Gimbo tries Evolution and is put off by silent failure

I use mutt for email, but I’ve been toying with the idea of moving to Evolution. I can work very quickly in mutt, but I’ve been wondering about going graphical for a while, and I’ve heard good things about Evolution recently so I thought I’d give it a try.

Well, it’s OK, but I’m not completely convinced. There are a number of little things, but here’s what really bugs me…

I have a local spool mailbox with 74 messages marked for deletion, and, well, they’re just sitting there, marked but undeleted. How do I get rid of them? The “File->Empty Trash” menu item works in other mailboxes (eg an IMAP one), but these guys are refusing to go. This would be merely mildly annoying were it not for the thing that really worries me: it fails silently. I click “Empty Trash”, and nothing happens – no error dialog, no status message, nothing written to stdout.

Another one: I select “Help->Contents” to get some help and… nothing happens. No help, no error dialog, nothing to stderr, just another silent failure. This is probably, I guess, because I’m not actually running gnome. But if it’s not going to work, it shouldn’t be on offer. We can do better than this, people.

Silent failure is always a really bad sign because it makes debugging (and thus fixing) so much harder. The fundamental reason why I use Unix rather than Windows is that it puts me in control, and when things go wrong, I can usually track down the errors and fix them. You have to be choosy about the software you use, because a hell of a lot is crap and doesn’t actually help you, but there’s enough which does it properly to make the effort worthwhile.

Unfortunately it’s starting to look like Evolution isn’t one of them, which really surprises me given the people I’ve heard positive testimony from. :(

So, I might perseverse, or I might give a try, or I might just stick with mutt because it does rather rock. Any other suggestions?

Oh yeah: another reason I like the look of Evolution is for its calendering. I have yet to find a decent calendaring app, which just astounds me. Sunbird looked half decent for a while but then switched from nice open iCalendar format to some stupid binary format, and (here’s the clincher) no longer even runs on my system. It doesn’t start, and it does so silently.

Why is so much software so bad?

Update, a few minutes later: aha, it’s “Folder->Expunge” to clear the deleted messages. I wasn’t seeing failure, I was just asking it to do the wrong thing. Still, this does raise the question: why does “File->Empty Trash” work in the other mailbox? And the help still fails silently. Pah. ;-)