Mutt Mail User Agent

Mutt is a fast, standards-compliant, efficient MUA (Mail User Agent). In some areas it works better than Thunderbird+Enigmail, and is certainly faster and more responsive.

Mutt lacks true MTA (Message Transfer Agent aka “SMTP client”) and MRA (Mail Retrieval Agent aka “IMAP/POP3 client”), thus there are some provisions built-in. In principle it is only mail reader and composer. You may install true MTA such as Postfix or Exim and MRA such as Fetchmail. Alternatively you can synchronize your mailbox using OfflineIMAP and just stick to integrated SMTP support. You can even use integrated IMAP client, but it is not very convenient.


dnf install mutt cyrus-sasl-plain

cyrus-sasl-plain package is necessary for SMTP authentication to work.


Mutt generally works out of the box. This configuration guide discusses only Qubes-specific setup. In this example we will have one TemplateVM and several AppVMs. It also takes advantage of SplitGPG, which is assumed to be already working.

NOTE: this requires qubes-gpg-split >= 2.0.9. 2.0.8 and earlier contains bug which causes this setup to hang in specific situations and does not allow to list keys.

First, paste this to /etc/Muttrc.local in TemplateVM:

# specify your key or override in ~/.mutt/muttrc in AppVM
set pgp_sign_as="0xDEADBEEF"

set pgp_use_gpg_agent = no

# this needs qubes-gpg-split >= 2.0.8; 2.0.7 end earlier has had a deadlock on this
set pgp_decode_command="qubes-gpg-client-wrapper --status-fd=2 --batch %f"
#set pgp_decode_command="gpg --status-fd=2 %?p?--passphrase-fd=0? --no-verbose --quiet --batch --output - %f"

set pgp_decrypt_command="$pgp_decode_command"

set pgp_verify_command="qubes-gpg-client-wrapper --status-fd=2 --no-verbose --quiet --batch --output - --verify %s %f"

set pgp_sign_command="qubes-gpg-client-wrapper --batch --armor --detach-sign --textmode %?a?-u %a? %f"
set pgp_clearsign_command="qubes-gpg-client-wrapper --batch --armor --textmode --clearsign %?a?-u %a? %f"

# I found no option to add Charset armor header when it is UTF-8, since this is
# default (as specified in RFC4880). This is needed to workaround bug in
# Enigmail, which ignores RFC and without this header Thunderbird interprets
# plaintext as us-ascii. See

## also note you must specify absolute path of pgpewrap when using debian
## e.g. /usr/lib/mutt/pgpewrap

set pgp_encrypt_only_command="pgpewrap qubes-gpg-client-wrapper --batch --textmode --armor --always-trust %?a?--encrypt-to %a? --encrypt -- -r %r -- %f | sed -e '2iCharset: UTF-8'"
set pgp_encrypt_sign_command="pgpewrap qubes-gpg-client-wrapper --batch --textmode --armor --always-trust %?a?--encrypt-to %a? --encrypt --sign %?a?-u %a? -- -r %r -- %f | sed -e '2iCharset: UTF-8'"

# we need to import both into vault and locally wrt $pgp_verify_command
set pgp_import_command="qubes-gpg-import-key %f; gpg --no-verbose --import %f"

# those are unsupported by split-gpg
set pgp_export_command="gpg --no-verbose --export --armor %r"
set pgp_verify_key_command="gpg --no-verbose --batch --fingerprint --check-sigs %r"

# read in the public key ring
set pgp_list_pubring_command="qubes-gpg-client-wrapper --no-verbose --batch --quiet --with-colons --list-keys %r"

# read in the secret key ring
set pgp_list_secring_command="qubes-gpg-client-wrapper --no-verbose --batch --quiet --with-colons --list-secret-keys %r"

# this set the number of seconds to keep in memory the passpharse used to encrypt/sign
# the more the less secure it will be
set pgp_timeout=600

# it's a regexp used against the GPG output: if it matches some line of the output
# then mutt considers the message a good signed one (ignoring the GPG exit code)
#set pgp_good_sign="^gpg: Good signature from"
set pgp_good_sign="^\\[GNUPG:\\] GOODSIG"

# mutt uses by default PGP/GPG to sign/encrypt messages
# if you want to use S-mime instead set the smime_is_default variable to yes

# automatically sign all outcoming messages
set crypt_autosign=yes
# sign only replies to signed messages
#set crypt_replysign

# automatically encrypt outcoming messages
#set crypt_autoencrypt=yes
# encrypt only replies to signed messages
set crypt_replyencrypt=yes
# encrypt and sign replies to encrypted messages
set crypt_replysignencrypted=yes

# automatically verify the sign of a message when opened
set crypt_verify_sig=yes

# disable use of gpgme, which interferes with Split-GPG
# and defaults to 'yes' on Debian 9 and higher
set crypt_use_gpgme=no

send-hook "~A" set pgp_autoinline=no crypt_autoencrypt=no
send-hook "~t @invisiblethingslab\.com" set crypt_autoencrypt=yes

# vim:ft=muttrc

Then shutdown your TemplateVM. Next open your AppVM, create file /home/user/.mutt/muttrc and adjust for your needs:

# accounts
set from = "Wojciech Zygmunt Porczyk <>"
alternates '^woju@invisiblethingslab\.com$'
alternates '^wojciech@porczyk\.eu$'

# crypto
set pgp_sign_as = "0xDEADBEEF"
send-hook "~t @my\.family\.com" set crypt_autoencrypt=no

# lists

# google groups
lists .*@googlegroups\.com

subscribe (qubes-(users|devel)|othergroup)@googlegroups\.com
fcc-save-hook qubes-users@googlegroups\.com =list/qubes-users/
fcc-save-hook qubes-devel@googlegroups\.com =list/qubes-devel/
fcc-save-hook othergroup@googlegroups\.com =list/othergroup/

You may also create /home/user/.signature:

Wojciech Porczyk

Some additional useful settings

In muttrc:

###qubes integration stuff

#open links in a dispvm using urlview
#see below for sample .urlview
macro pager \cb <pipe-entry>'urlview'<enter> 'Follow links with urlview'

#override default mailcap MIME settings with qvm-open-in-dvm calls
#see sample .mailcap below
set mailcap_path=~/.mailcap

bind attach <return>    view-mailcap

Debian-specific options:

#use debian mutt-patched package for mailbox sidebar hack
set sidebar_width = 30
set sidebar_visible = no
set sidebar_delim='|'

#show/hide sidebar
macro index S '<enter-command>toggle sidebar_visible<enter>'
macro pager S '<enter-command>toggle sidebar_visible<enter>'

#navigate the sidebar folders
bind index CP sidebar-prev
bind index CN sidebar-next
bind index CO sidebar-open
bind pager CP sidebar-prev
bind pager CN sidebar-next

In .urlview:

## TODO: this doesn't work with encrypted emails --
## urlview can't find the links
COMMAND qvm-open-in-dvm %s

In .mailcap:

## TODO: override most/all default mailcap settings to prevent
## opening in muttvm
## is there a way to do this polymorphically? i.e. not
## listing every damn mimetype by hand
## also would be convenient to use mailcap's TEST feature to
## show some html in mutt pager (e.g. with w3m, links or html2text),
## else open others in dispvm

# MS Word documents
application/msword; qvm-open-in-dvm %s
application/vnd.oasis.opendocument.spreadsheet; qvm-open-in-dvm %s
application/vnd.oasis.opendocument.text; qvm-open-in-dvm %s

# Images
image/jpg; qvm-open-in-dvm %s
image/jpeg; qvm-open-in-dvm %s
image/png; qvm-open-in-dvm %s
image/gif; qvm-open-in-dvm %s

# PDFs
application/pdf; qvm-open-in-dvm %s

text/html; w3m -T text/html '%s' | cat --squeeze-blank; nametemplate=%s.html; copiousoutput
text/html; qvm-open-in-dvm %s

This document was migrated from the qubes-community project
  • Page archive
  • First commit: 08 Dec 2020. Last commit: 08 Dec 2020.
  • Applicable Qubes OS releases based on commit dates and supported releases: 4.0
  • Original author(s) (GitHub usernames):
  • Original author(s) (forum usernames):
  • Document license: CC BY 4.0