xbuffy - yet another biff for the X Window System
[X toolkit options] [-help] [-version] [-horiz] [-poll
] [-header seconds
] [-acmd sound file
[-names] [-orig] [-priority priority
] [-command command
[-shortnames] [-mail <mailbox files...>] [-news <newsgroup
Xbuffy is based on Xmultibiff by John Reardon.
Xbuffy keeps track of multiple mailboxes. You can either specify mailbox files
on the command line, in a Xresources file, in a text configuration file, or
set your MAILPATH environment variable (a colon separated list of files). It
will display the number of new messages in each mail file in a box. You can
clear the reverse video in a box by clicking on the box with Button 3.
Another key feature of xbuffy is that it will use NNTP to watch newsgroups in
the same way it watches mailboxes. You can also specify newsgroups on the
command line, in Xresources, in a text configuration file (the same file can
specify both mailboxes and newsboxes), or set your NEWSPATH environment
variable using the same format as the MAILPATH environment variable.
By specifying certain command line options and/or Xresources, xbuffy can show
the From and Subject lines in each box. It can also invoke shell commands on
button clicks. Each box can be configured differently by using a
In general, it is a very extensible biff. Read on for details
on what it can do.
The following options are recognized:
- Print a brief help message and exit
- Print the current version and exit
- -poll secs
- How often the mailbox files are polled for new mail. If this is not
specified, it will use the MAILCHECK environment variable.
- -header secs
- This will display the From: and Subject: lines from incoming
mail messages in a popup window when button 1 is pressed in the box label.
The mail header will also popup automatically for the amount of time
indicated in secs when new mail arrives. If secs is 0, the
mail header will not pop up when new mail arrives. Clicking in the popup
window when mail arrives (if the argument is non-zero) will instantly
popdown the window. This feature was borrowed from xpbiff.
- Makes all the boxes the same size.
- Centers the name of the box in the box. This option turns on the fill
- -acmd sound command
- This will run a command instead of ringing the bell when new mail arrives.
For example, you could "cat meow >/dev/audio". This option
could also be used to automatically open a mail reader when new mail
- This will line up the boxes horizontally (default: vertical)
- This will disable the beep (or sound command) when new mail arrives
- -boxfile filename
- The name of a file containing configuration information for the boxes. The
boxfile is an alternative way of specifying what to watch. The boxfile
also allows each box to have different polltime, headertime, etc.
- This will show all messages in each mailbox. It has no effect on news
- Will display the full pathname of all the mailboxes it is watching.
- Will display the file names of all the mailboxes it is watching.
- -priority priority
- Nice level at which xbuffy and its child processes will run.
- -command command
- This is the default command that is to be executed when Button 2 is
pressed on a box.
- X Options
- Standard X windows options (e.g. -fn, -display, etc.)
The names and purpose of the some of the following environment variables were
borrowed from Bash, the GNU Shell.
- This specifies the amount of seconds to wait in between polling for
- This is a colon separated list of files to check for mail.
- This is a colon separated list of newsgroups to monitor.
- This is the name of the NNTP server to use for news boxes.
The application class is XBuffy. Almost all the arguments above can be set in
the X resource database, allowing for one-time configuration and eliminating
long command lines. The environment variables described above take precedence
over any X resources that are specified. Also, any command line arguments take
precedence over both X resources and environment variables.
The boxfile contains configuration information for each box. Any line that
begins with '#' is considered a comment and is ignored. The definition of a
box begins with the keyword box
followed by the filename or newsgroup
for that box. All subsequent lines are then used to configure that box until
either another box
command or the end of file. Note that these options
are NOT case sensitive.
The following are settable on a per box basis by using the boxfile
(note that the boxfile may also be set in the Xresources with the resource
When using a boxfile
, only the box
line is required. All options
that are not given in the boxfile will default to the command line (or built
- box file name
- The filename or newsgroup for this box. This also marks the beginning of a
- title box title
- The title that you want for this box. This will override the shortname or
- Specify that the box is a mailbox (a file). If neither mailbox or newsbox
is specified, mailbox is the default.
- Specify that the box is a newsbox (a NNTP newsgroup).
- origMode will make Xbuffy try to act like Xmultibiff and count ALL
messages instead of just NEW message.
- newMode will make Xbuffy count only new messages (this is the
- This will disable the beep (or sound command) when new mail arrives in the
specified mailbox to be counted.
- This will enable the beep (or sound) when new mail arrives in the
specified mailbox to be counted.
- This will cause the specified box to be prefaced with the filename.
- This will cause the specified box to be prefaced with a full path
- audio command string
- Set to the command string to be used automatically when new mail
- polltime secs
- Set to the time (in seconds) in between polling the box.
- headertime secs
- Set to the time (in seconds) to display the header when new things
- command command string
- Specifies a UNIX shell command to be executed by sh when the middle
mouse button is pushed in a box. Take care to escape characters
- led num
- Specifies a keyboard led to flash when new mail arrives. This is a number
between 1 and 3. (1 - NumLock, 2 - CapsLock or 3 - ScrollLock).
NOTE: This is only available on LINUX and only if compiled with
- The following resources are settable on a per application basis
- in the Xresources:
- Set to TRUE or FALSE. Same as the -horiz option.
- Set to a colon separated list of mailboxes (files). This is the same as
specifying files on the command line.
- Set to a colon separated list of news groups. This is the same as
specifying files on the command line.
The following examples demonstrate how to configure xbuffy to do the same thing
from both the command-line and X resources. Although, for maximum flexibility
on a per-box basis, I suggest using a boxfile.
The following example will watch 2 mailboxes in a home directory:
% xbuffy -mail ~/box1 ~/box2 &
The following example will watch a mailbox and a newsgroup:
% xbuffy -mail /usr/spool/mail/you -news comp.windows.x &
Thanks to John Reardon for writing the original Xmultibiff and Xmultibiff 2.0.
Xbuffy is a modified version of Xmultibiff 2.0 (although the code is looking
less and less similar everyday).
Sometimes buffy detects a change in the mailbox and reports new mail before the
mail is finished being delivered. This can (will) be fixed when buffy learns
hows to deal with file locking.
There is a bug with the NNTP stuff that isn't really Buffy's fault. Most
versions of the NNTP server will not dynamically update the high message
number (you must disconnect from the server and re-connect to get a new high
message). If your server is running one of these versions of NNTP then you
will not get told of new articles in your newsboxes.
xbuffy: Bill Pemberton, wfp5p@virginia.EDU
- xmultibiff: John Reardon, Midnight Networks Inc.,