This page tells you how to use the Informatics mail service.
From October 2007 all new staff will get mail accounts on the University's Staffmail service.
Information on this service is avialable here.
If you want to get up and running quickly, go straight to the basic instructions.
If you want lots of technical detail there's an advanced section.
To find out more, go on to the next section.
This section contains quick instructions on how to access your Informatics mail using IMP web mail, pine/alpine, Eudora, VM, exmh, MH/NMH, mh-e, RMAIL, gnus, and other mailers. Remember that you will need your DICE account and password - if you don't yet have these, ask Support for them.
Support status: we encourage you to use IMP web mail, and we'll help you if you have a problem. Just ask Support.
IMP is simply the web interface to the Informatics mail service. To see it, point your web browser at http://mail.inf.ed.ac.uk. You'll need your DICE account and password - if you don't yet have these, ask Support for them. You should also make sure that you have not disabled cookies in your web browser. Apart from that, you don't need to configure anything - just login and start reading your mail!
(A word more about cookies, for those concerned for their personal privacy - by default cookies are not disabled, so you will only have a problem if you have disabled them yourself. If you have, then enabling cookies either completely or "from the originating web site only" ought to be enough to get IMP working for you. If that worries you, consider using Thunderbird as your browser and explore its Privacy and Security preferences, which let you select which sites you will and won't accept cookies from.)
Support status: we encourage you to use pine (alpine is the new name for pine), and we'll help you if you have a problem. Just ask Support.
To get your Informatics mail in pine, invoke pine as usual and go to the Configure menu. From there, check or set the following:
You will then need to exit & save configuration changes, and then quit pine. The new setup will be invoked the next time you start pine.
You may encounter a couple of problems:
There are more extensive pine instructions in the advanced pine section.
Support status: we encourage you to use Thunderbird, and we'll help you if you have a problem. Just ask Support.
(These instructions are rather long and complicated. We hope to simplify them a lot when time permits.)
Firstly you need to register the root University CA Certificate. Full details can be found here. However for a quick install do the following:
You are about to register a new Certificate Authority; this means that Firefox will trust all SSL certificates signed by this authority.
Optional but recommended: (note)
Name: Informatics LDAPClick on OK.
Base DN: ou=People,dc=inf,dc=ed,dc=ac,dc=uk
If you want to perform queries against eddir then add an additional server with
Name: eddirClick on OK and close the options window. Restart Mozilla to make the LDAP changes take effect. If you wish to test the directories then start mozilla with mozilla -addressbook or click on the addressbook icon. You should have addressbooks corresponding to Informatics and eddir. Click on one and type a name; you should get a list of possible addresses - though searching eddir may take several minutes.
Base DN: dc=ed,dc=ac,dc=uk
Support status: we don't support the use of Eudora with the Informatics mail service. If you want to use it, go ahead; but if you need help with it, please use a recommended mailer instead (IMP web mail, pine or or Thunderbird.
You must upgrade to Eudora 5.1 in order to make use of the new secure IMAP service. You can download Eudora 5.1 from the Eudora home page.
The downloadable version comes in three forms:
If you don't wish to purchase a licence, you can select the Free version (the advert box is wee and easy to ignore) or the Light version (you lose spell checking and several other features, but the basic mail functions are all there and there are no adverts).
The Eudora 5.1 installer will pick up your old mailboxes and preferences. However, before installing Eudora 5.1, make a copy of your Eudora systems and applications folders - just in case.
Once you have installed Eudora 5.1, you must change your settings so that you now pick up email from the new Informatics server.
To do this, go to the Special menu and select Settings, then Getting started.
If you have been used to pulling your mail off the legacy mail servers with POP and storing it on your local disk then you will see some changes when you move to IMAP.
Your default IMAP folder is called INBOX, and mail in this folder remains on the mail server.
To see mail in INBOX, go to the Mailbox menu and scroll down till you put the mouse on Dominant. Your INBOX folder and any new folders you create on the server will be underneath Dominant.
VM is one of the mailers available in XEmacs and Emacs. If you already use VM, you can get it to work with the staffmail service by putting the following in your ~/.vm file:
; Get mail from staffmail using SSL
(setq vm-stunnel-program "/usr/sbin/stunnel")
(setq vm-stunnel-program-additional-configuration-file FILE)
(list (concat "imap-ssl:imap.staffmail.ed.ac.uk:993:INBOX:login:"
where FILE is the path of an stunnel configuration file containing the following:
#For connecting with VM via stunnel with staffmail
client = yes
connect = imap.staffmail.ed.ac.uk:993
Once this has been done, press L or restart VM to tell it to re-load ~/.vm, then press g as normal to get new mail.
Unlike properly IMAP-capable mail agents, VM does not let you leave your mail on the IMAP mail server after having read it. Instead, it downloads all your mail to your local VM inbox. Nor does VM allow you to access any IMAP folders other than the main INBOX. If you want to do either of these things you should consider using one of the recommended mailers instead.
Support status: we don't support the use of exmh with the Informatics mail service. If you want to use it, go ahead; but if you need help with it, please use a recommended mailer instead (IMP web mail, pine or or Thunderbird.
exmh relies on the nmh package for its basic message handling, and nmh doesn't currently understand how to speak IMAP. Instead you'll have to use fetchmail and procmail to collect your mail. Once that's been done you can process your mail with exmh as normal. (We hope at some point to be able to automate some of the exmh fetchmail setup, and thus simplify these instructions.)
set daemon 300See the fetchmail section for more details.
poll mail.inf.ed.ac.uk proto imap
DEFAULT=.mailSee the procmail section for more details.
| /usr/libexec/nmh/rcvstore +inbox
rcvstore is a utility for pre-processing incoming mail, filing it in nmh folders for convenience. The above recipe puts all incoming mail into the inbox folder. However it's entirely possible to sort your mail into a number of folders by calling rcvstore in several procmail recipes. See the procmail section for more details.
Note that it's important not to use procmail's own inbuilt "MH-style" of message-handling: this does not do adequate locking, and if you do use it you'll probably lose messages.
Click on Incorporate Mail, set Ways to Inc to none. Click on Dismiss.
Click on the main Exmh Preferences window's Save button to save these settings. Quit and restart exmh to have them take effect.
Support status: we don't support the use of MH with the Informatics mail service. If you want to use it, go ahead; but if you need help with it, please use a recommended mailer instead (IMP web mail, pine or or Thunderbird.
The version of MH that is on Linux is called NMH. NMH doesn't know how to communicate with an IMAP mail server, so using it with the Informatics mail service is not straightforward. You may be able to glean something useful from the exmh section. Any use of NMH will probably involve the use of fetchmail.
Support status: we don't support the use of mh-e with the Informatics mail service. If you want to use it, go ahead; but if you need help with it, please use a recommended mailer instead (IMP web mail, pine or or Thunderbird.
Mh-e is a mail agent in Emacs and XEmacs. It's based on MH, so it suffers from the same drawback as MH and exmh - it can't do IMAP. You'll probably have to use fetchmail if you want to attempt to use mh-e.
Paul Jackson has kindly contributed some helpful tips on using mh-e 7.3 with xemacs 21.4:
(setq-default mh-xemacs-use-toolbar-flag nil)to your .xemacs/init.el
If you figure out how to fix this, let me know.
/usr/lib/xemacs/xemacs-packages/lisp/mh-e/Look at the (gnus-define-keys ...) statements in mh-comp.el for mh-letter mode bindings, and in mh-e.el for mh-show mode bindings.
(C-h)C mh <return>The defaults all seem more or less reasonable. However, the main changes I have made so far are:
Change the mm-text-html-renderer to e.g. lynx.
The default emacs/w3 is painfully slow.
Support status: we don't support the use of RMAIL with the Informatics mail service. If you want to use it, go ahead; but if you need help with it, please use a recommended mailer instead (IMP web mail, pine or or Thunderbird.
RMAIL is a mail agent in Emacs and XEmacs. It doesn't support IMAP, so if you really want to continue using it, you'll have to master the intricacies of fetchmail.
Support status: we don't support the use of gnus with the Informatics mail service. If you want to use it, go ahead; but if you need help with it, please use a recommended mailer instead (IMP web mail, pine or or Thunderbird.
Gnus is an emacs and xemacs-based mail reader. Originally just a Usenet News program, it now also supports reading and sending mail. See the gnus info page for full details.
Perdita Stevens says:
[Configuring gnus for Informatics mail] seems to be easy. For example I put in my .gnus :
(setq gnus-secondary-select-methodsand this makes my IMAP folders available as newsgroups, to which I then subscribe in the usual way. Great for mailing lists.
If you particularly want to, you may be able to use a mail agent not covered above. If it can use IMAP, give it the details below. If it can't, you may still be able to use it in conjunction with fetchmail. In either case, you will have gone outside the bounds of what we support, so unfortunately we won't be able to help you if something goes wrong.
If you would like your mail to be manipulated in sophisticated and subtle ways, you can use the tools covered in this section. However, you should only attempt to use them if you understand what they do. Using these tools can make a big mess!
Fetchmail is an IMAP mail client with a difference - at its simplest it merely downloads your mail from the mail server into a file in your home directory. One of its main uses is thus as a tool to make old non-IMAP mail programs useable with the Informatics mail server, which only understands IMAP.
Procmail can do various things to your mail as it arrives. It uses pattern-matching, so that different things can be done to different mail messages.
If you want to continue using an old MUA (Mail User Agent) that doesn't support IMAP connections, or if you have a complicated Procmail configuration that won't be supported on the new mail server, then you can make use of the fetchmail program to perpetuate what you use once the switch has been made to the new server.
The fetchmail command transfers mail from a server using IMAP (and other protocols) and re-delivers it on your local machine. This allows you to filter, store and read mail in your local home directory instead of being restricted to what the inf mail server provides. However, this does mean you won't be able to use the IMP web interface directly (although see below).
Use man fetchmail for more comprehensive information.
DEFAULT=$HOME/.mailIf you already set your DEFAULT mailbox to something else, then you don't need to do this. It is necessary to set DEFAULT to something, as the linux version of procmail expects to find your mailbox in /var/spool/mail/username.
poll mail.inf.ed.ac.uk proto imap auth gssapi mda "/usr/bin/formail | /usr/bin/procmail"The line above will only work on a DICE machine. If you are still using a legacy machine then use the following line instead:
poll mail.inf.ed.ac.uk proto imap mda "/usr/bin/formail | /usr/bin/procmail"
If you use an nmh-based MUA (such as exmh) then you don't need the formail part of the mda, ie. your mda part of the line can just be:
While it is possible to use a mail delivery agent such as cat and skip going through procmail at all, e.g.
mda "/bin/cat >>~/.mail"this is highly inadvisable, as cat will not lock the mail file, so your mail user agent and your mail delivery agent may conflict (and mail may be lost before you even see it) - whereas procmail has proper locking support built in.
chmod 0600 ~/.fetchmailrc
Every time you want to transfer mail from your server mail box into your ~/.mail folder (or whatever DEFAULT in your .procmailrc is configured as) you need to run the fetchmail command. Then run your normal mail reader with ~/.mail. When fetchmail is run any rules in your .procmailrc will also be followed (e.g. splitting mail into separate folders).
Unless you are using a DICE machine you will need to supply your password when you use the fetchmail command. If your mail account username on the Informatics server differs from that on your legacy (old) account you might need to change the server line as below:
poll mail.inf.ed.ac.uk user 'username'where "username" is your inf (official university) username.
You can run fetchmail in such a way that it goes into the background and polls for new mail every so often. This means you don't have to explicitly run it every time you want to check for new mail. To do this add the following line at the top of your ~/.fetchmailrc:
set daemon 300This sets it to poll the mail server every five minutes. Now when you run the fetchmail command it will go into the background and silently check for and download new mail from the server automatically. To stop it running do:
fetchmail -qIf you want to start fetchmail up automatically in the background when you login to X and then stop it when you logout of X (but you don't want it to start up every time you open a new xterm or login to another machine) then there is a script you can use to do this. Warning though - it may be a bit flaky ... so, put the following line in your ~/.bprofile:
/usr/bin/fetchmailctl startand put the following line in your ~/.bash_logout:
/usr/bin/fetchmailctl stopand it might work.
To run fetchmail, you need a valid Kerberos ticket. A Kerberos ticket is created for you when you login, and it lasts for ten hours. After that time your Kerberos ticket will have expired, and fetchmail won't work any more. You can create a new ticket with the renc command. klist tells you when your current ticket will expire.
For really advanced users only. If you are careful you can use fetchmail to draw mail from the inf mail server and do any procmail processing locally that you cannot do easily on the mail server and then feed the processed messages back to the mail server where you can have an additional procmail filter to do more standard things (such as filtering mail into separate folders). The only thing you have to be careful with here is ending up with mail loops. The advantage of this method is you would then have access to all your mail via the IMP web interface as well. The disadvantage is you have to make sure you have a fetchmail running somewhere to do the offline processing otherwise mail will stack up in the server inbox unfiltered (although still accessable via IMP).
To do this you need a ~/.procmailrc in your home directory that does the processing that can't be done on the mail server and then uses formail to send it back to the mail server, but adds an additional header line. The .procmailrc on the mail server should be setup to only process mail where the header line is present (otherwise leaving the mail in the INBOX to be picked up by fetchmail).
Possible problems are that the IMP interface can also manipulate the procmailrc file (e.g. creating a vacation message) and doing so may well create a mail loop as a result. Also the mail arriving back at the mail server will be stamped as sent by yourself so the filters in the procmailrc on the mail server may need to be suitably modified.
If you need to ask for further instructions on how to do all this in detail then you shouldn't be doing it!
You can filter your incoming mail on the mail server using a mail filtering program called procmail. If you already use procmail, you may have to change your existing procmail recipes, and you will certainly have to move them.
All editing of procmail recipes is done via the IMP web interface to the mail server. Once you have logged in to IMP, click the button marked Filters on the left hand side of the screen. This brings up a form which allows you to change your mail filtering rules.
The form allows you to create two different kinds of rules.
Although you now have a .procmailrc file on the new mail server, you may find that it doesn't work quite as you expect. The first and most important point to remember is that, since the mail server has no access to your normal home directory, all the folders created by procmail will reside in your (separate) mail server home directory, which can only be accessed via IMAP. Recipes which rely on a certain directory existing will fail unless you have created that directory in your mail server home directory using the folder facility of your chosen mail client.
You may also find that the range of utilities available for further processing of messages via a pipe may be more restricted than you are used to. In particular, it is still to be decided whether the spamassassin spam filter will be available on the new mail server. If you want to know whether a particular utility is available, ask Support.
Traditionally, when mail has been sent to an address of the form
the string contained between the '+' and the '@' has been available to procmail recipes via the variable $1. Thanks to certain anti-looping measures taken on the new mail server, this mechanism will no longer work. However this data is now available through the new variable $PLUSINFO. Old recipes may need to be rewritten to make use of the new variable.
Variables: IMP web mail imposes no restrictions on what can be inserted into your .procmailrc file. It is therefore possible for you to change the value of such variables as $MAILDIR, $DEFAULT and $ORGMAIL, the default values of which are $HOME/Mail, $MAILDIR/INBOX and $MAILDIR/INBOX. You should be very confident that you know what you are doing before changing the values of these variables.
Access to the Log file: At present there is no truly satisfactory mechanism available to view procmail's logfile. The best workaround for this is simply to define a suitable value for $LOGFILE, treat the procmail log as another mail folder and view the contents via your mail client of choice.
This may require a little massaging. For instance when using Pine, headers mode must be turned on before the contents of the log can be viewed; using IMP, the contents of the log can only be viewed via the message Source button.
Alternatively, fetchmail could be used to copy the procmail log to your normal home directory. It is hoped that a more satisfactory way of viewing the procmail log will be implemented in the near future.
See also the basic pine section.
Pine supports the notion of multiple mailboxes - that is, you can have mail delivered to more than one location, but read it all from the one pine session.
If you are currently using pine to read your mail on a legacy machine, then you can (for example) modify the settings to read mail from either the current and Informatics mail servers, or just the new Informatics mail server. You can still run pine on your usual legacy host, and save mail in existing mail folders, but get new mail from the Informatics mail server rather than the mail server in your legacy domain.
To set this up, invoke pine as usual and go to the Configure menu. From there, check or set the following:
At Top Level:
This makes pine default to your Informatics mailbox at start-up, using a secure connection (SSL). If you invoke pine from a legacy (non-DICE) machine, you may see:
There was a failure validating the SSL/TLS certificateTo avoid seeing this warning message in the future, check with your legacy computing support folk to see if the required certificate(s) could be added to the site-wide list)
for the server
The reason for the failure was
unable to get local issuer certificate (details)
This makes pine send out mail as from you @inf.ed.ac.uk by default.
(you MAY want to set this to have a uniform reply address - remember, your pine configuration file is used by both your inf AND legacy invocations of pine)
(you'll need to set this if you want to use more than one mailbox...)
in [ Advanced User Preferences ]
(this allows you to set some otherwise invisible options - but you'll need to "Exit Setup" & "Commit Changes" for it to take effect - although you don't have to quit pine completely so, once you've exited & re-entered setup...):
(this gives you an extra mailbox, here called - nicknamed - "Legacy")
Once all the above changes are made, you will need to exit & save configuration changes, and then quit pine. The new setup will be invoked the next time you start pine.
Alternatively, once the incoming-folders option is enabled, an Incoming-Folders collection will be visible in the folders list. Initially, this collection will contain just INBOX, but from the menu at the bottom you can do 'A' to Add an inbox (for user "foo" at cogsci):
Name of server to contain added folder : mail.cogsci.ed.ac.uk
Folder on "mail.cogsci.ed.ac.uk" to add : /var/mail/foo
Nickname for folder "/var/mail/foo" : legacy-mail
[Folder "legacy-mail" created]
At startup (from a legacy machine), you will be prompted - via a secure connection, assuming the legacy version of pine supports this) - for your Informatics password (the connection uses your current login name by default):
Copyright 1989-2002. PINE is a trademark of the University of Washington.
HOST: nutty.inf.ed.ac.uk ENTER LOGIN NAME [foo] ENTER PASSWORD:
^C Cancel Ret Accept
You should then be able to access all (both) of your mail folders, with the default INBOX being your Informatics mailbox.
The more eagle-eyed reader may have spotted the machine name nutty.inf.ed.ac.uk above. Don't panic! This is the real name of the machine currently hosting the Informatics mail service. We'd far rather it was referred to as mail.inf (when you're getting mail) or smtp.inf (when you're sending mail), to shield you from future hardware changes.
Informatics Forum, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB, Scotland, UK
Tel: +44 131 651 5661, Fax: +44 131 651 1426, E-mail: email@example.com
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