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(?) So many users, So few POP accounts

From Thomas Nyman

Answered By Mike Orr

(?) I have recently entered the magical world of Linux (Red Hat 7.0). In the You see I would like to configure my linux machine so that it polls a couple of pop accounts via a dialup ISP, and the distributes any mail to users on the local network. In my mind a reasonable request. I understand that sendmail and fetchmail can be used in this respect (although sendmail "sends" mail and does not collect it). I have so far been inable to find out exactly what I need to configure (besides fetchmail) to do this. I have also tried to configure sendmail to no avail, it keeps complaining that I have not set a que and have not set a mailbox...but try finding a how-to that tells you how to setup a que and a mailbox locally - I cant do it. I have also tried to instal qmail. I've downloaded a tar.gz file. Unpacked it with gunzip and the run the tar -xvf comman on it. SO fall all looks fine. I have then followed the install instructions and goes well untill I reach the part of the install instruktions that instructs me to "make setup check", many attempts have been made but qmail simply will not understand the instruction..hence I cant continue the installation....ah but I digress...the point is I want to collect popmail from different pop accounts and distribute it to either eudora och outlookexpress on windows machines..can I do this..and if so whaich programs do I need to configure and how???

(!) [Mike] Fetchmail works by popping the mail down, changing the envelope-to address and passing it on to the local mail-transfer program for final delivery. So the first step is to get a working mail-transfer program. This can be sendmail, qmail, exim, postfix, smail, etc.
The next step is to set up your .fetchmailrc. Assuming all the mail from each pop account is going to a single user, you can use a configuration like this:
poll pop.my-isp.net
	proto pop3
	user bob there with password XXXXX is bobby here

poll pop.my-other-isp.net
	proto pop3
	user frederick there with password YYYYY is fritz here
Now, each time fetchmail runs, bobby and fritz will find their pop mail in their Unix mailbox. You would then need to make that mailbox visible to Eudora or Outlook Express somehow, but that's another issue.
If your mail transport agent seems to be working but popped mail is still being lost, use fetchmail's -v flag to determine whether fetchmail is generating the correct recipient address and whether the mail transfer agent is accepting the message.
If you wish to distribute mail from a single pop account to several Unix accounts, it's more complicated. You could have fetchmail deliver it all to a single account which then uses procmail to distribute it (e.g., according to a special prefix in the subject). Or you could use uucp instead of pop/fetchmail. Uucp was designed for the "my site has multiple users but I only have one ISP account" problem, but pop was not. Pop was designed assuming each user would have their own mailbox at the ISP. However, finding an ISP that supports uucp nowadays is difficult, they may want a higher price for it, the configuration would be more complicated, and it would probably work best if you had your own domain.

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Published in issue 65 of Linux Gazette April 2001
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