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Mail Autoresponders (vacation)

MacOS X has had some strange changes made to it recently. Take vacation, for instance. I believe that the version used by MacOS X came from the sendmail distribution, which is perhaps the reason that it has vanished from recent versions of MacOS X. The net effect is that creating a simple autoreply vacation message is next to impossible.

If you check the MacOS X Server documentation, you’ll find that Sieve is installed, and you’ll even find an example script for vacation, which sounds great. But then the Sieve installation on MacOS X isn’t usable – you need at least to install timsieved and enable the sieve tcp port to provide reasonable access to create sieve scripts. What is more, having user installable scripts for MacOS X users as the only way of maintaining an autoresponder isn’t acceptable.

There are plugins for SquirrelMail that support the vacation program, which is great. But they still need vacation installed; the combination of both is exactly the solution needed.

First, installing vacation. I found sources for a maintained version of vacation on a Debian site (see below), but there are several sources available; I simply chose to use the first one I found.

To install, I removed the LIB option from the Makefile, and editing the vacation.c file to change the location of sendmail from /usr/lib/sendmail to /usr/sbin/sendmail. This resolves to the link that postfix puts there to handle mailers that try to use sendmail directly. Then just run make, and manually install vacation to /usr/bin/vacation; you can use other locations, but that one is traditional, and you would have to edit vacation.c further to add in the new path.

That seems to work.

For SquirrelMail, you need to first enable WebMail, which is done in Server Admin in the Web section (not the Mail section, which had me confused for a while). You can then access your mail via http://servername/WebMail/, and just use your normal mail login details (same as account login for simple configurations).

Next step is to install a vacation plugin from; I chose vacation_local, as it seemed to support MacOS X Server configurations, and had the most downloads. Unpack the tarball into /etc/squirrelmail/plugins, and copy config.php.sample to config.php; I had to edit the ftp server location from localhost to the address of the server – if I didn’t do that, entering the vacation options panel in WebMail generates a PHP ftp error. I am guessing that it defaulted to IPV6, and that somehow isn’t supported – but that’s just a guess.

You can now set up your vacation details by taking the Options menu choice in WebMail, and selecting Vacation.

You should now have a working autoresponder, and have configured WebMail as a byproduct.

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