Tuesday, November 18, 2008

nail, mailx, and Gmail

I'm setting up a web server for my business and I need to email error messages and notifications to myself so I can keep track of things, but I don't have a sendmail or postfix installation for my domain and DO NOT want to futz with that since it's just overkill for what I need.

Thankfully, a minimal mail user agent is installed with Mandriva (and likely in many more variants of Linux as part of their base package) called mailx (and was formerly called nail, which explains the names of a few files).

The system-wide configuration file is located at /etc/nail.rc. Each user can have a ~/.nailrc file, but since my server is running headless, I put everything in /etc/nail.rc. As well, you can put per-user modifications in the more common ~/.mailrc.

There seems to be a general problem for people getting mailx to work with Gmail.
Here's what I did:

1. Make sure that POP is enabled in your Gmail Settings.

2. Add the following to /etc/nail.rc:

#configure Gmail SMTP

set smtp-use-starttls

set from=USERNAME@gmail.com

set smtp=smtp.gmail.com:587

set smtp-auth-user=USERNAME@gmail.com

set auth-login=USERNAME

set smtp-auth-password=PASSWORD

NOTE: Please substitute your own account name for USERNAME and your own password for PASSWORD.

NOTE: Gmail does not use the standard port 25 for SMTP. Above, I used port 587 for GMail; port 465 may work for other mail servers.

To test if you have been successful:

# echo testing | mail yourusername@maildomain.com

Success is silent, simply returning you to the command line.

Adding the -v directive puts nail in verbose mode and may give a clue as to why a connection is failing. If there are no errors, you'll see a log of transactions between you and the GMail server, then you'll be returned to the command prompt and you'll find a message with the subject "test" in your Gmail mailbox.

Note that I'm not using mailx to read mail - I'm not that much of a masochist. That's why I didn't use the IMAP option of mail.

You may find it necessary to "fix" the default mail application that your system uses. Mandriva and Mageia insist on making it 'sendmail' by default and not allowing the choice of /bin/mail through /etc/alternatives. You can fix it yourself.
MaximumHoyt: Managing /etc/alternatives

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1 comment:

Flippi said...

Thanks for the details, Gmail settings works first time !