Get a running mutt
Figure out if you have a mutt installed already by entering "mutt -v" at the prompt. If you have none yet, or the displayed configuration doesn't suit your needs, grab the source from http://www.mutt.org/download.html and "do it yourself": install mutt.
In the "mutt -v" output look out for:
System: xxx [using ncurses 5.2] [using libiconv 1.7] Compile options: -DOMAIN -DEBUG -HOMESPOOL +USE_SETGID +USE_DOTLOCK +DL_STANDALONE +USE_FCNTL -USE_FLOCK +USE_POP +USE_IMAP -USE_GSS +USE_SSL -USE_SASL -USE_SASL2 +HAVE_REGCOMP -USE_GNU_REGEX +HAVE_COLOR +HAVE_START_COLOR +HAVE_TYPEAHEAD +HAVE_BKGDSET +HAVE_CURS_SET +HAVE_META +HAVE_RESIZETERM +CRYPT_BACKEND_CLASSIC_PGP +CRYPT_BACKEND_CLASSIC_SMIME -CRYPT_BACKEND_GPGME -BUFFY_SIZE -EXACT_ADDRESS -SUN_ATTACHMENT +ENABLE_NLS -LOCALES_HACK +HAVE_WC_FUNCS +HAVE_LANGINFO_CODESET +HAVE_LANGINFO_YESEXPR +HAVE_ICONV -ICONV_NONTRANS -HAVE_LIBIDN +HAVE_GETSID -HAVE_GETADDRINFO -ISPELL SENDMAIL="/usr/lib/sendmail" MAILPATH="/var/mail" ... EXECSHELL="/bin/sh"
For an explanation of all the features use ./configure --help of the mutt source distribution. Most important are USE_POP, USE_IMAP & USE_SSL for the respective support (recommended), USE_FCNTL & USE_FLOCK for the file-locking type, HOMESPOOL when delivering new mail to home-dir instead of system spool-dir, HAVE_COLOR for helpful highlighting of items, and the "[using ncurses...]" for the library you want mutt to use to draw its interface.
As you can see above, mutt assumes that an MTA is already installed! So make sure you have the one you want running, otherwise install & configure the MTA first. Note that mutt is a mail management tool, so it has no built-in editing feature. It leaves this up to an external editor of your choice. The editor need not be installed prior to mutt, just remember that you will need one.
Some features like SSL support or the "Compressed-Folders" patch require additional libs. Pre-installed "curses" libs might be outdated, or might not provide the advanced features required to let mutt work at its fullest capabilities (e.g. coloring). If you don't have them in place when you install mutt, you'll have to recompile after you installed them. But don't worry: with each update or patch you apply you have to recompile anyway, and luckily it's not hard to do with mutt. So, just go ahead, grab the source and follow the included install instructions.
On some systems you must use +USE_DOTLOCK, i.e. the locking mechanism working with the SGID "mutt_dotlock" executable to access "inbox" mail folders in a common system directory ("spool"), especially when the spool-dir isn't writable for every user (for security, of course). For this you need "root"-access to change permissions accordingly. For installations on your private system at home you are "root". In a company or other institution with a dedicated system administrator, you better ask the staff to install mutt centrally, so everybody can use it, not just you: "live long & prosper!"