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Merry Christmas, Hello 32c3!

Posted by Bjarni on December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas, Mailpile people!

And for those of you who don't happen to celebrate Christmas: please also have a happy solstice and a happy new year! :-)

My gift to everyone (aside from this amazing clip-art christmas e-card) is that I have now cleared my back-log of pending Mailpile user-interface changes and bugfixes. Some of the highlights are discussed below. If people want to give me gifts in return, I've listed and linked some of the low hanging fruit issues relating to this push...

Also, please find a short note Mailpile's presence at 32c3 (the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg) at the end of this post.

Revamped message display

The way individual messages are displayed has been reworked. Messages are now displayed inline in the search results and include details about conversation threading.

The new approach is a little less "elegant" than the old one, from a visual point of view, but it has the following benefits which I believe more than justify the change:

  1. Conversation structure is now visible, including forks and subject changes and message snippets (on hover)
  2. All e-mail addresses of senders and recipients are visible and copy-paste friendly
  3. Next/Previous buttons are available for navigating between messages
  4. The context of the message within the search remains visible, so there is no confusion about what Next/Previous means (as it depends on the search)
  5. It is now possible to tag and untag a message or draft while reading/writing
  6. HTML works! See below for details.
  7. Encryption/signature status for headers is now discoverable (on hover), which paves the way for implementing Memory Hole header protection
  8. Any message within a thread can be easily replied to, not just the last one

Unfinished work: The old composer was shoe-horned in, it needs to be redesigned to match the new layout (and rewritten to get rid of select2).

Known issues: messy wrap/overflow in From/To/CC lists

HTML support

Mailpile now has decent support for HTML mail, including the ability to load remote images (and warn the user about the risks of doing so) and the ability to remember display settings by sender.

Unfinished work: Tor support will make loading images over the network a bit more privacy preserving. The default style (fonts etc) of the HTML frame could use some work.

Known issues: inline images (attachments) are not displayed

Apache integration and admin tool

I have created the first draft of a Mailpile administration tool: (located in scripts/).

The main feature of this tool is the ability to automatically configure Apache for multi-user Mailpile hosting, by leveraging mod_rewrite and mod_proxy. The tool itself then functions as a CGI script which takes care of launching Mailpile for users, as long as they type in their username and password.

Unfinished work: Support for other web servers, such as nginx. More useful admin ops; more useful login/mailpile creation options. Support for setting the $MAILPILE_PROFILE environment variable, support for multiple mailpiles per person.

Known issues: rewriting .htaccess is a bad idea


Sadly, due to fatherhood I will be unable to attend 32c3 myself this year.

However, Daniel Yeow has been helping me with various community related tasks lately, and he will be there. We are probably going to try and put together a small informal hackathon, where we'll give away t-shirts and stickers in exchange for feedback and pull requests. If possible I will join in using some sort of futuristic robotic telepresence (a.k.a. a smartphone on a stick).

Watch this space (and Twitter) for updates.

Happy holidays and happy hacking, everyone!