Back to gnus (emacs mail reader)

I've been thinking about getting a new Macbook lately (my heart and wallet were divided among a 11" Air or a 15" Retina Pro). My 4-year old Macbook (Early 2008 I think, 2 GB Ram, Intel Core Duo 2.4 GHz) was showing its age. Mainly when I had the RAM and cache hungry inhabitants of my dock active: Yorufukurou (the best twitter client for managing multiple accounts in a Mac I've seen) and Sparrow (mail client).

Why was I using Sparrow? Back when I started my current job, I was using gnus in emacs, after the quite successful 30 days in emacs challenge I did in the beginning of that year. But for some reason I can't remember I moved from gnus to Thunderbird, which I could use both in my Mac and my netbook (I have the vague feeling that gnus had some problems in my netbook). I kept using Thunderbird for a long while until I found Sparrow. What did I find so appealing about Sparrow? Keyboard shortcuts. Yeah, I want to archive, move and delete mails quickly without moving my mouse. Sparrow had that (Apple Mail and Thunderbird do not.) What baffles me is why I didn't try gnus again. Anyway.

I was so happy, pressing keys and moving emails around. But my Mac was increasingly sluggish: if I had Chrome with more than a handful of tabs, Sparrow and Yorufukurou I could get the spinning beachball of death after doing anything. So you can imagine what PITA was starting MAMP or running a Django test server (for my What Language Is project, among others). The purge command only helped a little, closing Chrome, Adium and others did almost nothing. Rebooting helped some more, but wasn't a decent solution. What was the problem?

Paging. And caching. In the last months I've been living with around 3-4 GB of free space. It should be plenty for system paging in the disk cache. The problem is that it was not plenty for Sparrow's mail cache. I found this out when, after a reboot my hard disk showed almost 3 more free GB. It could not be Chrome's cache, since I had cleared it very recently. It could not be my Mac's cache, since last time I checked before rebooting I had less than 1 GB paged and had some (little) free memory still. I opened Sparrow and then checked its caches in the Library folder. amounted to more than 1.5 GB, just after booting. Damn.

Just by coincidence around this time I read a post by Sacha Chua, talking with John Wiegley (emacs lisp developer) and thought: maybe it's time to give gnus another try. I thought I'd need some heavy configuration tweaking or whatever before getting to grips with it. I thought I had a reason for giving up gnus. Just in case aliases or multiple accounts were a problem before, I disabled gmail and only left my work account (I'd use gmail in the web interface for personal emails) before starting gnus again. My password was wrong, I changed it. I set up multiple mail aliases for my work account: tweaked the borrowed function I was using to select an SMTP account to switch to my main account in case of unknown account (since I have more than 20 aliases over it and configuring all them was overkill.)

Used gnus again for a while. My Mac was floating around without paging. The fan didn't spin. No hard drive sounds. Quick keyboard shortcuts I almost know by heart by now. Gnus, here I am again.

Written by Ruben Berenguel