Any good webmail servers?

Sep 6, 2006 / 0 comments

With Kathy being away I thought I'd have a look at setting up webmail so she can get hold of her mail easily whatever setup she ends up with. My only experience so far is sqwebmail but it's not that great UI-wise and ties to Maildir. This is good because it means it's lightweight, but I figured if I was investigating systems I should keep Black Cat (who currently use sqwebmail along with various other bits of Courier) and the (which is largely mbox at present) in mind.

apt-cache search webmail produces a list of things to try. My heart sinks as I realise lots of them require PHP. And others want MySQL. I go and have a look at Prayer, which I've vaguely prodded before. It's not packaged, but I decide to try it out. It builds easily enough, I wrestle with roughly packaging it up into a deb to make removing it less hassle and install it. It doesn't like my CA signed cert on localhost. I eventually find the novalidate-cert option and manage to connect.

My home box runs dovecot with Maildirs. This leads to my next problem; Prayer wants to create a folder called .prayer for it's config info. This doesn't work with Maildirs as folder directories tend to start with a . Changing it to prayer-config fixes that, though leaves it visible in the web interface. It's possible I can hide it if I look harder.

So, I'm ready to send a mail. I do so. It gets delivered (modulo me remembering not to try to send from my internal domain to the outside world). A sent-mail folder gets created. Prayer failed to show any messages in it. I verify there is a message there by looking on the filesystem. I curse. I try creating another folder and sticking a message in it. No joy. I try Prayer against a Courier server. Same thing; it shows the mail folders as directories but no messages. I try it against a Dovecot server with mailbox. It works fine. I curse some more.

At this point I decide the statement "Consequently, the user interface distinguishes between mailboxes and directories: this will not work well with servers which provide dual use mail folders." on the Prayer website should be heeded. So I decide to try postman, which the Prayer docs suggest they'd have used if it had been around when they started (it also does persistant IMAP connections with a backend daemon). I give up once I actually start trying to figure out the config file and how it all fits together.

So. Out come the IMAP RFCs. I attempt logins to the different servers I have access to and I find that the mbox server reports \NoInferiors for mailboxes while the maildir server reports [\=HasNoChildren]. And that \NoInferiors implies [\=HasNoChildren]. So I hack Dovecot to always return \NoInferiors. And it works and I can see messages in folders. Yay. But hacking dovecot is annoying and won't help me with Courier. Leading to the following patch to Prayer:

--- prayer-1.0.18.orig/prayer/dirlist.c
+++ prayer-1.0.18/prayer/dirlist.c
@@ -172,7 +172,8 @@
     dl->next = NIL;
     dl->name = pool_strdup(callback.pool, name);
-    dl->isdir = (attributes & LATT_NOINFERIORS) ? NIL : T;
+    dl->isdir = (attributes & (LATT_NOINFERIORS | LATT_HASNOCHILDREN)) ?
+               NIL : T;
     /* Insertion sort algorithm */

ie if there are no child folders we assume the current folder is a mailbox rather than a directory.

Now to actually run it for a while and see if it does the job.

Please look after this geek

Sep 3, 2006 / 0 comments

I have been abandoned. Just over a week ago Kathy was offered a job at the University of Ulster, in particular on their Coleraine campus. She starts tomorrow (they wanted her to start last Friday) as a Lecturer in English, so yesterday she flew back to Northern Ireland. Leaving me in Norwich (well, actually I was in Cambridge, but I'm back in Norwich now and will be continuing to live here).

We've done the long distance relationship thing before, while at university. It wasn't particularly fun and I'm not really looking forward to doing it again, but her contract is only for 9 months and as such it doesn't make sense to have a massive upheaval for what's a relatively short period of time. If she gets extended then we'll need to rethink, but at present that doesn't look that likely given that it's maternity leave cover.

One thing is that I'm a bit worried I'm going to become very strange. Working from home will mean I'll not see anyone during the working day and there won't be anyone else around in the evening. I'm going to need to make more of an effort to seek out human contact otherwise I'll turn into an odd hermit. Especially given the fact I've a whole bunch of tech toys to play with (more on which later).

Overall I'm very glad Kathy's got a job; it may be in a bloody inconvenient location, but she was understandably getting a bit down about the lack of English lecturing jobs that are out there. Hopefully now she's had one the next will be easier to get hold of...

New toy! (What to do with it?)

Aug 31, 2006 / 0 comments

I went wedding list creating in John Lewis yesterday. It was fun for about 5 minutes and then the novelty of a Palm with a barcode reader wore off. They'd told me to be careful where I pointed it, so I didn't get to see just how good the range was. :(

During the lengthy process a Hauppauge MediaMVP caught my eye (it's a hardware MPEG2 decoder with SCART socket, ethernet and remote control - the idea being you stream content to it from your PC and watch it on the TV), reduced from £79.99 to £39.99. I'd considered buying one of these in the past, so I took a closer look. And discovered one marked down to £25.00 at the back. Took it to the checkout to confirm the price, got told it was right, and bought it.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with it just yet. :) I've already got a hardware MPEG2 decoder on the DVB card hooked up to the TV, though the MVP is a fanless device and might make a better choice than the living room PC. mvpmc is a potential option, and there's a plugin for VDR as well.

Or there's just the prod it and see what I can make it do approach. It's an IBM PowerPC 405 with 32MB RAM (though only 16M for the OS it seems) and an SMC 91C111 ethernet chip. The interesting bit of the MPEG2 decoder has no source which is a pain though. :( Still. Fun toy! \o/

Bank Holiday weekend

Aug 29, 2006 / 0 comments

The weekend started off with a visit from Simon - we'd begun to get more and more grumpy with each other which is usually a sign we actually need to meet up. A trip to the Fat Cat and laughing at VH1's "Top 100 Dance floor fillers" seemed to put us in a better mood.

We then headed off on Saturday to Cambridge for Steve's annual Debian UK related BBQ. I took some photos though Dave took many more. There were loads of people this year - it's amazing how many people Steve's house/garden can fit! As we've come to expect it was a fine weekend with plenty of food, drink and chat. Thanks Steve!

Monday was mostly spent invading Dave and Becca for the purposes of constructing wedding invitations. They look fab! Just a few little bits to finish before getting round to sending them out.

And now today's been a virtual Monday and I think it's almost time to stop...

Hair cut

Aug 23, 2006 / 0 comments

I haven't had my hair cut professionally in about 5 years. I figured it might be an idea to do so before the wedding, but also needed to do so long enough in advance so that if there was an issue I had time for it to grow out. So I finally did so yesterday, and ended up with something that doesn't look a lot different to what I had. Which is good as far as I'm concerned. :)

Anyway, it finally prodded me into creating a Hackergotchi:


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