[conspire] Suggestions for handling multiple POP3 Email accounts?

Edmund J. Biow biow at sbcglobal.net
Sun Jun 24 13:31:56 PDT 2007

Hello folks,

I have a number of POP3 email accounts and several computers from which 
I wish to be able to access my email (office, bedroom, attic, back 
porch, laptop, etc). 

What I have done hitherto has been to leave the mail on the POP3 server 
and download it multiple times, telling Thunderbird/Icedove to delete 
the mail from the server when I delete it from my Inbox (which, I must 
say, works only indifferently).  Every so often I remove the email from 
the server with some Windows GUI program like Mailwasher, either from 
Windoze itself or using a fine Wine (I've searched for Linux 
alternatives, including asking on this forum, but the ones I've used are 
terminal based and hardly an improvement over just telneting in to the 
account and removing unwanted emails).

This approach has a number of disadvantages.  First of all, I need to 
manage several email accounts on several email clients.  This isn't too 
bad these days since I can just copy my Thunderbird profile off of my 
local server to a new install, but it is still a hassle. For instance, 
my ISP recently moved from standard POP3 to SSL on ports 995/465, so I 
had to go in to each email account on each MUA and change several server 
settings.  Moreover, downloading the same email a half dozen times 
creates a lot of unnecessary traffic on my email providers' servers.  
Also, since I tend to save my old 'real' email, it takes a bit of space 
on all my installations.  For instance, my ~/.mozilla-thunderbird 
profile for the Icedove version I'm typing this on in 265 MB.  This 
doesn't cause me to lose any sleep since my Seagate SATA hard drive is 
400 GB and only cost $109 (now $89 for the same model).  Also, managing 
my email address book is a slight PITA, what I do is store the latest 
copy as a ldif file on my server and when I get a new email address I 
import the latest address book (if I don't have it on my email client), 
add the new address, then re-export it to my server.

What I would like to do is be able to download my email once off my POP3 
servers to my local 24/7 Via C7 Etch local server and then access my 
email off the server or from there re-download it mail clients on my 
individual computers (particularly my laptop so I have my correspondence 
when I'm away from home).  Also, I'd like to keep a central email 
address book on my server (and again, have the ability to export it to a 
ldif or csv file so I can have a separate copy on my laptop).

 I gather that IMAP may be the solution that I'm looking for, perhaps 
combined with converting everything to the maildir format?  But there 
seems to be quite a welter of various servers (Dovecot, Binc for IMAP, 
Exim, Postfix, Qmail, etc. for SMTP), and programs, and frankly, it 
makes my fat, non-technical head spin. 

Can anyone suggest which specific programs I should look at?  (Once I 
know where to best look I can generally figure out how to make a program 
work.)  Bonus points for pointing me to an easy tutorial, say something 
off the HowToForge or whatnot.  Steaming piles of thanks.


BTW, I'm thinking of converting my Stable Etch server to Testing or 
maybe even dual booting CentOS5 since I haven't been overwhelmed by my 
"upgrade" from Sarge Stable.  I don't think that makes much difference 
because all the programs should be available for all three distros, I 

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