[notmuch] Guide for new users?

Carl Worth cworth at cworth.org
Sun Nov 22 17:37:37 PST 2009

On Sun, 22 Nov 2009 12:44:17 +0800, Jjgod Jiang <gzjjgod at gmail.com> wrote:
> I think it will be nice if we can have a guide/tutorial like
> documentation for new users. For myself, I have the following
> questions (I am an alpine user previously, so some of the
> questions are not related to notmuch directly):

Hi Jiang, welcome to notmuch!

There's definitely a lot more documentation we could use. I think one of
the things I'd like to know is, where did you look when you wanted
answers to these questions? That can help us know where the best places
are to put some answers.

As for getting started with notmuch itself, I've tried to make it fairly
self-guided. (That is, if you just run "notmuch"[*] it should keep
telling you what to do next.) I'd be very interested in getting feedback
from people on how well this works. Did you run it that way? Were its
suggestions helpful?

[*] The assumption being that people will try to run the program before
reading any documentation.

> 1. What's the most efficient way to sync mails from my gmail
> account to a local Maildir? I've tried offlineimap but it
> keeps crashing python (!) on my system (python 2.6, Mac OS X
> 10.6.2).

One of the big tricks with switching to notmuch is that there's so much
that notmuch doesn't do. If one is coming from a monolithic email
program (such as evolution) or webmail (such as gmail) then notmuch only
replaces a tiny piece of the mail program, (search and tagging).

But the user also needs replacements for all of the other pieces of the
mail program. Such as:

  * Receiving mail

  * Composing mail (with a nice address book)

  * Sending mail

And likely other stuff I'm not thinking of right now. So those things
can involve lots of different programs. For receiving it might be
offlineimap, getmail, fetchmail, procmail, maildrop or some
combination. For composing it could be emacs, vim, etc. And sending mail
might involve msmtp, postfix, or exim4, etc.

That's a long list of packages, and likely an overwhelming set of
possibilities as well as a ton to learn for setting these up and
configuring them.

So I think you're right that we're going to want some guide suggesting
best practicing for setting things like this up.

> 2. How to add notmuch.el into my .emacsrc?

We've at least added this much to INSTALL now. First do:

	sudo make install-emacs

Then in your .emacs add:

	(require 'notmuch)

And then you can run "M-x notmuch".     

> I know notmuch feels like a tool for geeks, but it will probably
> lower the barrier if someone can provide such a guide in a
> straightforward, step-by-step way.

A "tool for geeks" means that it works well and efficiently, (without
"fluff" or mis-features). It doesn't mean that it needs to be hard to
learn, or require specialized knowledge in advance before using it.

So yes, I totally agree that we need to document things like this
better, and make it as easy to start using notmuch as possible.


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