Setting up my ideal email system

Recently I have managed to get pretty much my ideal email system set up. This is the kind of thing that would simply be impossible on a Windows box, but (when you know how) is a quick job on Linux. I didn’t know how, but now I do (ish). I’m going to do it in separate installments, trying to make them slightly self-contained.

Setting up an IMAP server

I chose Dovecot because it looked fairly good, and it came high up on Google. Installing it on Fedora Core 3 was just:

yum install dovecot

But then I needed to set up the config file. The only thing I changed looked like this:

default_mail_env = maildir:~/Maildir

I did this because after reading the scare stories about locking when using an mbox-type mailbox, I decided Maildir sounded safer. Maildir holds each mail in a separate file, which sounds good for preventing corruption if something goes wrong, so I chose it. It seems to work ok.

I left the passwords to be plain text for the moment, which meant my /etc/imap.passwd had to look like this:


Where ‘brian’ would be your username and ‘sausages’ the password you have decided to use for mail. If you’re using plain text passwords, don’t use the same password as your login password, because any old packet sniffer will be able to see the mail password.

With this set up, I had a working IMAP server which stored messages in my home dir under the ~/Maildir directory. Of course, there were no messages in there at the moment – that’s coming up later. Next time, how I made Mozilla Thunderbird see the messages stored there!

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