‘sendmail_wait’ value handles queueing mails up appropriately when offline, IIRC. set smtp_pass = "FIXME_google_app_password" set imap_pass = "FIXME_google_app_password"  Here are the usual cleartext app passwords. If you want to store them encrypted, there’s a usual method for doing that: add the following to the top of your .muttrc: source "gpg -d ~/.mutt/my-passwords.gpg |"  where .mutt/my-passwords.gpg should be the above smtp_pass and imap_pass assignments, encrypted with your desired private key. Continuing with the file at hand: set signature = "~/.mutt/.signature-work" set editor = "vim"  These should be self-explanatory. The signature file should just contain the signature you want appended to your mails (it will be appended under a pair of dashes). And if you want to use some other editor to compose your emails, just specify it here. set pgp_default_key = "my_default_pgp@key" set crypt_use_gpgme = yes set crypt_autosign = yes set crypt_replysign = yes set crypt_replyencrypt = yes set crypt_replysignencrypted = yes  Mutt is one of the few programs that has great built-in support for PGP. It can easily encrypt, decrypt, and sign messages, grab public keys, etc. Here you can see that I’ve set it to autosign messages, reply to encrypted messages with encrypted messages, and so on. bind index gg first-entry bind index G last-entry bind index B imap-fetch-mail bind index - collapse-thread bind index _ collapse-all  These are a few key bindings that I find helpful. The first bunch are familiar to vim users and are useful for navigating around; the second two are really useful for compressing or expanding the view of your mailbox. set alias_file = ~/.mutt/aliases set sort_alias = alias set reverse_alias = yes source$alias_file

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The alias file lets you define common shortcuts for single or multiple addresses. I get a lot of use out of multiple address aliases, e.g.:

alias chums socrates@ago.ra, plato@acade.my, aristotle@lyce.um


The MIME type stuff below the alias config is just a sane set of defaults for viewing common mail formats.

subscribe my_favourite@mailing.list


Mutt makes interacting with mailing lists very easy just by default, but you can also indicate addresses that you’re subscribed to, as above, to unlock a few extra features for them (‘list reply’ being a central one). To tell mutt that you’re subscribed to haskell-cafe, for example, you’d use:

subscribe haskell-cafe@haskell.org


The three longer macros that follow are for notmuch. I really only find myself using the last one, ‘l’, for search. FWIW, notmuch’s search functionality is fantastic; I’ve found it to be more useful than gmail’s web UI search, I think.

The patch rendering stuff at the end is just a collection of heuristics for rendering in-body .patch files well. This is useful if you subscribe to a patch-heavy mailing list, e.g. LKML or git@vger.kernel.org, or if you just want to be able to better-communicate about diffs in your day-to-day emails with your buddies.

## Fin

There are obviously endless ways you can configure all this stuff, especially mutt, and common usage patterns that you’ll quickly find yourself falling into. But whatever you find those to be, the above should at least get you up and running pretty quickly with 80% of the desired feature set.