Kontact: A ReviewOctober 30, 2006 at 5:15 pm | Posted in Kontact, Review | 17 Comments
Related tutorial: How to Setup Kmail with Gmail
Applications is what will bring people to Linux. It already has stability and security. Stable eye candy isn’t far away with XGL-Beryl/Compiz and such. I’m sure Linux has seen a rise in popularity partly due to Firefox. I can’t count the number of people who discovered Amarok audio player, and never wanted to leave Linux purely for this reason. The OS (regardless of distro) still has a little way to go with usability for the average user who knows just enough to be dangerous on a computer, but beyond that things are shaping up just fine.
But Firefox and Amarok aren’t the only apps to wow people with. The open source world looks to be succeeding in the e-mail realm as well. Introducing Kontact, KDE’s Personal Information Management application. Not only does this app blow the pants off other open source e-mail efforts (Thunderbird and Evolution), but it blows the pants off Outlook.
The layout is user friendly, the memory utilization is great (unlike evolution and Thunderbird), and functionality is top notch. The art work seems to be great and eye pleasing as well. Though the main toolbar icons could use a little more work to help tell the difference between then all when they’re set to small. I’m quite surprised this application hasn’t made the buzz that say amarok has, or firefox, or even gaim for that matter.
Lets get to the main application in this container that makes or breaks this product and that’s Kmail. Kmail supports both IMAP and POP3 accounts which both work with SSL and TLS, you can turn on Automatic PGP and GnuPG encryption as well. A built in spell checker comes included. A system tray icon that can display pop up notifications and sounds when new mail has arrived (something Thunderbird lacks in competition with Outlook). It included functionality for pipelining for POP3 (faster mail download on slow responding networks).
With built in spam filter bogofilter, as well as anti-virus integration with Clam, Kmail has security in mind, and at times maybe a little too much. It gives you the choice to view html and images in each e-mail to ensure malicious code cannot run unless you allow it to.
It’s filtering system is as powerful as anything you’ve become accustomed with Outlook or Thunderbird as well.
Importing mail from other clients is also a breeze. You can currently import mail from Evolution, OS X mail, Opera, Thunderbird, Bat, Outlook, Pegasus, Lotus Notes, and Sylpheed while keeping mail folder structure intact.
The ‘as you type’ search dialog makes searching through folders an ease, and coupled with every possible column you may need to access information about each message.
Handling multiple identities could use a little work. You currently have to make each identity point to a particular folder in order to keep identities seperated. This should be done by default, but beyond that it handles multiple accounts very well.
Used in KDE, drag and drop integration works very well when composing messages. Though signatures could use some work to catch up with Outlook’s functionality. The ability to have small images in a signature would be greatly appreciated.
Contacts are easily maintained with Kmail’s address book. This was integrated into Kmail and into KOrganizer well before Kontact was ever created. It imports and exports most address book standards, has support for LDAP servers, integrates with Kopete (an instant messenger that i feel isn’t no where near complete but stands to rival all messengers in the future)
Coming complete with groupware functionality, this calendar system easily rivals Outlook’s as well as Sunbird/Lightening. Included in the ability to export to iCal and vCalendar formats .
Something I always felt best belonged in e-mail clients rather than browsers or even stand alone apps, is RSS readers and this application surprised me when i saw how well it handled feeds. With integration with Konqueror (KDE’s web browser– could use a little work on the web browsing end in terms of appearance and usability, but it does the job) it allows each feed to be viewed in tabs right in Kontact if you wish to view more of the particular feed entry than what is showed. Nice to see the tabbed feature was made useful within this application.
This application within the Kontact container is equipped with every feature you’d expect out of a typical news reader. It supports multiple servers, MIME multipart messages, display of attachments, and search and filter functions.
The summary view can display new mails, your day or week’s appointments, notes, information about your Palm Pilot, a “Weather” plugin for Kontact‘s Summary View adds an area in the view labeled Weather Information. This area contains the information for currently configured weather locations.
Other functionality is included with Journal, To-do List, and a section for taking down notes for the day. Kpilot features functionality to import and export for most palm pilots and pda’s.
And all of this is only the tip of the iceberg with the functionality of this app. It’s a powerhouse that only Outlook rivals and yes I said Outlook rivals kmail, not the other way around. Definately underrated even in the Linux world as far as e-mail applications go and furthermore under-rated as an e-mail app as a whole.
And looking to the future with the QT libraries being made for Windows, and KDE already able to run (very alpha) on Mac OS X Kontact could very well be a (to be cliche) revolution in e-mail client applications. Hopefully we’ll see Kontact do for Linux what Amarok and Firefox has.
Now if we could only get a full featured office suite. (and no OpenOffice as much as i like it doesn’t cut it, neither does Koffice.)
Edit: It has been asked here, on other blogs, on digg.com among other places how to view and send e-mails using HTML rather than PlainText. While this is highly advised against, Kmail can do it.
If you go to Settings –> Configure Kmail—> Security button on left side bar –> Reading Tab –> Check the box that says prefer HTML to Plain text.
and voila done. You may need to right click on the toolbars for the Compose window to show the formatting toolbar.
And there you go. Enjoy.