Configure mobile email on the Eee netbook

Q I have an Eee PC 901 Linux version on order and I'm hoping that a mobile broadband account will soon enable me to enjoy a much more comfortable mobile email experience. But how will I configure mobile email on my Eee? I have my bob@bob.net email address which everyone knows, but I don't want to migrate everyone to my new generic bob3876@googlemail account. I want to keep my bob.net account. Why would I want to give up my personal email address for a generic Gmail/Yahoo AOL account?

Right now, my mobile phone downloads messages but leaves a copy on the server, so I can pick them up again when I'm back home. I need to keep that facility, but it would be nicer to have the Eee PC with a synchronised copy of all the messages in my email application on my home PC. I can't end up having some messages on the Eee and others on the home PC. Can I use IMAP to achieve this? Equally, when the Eee isn't available, and I'm using web-based email from another PC, can I still see all my emails? Can I have home, web and Eee PC mail clients synchronised? Equally, can I ensure that mails sent from any location appear to the recipient as coming from bob@bob.net? Am I setting my goals too high?

A IMAP will indeed do what you want. Unlike POP, which was designed as a method of retrieving mails from your ISP's mailbox to your computer, IMAP is designed to work with mails in the remote mailbox, although it can keep local copies too for when you are offline. With IMAP, the concept of leaving mail on the server no longer applies, because it is left there wherever you read it from, The only time mail is deleted from the IMAP server is when you delete it on a connected computer. Similarly, the concept of having all mail clients synchronised doesn't really exist with IMAP, because all are using the IMAP mailbox as the same data store.

The main disadvantage of using IMAP with an ISP mail account is, as mentioned in Andy's article, that you may be limited in the amount of storage you have, plus you have the hassle of changing email addresses when you switch ISPs. You can avoid the latter by using your own domain name, which is cheap enough these days. One way to remove any storage limitations for IMAP is to run your own IMAP server, assuming you have an always-on internet connection at home and your home PC is always on. In brief you should install Fetchmail and Procmail to pull email from your ISP using POP3 and configure them by creating a file called .fetchmailrc.

set daemon 300
poll mail.myisp.com with proto POP3
user 'myispuser' there with password
'mypass' is 'myuser' here options keep
mda '/usr/bin/procmail -d %T'

Configure Procmail to deliver the mail by putting this in ~/.procmailrc:

MAILDIR=/var/spool/mail
DEFAULT=$MAILDIR/$LOGNAME/

and set Procmail to run when your desktop starts, using ~/.kde/Autostart, the Gnome session manager or whatever applies to your desktop. This will download mail from your ISP and store it locally (the keep option leaves mail on the server until this is working properly). Now you need an IMAP server, like Dovecot. Install it and edit /etc/dovecot.conf to change the lines

#listen= [::]
#mail_location =

to

listen = *
mail_location = /var/spool/mail/%u

Set Dovecot to start when you boot, using your distro's services manager, and test it by setting your mail client to make an IMAP connection to localhost. Once it works, you will need some way to connect to your machine from outside, so register a domain name at dyndns.org to get round your ISP's dynamic addressing. Finally, set your router to pass through ports 143 and 993 (143 is plain IMAP, 993 is secure IMAP).

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