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Re: Running a dovecot IMAPS server

On Sun, 2007-09-16 at 14:39 +0100, Timothy Murphy wrote:
> I thought I made this clear, 
> but in any case the mail directories on machine X
> were set up using kmail with a Local account, 
> specifying that I was using maildir format,
> and creating folders "family", etc, with the kmail GUI.

It *MAY* be that kmail doesn't use maildir files in the same way as
dovecot does.  I'd like to think it doesn't do that, but it's a
possibility.  I wouldn't do things that way, I've seen that sort of
thing foul up before.

>> Ordinarily, a mail server is something that's remote, and you create
>> things in it through a remote client.  Mail folders, and the like, are
>> created as part of the mail server operation, not through direct file
>> system manipulation by the client.

> My question was about setting up a mail-server on machine X
> where there were already mail folders in place,
> set up as described above.

You *may* have to avoid doing it that way.  Use an IMAP mail client, and
connect to the IMAP server to configure your mailboxes, even if they're
on the same machine.  You're less likely to upset things, that way.

>> If you're running a server and a client on the same box, you really want
>> to configure one to use a different location than the other.  You'll
>> find various mail programs not only differ in how they use some storage
>> techniques, they may also add their own custom things into some
>> locations.

> When you say they should use different locations,
> do you mean that the two sets of email messages are completely disjoint?
> I can't imagine why anyone would want to do that.
> Maybe I misunderstood what you meant?

Think of IMAP like web browsing (IMAP is an internet mail access
protocol).  There's message files stored on the server, and your client
caches them as you browse through them.  It may keep the cached files
for a finite period, but the files really reside on the server.  When
you create folders or files (e.g. saved messages that have been posted),
you do so on the server side of things (your client is acting as a
remote control), and your client shows you a locally cached copy.
Likewise for deleting messages.

The server has its own message store, and your mail client may have one
too (some clients don't cache messages, some just hold things in RAM).

>> Yes, you *can* run a server and client on the same box, using the same
>> files.  But you'd have to pick software that does it in ways compatible
>> with each other.

> That was exactly my question: 
> Are dovecot and kmail compatible in this sense?

They should be, but it's probably best to use kmail as an IMAP client,
rather than directly accessing the mail files.  I don't use kmail, and
don't have KDE on this box, so I can't do a quick test for you.  Someone
else would have to answer this question.

But regardless of a client's ability to directly access the files,
running it through the server means that you use a program in a
consistent way.  If you run kmail, for instance, on this box, you
configure and use it on another box in exactly the same way.

>> e.g. I use Evolution and Dovecot on one box.  Evolution's own copies of
>> mail are within its own directories.  Dovecot is using the usual mail
>> folder location.

> So can you transfer email from one to the other?
> Can you read evolution's email with an IMAP client?
> Or can you read dovecot's email with evolution?

The mail is on the server, all of it, always.  Any IMAP client (that's
not crap) can read that mail.  No server mail belongs to any particular
client.  You don't transfer mail from server to client, or client to
client, it stays on the server (unless deleted).  Clients read from the
server, and may save a local *copy* in their temporary cache.  How
temporary that is depends on the client (they may keep no cache, they
may keep a cache for a session, for a certain number of bytes or days,
indefinitely, etc.).

Once I've got mail on an IMAP server, I can read it from any computer
that can access it, network-wise.  Evolution, Thunderbird, The Bat!,
even Outlook Express.  My mail is in one central place, and I never have
to be concerned about some message being stored on a box that I can't
get to.  I also don't have to care about how it's stored, that's
something under the covers.

[tim bigblack ~]$ uname -ipr i686 i386

Using FC 4, 5, 6 & 7, plus CentOS 5.  Today, it's FC7.

Don't send private replies to my address, the mailbox is ignored.
I read messages from the public lists.

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