I know this is theoretically possible, but I'm trying to avoid reinventing the wheel.

I'm using Ubuntu Linux, with Maildir mailbox format. I want to put something in my .login that will parse the ~/Maildir contents and display a summary of my unread email messages.

I'm running Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail), and I use mutt for my email client, and I'm using Postfix and dovecot for SMTP and MDA/IMAP.

Is there something already written that will do this? Or will I need to write something myself using Perl and Mail::Box::Maildir? It seems like this would be a common thing, but for the life of me I can't find a package or utility that will do what I'm looking for.

  • 1
    Can you be more specific about what this summary would like? An example would help.
    – jasonwryan
    Jul 18, 2013 at 18:16
  • I wound up writing a Perl script to do what I want. It uses Mail::Box::Maildir to scan for unread messages and then print a summary of each message, including date, who it's from, and the subject. I leave it running in a window, and I can glance at it from time to time to see if I have new mail. I have been using mutt and vim for years, and don't want to switch to a GUI mail client.
    – m0j0
    Jul 18, 2013 at 19:32
  • So, in theory, I've solved my own problem, but it seems like this would be something that would be in more demand. Maybe I need to clean up my code and submit it as an opensource package. :)
    – m0j0
    Jul 18, 2013 at 19:38
  • You should submit it as an answer.
    – jasonwryan
    Jul 18, 2013 at 19:51
  • You can use the output of your custom script in conjunction with MOTD to display the details on login.
    – Tim
    Jul 18, 2013 at 20:22

2 Answers 2


I found a shorter and simpler way to implement with Python.

Sample code below.


import mailbox
import email.utils
import os

mbox = mailbox.Maildir(os.environ['HOME'] + "/Maildir" )
spam = mbox.get_folder('INBOX.junk')
print "INBOX:"
for message in mbox:
    print "- [%s] %s:  \"%s\"" % ( message['date'], message['from'], message['subject'] )
print "SPAM messages:"
for message in spam:
    print "- [%s] %s:  \"%s\"" % ( message['date'], message['from'], message['subject'] )


Here's what I came up with...a home-grown Perl script using the Mail::Box::Maildir CPAN module.

use strict;
use Mail::Box::Maildir;

my $folder = new Mail::Box::Maildir folder=>"$ENV{HOME}/Maildir";

my $message;
my $messsages;
my $to;
my $from;
my $date;
my $subject;

print "********************************************************************************\n";
foreach $message( $folder->messages('ALL') ) {
    #print $message->{'MM_head'}, "\n";
    parse_header( $message->{'MM_head'} );
    print "   Date:  $date\n";
    print "   From:  $from\n";
    print "     To:  $to\n";
    print "Subject:  $subject\n";
    print "********************************************************************************\n";

exit 0;

sub parse_header {
    my @lines = split( /\n/, shift(@_) );
    undef $to;
    undef $from;
    undef $date;
    undef $subject;

    foreach ( @lines ) {
        if ( /^To:\s+?(.*)$/ ) {
            $to = $1;
        elsif ( /^From:\s+?(.*)$/ ) {
            $from = $1;
        elsif ( /^Date:\s+?(.*)$/ ) {
            $date = $1;
        elsif ( /^Subject:\s+?(.*)$/ ) {
            $subject = $1;
  • I still think that there should be some sort of Ubuntu or Debian package that I could install that would do the same thing. If I don't get any better answers, I may try packaging my solution for others.
    – m0j0
    Jul 19, 2013 at 1:04

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