Tuesday, July 15, 2014

BBDB: Big Brother Data Base

UPDATE:The information in this post can be summarized with two commands.  

  • Emacs:  To download the emacs git repo:
    •  # git clone https://github.com/mirrors/emacs.git
  • BBDB: to download the BBDB up to date source:
    •  # git clone git://git.savannah.nongnu.org/bbdb.git

I.  Some notes about BBDB

    I use bbdb with emacs, in a relatively mundane and non-interesting way: I use it as a basic addressbook.  When I need an address, I just fire up emacs and type M-x bbdb, then respond with a part of the name I am interested in.  Very nice.  From the record that is displayed, I can also write an email message directly, by typing "m".    (I have to have the necessary magic spells in my .emacs file, the configuration file that has followed me around for over 20 years, and grown and changed.)   Also, from the smtp mail composition facility of emacs, when I type a few characters from a required email address or name in the "To:" field, if it is in the bbdb database, it is inserted automagically.  I love thisd.

I have just wrestled with bbdb for an hour or two, and gotten to work on one machine, perfectly well.  I don't have all the bits of bbdb working.  The origin of the name "Big Brother Data Base" comes, I think, from the ability to scavenge all email addresses from all incoming mail.   I don't need that.  I don't want that. 

2.  Installing bbdb with self compiled emacs from git repo

 I have compiled emacs on each of my machines, for one reason so I can use the new eww browser that is included with Emacs 24.4.   Also, for other reasons.  I used this method, which worked on both Archlinux and Ubuntu systems:


And I have my work subdir under git control, so I can save changes to a flashdrive, and push them onto another machine.  Right now, I am doing this with only two machines.  But I need identical files, and identical configurations on these two machines, so I can work out there somewhere (I was looking for an address in my car!), and have the changes reflected in both machines pretty easily.  It's been worth it for years, and I just got ahold of a 64GB flash drive to keep a relatively large subdir with all my important work and etc at my fingertips.   I am writing a letter here, go out there, and can finish it.  (But print later, so far).  I don't need to get fancy with servers.

To get BBDB working right again, after a glitch, I searched and searched all day.  So here's my secret: use the method pointed to by this message:


I found this after trying several of the  seemingly dozens of installation instructions all over the Internet.  Only this one worked awesomely.    The new bbdb (3.1.2)  converted  my  old address database more or less automatically, with no problem.  I had to fiddle with it some, but not much.