Email Clients

Email System

The mail system in the department runs off of a Linux server. You can access your e-mail by using encrypted (SSL) mail-access protocols, such as POP3 or IMAP4. There are several software packages available that will allow you to access our mail server using these protocols, but due to their diversity we cannot provide complete setup instructions for all of them. However, the settings you see below should allow you to configure your e-mail client to access your mailbox. If you have any questions about these settings please contact the Systems Staff.

Suggested Mail Clients:


General Mail Settings


Server Name (Hostname)









Security Settings

Our mail systems can only be accessed via an encrypted connection (Secure Sockets Layer -- SSL) whether you use POP3 or IMAP4 protocols to access your mail. If you are having trouble accessing your mail, it may be because you do not have SSL encryption configured in your mail client. Check your preferences and see if there is an option for "Secure Connection" or "Encryption" and enable it if such is available. If you cannot resolve this problem yourself, please contact the Systems Staff and tell them the operating system you use (e.g. Windows or Linux), the name of the mail client you use (e.g. Eudora or Pine), and the version of that client (Help->About in most graphical applications). Having this information will help the systems staff to come up with precise instructions on how to enable SSL connections for your client, if your software supports this feature.


Example Configurations

IMAP and SMTP using SSL dialog boxes from Thunderbird 1.5 thunderbird1.5-imaps-dialog.pngthunderbird1.5-smtps-dialog.png

Example lines from pine configuration file ~/.pinerc


Spam Filtering

The physics mail server is using a junk mail detection system and suspected spam e-mail are tagged and can be filtered. We recommend the use of the procmail tool to filter spam e-mail on the server. Filtering on the server allows the use of any e-mail client.

To use procmail, you need to create a file in your UNIX home directory named ".procmailrc". Insert the following text into the ".procmailrc" file to have the mail server filter out suspected spam and place in the a folder named "Spam":

LOGFILE = $HOME/.procmail.log
* ^X-Spam-Flag: YES
|/usr/bin/dmail +Spam

For more details, see SpamEmail. For more information on mail filtering, see Procmail Quick Start



If you are on the road, you may use the Duke Physics Webmail site to access your email. You may need to login to both a standard Duke Login page and the Roundcube web email page.



When forwarding mail off campus, it is vital to filter out the SpamEmail before forwarding. To accomplish this, we use the procmail tool to trash mail which is flagged as spam, then forward the remaining mail to the desired address. To have the mail server filter out suspected spam then forward your mail, you need to create a file in your UNIX home directory on the mailserver named ".procmailrc". This file must be on the mail server. It will have no effect if it is just on your local workstation. This ssh command, when run from on campus or the Duke VPN will get you a shell on the mail server:


Insert the following text into the ".procmailrc" file, setting the destination e-mail as needed:

LOGFILE = $HOME/.procmail.log

* ^X-Spam-Flag: YES



Auto responding: Out of Office, vacation, etc

Sometimes you would like to auto respond to messages. Procmail allows you to do this in a very powerful and flexible manner. First, you want to filter out the messages flagged as spam, because we don't want to reply to those messages.

This example responds to all non-spam mail with the content of the file response.txt in your home directory:

MAILDIR = $HOME/mail #yourmaildirectory
LOGFILE = $HOME/.procmail.log
#shell needs to be set otherwise nothing will happen when we call formail

* ^X-Spam-Flag: YES
|/usr/bin/dmail +Spam

#begin autoresponse
:0 hc
* !^X-Loop: infobot_reply
* ^Subject:.*
| (formail -rt \
      -A"X-Loop: infobot_reply" ; \
      cat $HOME/response.txt) | $SENDMAIL -t
#end autoresponse

The content of $HOME/response.txt could be something like:


I am currently hiking in the Andes and will be away from e-mail until July 27.


Common Thunderbird Issues

If you try to delete a folder stored on an IMAP server, you may get an error "Can't create mailbox [folder name]: File Exists". If so, see the workaround here:

If you see grayed out or invalid IMAP folders, you may have "phantom folders". For more details see: