Today i’ve done it. I’ve acquired my email dream!

I’m talking about a nearly-automated

…to explain…

For years, if you ever wanted to send me an email I would say:

“Just put your name at the front of, and i’ll get it.”

Ever since I setup my email wrong as a catch-all SPAM domain, I’ve had to deal with the following rigmarole when getting new email setup:

  1. Get the figured out
  2. Setup a folder in Thunderbird, my email client
  3. Setup a mail filter rule in my email client to move the received message from my Inbox to that folder

Which things have been working for years, and it’s been a fairly straightforward approach.

Until I got married, and we decided to get the domain and have all our mail shared.

…how to share the email…

So, the experiment utilized POP3 as the server for me to get all my catch-all. This was easy to configure, and was fairly straightforward.

We needed to be able to share email across computers and devices, though, and still have the flexibility to do the “folder structure”-thingy that I’ve grown comfortable with the “mail filter” rules.

So, the only solution is to go from POP3 to IMAP.

IMAP gives us the flexibility of folders on the server, not on the client. It also stores all the mail there, and the protocol (after swallowing that it’s not like POP3) is actually quite orderly and simple.

So, i’ve employed dovecot as my IMAP server, which was also my POP3 server, and configured it simply to enable IMAP and know where I want my users mailboxes to be stored.

After setting up DNS for mail, i’ve got email coming into, and I’m happy.

I just need to be able to now do the mail filtering…

How to automate folder-making for IMAP

This was a basic challenge, and I love challenges.

I had to use my programming language of choice (PHP) with the php-imap module loaded, and fancy up a script that runs on a */1 (1 minute) cron task.

The script is as follows:

 * The whole purpose of this script is to perform the following:
 * 1) Open an IMAP connection to an INBOX
 * 2) Look through all the messages
 * 3) Grab all messages and look for the first "To: " header in each message
 * 4) If the person in the "To: " is in the allowed domain
 * - We grab the user
 * - We check to see if their is a mailbox for that user, and move the messge there
 * - We delete the message
 * 5) If the person is not in the allowed domain
 * - We move the message to a default folder

function get_imap_folders($resource, $config)
 // Get a list of mailboxes
 $original_folders = imap_listmailbox($resource, "{" . $config['server'] . ":" . $config['port'] . "}", "*");
 // these come through as {server:port}mailbox, so we just clean them up a bit
 $new_folders = array();
 $to_remove = "{" . $config['server'] . ":" . $config['port'] . "}";
 $folders = str_replace($to_remove, "", $original_folders);
 return $folders;

$config = array(
 'server' => 'localhost',
 'port' => '143',
 'username' => 'redacted',
 'password' => 'redacted',
 'folder' => 'INBOX',
 'spam' => 'SPAM',
 'debug' => true,
$debug_message = "";

$res = imap_open("{" . $config['server'] . ":" . $config['port'] . "/service=imap/novalidate-cert" . "}" . $config['folder'], $config['username'], $config['password']);
if (!$res)
 if ($config['debug'])
 $debug_message = "IMAP Stream Failure";

$folders = get_imap_folders($res, $config);

// Lets get all the mail messages in the $config['folder']
$mbox = imap_check($res);
$number_messages = $mbox->Nmsgs;
if ($number_messages == 0)
 if ($config['debug'])
 $debug_message = "No Messages";
$range = "1:" . $number_messages;

// now, we'll get the messages
$messages = imap_fetch_overview($res, $range);
foreach ($messages as $msg)
 $msgno = $msg->msgno;
 $to = $msg->to;

echo "Message: " . $msg->subject . "\n";
 if (strpos($to, "@"))
 $array_to = explode("@", $to);
 $to = $array_to[0];

// do we need to create a folder to move this message into?
 $destination_mbox = "{" . $config['server'] . ":" . $config['port'] . "}" . $to;
 if (!in_array($to, $folders))
 if (imap_createmailbox($res, $destination_mbox))
 echo "> Created folder [$to]\n";
 echo "> Failed to create folder [$to]\n";

 $folders = get_imap_folders($res, $config);
 if (imap_mail_move($res, $msgno, $to))
 echo "+ Moved successfully\n";
 echo "- Failed to move message\n";

To explain, basically this access my IMAP server, gets all the folders, then gets all the mail. It goes though the “to:” portions of the email addresses and sees if I have a folder that matches what’s in the name part of the email address in the “to:” portion. If it doesn’t exist, it makes the folder. Then, as a final result, it moves the mail to that folder and aborts.

So, this script now runs every minute, checking for new mail, creating the folders necessary and moving the messages.


How to build an RPM from scratch with Centos 6.8

I’ve been completely curious on how to actually build an RPM for Redhat/Centos from since…well, I knew they existed. There are many articles out there on the interwebs, but I felt it necessary to dig on out and get it going from conception to death.

Virtual Hardware and Software:

To start, i’m gonna use Oracle VM Virtualbox (currently at 5.0.26 r108824) and a Centos 6.8 Minimal install. What better way to start this than from nothing.

I created the VM with 1GB of RAM and the standard 8GB Virtual Hard Drive. Made some minor modifications to the VM such as:

  • Disabled the Audio
  • Enabled NIC1 and bridged it to my Ethernet Adapter
  • Disabled the USB Controller

I mounted the ISO and booted it up for the install.

Operating System Installation:

Clicking Start >, I skipped media testing and sailed into Anaconda. I accepted all default options except for allowing my Network Interface to be configured On and DHCP enabled. This saves me configuration options later on for /etc/sysconfig/networking-scripts and /etc/resolv.conf. Made roots password, well, password, since i’ll be sudo’ing a user for good measure. 205 packages later I have my system ready to be SSH’d into.

First Boot:

Once everything was installed and configured from Anaconda there was a bit of cleanup I like to do. It’s not required on every installation, but it helps me do things in my development environments without issues later on.

More updates:

At the time of this writing, with a fresh ISO you still need to belt out a yum upgrade. There exists 1 package to install, 27 to upgrade, and 76M of data to download. Best to get this out of the way before changing system configurations and having them reset back to basics. shutdown -r now, and we’re back in business.

Disabling selinux:

Fairly easy to do, and there is a plethora of documents on the interwebs to do it. All done as root:

vi /etc/selinux/config

Firing the firewall:

Cleanly shutting off iptables just helps in debugging local and remote connection issues. Good thing we won’t come into this with making our RPMs, but I might want to use this development machine later on and I don’t want to have to assume I did it when debugging issues. All done as root:

service iptables save
service iptables stop
chkconfig iptables off

Making myself useful:

Still have to do the basic administration, and create my user and give it some god-like sudo permissions:

adduser mheick
passwd mheick
mheick ALL=(ALL) ALL

Finally, we do some minor shell-related things like setting our TERM=xterm-256color and finding out our ip address so we can SSH into it to get this party started.

Finding and following instructions:

So, we need a couple things that do not come with the minimum install to prepare for this journey:

1 – We need a user that we will /use/ to build things with. We’re gonna create one called builder:

sudo adduser robertbuilder
sudo passwd robertbuilder

2 – We are going to need rpm-build, devtools and their dependencies:

sudo yum install rpm-build rpmdevrools

Our data:

We’re gonna be a good sport and create some test data, and go ahead and tar it up:

mkdir data
chdir data
touch main
touch final
touch one
tar -czf myfirstrpm.tar.gz

This creates myfirstrpm.tar.gz, which we will use to extract these junky files somewhere.

Before making a .spec file, we must be prepared:

The heart and soul of an RPM is this specific file. It contains all the instructions on /what/ to do with the contents of the RPM, where to install things, what to say, etc. We’re going to start off getting our RPM over in robertbuilder‘s home folder, passing along ownership, and then becoming robertbuilder to continue on.

sudo cp myfirstrpm.tar.gz /home/robertbuilder/
sudo chown robertbuilder:robertbuilder /home/robertbuilder/myfirstrpm.tar.gz
sudo su robertbuilder

Our builder user needs a folder structure in order to store our files, test out our RPMs, store our other files, and do testing and funsies. We use what we’re given.


This creates the ~/rpmbuild/(BUILD|RPMS|SOURCES|SPECS|SRPMS) folders so that we can actually make this build happen.

Getting the .spec into it

We need to hope into the ~/rpmbuild/SPECS folder and execute our spec-template creator

rpmdev-newspec myfirstrpm

This creates a basic .spec:

Name: myfirstrpm
Release: 1%{?dist}




%setup -q

make %{?_smp_mflags}





We’re going to modify lines in that so that we can properly install our myfirstrpm.tar.gz

Now, we need HAAAALP!:

No worries. We have documentation!