How to use the Sylpheed email client with Gmail

By Frank Cox

(July 23, 2007)

I have been unable to find any other documentation that explicitly describes how to use the Sylpheed email client with your gmail account. Accordingly, this short article will describe the procedure.

I currently use Fedora 7 on my main desktop computer, but these instructions should be largely applicable to any distribution. You may have to use apt-get or whatever in order to install the programs instead of yum, but the overall process should work pretty much the same way everywhere.


Sylpheed is a very nice email client for Linux that I have been using for the past number of years. For a description of all of the features that it offers, their homepage is here.

On Fedora, you can install Sylpheed with the following command (as root):

yum install sylpheed

You can also download the source code from the Sylpheed homepage and create your own rpm from that by using the following commands.

Note that if you want to have the automatic spellchecking option you need to have gtkspell-devel installed on your computer before compiling the Sylpheed tarball.

yum install gtkspell-devel

Now create the rpm:

rpmbuild -ta –-clean sylpheed-2.x.x.tar.bz2

Now install it:

rpm -i sylpheed-2.x.x-1.i386.rpm


Sylpheed works very well with gmail. You can download your messages to your computer and read them offline if you wish. When you have multiple email accounts on various mailservers (as I do) then you can use Sylpheed to aggregate all of your email in one place. Sylpheed can sort your email using various filters, and it has native support for spam filtering using bogofilter or bsfilter.

I have Sylpheed set up to automatically download email from all of my accounts every ten minutes. I just leave it running on my desktop and every time I remember to look at Sylpheed I can see at a glance if I have any new mail without pushing any buttons or doing anything at all.



The above setup will allow you to pick up and send email through gmail. However, you will receive this error when you try to pick up your mail:

The SSL certificate of cannot be verified by the following reason: 
unable to get local issuer certificate 
Server certificate: 
Subject: /C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc./ 
Issuer: /C=US/O=Equifax/OU=Equifax Secure Certificate Authority 
Do you accept this certificate?

You can click “Yes” in response to this dialog and Sylpheed will then continue to work with gmail until you exit the program. However, every time you start a new Sylpheed session you will have to click “Yes” again.

You will receive a similar error when you attempt to send email out through gmail. You only get these errors once per session, but it would be a lot nicer to not get them at all.

This is how you can install the missing local issuer certificates that Sylpheed is looking for. After installing the certificates you no longer have to deal with this issue.


To accomplish this procedure, you need to have a copy of the c_rehash program installed. c_rehash creates symbolic links to the hash values of your trusted certificates.

On Fedora Linux, c_rehash is included in the openssl-perl rpm, so you do this to install it:

yum install openssl-perl

Gmail requires two SSL certificates. There is an Equifax certificate that is required for receiving email and a Thawte certificate that is required for sending email.

To obtain the Thawte certificate that you will require, go to and download from there. Unzip it somewhere and remember where you put it.

When you first run Sylpheed, it creates a directory in your home directory called ~/.sylpheed-2.0 which contains all of its configuration files.

Do the following:

mkdir ~/.sylpheed-2.0/certs

Copy the file named ThawtePremiumServerCA_b64.txt from the file that you downloaded above into the certs directory that you just created and rename it from .txt to .pem:

cp Thawte\ Server\ Roots/ThawtePremiumServerCA_b64.txt ~/.sylpheed-2.0/certs/ThawtePremiumServerCA_b64.pem

Now download the Equifax certificate to your Sylpheed certs directory with the following command:

wget -O ~/.sylpheed-2.0/certs/Equifax_Secure_Certificate_Authority.pem

(Note that the above commandline is all one line, but it is so long that your web browser is probably showing it to you as two lines. Make sure that you copy-and-paste it as one single long line with one space between .pem and https:)

Now create the symbolic links:

c_rehash ~/.sylpheed-2.0/certs/

You're done. The Sylpheed email client will now work perfectly with your gmail account.

Other articles written by Frank Cox can be found here.

Frank Cox owns and operates the Melville Theatre in Melville, Saskatchewan, Canada, and has been playing with computers for about 30 years.

July 23, 2007

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