What command line client for Ubuntu (18.04) does fit my needs below? The requirements are adjusted to one server I am using: Zimbra.


  • free
  • preferably installable per apt
  • multiple email accounts
  • usable interface (not low level)
  • mail browsing
    • folders
    • list based overview
    • threading ("high volume email compatibile")
  • searching
    • fuzzy search
    • folders
    • email subject lines
    • email bodys
  • mail editing
    • editor vi(m) or integration with vim
    • creating emails
  • sending of emails
    • support for delivery status
    • support for read notifications
    • pgp encryption
  • reception of emails
  • contacts
    • autocompletion during sending
  • protocols
    • IMAP
    • POP
  • mailbox formats (message storage)
    • MIME

Possible choices:


1 Answer 1


Everything you listed as possible choices fits almost all the requirements you listed just by virtue of being a standard email client.

That said, your best bets are probably either alpine or mutt (or possibly neomutt, which you didn't list but appears to be in the Ubuntu repositories, it's just a fork of mutt ultimately, but does have a slightly different feature set).

My reasoning for this assertion is pretty simple, all of them have a roughly equivalent level of support for your requirements, so it makes sense to go with the most widely used (and therefore most widely supported) option. The large user-base that Mutt and Alpine have confers a couple of significant advantages:

  • A large number of users makes it significantly less likely that a piece of software will just disappear or stop getting bug-fixes. Even if it does, the large user-base means it's pretty likely someone will fork it and keep doing development work on it.
  • More users means bugs get found more quickly, and in theory fixed more quickly as a result of this.
  • Lots of users also means you can more easily find tutorials, configuration advice, and general usage hep, which is a pretty significant benefit as a new user.

I've personally tried three of the seven options you've listed, alpine, cone, and mutt. Of those three, mutt is what I would personally use if I needed a console email client, largely because it's been around the longest and therefore has the most supporting software to go with it.

  • Very good points. mutt seems to have a quite steep learning curve. So far I favoured sup because it explicitly states that it has good support for "high volume email".
    – thinwybk
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 8:10
  • Yeah, the biggest argument against mutt is the steep learning curve, though from what I understand it's largely a case like vi, once you get past that initial learning curve, it provides an insane level of flexibility. Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 15:05

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