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I don’t understand why for the most part I need to open my mail program to see how many new emails I have. Mail notification programs like UNIX biff have been around since ~1980 (4.0BSD according to the man page) and yet things don’t seem to have progressed much since xbiff.

Unfortunately, biff and xbiff only work with local mail spools making them totally useless if your mail lives on a server somewhere (like pretty much everyone’s does). There are some single purpose things like gmail notifier or something like that but if you don’t use that mail service (or use more than one service), guess what, it is useless.

There was a program called MacBiff that was very nice. It would stay in the menu bar on top (making it totally friendly towards people who can’t live without multiple workspaces) and check IMAP accounts. But it hasn’t been updated in years and refuses to talk to my NASA work account (which talks IMAP just fine).

For the GNOME desktop there is gnubiff which claims to do everything I want, but just doesn’t work (and the code did not look worth messing with).

I can almost accept that I can’t get a single solution for Mac and Linux. Almost. But I have a lot of trouble accepting that there are no programs that can do this right at all. I know mail programs like Thunderbird and Mail.app can probably do it but I already have a mail client (alpine) that I am very happy with.

I’m almost starting to think that it is time for me to just suck it up and write something myself.