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Old 07-07-2008, 02:53 PM   #1
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Question Mail-collecting machine

I have a general, open-ended question on the steps that I should take to set up a mail machine. Since I don't know much about the mail-server field, I'm not sure if this is possible using normal mail programs, but please let me know if you have any ideas of how to approach this:

My setup, and what I want to do:
I have multiple mail accounts that I can access via POP3 and IMAP.
I have an Ubuntu 8.04 Server Edition machine with good disk space.
I want to make the server download my email periodically and store it.
I want to be able to use normal mail clients like Thunderbird, KMail, Outlook, Mutt, etc. from other computers to see the mail that is on the server.

The purpose of this setup are as follows:
I can see all of my messages by logging in to a single account.
My messages are all in one place for easy backups, and accessible from any of my computers without the need for other file sharing programs (Samba, NFS, etc).
My messages are on my own computer, so I don't have to blindly trust Google's and Yahoo's indestructible servers to never lose my data.

What I need to know:
What existing programs/services do I need to do this? I've never heard of a setup like this before so I don't know what to search for to build it.

Any help or insight is appreciated. Thank you

Old 07-07-2008, 04:05 PM   #2
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What you are asking depends exactly on how your mail works currently, but from what you've said. You would need to read up on these projects to work out how to configure them to do what you need. Others may have different advice, but this is what I would recommend looking at.

1. You need an MTA to be able to send mail out and also receive mail for your domain, personally I prefer Postfix as an MTA but others such as sendmail, exim, qmail etc would do equally well. Get the MTA to deliver messages to an mbox or maildir. Check out

2. You need a POP3/IMAP4 daemon to allow connections to your server via pop3 or imap using Outlook, thunderbird etc, I have a server running dovecot. You can set up multiple 'accounts' or mailboxes in dovecot. Check out

3. Where does your server need to download mail from? -if you configure your server to accept mail via SMTP then when a mail arrives, it will go directly to your mail server and it wont need to download mail periodically.

4. Once you have the mailboxes working, if your server has apache webserver installed, you can install squirrelmail -a webmail system. Check out

Ideally, your server should have a static public IP address, failing that you could use dyndns.

I would advise doing some reading on the above as it will be a little bit of work to set up.

Hope this helps a bit.
Old 07-07-2008, 08:17 PM   #3
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That sounds like enough info for me to get on track. Thanks for the reply, and for the list of applications for each task.

Old 07-07-2008, 09:21 PM   #4
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look into fetchmail as well - that will collect mail from external pop/imap accounts and deliver it locally for you system to deliver.

You may get away with just having fetchmail gather your messages, deliver it to procmail and then use dovecot or similar to server email to thunderbird, etc, and rather than set up an MTA, deliver directly via your ISP's smtp server. It depend a bit on how complex you want to get.


imap, mail, pop3, server

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