[conspire] Building a personal web-accessible email system

Andy Schwartz andy-news at schegg.org
Sun Sep 21 22:16:04 PDT 2003

I would like to find a better way to receive, send and manage my 
personal email.  I want to create a system where I can easily and 
(reasonably) securely process my email locally, remotely using a laptop 
I control, or remotely via a 3rd-party PC and web browser.

A key requirement is that when I'm handling email I want access to my 
store of past emails as well as my address book.

The way things are today
- I have a pacbell email account to which I have my schegg.org domain 
mail forwarded
- I have a usa.net webmail account.  This account is historical, but I 
still receive important emails from there.
- I use Mozilla as a mail user agent on my home linux system
- When home:
   . I run Mozilla, which pulls in my pacbell and usa.net mail
   . I have all my mail archives under Mozilla's folder system
- From my laptop, when at work or a cafe:
   . I can run SSH into my home linux box
   . I can start Mozilla on the X-Server on my laptop
   . This meets the above requirement for archive access, but is slow. 
X is not an efficient way to process my email work!
   . I can also use my laptop POP client to read and send through my 
pacbell account.  This only works if Mozilla is not running at home, 
where it's constantly pulling email out of that pacbell mailbox!
- From a random web-browser:
   . I can use my usa.net webmail account, but that's about it.

What I am considering doing
- (Re-)Enabling Qmail on my Linux box and having it serve as the primary 
mailserver for the schegg.org domain
- Add IMAP support to Qmail, perhaps via Courier-IMAP
- Modify Mozilla to access mail via IMAP
- Add Webmail support to Qmail, perhaps via IMP or SqWebMail
- When home:
   . I would continue to use Mozilla as my MUA, but it would now be 
managing my IMAP-based folders held by Qmail/Courier-IMAP
- From my laptop:
   . I would allow IMAP based login, presumably with SSL security, so 
that Mozilla on my laptop could reach my mail folders
- From a random web-browser
   . I would connect via shttp to webmail login screen to sign in and 
handle my email

- The above doesn't say how I will handle my address book.  I am unsure 
what my choices are, since I want to share the same address book when 
accessing it locally, remotely via my laptop and when using my webmail 
- The above doesn't describe what to do with the usa.net account. 
Mozilla can still access it and store it locally, but what I really want 
is for some process to constantly download it via POP and store it in an 
IMAP-accessible set of folders

- What do others do who have similar requirements and have customized an 
environment to their liking?
- The above will be a lot of work to set up, is there a better and/or 
simpler way to do things?
- To the degree that I am on the right track, what are recommended s/w 
packages to provide IMAP, web-mail support and address-book support?

Thanks for all comments and suggestions.

Andy Schwartz

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