New York University Faculty of Arts and Science College of Arts and Science Graduate School of Arts and Science

Computing Resources

Webmail Changes


In order to update Webmail to the latest release a few changes were required. In particular, the 3rd party plugins that handle filtering, autoresponse, and forwarding have been moved to a standalone application. The old version of webmail had been modified so that these features were "mutually aware" of each other so that your .procmailrc file could be set up to handle them in the correct order. Seperating these features from the webmail application has two important benefits.

  1. It enables us to easily update webmail whenever a new release becomes available.
  2. A seperate application acknowledges the fact that many different mailers are used by our users and makes it easier to update in order to reflect changes in how mail is handled by the system.

What has changed

  1. Webmail no longer tags spam with an additional header that includes a "spam score". All tagging is, instead, handled at the system level (by spamassassin).
  2. Since Webmail no longer directly uses spamassassin to tag spam, certain functionality relating to spamassassin is no longer available via the webmail interface. These include, configuring spamassassin rules, whitelisting, blacklisting, and other features such as bayesian filtering.
  3. Forwarding, filtering, and autoresponse (vacation) is now handled by a standalone application. This new interface can be used to configure how your mail is handled and is independent of Webmail. It can be used whether you read your mail from a PC, a Mac, or a Linux box.
  4. A default automatic timeout of 120 minutes has been set. The default value can be changed under "Options -> Display Preferences". Disabling this by setting it to zero makes it possible for someone else to access your email if you forget to logout at an internet cafe or some other public access point. A better approach, if the 2 hour limit seems too restictive, is to increase the value.

Can I get the features just mentioned back?

  1. whitelists and blacklists
    The ability to filter based upon whitelists and blacklists is included in the new interface, though adding or deleting specific people from such lists must be done usinmg an editor.

    note: a copy of the the relevant file from the old Webmail has (if it existed) been copied to each users home directory (~username/oldwebmail.cfg) to facilitate moving existing blacklists and/or whitelists over to the new system. However, the old lists can not necessarily be copied verbatim and are only to be used as a reference. The old lists were for spamassassin, whereas the new lists are handled directly by procmail. Be particularly careful about any regular expressions.
    For more, see the instructions on blacklists and whitelists under the new interface.
  2. spamlevel
    The ability to set the spamlevel via the interface is not currently supported, but easy to do using an editor.
    For more, see the instructions on filtering under the new interface.
  3. Other spamassassin features
    It is possible to set up your .myprocmailrc to regain access to the more extensive features of spamassassin by running spamassassin on all incoming email a second time (remember, it's run at the system level first).
    However, if you decide to run spamassassin out of your .myprocmailrc please read the man pages for both spamassassin and procmail carefully and test and then test again.
    This is not generally recommended and should only be attempted by an experienced user.

    Since the standalone interface overwrites your .procmailrc, you will have to add the call to spamassassin to your .myprocmailrc, instead of directly to your .procmailrc. You can then include your .myprocmailrc using the standalone interface.

    The version of spamassassin invoked is the one that sits on the mail server (Solaris) and not the one on your desktop machine, which in many cases will be a linux box, so be aware of the possibility that there may be minor differences and read the documentation for procmail on a solaris machine..