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3. Electronic Mail on your Linux Box

One of the most important aspects of the Internet, is it's fasinating capaiblity to transfer mail to and from countries, or more locally perhaps. Linux is extreemly strong in easy mail packages for the console. The one we're going to document today is called Pine (Program for Internet Mail and News), made by the University of Washington, and to download the mail, a program called Fetchmail, made by Eric S. Raymond. Both should be included in your Linux distribution.

Fetchmail is a program that downloads your e-mail from your server using POP, transfers the mail onto your computer and then deletes it off the server, much like programs like Eudora or Microsoft Internet Mail/Exchange do. To configure and automate fetchmail, you use a file in your home directory called .fetchmailrc. Simply open up  /.fetchmailrc (Remember: your doing this bit as yourself, not as root) with your favourite editor and observe the command lin eoptions below:

poll mail.yourisp.com proto pop3 user login_name password your_passwd

user login_name with pass your_passwd is login_name here

All you have to do is replace mail.yourisp.com with the name of the mail server of your ISP, your_passwd with your password, and login_name with your login name.

An important thing to note. For Pine and this procedure to work correctly, your login name must corrospond with the login name you use on your ISP. That is your local login name must match the one you use on your server, and your e-mail address.

Next, ensure that .fetchmailrc has the correct permissions (user read/write only) and your laughing. Fetchmail can be started in two ways, in standard mode (where it'll fetch messages from the server and terminate), or in daemon mode (where it will stay active, and check/download mail every X seconds). To use daemon mode, type fetchmail -a -d(Seconds between Polls). -a ensures it downloads all mail. To use the standard mode, just type fetchmail -a.

Next, you need to setup Pine. Open up Pine, by typing pine at your prompt, choose Setup - Configuration. Setup your userdomain as the domain in your e-mail address, for example jack@linux.org, would be linux.org. Next, setup smtp-server as your POP mail server (the same you used in the fetchmail setup). So we enter www.linux.org. If you want news, setup your nntp server to your ISP's news server.

So there you have it folks, everything should be working now. To connect up to your ISP, just run  /ppp-connect as root. Then, to get your e-mail run fetchmail -a as yourself. To browse your e-mail and news, use Pine. Install a text-based browser such as Lynx to browse the web if you like.

Send any comments questions and suggestions to mstrates@croftj.net


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