[notmuch] Quick thoughts on a notmuch daemon

martin f krafft madduck at madduck.net
Thu Jan 7 18:56:20 PST 2010

also sprach Carl Worth <cworth at cworth.org> [2009.12.08.2001 +1300]:
> One concept in notmuch (compared to sup) is to (eventually) avoid people
> having to go through that pain by their current mail client becoming
> "notmuch enabled". For me, I had always liked composing email in emacs,
> so I just have to add notmuch support to the existing emacs
> message-mode.
> Hopefully people working on other email interfaces will do similar
> things, (would be great to have Anjal and Thunderbird get some notmuch
> support for example).
> I definitely didn't like that with sup, to get all the global-search and
> tagging features one had to accept the curses UI as well.

I am a bit late to the party, but re: this thread [0], I would
suggest to go the way of a fuse filesystem. That's effectively
a daemon, but one which also bridges a chasm between notmuch and all
kinds of existing mail tools, including IMAP servers, by way of the
standard filesystem interface.

0. http://notmuchmail.org/pipermail/notmuch/2009/000782.html

I don't want to harp on this too much right now for I have not yet
fully understood notmuch, but the basic idea would be that you'd
have ~/mail provided by notmuch-fuse-daemon, and there'd be a tool
like notmuch-fuse-cli with which you can add virtual folders, e.g.

  notmuch-fuse-cli new debianmail 'from:debian OR to:debian'

and that would create ~/mail/debianmail with mode 555 (since you
cannot write the results of a search) containing a Maildir with all
messages matching the query.

The benefit of this would be that I could use mutt, evolution, or an
IMAP server, or vi and shell tools to manipulate my mail without any
modifications to those tools.

There could be a separate hierarchy for tags, e.g. ~/mail/TAGS/foo
and ~/mail/TAGS/bar/baz matching on explicit tags (and maybe
~/mail/TAGS/notmuch with mode 555 for implicit tags). Writing mail
to those directories effectively adds tags, unlinking removes them.
~/mail/TAGS/UNTAGGED holds untagged mail for easier reference.

In addition to all of this, fuse could be used to index new messages
directly as they are delivered into ~/mail, rather than running
'notmuch new' regularly.

These ideas are not new, and I've written about them before:


notmuch seems an excellent base for implementing such a filesystem.
I will try to make time before LCA to get up to speed on fuse, then
maybe Carl and Micah and I (and whoever else will be in Wellington)
can hack this up in a few hours and over a few beers.

If this resonates, or you want to work on this too, let's hear from

martin | http://madduck.net/ | http://two.sentenc.es/
"no problem is so formidable
 that you can't just walk away from it."
                                                          -- c. schulz
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