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We are in the process of migrating the current Maths mail server onto a newer platform, as the current server is now out-of-support.

As you may be aware the University have also recently announced the end-date for their Hermes system [1] so we can't migrate to there.

The new Maths server is already up-and-running on the same software platform that Hermes was using and we have already migrated all the users from the Isaac Newton institute (and myself).

Before migrating each user account from the old server, we would like to give you the chance to choose your email provision; choices:

  1. Exchange Online (ExOl) service from Microsoft, managed by the University
  2. Local mail server using Open Source software, managed by Maths IT

There are a complex set of caveats, benefits and bugbears regarding this choice. Some of which I will outline below.

Please ideally let us know your choice before December 1st 2020. If you have any questions please email help@maths.

We hope you find this service useful!




[3] Exim for SMTP and Cyrus for IMAP




(Show all answers)

What if I'm already using Hermes?

  1. ExOl - you can use the University-provided migration system. If you are using a .forward at maths file see below.
  2. Maths - once we have migrated the current maths users we will revisit the hermes users.

July 2020 news from UIS on Hermes migration

Using Maths for redirection

1,2. ExOl/Maths - Regardless of your choice for mail storage, the Maths friendly-aliases system will continue to be in place for redirecting mail sent to @maths/damtp/statslab addresses.

If you currently use a .forward file instead, please email help@maths to change your redirection.


What happens to my .forward file?

  1. ExOl - You will need to configure Outlook to replicate the functionality. IT can help with maths aliases/redirections depending on need (see friendly aliases)
  2. Maths - We intend to help users migrate the functionality of .forward files into sieve scripts. IT can help with maths aliases/redirections depending on need (see friendly aliases)

update 2020-12-14 I have now scoured the .forward files and replicated the simple forwarding setups directly into our database - so for most people their .forward is now irrelevant.

Access from mail clients

  1. ExOl - preferred client: Outlook. In theory the latest updates to ExOl have enabled any mail client to access the mail via IMAP; but this is not fully tested [2]. Apple mail is also compatible
  2. Maths - preferred client: Thunderbird or anything that talks IMAP. We are using open-standard IMAP/SMTP protocols - the same as Hermes [3]. Outlook and Apple mail are also compatible

Role accounts

  1. ExOl - for any particular role account we would only consider moving this to ExOl where anyone ever likely to read that role has their account on that platform. However there is no issue with a user having their personal mailbox on ExOl but accessing the role accounts from the Maths/Hermes servers.
  2. Maths - our default position is to move these from Hermes to the Maths server. The readers of a role can keep their personal mailbox on any platform and access Maths just for roles.

Data 'ownership'

  1. ExOl - the data lives in the Microsoft cloud
  2. Maths - by keeping the emails in-house we have far more control over who can access what and when (especially useful for ad-hoc role account access requirements). Caveat: we therefore must manage the backups (as we currently do)


  1. ExOl: backups are stored by Microsoft for 30 days, this includes account deletion (after a person leaves)
  2. Maths: backups are kept for 30 days; account deletions are kept for 6 months (after a person leaves)

Friendly aliases

  1. ExOl - the UIS are currently only able to manage @maths aliases manually per account - they need to be advised of any changes to these individually
  2. Maths - our mail server pulls data directly from the maths database so changes are in the user's hands.


  1. ExOl - managed using Outlook or Outlook webmail
  2. Maths - managed using Roundcube webmail or any sieve client (e.g. Thunderbird plugin); procmail and .forward files are not supported.


  1. ExOl - we recommend using imapsync to migrate your data yourself
  2. Maths - we have developed a wrapper around imapsync which makes it simple for us to migrate accounts between the maths servers

Webmail access

  1. ExOl - Outlook webmail
  2. Maths - Roundcube webmail. As the software behind the old webmail system is no longer maintained, we do not intend to keep that service. We already have a functional Roundcube installation [4] (which also works with the old server)

File Access

  1. ExOl - there is no way to access the mail files directly - all access is via mail protocols
  2. Maths - there is no user access to mail files - all access is via mail protocols (same as hermes). The server will not mount home directories: migration scripts will copy all subscribed folders to the new server; procmail and .forward files are not supported. If you use something like Pine via ssh to another maths machine, this will continue to function the same - but will need configuring with the new server address.

Integration with other products

  1. ExOl - by joining the Exchange infrastructure there are many benefits for integration of other features such as Microsoft Teams and Calendaring.
  2. Maths - there are no additional integration benefits. You can continue to use any other products for each service you require.

For many staff the benefits of integrations with the systems used throughout the University will likely outweigh the caveats. Especially in groups where Outlook is the preferred client.