Replying to mailing lists with Evolution

I use the Evolution mail client. It does have a few annoying bugs, but it has a plethora of great features too! Hopefully this post will inspire you to help hack on this piece of software and fix the bugs!

Mailing list etiquette:

When replying to mailing lists, it’s typically very friendly to include the email address of the person you’re replying to in the to or cc fields along with the mailing list address. This lets that person know that someone has answered their question. In some cases, if they’re not subscribed to that mailing list, (if you don’t do this), then they might not see your reply at all.

To enable this feature, there is a check box inside of the Evolution mail preferences. It is labelled: “Ignore Reply-To: for mailing lists“.

You can find this option in the Evolution "Composer Preferences" tab, under the "Replies and Forwards" heading.

You can find this option in the Evolution “Composer Preferences” tab, under the “Replies and Forwards” heading.

This works, because by default, most mailing lists set the “Reply-To:” address to be that of the mailing list. In this case, when you click “Group Reply” (“Reply to all”) in your MUA, then that field will be ignored, and the correct recipients will be selected in your composer window.

If instead you simply click “Reply”, then you will be prompted to choose the kind of reply you’d like to send.


Doesn’t this annoy users?

No, this actually gives the recipients more choice! If they’d prefer not to see your reply in their inbox, they can set up a filter so that mail that includes the mailing list address goes to a special folder. If they prefer to see your reply in their inbox, then they can configure their filters so that mail that comes exclusively from the mailing list address goes to a specific folder.

Instead of choosing the "contains" (in_array) operator, you could have chosen "is" (equals).

Instead of choosing the “contains” (in_array) operator, you could have chosen “is” (equals).

Won’t this cause duplicate messages being sent to the user?

Again, that’s up to the user. Most mailing lists allow you to configure this setting.

In this particular example, it is a very low-volume list, therefore I don't filter messages into a separate folder, they go to my inbox, so there's no need to get two copies.

This particular example is of a very low-volume list, therefore I don’t filter messages into a separate folder; they go to my inbox, so there’s no need to get two copies.

Ultimately, Evolution is a great MUA, which has the best message composer available. Some might prefer mutt+vim, but for my money, I’ll stick with Evolution for now.

Happy hacking,


PS: If you hack on Evolution, and write a good feature that I like, or fix a bug that affects me, I’m happy to feature you on this blog and tweet about you as soon as your code hits git master! </free promotion for good hackers!>

Multifile mode for text editors

Dear internets,

I’m a sysadmin/architect, which means I spend a good amount of time coding in puppet and other languages. Puppet is a great tool, however the puppet community is a bit anal strict about their style policies. I can respect this because I understand how important uniformity is when many developers are sharing code.

(On a side note, I absolutely can’t stand using spaces for indentation, but that’s another story. Please, just tell people to use tabs – preferably with a width of eight spaces.)

The puppet community has a habit of splitting up each class, subclass and function (“define”) into a separate file. When I’m hacking on a new module, I usually have everything together inside one big init.pp file until it becomes big enough that I need to split it up.

What I’d like to do, is have separate files loaded into my text editor linearly, so that as I scroll up or down with my mousewheel or keyboard, gedit or vim smoothly transitions me from one file to another. It would have per file line numbering (as usual), and a soft visual break when you transitioned from one file to the next. It would feel like a single file!

Interface wise, gedit could allow you to group tabs into this single “multifile” mode, which lets the native tab semantics (drag to reorder, open, close, see name) reorder, add, remove and view file name, respectively. Clicking on that tab would smooth scroll you right to where that file starts. I’m not sure what the grouping/ungrouping mechanism should look like, because this will depend on what is possible/sane with GTK+.

Gedit devs, can you make this happen? I will be a happy programmer/sysadmin.

Happy hacking,


getting gedit to work like magic

i use gnu/linux. it’s probably no secret. what is more of a secret, is that i secretly (well actually not so secretly) love using gedit for editing text. i still use vim, echo (gnu bash) and emacs (but only for org-mode).

vim is really, really great. but for day to day full-screen coding, i love working in gedit. i only have one [1] longstanding gripe, and today i believe that it is solved. here is the magic combination which appeases my troubled spirit:

  • gedit smart spaces plugin [2]
  • gedit autotab plugin [3]
  • gedit modelines plugin [4]

install these, restart gedit, enable them, and happy coding!
while it will be much friendlier to use spaces for indentation, i still recommend using tabs, i mean, that’s what the 0x09 was invented for!

[1] actually i wish that everyone would just use eight-space-tabs for all their coding needs, but i realize there are some problems with this, and so i reluctantly am glad that modelines and the above magic exist.