Running Evolution without Gnome -- is it sane/possible?

I’m an oldschool geek running i3wm on NixOS and with a tendency toward command-line tools. However, my workplace is about to discontinue IMAP support, so I need a mail client that supports Exchange protocol directly. Evolution has been at the top of many recommendation lists, so I decided to give it a spin, but I ran into the following issue:


I don’t want to absorb all the overhead of Gnome, but I don’t know enough about the construction of Evolution and its related services to know what path to go down to detangle the issue, or whether its possible/worthwhile. Pointers would be most welcome!


evolution-registry-source is a service in gnome3.evolution-data-server so you will need to add that to systemd.packages. services.gnome3.evolution-data-server.enable = true; will do that for you.

For the dconf warning, you will need programs.dconf.enable = true;.

But the main issue is that evolution-ews was just recently packaged and to be able to use it, we need something like

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Evolution is available as Flatpak package in Flathub

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While I have a distaste for Flatpak’s methods and can’t wait for the issue @jtojnar referenced to be resolved so I can use evolution-ews without issue as a nix-managed install, I decided to give Flatpak a swing on my work machine as a stopgap.

The good:

  • Evolution-ews is working, syncing mail and calendar, with no apparent issue.
  • Evolution has generally grown up quite a bit since I last used it, circa 2007. I think I’m going to find it generally a better choice from a UX/workflow perspective than Thunderbird.

The bad:

  • Any function within Evolution that requires browsing the filesystem doesn’t work. I click to add an attachment, and nothing. I click to import an S/MIME cert, nothing.
  • I can’t change even basic settings, such as turning off the To Do bar in the mail view. Evolution is throwing what I believe to be related dconf errors at a cane that causes constant scroll in the terminal I started this from.
  • I have to manually re-enter my server password frequently.

There may be issues I haven’t discovered in my cursory testing. I’m not sure how to narrow down, though, what is caused by a broken Flatpak (e.g. missing a dependency needed to run Evolution with all its functions), an issue related to my configuration of Flatpak (both NixOS’s and Flatpak’s instructions are minimal, I suspect there may be a portal configuration I’m missing with regard to the file browsing issue), a bug in Evolution, or a dependency I need outside of the Flatpak install (e.g. will Evolution try to use a password store outside of both itself and the Flatpak?).

If anyone can point me in the right direction, I’d appreciate it.

Sometime ago I had a problem with needing to re-enter my Nextcloud password after every reboot. The Nextcloud client was installed via flatpak. I fixed this problem install seahorse. Maybe it’ll fix yours.