This user interface is not capable of reading a password from the keyboard; account passwords must be specified using one of the configuration file options. For example, it will not print periodic sleep announcements and tends to be a tad less verbose, in general.
Blinkenlights contains a row of "LEDs" with command buttons and a log. The log shows more detail about what is happening and is color-coded to match the color of the lights.
Each light in the Blinkenlights interface represents a thread of execution — that is, a particular task that OfflineIMAP is performing right now. The colors indicate what task the particular thread is performing, and are as follows:
indicates that this light's thread has terminated; it will light up again later when new threads start up. So, black indicates no activity.
is the color of the main program's thread, which basically does nothing but monitor the others. It might remind you of HAL 9000 in 2001.
indicates that the thread is establishing a new connection to the IMAP server.
is the color of an account synchronization thread that is monitoring the progress of the folders in that account (not generating any I/O).
indicates that the thread is syncing a folder.
means that a folder's message list is being loaded.
is the color of a message synchronization controller thread.
indicates that an actual message is being copied. (We use fuchsia for fake messages.)
indicates that a message is being deleted.
indicates that message flags are being added.
indicates that message flags are being removed.
corresponds to the countdown timer that runs between synchronizations.
The name of this interfaces derives from a bit of computer history. Eric Raymond’s Jargon File defines blinkenlights, in part, as:
Front-panel diagnostic lights on a computer, esp. a dinosaur. Now that dinosaurs are rare, this term usually refers to status lights on a modem, network hub, or the like.
This term derives from the last word of the famous blackletter-Gothic sign in mangled pseudo-German that once graced about half the computer rooms in the English-speaking world. One version ran in its entirety as follows:
ACHTUNG! ALLES LOOKENSPEEPERS!
Das computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das blinkenlichten.