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Roundcube is a great interface for your webmail

I have been running a mail server for years now and used Squirrel Mail as the web interface.  I like Squirrel Mail but I wanted to change the interface to something a little more modern and easier to look at.  I think I found that in Roundcube.  Roundcube is a browser-based multilingual IMAP client with an application like user interface. It provides full functionality you expect from an email client, including MIME support, address book, folder manipulation, message searching and spell checking.  Plus it is a open source program that can be used on top of your favorite mail server.  Roundcube is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Everyone is welcome to download and use it, deploy it and to re-distribute it. Here are some of the features of this webmail interface.

  • Available in 65 languages
  • Drag-&-drop message management
  • Full support for MIME and HTML messages
  • Sophisticated privacy protection
  • Compose messages with attachments
  • Multiple sender identities
  • Find-as-you-type address book integration
  • Richtext/HTML message composing
  • Forwarding messages with attachments
  • Searching messages and contacts
  • Spell checking
  • IMAP folder management
  • Support for external SMTP server
  • Built-in caching for fast mailbox access
  • Unlimited users and messages
  • Template system for custom skins
  • Plug-in API for flexible extensions

Here is a list of requirements that will be needed to run Roundcube along with browsers it has been tested to work on.

Server Requirements

  • Apache, Lighttpd (>=1.4.13 for SSL), or Cherokee Web server
  • Directory on the Web server allowed to run scripts
  • If using Apache, .htaccess support or configuration to override DirectoryIndex
  • PHP version 5.2.1 or greater with
    • PCRE (Perl-Compatible Regular Expressions)
    • Session support
    • Socket support
    • MySQL, PostgreSQL, or SQLite database engine
    • iconv (recommended)
    • OpenSSL (recommended)
    • Mbstring (optional)
    • FileInfo (optional)
    • Mcrypt (optional)
  • php.ini options:
    • error_reporting E_ALL & ~E_NOTICE (or lower)
    • file_uploads on (for attachment upload features)
    • memory_limit (increase as suitable to support large attachments)
    • session.auto_start off
    • magic_quotes_gpc off
  • If using MySQL or PostgreSQL, a database server and database user with permission to create tables
    • If using MySQL 5.0.2 or later, disable STRICT_TRANS_TABLES and STRICT_ALL_TABLES
  • OpenSSL and Socket modules for PHP required to connect to secure IMAP or IMAPS, for secure SMTP and to use the spell checker
    • Additionally, the CURL module for PHP is required for spell checking with TinyMCE (HTML WYSIWYG Editor).
  • An IMAP server which supports IMAP 4 rev 1
  • An SMTP server (recommended) or PHP configured for mail delivery

Browser Requirements

  • JavaScript? enabled
  • Accept cookies
  • Support for XMLHttpRequest
  • CSS2 Support

Tested browsers

  • Internet Explorer 6 (Windows 2000 and Windows XP)
  • Internet Explorer 7 (Windows XP)
  • Safari 2 (Mac OS X 10.4)
  • Safari 3 (Mac OS X 10.5 and Windows XP)
  • Firefox 2 (Windows XP, Mac OS X, and Linux)
  • Firefox 3 (Windows XP, Linux, and OpenSolaris)

Browsers reported to work

  • Camino 1.5.x (Mac OS X 10.4)
  • Opera 9.25 (Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and FreeBSD 6)
  • Opera 9.30 (Wii, TinyMCE is non-functional)
  • Opera 9.60 beta1 (Windows XP)

I really enjoy using this webmail program, it gives you the impression of using an expensive email program but it’s free.  This installation is relatively easy and can be modified to give it some of your unique look .  I added the files into my Apache server and simply followed the steps that are laid out by the install procedures.  If you have any kind of problems their web site offers HTML documents that are put together very well and you can look at active tickets to see problems other are having.  There is also a community forum that you can ask question and receive guidance on issues you are having.  This can be found at http://trac.roundcube.net.

The interface is very easy to use and has the feel similar to outlook but it does not have some of the features such as a calender.  Anyhow here are a few screen shots of the user interface.

There is also a great deal of settings that each user can play with to get the webmail more of their own.  They can change how they see the mail itself in its own window or have a preview on the inbox page.  You can select how many rows you want to see on the page right down to your signature for emails you send out.  It has a fully functional address book that is easy to use and can import and export contacts in a vCard format.  There is also the ability to search through your emails for specific senders.  Here are some more pics of the settings windows.

When you install the interface into you web server you upload the folder and bring the ./INSTALLER/.index.php file up in your web browser.  It will walk you through some information you have to enter.  This will be the name you want for the login screen, the web browser, database information, IMAP server, and creating account the first time you login.  Once all of the information is entered it brings up some files that are the main.inc and the db.inc.  These two files are the configuration files that setup roundcube for your use.  You will copy the test to a text editor or select the button.  Then you need to upload these files to your Roundcube config directory.  Here are the generic versions of theses files.

db.inc.example main.inc.example

Once all of the configuration is finished you need to remove the Installer directory to insure someone doesn’t use it to destroy your server or just take data from you.  I did have a few problems the first time I installed it.  It wouldn’t recognize some of the accounts that were on the email server.  But once I reinstalled it and allow for the automatic creation of accounts during the first login, everything has worked fine.  Now when I say create new accounts it is only in the roundcube database and not in your mail server.  Check it out if you want a new look for your webmail interface and don’t want to spend a great deal of money.

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