The way I do it now is that I have to keep a 'Gmail' tab open at all times in my browser to check for new mail. My mails are important and I need instant notifications. I thought of using a client like 'Thunderbird' but it feels to "heavy" for my needs. All I need is instant notifications of a new mail received in my Gmail such that I don't have to keep the browser tab open all the time. Meaning, may be some little script in my Debian system is checking for a new mail after every minute and raises an alarm when there's a new unread email.

If it is able to show me a subject line and 'From' details, that would be a bonus.

I'm open to all kinds of solutions that alert me of a new Google mail such that:

  • I do not have to keep a browser tab open.
  • It does not download any mail to local disk
  • if you're using Chrome give Checker Plus for gmail a shot. Haven't tried it on Debian but works like a charm on Windows
    – iruvar
    Jan 10 '15 at 0:00
  • I'm using Chromium on Debian, and checker plus tells me I'm using an unstable channel of chrome, so it won't support it.
    – learnerX
    Jan 10 '15 at 12:29

Using a browser add-on is one option, if you've got your browser open doing something anyway.

Or a desktop panel app could notify you when new mail arrives. Like "Xfce4 Mailwatch Plugin" (if you're using XFCE, or like it, can do multiple inboxes) or "gnome-gmail-notifier", there should be several available from searching the repositories for "gmail".

Or CheckGmail, gmail-notify, kgmailnotifier, mail-notification, Mailnag... Install some & try them out.

There should even be some one-line shell scripts that could check for new mail using wget that might be useful, subject & from are in there, somewhere:

  • http://www.shellperson.net/quickly-check-gmail-with-bash/

    ## Quickly checks if I have new gmail
    echo -e "Checking for new messages... \c"
    atomlines=`wget -T 3 -t 1 -q --secure-protocol=TLSv1 \
     --no-check-certificate \
     --user=USERNAME --password=PASSWORD \
     https://mail.google.com/mail/feed/atom -O - \
     | wc -l`
    echo -e "\r\c"
    [ $atomlines -gt "8" ] \
     && echo -e " You have new gmail.  \c" \
     || echo -e " No new gmail.  \c"
  • Using wget to receive an XML atom feed of your Gmail inbox

    wget -O - 'https://USERNAMEHERE:PASSWORDHERE@mail.google.com/mail/feed/atom' --no-check-certificate
  • I used to use gmail-notify (or something close to that) sometime ago, but it was just too clumsy. It's hard to explain but it was unreliable. I thought of writing my own shell script like the one you mention in your solution, but security goes down the drain with such scripts. I am not going to put my Gmail username and password in a plaintext format file. Also, I'm using 'two-factor authentication' on my Gmail. So this won't work.
    – learnerX
    Jan 10 '15 at 12:24
  • Ended up using 'Mail notification'. It seems to do the job well for Debian systems. As I was using a two-factor auth, I had to generate an 'app-specific password' for Mail Notification.
    – learnerX
    Jan 10 '15 at 12:47
  • Securing your passphrase can be trouble, some of the programs do just use plaintext in your $HOME :-( Others use something similar to gnome-keyring, maybe even the kernel keyring (with keyctl). Or a custom passphrase file in a ram tmpfs or eCryptfs / EncFS... but DIY encryption schemes are often not very secure
    – Xen2050
    Jan 10 '15 at 20:00

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