On Apr 21, 2004, at 21:22, Danny MacMillan wrote:


I have six or seven hundred megabytes of email imprisoned in a few .pst (Microsoft Outlook "Personal Folders") files. I've been looking for an alternative email client lately. Of course, the issue is converting these old messages so that they are usable by the new software -- ideally so that multiple clients could access the mail. The thought that immediately occurred to me was that one of the standard Unix formats -- mbox or maildir -- would be appropriate for this task.

After scouring the internet for possibilities for converting between the hated .pst format and mbox or Maildir, I found a few people who'd seemingly hit upon an ideal solution: add an IMAP folder to Outlook and copy their mail to that folder, then do the reverse inside a client that stores its mail in mbox or maildir format.

Almost right, but not quite. You set up an IMAP server that stores mail in the desired format, add the IMAP support to Outlook, and then drag/drop the mail into the IMAP mailbox. There is no equivalent client-side export needed.

And yes, in my experience this is BY FAR the easiest/fastest/best approach to get mail from a .pst file to something else. Caveat is that you have to have an Outlook installation available to do it, not just the .pst file.

Then it struck me -- =leaving= the mail in the IMAP server would give me even more flexibility.

Blinding flash of the obvious? ;)

Is it feasible to use the IMAP server as a mail storage solution like this?

Sure, that's what they're designed for.

Can anyone recommend a good IMAP server (for FreeBSD of course) and give me some tips on considerations for choosing one? I blush to say it, but I've never even had an IMAP account.

The main contenders are Cyrus, Courier, and UW-IMAP. Biggest consideration is probably what format you want to store the mail in. I prefer mbox format, so use UW-IMAP. It is configured to pull mail from the standard spool directory, and store it in a /mail directory of my user account.

The big advantage of using IMAP (for me) is that I can access my mail from a web based server (Squirrelmail) while at work, pine when on the road, and OS X's Mail.app when at home on my PowerBook. Even when I'm reading mail on the server box itself the access is actually through the IMAP server. It's an OS X G5 now, but I did the exact same thing when it was a FreeBSD Intel box.


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