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Running the Squirrelmail Configuration Utility

Although the default configuration of Squirrelmail works, you will want to adjust it to conform to your organization, both in terms of functionality and design. You’ll also need to make changes if you are using a separate email server. Squirrelmail includes a text-based configuration utility written in Perl that makes configuration pretty easy and painless. The configuration utility does need to be run as root or using sudo (it is located at /etc/squirrelmail/config/

As with Mailman, there are a number of options that you can configure across 10 different areas. Also like Mailman, there is very good documentation built into this menu-driven utility. Every time you select an option to edit, a description of that option is provided—along with details on which types of values should be entered and what those values mean for your configuration. The 10 options from the configuration utilities’ main menu are listed below, along with specifics about particularly relevant features:
  • Organization Preferences: This section contains display options that customize the WebMail interface to your organization, including your organization’s name, the path to a jpeg image to be used as a logo and optional identifying text on the login page, a custom sign-out page, the use of a top frame displaying additional web content about organization, and a link to your website.
  • Server Settings: This section enables you to specify the domain name used in your email accounts and the address of your SMTP and IMAP servers. By default, they are populated with localhost information, which enables WebMail to function if you are running Squirrelmail on the same server as SMTP and IMAP. Apple suggests that you should replace them with actual domain names or IP addresses if you make any modifications using the utility (in some cases, it might not be needed, but it is a good practice). This section also includes the option to use the Unix Sendmail tool instead of SMTP, which should be left as SMTP under Mac OS X Server.
  • Folder Defaults: This section enables you to determine how various email folders are displayed and behave when users log in to WebMail. The default settings should be fine for most organizations.
  • General Options: This section contains a variety of different options. The first two enable you to specify the directories that Squirrelmail will store data (meaning user preferences and address books) and email attachments. It also enables you to choose whether or not user data is stored in encrypted form on the server (a good source of security) along with the level of encryption. There are also options for the size of the left pane that contains the mailbox list in WebMail, whether Squirrelmail should support case sensitivity in usernames, and whether the use of priority levels or receipts are allowed when sending emails. You can also choose whether to let users modify the display of their names and related information as well as some basic functions of how WebMail’s PHP backend functions. Most of the defaults (with the exceptions of storage location and encryption) should be fine for most organizations.
  • Themes: This section enables you to add or remove themes that users can select to use when using WebMail. Squirrelmail includes a large number of themes, most of them just varying color schemes. It also enables you to specify a CSS file that can be applied to WebMail pages to make them more cohesive with your organization’s website.
  • Address Books: This section enables you to configure a global address book for all WebMail users and to configure access to LDAP servers for address information. You can also enable a JavaScript-based address book search feature.
  • Message of the Day: This optional feature enables you to create a daily message displayed to WebMail users.
  • Plugins: This section enables you to install and configure plugins that extend the functionality of Squirrelmail.
  • Database: By default, Squirrelmail stores user address books and preferences in flat files organized by users in the directories specified in General Options. You can elect to store this information in SQL databases instead. This section enables you to configure the database access from Squirrelmail.
  • Languages: This section enables you to determine the default language and character set used by WebMail. It is initially set to match the settings of the Mac OS X Server on which it is running.

There is also an option listed as D. Set Pre-Defined Settings For Specific IMAP Servers on the configuration utility’s main menu. This option is built into Squirrelmail to configure it to play well with varying types of IMAP servers, and a list of servers is displayed if you select it. What is a little confusing is that although Mac OS X Mailserver is listed as an option, this option refers to Apple’s old mail server that was included with Mac OS X Server 10.2 and earlier. In the current release of Mac OS X Server, IMAP is handled by the Unix Cyrus server, which should be selected. However, as the appropriate settings are configured by default when you enable WebMail, there is really no need to even select this option from the menu.

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