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Best Linux PIM: Kontact or Evolution? - page 2

Interfaces and Performance

  • July 2, 2009
  • By Bruce Byfield

Email readers

Despite all the stories about how email is being abandoned for messaging, it still remains the most important aspect of PIM. For this reason, it is unsurprising that Evolution and Kontact include most of the same features, including multiple views for messages, filters for eliminating spam and organizing incoming messages, auto-completion of addresses as you enter them, and support for multiple accounts. Both prefer plain text to HTML in emails, although Kontact pushes the preference more strongly. Both, too, support encryption, with Kontact's implementation the easiest to use.

Evolution's largest advantage over Kontact's KMail is its ability to sort the messages in a folder by their headers. In comparison, Kontact's display is more limited, defaulting to threaded messages with a heading for the date, and only the subject, sender and time displayed in the list pane, with others being visible from the pane for individual messages. Kontact's headings are also collapsible, which can be annoying because you can easily overlook messages if they are not expanded.

However, Kontact has the advantage over Evolution in searches. For one thing, if you want to search the current message, it has a simplified interface that is probably all you need. For another, if you use the standard Find Messages window in Kontact, results are listed in the window. This is a far more sensible arrangement than Evolution's use of its search tool as a filter of the folder display, which requires another step to remove and can leave users terrified that they have lost messages if not removed immediately.

Verdict: Tie. Both Evolution and Kontact have features or implementation that the other could use.

Address books

Evolution's address books give you the choice of either a card view, which is displayed in staggered columns that are hard to read, or spreadsheet-like views whose columns have to be adjusted so that you can read information.

Kontact has fewer views, but does not need them. It uses entry names for a table of contents, and shows the detail view of the currently highlighted entry. This same window is used for created contact lists, which are so well hidden in Evolution that I have met several people who believe that Evolution does not support them.

Kontact also does a better job with individual entries. It includes all the basic contact and personal data that Evolution does, but adds custom fields, photos, and a tab for how to use encryption when contacting each entry.

Verdict: Kontact. Evolution's address books are frankly a mess.

Calendars

Feature by feature, Evolution and Kontact are closely matched, with a variety of calendar views, integration of task lists, and the ability to share calendars with people using the same application. However, Kontact has an edge with features like a summary view so that you can see upcoming deadlines and events, and a regional holiday setting.

However, for most people, the most important feature of a calendar on GNU/Linux is its ability to connect when necessary to Microsoft Exchange Server. With Evolution-Brutus, Evolution has a clear advantage. In the near future, OpenChange may allow Kontact to catch up, but currently it is lagging.

Verdict: Evolution. While Kontact's calendars are easier to use, the need to contact people outside the free software world remains essential.

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