[Dovecot] Setting up a local shared mailbox

Bob Hall rjhjr at cox.net
Thu Sep 11 23:28:58 EEST 2003

On Thu, Sep 11, 2003 at 10:27:25AM -0500, Peter Clark wrote:
> 	One: I have never set up an IMAP server before, so I thought I would ask 
> first before blindly stumbling around. The problem I am want to solve is 
> this: my wife and I have a "joint" email account that we both want to access 
> (we also have our own personal accounts, but that's beside the point.) I 
> posed the question to my local LUG, and several suggested setting up a local 
> IMAP server so that we can both access it through KMail. Would you concur? If 
> so, is there a tutorial or something similar that gives instructions for 
> setting up dovecot locally? As I said, I've never set up an IMAP server 
> before, and I'm not really sure how to go about it. (I'm running Debian Sid, 
> so the packages are already installed, but I don't know what additional steps 
> need to be taken.)

I just finished doing the same thing, and there really isn't any 
documentation specific to this. Read the documentation on the dovecot 
web site. Also, Timo has set up a Wiki at 
Immediately above the word "MoinMoinWiki" is a link to the contents. 
The troubleshooting section may be helpful. Any one can contribute a 
new topic or edit an existing one, so someone who solved problems not 
currently documented could add to the troubleshooting guide or even 
write a guide to setting up dovecot for your specific needs. Hint. Hint. 
Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge. 

What you want to do is very easy if you avoid all the mistakes I made. 
Most of my mistakes involved the interaction between Dovecot and LDAP. 
If you use the passwd file for authentication, it becomes much easier. 
(I.e. there are fewer opportunities for making mistakes.) Post questions 
and people will try to answer them.

Here's a rough outline of my system: 

This is handled on a FreeBSD box. 

getmail imports mail from various POP3 accounts with a couple of ISPs.
getmail runs under a postoffice account (normal Unix user) that runs 
mail-related cron jobs and performs other mail-admin tasks. POP3-to-
IMAP accounts are 1-to-1; e.g. mail at the POP3 account wibble at isp.net 
is imported to /var/mail/wibble/inbox.

All accounts are virtual; none of the accounts are mentioned in 
passwd. I use LDAP to store account names and passwords, but there are 
other solutions. The easiest is probably 'static' (see Timo's 

Each account has a directory in /var/mail; e.g. the account wibble has 
its mail in /var/mail/wibble. The directories in /var/mail are all owned 
by the postoffice account. I don't know what the Linux equivalent of 
/var/mail would be.

I'm using the mbox format for mailboxes, because the mailboxes were 
already in that format when I imported them to Dovecot. I found a script 
for converting them to maildir, but I'm busy and mbox works, and I may 
never get around to it.

Outgoing mail goes directly from the MUA to the outside account. 
Since every /var/mail/wibble corresponds to a wibble at isp.net, I don't 
need to do anything except set up the MUA to send outgoing mail to 
the SMTP server at the ISP, exactly as you are probably doing now. 

We offer no services on the Internet, so the firewall and hosts.allow 
file both refuse connection attempts from outside the LAN. This makes 
security relatively easy. 
Bob Hall

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