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Can someone explain how a mailserver on Linux works



6:26 pm on Nov 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I've installed dovecot and set it up so it has Maildir in my home folder. I can read this from other computers on my network with IMAP.

Now I need to set it up to pull mail from some POP3 servers.

The more I read, the more confusing it gets. I have installed fetchmail and now procmail because I think I need that too.

Every guide on the internet about these seems useless. There are some that inform you what to put in the configuration files - where are the configuration files? I can't find them.

Then, they all seem to use a different format called MBox (whatever that is) so will it even work with dovecot?

Why is this so complicated? All I want to do is read mail from a pop3 server on one computer on my network (the Ubuntu one) and to be able to read it with imap from others. Surely lots of small business have this set up - am I using the wrong software?


9:28 pm on Nov 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Ok, I have dovecot set up and now have fetchmail pulling in the mail but I can't connect the two together.

My log file in /var/log shows dovecot and fetchmail but no mentions of procmail at all. Fetchmail shows mails available and Thunderbird is logged into the dovecot IMAP account, so they appear to be working to some degree.

Fetchmail is set to send the mail to procmail, but I have no idea if procmail is working or if fetchmail isn't sending it. How do I find out if procmail is even running or being triggered?


9:37 am on Nov 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Well, I eventually discovered the problem.

There was three main issues:

1) Some of the programs need you to create configuration files from scratch. Seriously? Why not just write them in Japanese and pin them to the moon - It would be just as useful.

2) I found I had mailbox_location and mail_dir in procmail the wrong way around after using an example off the internet. Linux has a lot of help on the internet, but a lot of it is wrong, outdated and doesn't give enough information. For example, many sites show what to put in your fetchmail configuration but fail to show where to save the file and what to call it.

3) The reason procmail was not working was firstly because the error in my configuration file as above. It was not appearing in my log files because procmail cannot write to the /var/log folder due to permissions - so no errors reported. The solution was to switch of all logging in the config file. What kind of program can't write to a log file?

What a joke. If you write software, please make sure that you provide a default configuration file! Also, don't crash if you can't write to a log file, especially if you are writing successful statements. No one looks in a log file unless something isn't working.

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