Alcor... procmail basic installation


New! Shortcut!

If you have never installed procmail on your Alcor account, and you are not using mail forwarding, you can use this shortcut:

From the menushell, type:

!enable-procmail

From a regular shell, you can omit the "!" and type just "enable-procmail".

If the "enable-procmail" program tells you that you already have mail processing set up on your account, then you'll need to either remove that mail processing and try "enable-procmail" again, or just follow the manual procedure below...


This procmail installation will result in ... no change! The idea is to set up all the hooks you'll need for adding your special processing, and making sure that the new addition doesn't do anything unexpected to your mail.

  1. Create the directory ~/.procmail. ("~" refers to your home directory.) This is where your procmail scripts will reside. You can do this with the command

    mkdir ~/.procmail
    or by way of menushell by choosing "File Management", then "Directory Options", then "Create a Directory".

  2. Install the file ~/.procmail/Main, which gives procmail its processing "recipes". I provide a template. The easiest way to do this is to issue the command

    cp /local/etc/procmail/samples/Main ~/.procmail/Main
    In the menushell, remember to type a "!" before the rest of the command.

  3. If you are interested, you can look at the "Main" file, so you can see what it's doing. If you're not interested, move on to the next step now. Don't uncomment (enable) any of the "fancy processing" actions yet, but you can enable beeping or change the location of your signature file, if you like. You can look at and perhaps modify the "Main" file with the command

    pico -w ~/.procmail/Main
    or by way of menushell by choosing "File Management", then "File Options", then "Edit a File", and supplying "-w ~/.procmail/Main" as the filename. "-w" is important because it prevents pico from wrapping long lines.

  4. You have now set up the procmail processing file, but it is not used, because the mail delivery agent has not been told to use it. To let the mail delivery agent (procmail) know that you wish it to use your recipes, make a symbolic link to your recipes file under the special name ~/.procmailrc. This is the command to do it:

    ln -s ~/.procmail/Main ~/.procmailrc
    In the menushell, remember to type a "!" before the rest of the command.

    Important note: if you have a .forward file, it will supersede your .procmailrc, so if you want to use procmail, remove your .forward file.

  5. Test your new set-up by sending yourself some mail, and having a friend send you some mail. From your point of view, nothing should have changed yet. If there is a problem, simply remove the symbolic link .procmailrc, which will disable procmail. If you need to do this, here's how:

    rm ~/.procmailrc
    In the menushell, remember to type a "!" before the rest of the command.

Remember that you can always enable logging, and look at the resulting log file, to see what procmail is doing to your mail; how to do this is explained in the "Main" file. Don't forget to turn logging off when you're done.

Once you are satisfied that your mail is working smoothly after this installation, you can start enabling the spamcatchers if you wish procmail to refile spam-tagged messages for you. Procmail can also help you deal with particular "jerks", or vacation mail processing (auto-responding); follow the directions in the Main file as needed.

A note to offsite users who wish to use these recipes: you're welcome to do so, but of course we disclaim any responsibility for the consequences. You may need the support file beep.no-test if you wish to enable non-comsat beeping.

Thanks to Neil Schwartzman for volunteering as a guinea pig to evaluate this Web page and the sample procmail set-up itself; he tripped on the problems so you won't have to. I hope.


Copyright, © 2003, Concordia University, (IITS).
Author: Anne Bennett
Credits: Neil Schwartzman, Sheila Ettinger, Tom Bolton
Maintained by: webdoc@alcor.concordia.ca
Last update: 2003/08/12 -- Sylvain Robitaille

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