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A blog by Tim Booth of the NEBC. I'll be using this blog to pass on some of my tips for users of the Bio-Linux system (see the first post), and maybe some other useful nuggets that come my way.
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Evolution - notification and RSS

Posted 04-02-2009 at 07:57 AM by avarus

Better late than never, some more tips based on my Experience of running the Ubuntu-based Bio-Linux 5. I promised to say something about the Evolution mail client, so here goes.

I use my e-mail client a lot, so I think it's worth setting it up to work just right and learning some of the more advanced features that can save time and annoyance. The default e-mail client on Bio-Linux is Evolution, but if you prefer Mozilla Thunderbird, or Mutt, or even NMH, then they can be installed in seconds via Synaptic.

Evolution has the advantages that it works with just about any mail system and comes with a host of features. Some of these are available as plugins, and can therefore be activated via the plugin manager (Edit -> Plugins). If you seem to be missing a feature that you expected to find, it may just be that the plugin needs to be turned on here.

One thing Evolution lacks by default is a nice way to notify you of new messages in the system task bar. I use the Gnome mail notifier:
  1. Install the package mail-notification-evolution via apt-get or Synaptic.
  2. In a terminal type "mail-notification &!". A new icon should appear next to your update notification icon, which is in the top right of the screen by
  3. Right click this and select Properties. Add your Evolution mailbox to the list.
  4. Set the other options how you want them, checking the autostart box to ensure the mail notifier appears each time you log in.

Now the tricky bit. Mail-notifier gives you various options under Click Action but none of these are what I really want. I want to pop the current
instance of Evolution to the front, switching virtual desktop if necessary. If Evolution isn't running I want to start it up. This can be done as follows:
  1. Select Launch the mail reader as the Click Action
  2. Run gnome-default-applications-properties and set the Mail Reader to Custom
    with the command set to /home/<username>/scripts/goto-evolution %s
  3. Apt-get install wmctrl
  4. mkdir ~/scripts ; touch ~/scripts/goto-evolution ; chmod u+x ~/scripts/goto-evolution
  5. Now put the following 6 lines into your new goto-evolution script:

if [ -z "$@" ] ; then
    wmctrl -a '- Evolution' || exec evolution
    exec evolution "$@"
That was slightly long-winded, so here's just one more, shorter, tip. I try to keep up with a variety of news feeds that are available via RSS. These can be read through an online service like Google reader, or through a standalone client like the excellent Liferea. But if you already read mail through Evolution and want to reduce the clutter on your desktop then adding feeds straight into Evolution is easy:
  1. apt-get install evolution-rss
  2. restart Evolution and go to Edit -> Preferences. Look for the new News and Blogs item in the left hand list
  3. Add a new feed and paste in the feed URL - eg. for my blog.
  4. Now you'll see a new News&Blogs folder in Evolution, and you can read new feed items just as if they were regular mails.

Happy e-mailing. Next time have your keyboard at the ready as I'll be back on the command line.

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