Fred Stluka on 10 Apr 2008 15:08:26 -0700

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: [PLUG] ponderings on email servers, procmail, and ipod


I've been down the same path.  Set up my own server over a decade
ago.  Ran my own DNS, SMTP, etc.  Offered e-mail to lots of friends
and family members.  Got tired of support and outages (power
failures, Verizon phone lines cut, DSL outages, fried DSL modems,
ISP outages, etc.  Gradually migrated all e-mail to commercial ISPs.

Still do my own Unix, Tomcat, HTTP Server, FTP, SSH, etc., but no
more DNS or SMTP.  Except that I still use my own SMTP for outgoing
e-mail, mostly so I can monitor the logs and know exactly when
things get delivered to a recipient's host.

My ISPs filter some spam for for me, I suppose.  Over the years,
they've gotten better at it, and have let me be less involved.
I used to have to give them blacklists and whitelists, and tell
them how aggressive to be, etc.  Now, they do OK w/o any input
from me.

Like you, I am on lots of lists.  Also, I have automated cron jobs
in place to send hourly e-mails to test the paths to and from my
various e-mail accounts at various ISPs.  So I get hundreds of
e-mails every day.  About 20-30 of them are directed to me
personally, and important to read soon.  The rest are list
postings or newsletters that I can fall behind on, or automated
messages that I check periodically in batches to make sure they
are arriving on schedule.

I do all of my own filtering through the Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail
client.  It pulls from several POP servers every minute or two,
and runs a couple of filters to sort the incoming mail into
various folders for me.  I could also have it automatically delete
some messages, but it's so easy to skim through the subject lines
of messages in my spam folder and do a mass delete that I haven't
ever gotten that drastic.

At one point, I had lots of very specific filters to find the
spam, blacklisting senders, searching subjects and bodies for
specific words, etc.  Yuck!  Then I started keeping an explicit
whitelist and filtering the rest.  Better, but still tedious.

Things got a lot easier when Netscape Messenger (which I used
previously) and then Mozilla Thunderbird added a great new feature
to their filters.  You can now filter based on whether the sender
is in your address book.  Your address book IS your whitelist.  I
threw out ALL of my spam filters, and now just sort certain
messages into certain folders, then split the remainder into two
folders:  Known and Unknown.

Unknown is almost entirely spam, and I delete it quickly, just
scanning first for the occasional message from a friend announcing
their new e-mail address, or a long lost friend trying to get back
in touch with me.  Known is the stuff I care about, and I read it.

This simple scheme is still vulnerable to some of the old spammer
tricks, like sending to me from me.  It is also vulnerable to some
virus tricks, like sending to me from the name of someone in the
address book of a person I know whose computer was infected.

However, it just NEVER happens.  I guess the ISPs are pretty good
at detecting those senders now.

Living happily spam free for the past year or so...
Fred Stluka -- --
Bristle Software, Inc -- -- Glad to be of service!

Jeff Abrahamson wrote:
I've been pondering paying a couple dollars a month for someone else
to handle my email.  The advantage is just that I can turn my machine
off and that I can have greater reliability (i.e., my ISP's quirks
don't affect me as much).

I've also been pondering using my ipod touch to read mail when I'm not
at home.  Sort of like having a personal blackberry, maybe.  I dunno
if I'll like it or not.  A counter argument is that maybe I like not
being wired all the time.  I dunno.

The hitch is that I can't imagine life without procmail between me and
my email.  For example, I've already received 435 emails today, but
only seen a dozen or two.  Probably a third were spam and over half
were list mail of various sorts. That's the way I want it.

I'm curious how others have handled this and what thoughts this
arouses from other nerdly folk who like the flexibility of having
their own server but contemplate doing other things with their free
time than managing a server.


___________________________________________________________________________ Philadelphia Linux Users Group -- Announcements - General Discussion --
Philadelphia Linux Users Group         --
Announcements -
General Discussion  --