Adding IMAP to a Linux Email Box
August 29, 2009 7:55 PM   Subscribe

Do you know a reputable provider to add IMAP to a Linux email box?

I'm moving to a new email provider and I need to add IMAP support to my old email server to transfer everyone's stored emails. I'm completely clueless as to the process, so I want to pay a provider to set it up. Is there a good company out there that will do this? I'm using a Linux Box with Squirrelmail and that's about all I know. HELP!
posted by roundrock to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
If you are running squirrel mail on your old box, then your server is already running IMAP.
posted by Good Brain at 8:29 PM on August 29, 2009

Do you mean that you're using your own linux machine, or that you have e-mail hosting and it happens to be on a linux machine? Squirrelmail is not an e-mail server. It's an e-mail client that you happen to access through a web browser. It can access e-mail with the IMAP protocol, but that doesn't mean your e-mail is necessarily on an IMAP server.

I would suggest asking your new e-mail provider if they can recommend someone that can help with this. They may be able to accept your old e-mail in another format easier.
posted by odinsdream at 8:32 PM on August 29, 2009

Hi Good Brain: We are using POP to connect. I tried selecting IMAP on Outlook instead of POP but it didn't work.
Hi Odinsdream: You're totally right. Our webmail is Squirrelmail. It looks like we are using Dovecot, but I have no idea how to get IMAP going on it. I took your advice and called my old provider, but they didn't give me a single lead. Do you know any companies that do this?
posted by roundrock at 8:37 PM on August 29, 2009

Have you verified with your old provider that it isn't already IMAP? Since you mentioned DoveCot, it's highly likely that you already have IMAP available.
posted by odinsdream at 8:48 PM on August 29, 2009

When you say provider, what exactly do you mean? Are you looking for an IT guy to log into your server you control for you and set something up, or what?

Also, Dovecot nearly implies IMAP. Nobody goes to the trouble to set it up without making IMAP available.
posted by floam at 8:50 PM on August 29, 2009

Thanks for all the quick help on this.
Odinsdream: The old email provider is offering no help on this since it was a custom setup by my predecessor and there is no control panel.
Floam: I'd prefer a company, but in the event that I can't find one, a reputable IT guy would work. The Dovecot installation was done and only POP3 was made available. I can telenet to my box on the IMAP port and it just sits there. It's open but I get this response back "Escape character is '^]'.
* OK Dovecot ready."
posted by roundrock at 8:56 PM on August 29, 2009

That's probably the expected behaviour. Try this series of commands in your telnet session.

You can probably get this done easily by hiring someone familiar with Linux willing to read the Dovecot documentation.
posted by odinsdream at 9:02 PM on August 29, 2009

I should clarify: That's probably the expected behaviour and you're probably done. You have IMAP enabled, and it's accessible. Proceed with your new mail provider's instructions at this point.
posted by odinsdream at 9:03 PM on August 29, 2009

roundrock: At the very least, you definitely have an IMAP server running. However, it may be misconfigured and impossible to login or get to any mail, I suppose.
posted by floam at 9:13 PM on August 29, 2009

Odinsdream & floam: I should have added this part earlier. The migration team at the new email provider, when they originally did a test, thought that they could do IMAP. When the migration happened (actually, it didn't), the IMAP connection didn't work. I think both of you are right, it's there but something is misconfigured. Odinsdream: I tried the commands from that site you linked, but it kept giving me errors.
posted by roundrock at 9:16 PM on August 29, 2009

It couldn't hurt to browse the Linux Consultants Guide for your area. There's no location mentioned in your profile, but perhaps we could give advice if you post your general location.

Do you know how to log in to your server with SSH? If so, you could hire someone over the internet to take a look without physically visiting.
posted by odinsdream at 9:29 PM on August 29, 2009

Could you post a transcript of you attempting what you see there and the errors you're getting? (and obviously, enter a correct username/password, but if you're having no luck with that part try it with and without @domain for the user)
posted by floam at 9:30 PM on August 29, 2009

(Sorry, your AskMe says you're looking for help finding a company to help you, and not looking for an internet stranger to walk you through fixing it. Nevermind me!)
posted by floam at 10:09 PM on August 29, 2009

Dovecot does indeed provide both IMAP and POP3 services to the same mailstore backend - I set it up for both at my office.

You've got it most of the way there; the service is running and the port is open (that prompt is the expected behaviour) but it's obviously got a slight misconfiguration of some sort.

It's hard to see what it could be though off the top of my head; dovecot uses one configuration file for both services, and the login accounts database and mailstore is defined for everything, not at the individual service level (normally), so it's pretty hard to screw it up for one but not both.

Incidentally, it's also possible to set up a 'master' account with dovecot; i.e. a username/password combination that allows you to access any mailbox with that account, which is dead handy when you're migrating mail between email servers.

The key file is the /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf file - that has the configuration settings for dovecot, for both pop3 and imap. If you know how to ssh into the box, and can view that file by typing
more /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf
then use the spacebar to go through it page by page and then screenshot and post the output, we can probably tell you what's broken.

Alternatively, I don't mind having a quick look for you if you want to let me have the ssh keyfile/password, it's likely a 5 minute job and I do this for a living (linux sysadmin), but I'd fully understand if you'd rather not have a mefi stranger poking through your mail server!

If you know what distribution of linux you have (redhat, centos, suse, ubuntu, debian, etc etc - you can find out by running the command in ssh
more /proc/version
You can look at the distro's website for support services; often they provide consulting services directly, or have a directory of companies that do, who will do this for you on a single fee basis - as I say, I suspect it's a pretty straightforward fix, as you're 90% of the way there to a functioning imap service anyway.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:43 AM on August 30, 2009

Actually, while I think of it - have you tried going in over IMAPS - i.e. secure imap?

Connect to the imap server on port 993 using your mail client, and specify that it requires a secure conection (instructions for outlook here, adjust for your own mail server); maybe your predecessor set it up for encrypted imap only, it's a common configuration.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:56 AM on August 30, 2009

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