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Email on Ubuntu

Under the Ubuntu setup, email clients default to connecting to Hermes rather than the local email server because all new accounts are configured this way.

  • If you keep all your email on Hermes everything should Just Work.
  • Many DPMMS and Statslab users and a few DAMTP users keep their email on our local servers. If this applies to you then you will need to reconfigure your email client (unless you use webmail). Instructions for the most popular email clients are below.


If you read your email on Statslab/DPMMS/DAMTP/Maths machines rather than Hermes, you may be unpleasantly surprised by pine suddenly asking for your Hermes password. If this happens follow the instructions below. Before you begin, ensure that you are only running one pine session (on any computer) so that the others do not overwrite your changes.

When pine requests your Hermes password press Ctrl-C to Cancel. You can still get into pine to reconfigure it, you just can't read your email yet.

First you need to tell pine where your inbox is.

  • From pine's main menu, press S for Setup then C for Config.
  • Scroll down to Inbox Path and press Enter.
  • Replace with, press Enter twice. (You can use imap.dpmms or imap.statslab if you prefer, they are different names for the same computer.)
  • Ensure that "SMTP Server (for sending)" is described as "<No Value Set>". If necessary highlight it and press D for Delete Value.
  • Exit Setup and commit your changes.

Next you need to tell pine where your folders containing your saved mail are.

  • From pine's main menu, press S for Setup then L for collection list.
  • Delete all collections apart from "Local folders in mail/".
  • If "Local folders in mail/" is missing then add it yourself. The settings are:
    • Nickname : Mail
    • Server :
    • Path : mail/
    • View :
  • Press E to exit setup.

Finally, to make pine store your encrypted password so that you need not type it every time, quit pine and type
touch ~/.pine-passfile. Restart pine. You will be asked for your password again but this time you will also be asked whether to save it on disk. Answer Yes to this question and pine will remember your password in future.

A few people keep their inbox on Hermes but store their folders locally. If this applies to you, just follow the instructions about the collection list and optionally the password.


If all your email including your inbox is stored locally (applicable to many Statslab/DPMMS users), you need to add three lines to your .muttrc file.

set spoolfile="imaps://"
set folder="~/mail"
set record="=sent-mail"
  • folder may need to be set to "~/Mail" with a capital M for some people - it is the actual location of your mail folders.
  • record is the folder where your sent messages are stored. You can change the name, but do not remove the equals sign at the beginning which tells mutt to keep it in the same directory as your other folders.

If your inbox is on Hermes but your folders are stored locally, omit the "set spoolfile" line.

By default, mutt users are asked to confirm their username and type their password each time they launch mutt. You can change this by editing your .muttrc file to eliminate the request to confirm your username by adding the line:

set imap_user="USERNAME"

and if you want to avoid being asked for your password you can also add:

set imap_pass="PASSWORD"

to your .muttrc file. Of course the words USERNAME and PASSWORD need to be replaced by your actual username and password.


If you have already configured Thunderbird under an older version of Linux then it should continue to work under Ubuntu 16.04.

To read email on the local mail server with Thunderbird, create a new account. If you enter your email address as (or statslab, dpmms or damtp) then Thunderbird will do most of the configuration itself. However, for greater security the SMTP server port should be changed from 25 to 587.

Thunderbird will automatically create an account for reading your Hermes email, even if you do not have a Hermes account or your Maths login name is distinct from your CRSid. If you do not want this account you can delete it. Highlight the account, go to "View settings for this account" and select "Remove Account" from the "Account Actions" menu at the bottom.


The correct configuration for mail-notification is the same under Ubuntu 16.04 as under Ubuntu 14.04 and SL6. However the script will delete your mail-notification configuration, so instructions for reconfiguring it are supplied below.

To configure mail-notification, go to Applications -> Settings Manager and open Mail Notification. Remove anything labelled "system mailbox". Click Add and select mailbox type IMAP. For your Maths email the server should be:

  • Hermes users:
  • Local email users:

Your username will already be filled in - Hermes users should ensure that this matches their CRSid, changing it if necessary. Fill in the appropriate password, switch to the Connection tab and change the connection type to "In band SSL/TLS" before clicking Add.

mail-notification will no longer display an icon when you have no new mail. To restore this behaviour type the following command.

gconftool-2 --set /apps/mail-notification/always-display-icon --type bool 1

In Ubuntu 16.04 mail-notification will no longer play a sound when new mail arrives. The command to fix this is (all on one line)

gconftool --set /apps/mail-notification/sounds/play-command --type
string "exec gst-launch-1.0 filesrc location=%file ! decodebin ! 
audioconvert ! pulsesink >/dev/null 2>&1"

If you do not want to use mail-notification you can get rid of it by deleting your .gnome2/mail-notification directory and then logging out and back in.