No more local mail

Today I set myself the goal of centralizing all my email. Before I finished this change I had 50/50 POP email that was delivered to my home computer, and the other mail is sitting on an IMAP server.

For years (since 2006) I have had email stored between different POP clients, from Micro$oft Outlook Express, to their non-Windows XP Microsoft Mail client, and then finally importing it all to Thunderbird. After performing some experiments I comfortably learned that I can take a file stored in Thunderbird and have Dovecot read it perfectly with no issues.

With the way I have dovecot and sendmail set up, this process was actually quite easy to do:

  1. Create a system user, give it a password
  2. add that user to my “mail” group
  3. Verify that dovecot picked it up my connection to IMAP via telnet
  4. Configure sendmail to dump messages to that mailbox
  5. Reload sendmail
  6. Upload thunderbird messages and make sure ownership is set

That’s pretty much how simple it was. After reconfiguring Thunderbird to connect with the new IMAP user I was able to see all my email magically show up. As a minor bonus I don’t have to tie my “make a folder per mail message” routine into it since it’s my general dumb box, and i’ll just manually search the inbox for necessary messages.

Some one-off copy-pasta for my future reference:

# Create the user
sudo adduser unliterate
# give it a password
sudo passwd password
# Add it to the mail group
sudo usermod -a -G mail unliterate

# Verify if dovecot sees the user and the mailbox
telnet 143
A login unliterate password
B select INBOX
C logout

# Configure sendmail to dump all messages to the unliterate box instead of the standard drop
cd /etc/mail/
sudo vi virtusertable
sudo ./make

# Reload sendmail
sudo systemctl restart sendmail

# See if the user is receving email
sudo tail -f /var/spool/mail/unliterate

# Upload up thunderbird messages to mailbox, verify ownership
cd /home/unliterate/INBOX
sudo cp /home/me/unliterate/* . && chown unliterate:unliterate *

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