The K Desktop Environment

Next Previous Table of Contents

6. Questions, Answers, and Tips

6.1 Are there other KDE-aware "biff" utilities?

Yes. There are at least two that I know of. Each "biff" has its own strengths. KOrn was the original. It's main strength is the ability to monitor multiple mailboxes with one instance and effectively show the number of messages in each. If you have many mailboxes and don't care for the cutesy icons, then KOrn is probably a better choice than KBiff. The other "biff" is KNewMail. KNewMail attempts to emulate the Windows utility NewMail. It checks for POP3 mail and displays the subject line for each message.

6.2 What is the difference between a "profile" and a "mailbox" again?

A "profile" is a group of one or more mailboxes that one instance of KBiff will monitor. And example of a profile is "Inbox". A "mailbox" is a physical entity that can be monitored by KBiff. An example of a mailbox is "/usr/var/username".

6.3 How do I use my own pixmaps?

Short answer: select them using the setup dialog. Longer answer: KBiff searches for its icons in the standard KDE icon path. Currently, this is


Where "kdedir()" is usally "/opt/kde" and $HOME is your home directory. If you put your pixmaps in any of these directories (the last one listed is recommended), then KBiff should have no problems finding and using them.

If you plan on docking KBiff, you should have a 22x22 (or smaller) version of your pixmap. The name of the small pixmap should be the name of the larger pixmap preceded by "mini-". So if you want to use the default "oldmail.xpm" pixmap for old mail but want to use your own "mycoolpixmap.xpm" smaller pixmap when it's docked, you should rename your pixmap to "mini-oldmail.xpm" If you do not do this, KBiff will use the large version even in the panel.

Note that KBiff determines its size by the old mail pixmap. So if your pixmap for old mail is 100x100, but all the other ones are 32x32... well, KBiff will look very strange every time new mail arrives.

6.4 How do I use elm (or mutt or PINE) with KBiff?

You tried putting "elm" into the Mail Client edit box, didn't you? Whoops! 'elm', 'mutt', and 'PINE' all need a terminal to run in and KBiff does not supply one. The author uses the following as his Mail Client:

kvt -vt_geometry 80x35 -caption Mail -no_scrollbar -e mutt &

If you use a graphical email client such as KMail or Netscape, then you simply need to put the name of the client in the edit box. No terminal is necessary.

6.5 Why won't KBiff play my file?

KBiff uses the KAudio class to play sounds when new mail arrives. Currently, this class only supports .wav files. If you wish to play an .au file when new mail arrives, try getting the SOX package and put 'play' (or just 'cat > /dev/audio') in the Run Command option.

6.6 Does KBiff work without session management?

Yes. Session management is on by default, but you can turn it off in the setup dialog. You can still have KBiff start up when KDE starts up by putting KBiff into your Autostart folder with the '-profile' option.

6.7 Clicking on your email address in About does nothing!

It would be nice to pass the '' URL to kfm to process it.. unfortunately, this is not implemented yet. I did code in some support, though. Just set an environment variable MAILER to whatever your mailer is and the link should work.

% setenv MAILER kvt -e mutt

Note that this has the pleasant side effect that 'mailto:' links in the regular kfm will also use your mailer.

6.8 When I use KBiff to monitor my mailbox, all other 'biff' utilities stop working. What's up?

This is a result of the new message counting code in KBiff. In order for KBiff to know how many new messages are in an mbox mailbox, it must open it up to read it. When this happens, most other 'biff' utilities (including your shell's built-in one) will assume that you read your mailbox and announce it as old (or "read") mail.

There are three ways around this:

  1. Don't use KBiff.
  2. Use the 'file' protocol instead of the 'mbox' protocol (note that you'll no longer know how many new mails have arrived)
  3. Convert all of your 'mbox' mailboxes to 'maildir'

6.9 How do I use Netscape Mail with KBiff?

You tried 'netscape -mail', didn't you? You then discovered that this caused Netscape to complain about a lockfile if it was already running, right? Well, here's a workaround from KBiff user Steven Boger ( Create a shell script like so:

if [ -L "$HOME/.netscape/lock" ]; 
netscape -remote 'xfeDoCommand(openInbox)' 
netscape -remote 'xfeDoCommand(getNewMessages)'
netscape -mail & 
netscape -remote 'xfeDoCommand(getNewMessages)'

6.10 KBiff truncates the initial slash in IMAP mode. Is this a bug?

No, it's a feature! It is very very rare that one uses an absolute path with IMAP. Nearly all mailbox can (and are) accessed either relative to the user's home directory or use symbolic names like 'inbox.

If you are trying to read

try entering
as the mailbox name.

6.11 I have this great feature I want implemented. What should I do?

First, look at the TODO file in the source distribution (or on the web page). If your feature request is already there, then sit tight -- it may well be implemented. If it is not there... well, it doesn't hurt to ask. Email me!

Next Previous Table of Contents