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Q: am i a good candidate for using fetchmail or something similar? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: am i a good candidate for using fetchmail or something similar?
Category: Computers > Software
Asked by: banchan-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 13 Nov 2002 08:26 PST
Expires: 13 Dec 2002 08:26 PST
Question ID: 106887
good day dear researchers

my question is about fetchmail and other similar such programs.  i
would like to know how such a program might apply to someone like me.
my situation is as follows:

i have 4 different shell accounts: two different accounts for work,
one personal one and one from when i used to go to school.  i log into
all four every day, most often from work.  i have a different email
account for each of these 4 shell accounts, each receiving different
types of mail.

at work i use a pc with windows 2000 installed on it and telnet to my
two work accounts via teraterm.  sometimes i use cygwin and telnet
from an xterm from there.  from the two work accounts, i usually
telnet from within those shell accounts to access my mail.  to my
personal and to my school accounts, i usuallly ssh into the accounts,
if that matters.

i use mostly mutt now (just started to migrate from last week), but
this is after some 5 years of using pine.  (im still using pine every
now and then while im limping along with the mutt.)

at home, i have a dsl connection going pretty much all the time,
rarely turning the pc off.  at home i also run windows 2000, half the
time telneting via teraterm and the other half using cygwin.

i would like to know the following:

how would one use something like fetchmail in my situation?  would i
get any use out of it?  will my life be better for it?  what are the

i am not sure but i think part of the idea is to get all my mail sent
to one place.  i am not adverse to such an idea, nor am i willing to
just chuck it all and just set up .forwards everywhere.  please
present the pros and cons.

if i decide to try it, could you please outline in general terms how i
would go about setting things up?

what other programs would i consider using other than fetchmail?

thank you.

Request for Question Clarification by seizer-ga on 13 Nov 2002 09:17 PST
How would you feel about running a Java application on your home PC,
which would pick up all your mail from your shells, and then let you
view it via a (cool) web interface? Is this the kind of thing you're
thinking of?

Clarification of Question by banchan-ga on 13 Nov 2002 14:00 PST
since i am actually not interested in having to read my mail through a
browser (i dont much like the mouse and i usually am unsatisfied with
browser editors [im much to attached to emacs]), i am willing to see
how this works.  please go ahead and answer about the java way in
another question titled "for seizer please".  i wish to leave this
question open for an answer that might let me continue to use mutt or

thank you again!

Request for Question Clarification by legolas-ga on 22 Nov 2002 15:13 PST
Hi banchan-ga, 
I am interested in answering your question, but I believe that, to answer 
it well, your question will require more time and effort than the average 
amount of time and effort associated with this price. Here is a link to 
guidelines about pricing your question, 
If you both raise your price and also post a clarification here, the 
system will notify me and I will take another look at your question.

Clarification of Question by banchan-ga on 23 Nov 2002 07:17 PST
let me know if this is enough or not.  i will consider any other requests...

thank you.

Clarification of Question by banchan-ga on 23 Nov 2002 07:36 PST
also of interest to you, my husband recently put up a freebsd box
(actually finished four nights ago).  prior to that we had been using
linux but felt kind of frustrated by it.  freebsd seems to be good for
our level of system administration (kind of beginner, although as
users i think were above average).   we have not set up the unix box
to receive mail as that seemed like a daunting challenge, esp when we
(actually he) is still struggling to get the pc to act as a gateway
for our dsl connection between that and the w2k box that we seem to
use less and less. so cygwin is being neglected nowadays, but i doubt
that that really had any bearing on my question.  but since i dont
really know what fetchmail does, perhaps it does and i add it to be
more helpful.  please ask if you have any other questions.

Clarification of Question by banchan-ga on 25 Nov 2002 04:39 PST
... ?

Request for Question Clarification by seizer-ga on 25 Nov 2002 06:10 PST
Hi there banchan - you seem to have us all a little flummoxed :-) I
wonder if it would be possible to reduce the scope of the required
answer just a little. Would an explanation of how to set up fetchmail
on that lovely new BSD box of yours be an acceptable answer? Having
thought about it a little, I would think that fetchmail could do what
you want. It's not something that I've used often, but if nobody else
takes a crack at it soon, I'd certainly be glad to research it for

It's purely a suggestion, so feel free not to act on it! An answer may
well be in the works from another researcher anyway.



Request for Question Clarification by legolas-ga on 25 Nov 2002 08:46 PST
I did notice the value increase from $4 to $10. However, other
questions of this magnitude are typically priced between $50 and $100.
The answer to your question is not as simple as simply giving
fetchmail configuration and flags. It will involve some infrastructure
setup and debugging.



Clarification of Question by banchan-ga on 25 Nov 2002 10:26 PST
thank you for responding.

Clarification of Question by banchan-ga on 25 Nov 2002 10:33 PST
perhaps you could respond on a very vague, broad level, then?  $10's worth?
Subject: Re: am i a good candidate for using fetchmail or something similar?
Answered By: legolas-ga on 25 Nov 2002 11:32 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi jickster,

Fetchmail could provide a very nice way for you to have access to your
mail from multiple locations. Esentially, what you will be doing is
having your BSD server grab POP3 mail from various locations and
either "pool" it into one account, or "drop it" into multiple
accounts. My recommendation would be to have one "email account" on
the BSD box for each POP3 account you are downloading.

Some good references on Fetchmail is located at the Fetchmail

Now that all the mail is centrally located, you need a way to access
it from multiple locations. There are two general steps needed:

1) IMAP4

IMAP is a mail protocol that is similar to POP3 - with a few MAJOR
differences. A good primer on the differences can be found here:

IMAP stores all the mail on the central server and allows multiple
connections to the mail store at the same time. A good IMAP server is
called Cyrus IMAP - it is not the easiest thing to configure, but,
would allow you to have the greatest flexibility. It is typically
regarded as one of the best IMAP servers around. Cyrus IMAP Server is
free to download and use. You can get it from:

Once configured, you would have one "account" on the server for each
"e-mail address" you are using fetchmail to retrieve.

It should be noted that all OUTBOUND mail can easily go through your
BSD box--regardless of the domain name on the outbound message. Your
BSD box would simply act as a 'gateway' when sending mail.

You will also need some sort of a sendmail-type program to send and
receive mail. Specifically, you will need it to SEND outgoing mail.

To read IMAP based MAIL, any modern Mail Agent (Outlook, Outlook
Express, etc.) can be configured to use IMAP-based mail. Or, proceed
to option #2 below!

2) Web-based E-mail
You really should use this only in conjunction with a properly working
IMAP server. But, this will allow you to access your e-mail from
*anywhere* with a web connection. I use this setup myself and it is a

The software needed is free of charge at:

Horde takes some time to setup, but, it is well worth the trouble. You
will need Apache, PHP, PEAR and an IMAP server properly configured on
your machine. There are some good HOWTOs that should explain how to
install horde and imp (you will need to install horde first, then add
imp after) on your server:
Note, this is for RedHat 7.3, but, the basics are the same on BSD.

Once Horde/IMP is setup, you will then be able to read your e-mail
from anywhere! All computers you use will be able to access the mail.
You will always have access to your mailbox.

If you need some clarification, please ask prior to rating this
answer. I will be happy to provide you with more information on any
aspect of this answer.



Clarification of Answer by legolas-ga on 25 Nov 2002 14:06 PST
It's my pleasure! And, thanks for the 5-stars!

Incidently, I use horde/imp and an IMAP server (though, I use
courier-IMAP for a variety of internal reasons) to handle my mail on
multiple domains, etc.. It is a wonderful system--and runs like a
trooper. The only downside is getting it to work in the first place:
takes a lot of patience and reading, but, it's well worth it.

banchan-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
thank you very much for going through the trouble.  i appreciate it. 
and yes, the idea is a bit more clear to me now.

Subject: Re: am i a good candidate for using fetchmail or something similar?
From: jickster-ga on 23 Nov 2002 20:35 PST
Is there anything keeping you from forwarding all of your mail to just
one of your accounts? It's usually a simple task to set up, and any IT
person at your place of work should be able to show you how. This has
the added benefit of allowing you to read your mail via an interface
that you've grown accustomed to, and it is easily reversible in most
cases should things not work out as well as hoped.

Also, as an aside, consider phasing out telnet in favor of SSH if
possible. Telnet sends your password in "cleartext" over the network,
and in many common computing situations this makes it easy for others
to steal. SSH uses encryption to make such snooping more difficult.

Since I didn't quite answer your question I thought a comment would be
more appropriate. Though if you'd like your original question still
answered after reading this, post a clarification and perhaps I'll do
some work on it. Good luck in any case!
Subject: Re: am i a good candidate for using fetchmail or something similar?
From: banchan-ga on 25 Nov 2002 04:38 PST
there isnt much to prevent me from forwarding everything to one
account, really.  and i dont have a problem with that.  and it is
easily enough done, to boot with .forward files.  but i was really
curious about fetchmail.  what i read is interesting, but im really
foggy on what it does on a day to day basis.

oh, yes, btw, i do use ssh.  since its so transparent i forget i use
it to connect and i keep saying 'telnet' when i actually mean ssh. 
bad habit.  no offence to ylo:nen.  :)

hmmm. legolas isnt responding so i guess the $8 wasnt high enough...

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