Developed by Bernard Chardonneau (France), the Libremail suite is distributed under a free software licence, shorter and less juridical than the GPL. This licence insists on the need for diffusing the sources of the programs (instead of the compiled programs) and on the possibility to translate these programs in other languages.
Libremail is composed of more than 25 distinct applications able for some of them to work in an autonomous way (launched in a command line or in Shell, crons etc.), for others to dialogue with the user in page layout view (use of the arrows and other keys of the keyboard). No complementary software is necessary to send and receive messages. The computer just needs to be configured to use the protocols POP3 and SMTP.
- Visualization (number, list, contents...) of the messages arrived in the inbox of the transport server.
- Automatic removal of undesired emails:
- Emails including prohibited character strings in the sender, subject, recipient etc. fields (some files contain the list of the prohibited strings)
- Emails written exclusively in HTML (very rare for non-spam messages)
- Emails exceeding a limited size (but a list of senders authorized to send large mails can be made up).
- In the last 2 cases an automatic answer can be sent to the sender of a refused Email.
- Remote loading (total or partial) of messages in the inbox of the transport server.
- A tool allowing, in combination with the commands *grep, sed, mv, etc. to classify the last mails downloaded in distinct directories according to their characteristics (sender, strings in the subject etc.)
- Visualization (list and contents) of downloaded Emails, of Emails ready to be sent, or already sent.
- Extraction of the joined files.
- Drafting of Emails, replies, and forwards.
- Attachments to Emails.
- Sending Emails.
- Tool to encode the password associated with each letter-box.
- Each Email is memorized in a distinct file. The various Email file names of the same category (input or output) differ by a number.
- Directory names are preset for received mail, mail to be sent, already sent or on standby of deletion, but the user can use a lot of others to classify received messages or possibly those sent.
- Libremail does not require any graphic interface to work. The various tools work in text mode. When the message contained in a message exists at the same time in text mode and HTML (a very frequent case), the text section is displayed by default. The structure of mails generated with Libremail tools is limited to a text section followed of possible joined files.
- Libremail can be used with every inbox anybody has. In this case, simplest will be to create a configuration file for each inbox.
- For the tools carrying out data transfers with the Internet network, the configuration filename allows to choose the inbox.
- For the tools working only with the mail files present on the computer, it is the name of the storage directory of each inbox which makes it possible to distinguish them.
- All the data files used by the various tools of Libremail are ASCII text, and can be visualized and/or modified with a text editor.
It was conceived to work on PC using ISO-8859-n series accentuated character set. Nevertheless, when the received mails use the UTF-8 characters encoding, the accentuated characters having an equivalent in the ISO-8859-n series are converted. It is the same for certain characters coming from Macintosh.
Libremail was conceived to be able to read the formats of the most current messages rather than the totality of Emails. According to its author, this choice makes it possible to read more than 99% of non-spam, without the software becoming exaggeratedly complicated. See the heading Technical features of the Libremail sites to know what is supported. Version after version, Libremail treats more and more particular cases, which can improve the reading of "exotic" Emails already downloaded with older versions. But the appearance of new mail applications using new specific formats will never be supported immediately by the competitor applications.
The Web sites relative to Libremail are in 8 languages, just like the manual pages which document the use of the various tools of Libremail.
On the other hand, the user interface of the various 1.x.x versions of software was in French and supposed, for the accentuated characters, the use of the ISO-8859-1/15 character set, and not the UTF-8 one.
An evolution towards a multilingual interface was done at the beginning of 2007 (beta versions 1.9.x and versions since 2.0.0). Now the user interface is available in 8 languages and the UTF-8 can be used to input characters and for the display.
"Libremail is not Outlook": This slogan, written in English on the eight languages versions of Libremail websites pages, is a wink with famous acronym GNU's not UNIX. It is used to enumerate some characteristics of Libremail which distinguish it from Outlook Express (and of other graphic email applications):
- One file for each mail.
- Many specialized tools rather than only one software to do everything (generally that means less). It is the same idea as at the beginning of UNIX: a lot of tools doing few things for each of them, but doing that well.
- Text mode privileged instead of HTML mails, interface in text mode. The author of Libremail considers the editorial contents of the mails more important than its visual aspect that the HTML makes it possible to get. For him, the HTML on Emails is useful for advertising executives to propose better spams.
- With one of the tools, if the connection Internet is cut during a downloading, it is not necessary to recover again the already downloaded mails.
- "Libremail does not take an initiative which endangers the operating system". Other mailers can automatically open joined file, even if there is a virus inside. With Libremail, joined files are just extracted from the mails, and the user will have to choose to use them.
- The Libremail sources are given, instead of compiled programs. Their low volume (in comparison with the sources of other free applications) should make it possible to any C programmer to adapt Libremail to its needs without too many difficulties.
"La liberté n'est pas une marchandise" (freedom is not goods): Slogan appeared in 2005 whereas another Web site chose to use the name "Libremail" to sell an anti-spam service. It is intended to recall that Libremail is a free software suite, and that this freedom implies for the user the possibility to use Libremail for everything it made it possible to do, including spam filtering, without having anything to pay. The owner of libremail.fr and libremail.com websites finally chose another name for his commercial antispam service to prevent tribunal problems. In 2007, the libremail.fr and libremail.com domain names got new owners, but the new websites with Libremail's name in the URL seem to use this name only as an entry point.