POP3 -for- email

Wot? No POP? :slight_smile:

Either Geary or Online Accounts wants to let me set up an IMAP account - but I want to use POP.

Did I miss something or is this a gap?


You missed the advances in email technology called IMAP. Only half kidding, why do you want to use POP (or if POP is the only option on your email host, what archaic piece of software are you running)?

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Yes, very funny. :slight_smile:

Why would a person who is concerned about security and privacy want to run POP rather than IMAP? Because POP gets the email permanently onto the client and under the control of the client c.f. storing it permanently on a server i.e. POP “finishes the job” of delivering the email.

I have traditionally used POP with ISP email. Why would I think that my ISP would do a good job of protecting my privacy on an ongoing basis if I used IMAP instead?

I am aware that there are a whole host of security exposures with POP anyway. I understand end-to-end encryption for content. etc etc etc

I use both POP and IMAP. I use whichever suits the requirements. If you need shared access to a mailbox from multiple clients, anywhere, anytime, then definitely use IMAP. If anything though, a “computer in your pocket” says that you need IMAP less than you used to.

I am definitely not telling anyone else what mail protocol to use - and my reasons for using POP when I use it (or your reasons for using IMAP) don’t influence whether this is a gap, I suppose.

It would still be helpful to know whether POP is supported / intentionally unsupported / …


There is nothing you can do with POP that you cannot do with IMAP. POP must delete the message from the email server as part of delivery, while IMAP requires the client request the deletion, but IMAP still allows the client to request deletion. If you are concerned that the server might not actually delete the message when the spec says it should, that’s a concern with POP too.

It’s usually straightforward to configure an IMAP client to copy the message to a local folder then delete it off the server, but I don’t use Geary so I can’t advise you how to configure it to do so.

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That depends. Some sites may require that. In my experience sites typically don’t - and POP clients give the user the choice about whether the POP client explicitly requests deletion.

As far as the POP protocol goes, RETR and DELE are separate requests.


Same problem on the Pinephone – it’s infuriating!

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It has been a while since I set up my email account, but does it allow you to enter POP3 server info in the IMAP fields instead? And would that even work?

I suppose it would allow it. A hostname and even a port number are semantics-free.

I suppose not.

So they are, I only looked into the POP3 protocol a little bit while writing my mail server (enough to know its only advantage over IMAP would be implementation simplicity, which doesn’t help if you must have IMAP support regardless).

Looks like intentional by Geary (I presume not intentional by Purism): https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=714368

So then the question is which is less work … implement minimal IMAP server that would serve instead of a POP server, or implement POP client?

The above, or related, Geary discussion indicates that

  • a POP client implies local storage for mail messages, which may then (my commentary) be either unsophisticated and unperformant (with lots of messages) - or complicated and performant
  • an IMAP client has more bugs, which may then (my commentary) be more likely to break.

I think for the moment … I will set up the one or more IMAP accounts that I use and park the one or more POP accounts that I use i.e. in the too-hard basket for now.

because it is the same email client?

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For your curiosity only, the POP RFC comments, against the UIDL command, that this means that POP can also mimic the behaviour of an IMAP server. It also comments that for high numbers of mail messages, performance will suck (not the exact word used :slight_smile:).

However another reason why a user would prefer POP to IMAP is that, with a slow internet connection (in extremis, for offline operation) POP gives superior performance (after download, since all messages are local). An IMAP client can recover some of that performance using judicious caching.

A common observation across IMAP clients and POP clients is that while the RFC may specify it, or allow it, or not disallow it … for some particular function … none of that means that any particular client does actually do it or implement it or use it.

One thing IMAP can do that POP can’t is asynchronous commands. In some circumstances of online operation that means that IMAP can give superior performance.

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With a slow internet connection, not downloading messages you don’t want is generally superior. Most IMAP servers have a way to peek at a message, grab just the ascii portion or similar, to decide if you want all of it. Of course, you don’t want to end up downloading the message multiple times (as you will if you ask your IMAP client to view the messages but not save them locally). But if you want your email available for offline use, IMAP clients can copy the messages to the local machine (either in a cache like Thunderbird uses, leaving a copy also on the server, or into a local Maildir for use with mutt (or mu4e)). It actually took me a fair bit of effort to find a proper IMAP client that would just leave the messages on the server, without caching (and the subsequent performance issues of the cache being invalidated by accessing the server from another client).

This is certainly true. As an addendum, there’s no guarantee that they’ll implement any particular feature right too. I ran into that with supporting Thunderbird and UID mode. The spec is non-specific about the order of certain flags applied to a reply. It was easiest to put a flag at the end which Thunderbird only checks for at the beginning. Queue strange and hard to debug behavior.

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Not only do I find it difficult to acclimate to Linux -stuff- because of the lingo, I find just one toxic reply only further erodes my interest when I see a shaming reply like yours.
Just because someone doesn’t use what you preach doesn’t mean they are wrong and just because someone uses something you oppose should not make them a target for your gibes.

Your new response clearly shows, using your manners, that “You missed the advances in email technology called” POP.


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It does not.need to delete the message. It’s up the owner to set what happens. Reviewing even old updates to Tbird, and youll see what better Options are available to client.

I plan to never post in here what car I drive…

FYI. My ISP more or less via promotional guff forced almost everyone into giving up Email and use Wmail instead. Within 3 weeks, our wmail was being scanned, and a image taken of each wmail. This is done via the web browser 5th layer - can’t be done in a client like Tbird.

Zimbra is the most popular Webmail GUI (can’t say client - it’s not) and it was Zimbra that the ISP claimed is a ‘3rd party partner’ and the Privacy and Terms policies shows the ISP is not responsible for what Zimbra does. After a 3 month battle, they finally admitted that yes, they scan and analyze email and as to why, they won’t say. A further further turn into a new tunnel down the rabbit hole, I traced a stalker to a company that analyzes customers clients, and produces “psychological profile” of the client. hey can only do that through WEBmail, not Email. The ISP clammed up and refused to discuss it further citing privacy reasons.

I hope there is a answer to the OP because it matters to me too who control my communications, me, or the stalkers.


------ PINE? ------ Which isn’t ELM.

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Please try to remember that not everyone here shares the same primary language, and there are certainly cultural differences at-play. If you go looking for reasons to take offence, you will certainly find excuses.

Fortunately, my initial reply was not directed to you. Irvinewade correctly interpreted the opening sentence of my initial reply: it was facetious. Frivolity aside, POP3 (the most recent major version of POP) is from 1988, the same year IMAP2 was released. The current IMAP major version is 4, from 1996. My misunderstanding of POP is not due to missing advances in email; it’s more akin to misrecollecting how a carbureted engine works after spending years maintaining fuel-injected engines.

As discussed above, I misunderstood that facet of POP. It does not change the fact that POP-alone has a strict subset of the capabilities of IMAP. Unless you are writing an MTA/MUA or mail server, there’s really no reason to prefer POP to IMAP, even if you don’t used the extra features IMAP brings to the table.

I think you’ve misunderstood the dichotomy presented here. The choice is not between some (unavailable) email client running locally and supporting POP, and using webmail (which may talk to some mail server over POP, or IMAP, or may be integrated into the mailserver itself, or even could be totally independent, reading either a spoolfile or Maildir directly). The choice is between using an (unavailable) mail client communicating with a mailserver via POP, and an (available) mail client communicating with a mailserver via IMAP. Irvinewade explained his reasoning in his second post, but was under the mistaken impression that his goal (securely moving ISP-hosted email to his local machine via an email client) requires POP. In tech-support, this is what’s commonly called an X/Y problem. He asked “how do I do X (get POP3 support)?” when he wanted to know “how do I do Y (securely move email to my local machine)?”

The answer to Y is “tell your mail client to copy the contents of the remote folder to a local folder, then tell your mail client to instruct the mail server to delete the messages”.

Grab Alpine. It has imap support. Heck, grab a newer copy of PINE, it has imap support, starttls too. If your answer were ELM, you’d have me…

Yes, Geary as default email on Mobian.

PINE? I used that with my first ISP (UNIX shell) account. Don’t know why using it on the phone didn’t occur to me.

I just found Alpine in the Mobian repository, so off I go!

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