Saturday, 29 December 2007

Roundcube WebMail installation

Having got the Courier IMAP server up and with all my mail migrated onto the dedicated mail server zone, I decided to put a webmail interface on the front.

Having previously played with a few - Squirrelmail, Horde and Roundcube, I concluded that Roundcube was the one I wanted to use. The interface is very clean and it's simple.

I used Blastwave to setup the required components - Apache, PHP, MySQL, edited the httpd.conf to include PHP support, configured the database and we were off.

The final step was to configure sendmail so that I could use Roundcube to send emails as well. This proved more difficult than it should as sendmail was failing to resolve (my upstream mail relay). This was fixed by specifying Demon's DNS servers in /etc/resolv.conf.

So now I have access to my email via Thunderbird (on Linux), (on the Mac) and Roundcube (web browser). At some point I may investigate a commandline MUA for when I SSH into the network, but this will do for now.

Friday, 28 December 2007 and Courier IMAP

For a long while, I've been running IMAP on my Linux machine. This provides the ability to use different front ends to get to my mail. In order to move this to my server machine which is on 24x7, I created a dedicated Solaris Zone ("mailserver") which I've then installed Courier IMAP. A quick test with Thunderbird on my Linux install proved this was working.

To configure for the Mac: had a problem with the sorting of mail folders. The folders below Inbox were shown separately under a "Mailserver" section and not as subfolders of the Inbox. The solution was to edit the account and remove the IMAP Path Prefix "INBOX" and replace it with nothing. This is contrary to what I've read on a number of other blogs, but works here. YMMV.

The final thing to do then is to select the IMAP folders for Junk, Sent and Trash and select Mailbox > Use This Mailbox For menus to designate how should handle these types of mails.

Which now means I can access my mailstore from the Mac. WebDAV goodness

I've had a free 1GB account for a while, but haven't used it in any anger beyond uploading a bunch of my how-to documents as a test.

Today I tried adding a WebDAV connection to my GNOME installation - a trivial act of specifying the correct URL, and then entering my credentials in Nautilus. This worked pretty well so I repeated it on the Mac. This was also successful.

So I now have easy access - WebDAV but also the web interface - to a bunch of storage online from all my platforms. Should be good for storing those (non-private) things that I might want when I'm out and about.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Cloud wishlist for 2008

Looking ahead, here are my Cloud-oriented wishes for 2008:

1) Gmail IMAP to come to the UK. It's still not available here!

2) Yahoo! IMAP to come online. I'd willingly pay for the Mail Plus option if it got rid of adverts and provided decent IMAP support.

3) An easy way to backup Google Docs documents. At the moment I'm reluctant to commit 100% to Google Docs as there is no easy way to backup everything. A WebDAV interface would be good, as would integration with OpenOffice (so it works a bit like Sharepoint).

4) A mobile phone platform that can handle Outlook 2007 categories well. Maybe Android, maybe the next generation iPhone, perhaps even something from Palm...?

I'm sure I'll add more as I think about it...

Monday, 17 December 2007

Microsoft "innovate" again

Despite Microsoft referencing themselves as an innovative company, the view of many of us in the industry is that they rarely come up with anything new. The adage that to see Microsoft's next product, you need to look at Apple three years ago (a paraphrase, but you get the point) continues to bear out.

In this particular instance, I'm referring to the announcement of a UI refresh for Windows Mobile.

In contrast, Apple have redefined the mobile phone interface with their first product. I'm no Apple fanboi, but can recognise true innovation when I see it, and Microsoft just doesn't get it. Rant over.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Printing on the Mac

Getting printing working on the Mac wasn't them most straightforward thing. For starters, I wanted to print to my Suse 10.2 print server over CUPS. The printer is an HP Deskjet 5150 which wasn't on the list of printers that supports network printing.

The first thing to do was download the ESP Ghostscript package (espgs-7.07.1.ppc.dmg), Foomatic RIP (foomatic-rip- and HP driver (hpijs-2.7.10-UB.dmg). Once these were installed, I tried to setup an IPP printer, but this didn't print and put the printer into "Stopped" mode.

The error was unhelpfully "200 Get-Printer-Attributes client-error-not-found".

Using a combination of log watching on the Mac and Linux sides, it appeared that the URL was incorrect. On the Mac, I opened Safari and browed to the CUPS interface (http://localhost:631). I then setup the printer so that the URL was:


The IP address is the IP of the Linux CUPS server and deskjet5100 is the name of the queue on that server. The /printers/ bit was important and the GUI didn't appear to set that up - hence no printing. Having made these changes, the print job was being sent to the correct server, but still didn't print; this time with another unhelpful error:

Print-Job client-error-document-format-not-supported.

Fortunately a quick Google pointed me in the right direction. To fix, I edited /etc/cups/mime.convs on the Linux server, uncommented the following line:

# application/octet-stream application/vnd.cups-raw 0 -

A quick restart of the cups server (service cups restart) was followed by a successful test print!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Posted from a Mac!

My Mac Mini arrived today!

It's tiny, silent and most of all, works with the Belkin Omnicube KVM! It's actually a bit more complex than that: The keyboard is an old AT keyboard (with the old style pre-PS/2 DIN interface) which is converted to PS/2 for the KVM. The mouse is a Microsoft Optical USB mouse which is also converted to PS/2 for the KVM switch. The Omnicube is a four port PS/2 switch which is then plugged into a two port PS/2 to USB converter (that I found in Maplins) and then plugged into the Mini.

The mouse is fine. The keyboard is almost completely sorted. For a start, it finds the UK pound sign correctly, but has problems with the positioning of the speech marks (should be above 2 on the UK keyboard, but is found in the US position), the @ sign (which is now above the 2) and the page up/down, home and end don't seem to work.

Apart from that, it's great. Now I just need to learn Mac OS X

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Locking down Facebook

There has been a flurry of concern regarding the Facebook Beacon advertising system. The first warning came when some Facebook users became aware that third party websites were posting updates to their Facebook minifeed. In response, Facebook changed the privacy options to allow users to opt out, and a number of users found workarounds using the Blocksite add-on for Firefox.

Unfortunately this was insufficient and it has now been revealed that Beacon sites are sending Facebook information even when you are logged out of Facebook! Even worse, unless you are sniffing your network traffic, you wouldn't know about it.

I'm guessing this works because Facebook doesn't remove all cookies when you log out and it is using these cookies to link activities on third party sites back to Facebook.

So in order to allow access to Facebook, without letting them access the rest of my online life, I've done the following:

1) Create a dedicated Firefox profile for Facebook
2) Install Blocksite in the Facebook profile to stop Beacon working
3) Install Blockstie in the default profile to prevent access to Facebook
4) Delete Facebook cookies from the default profile

To create a new profile, configure Firefox to open the profile manager by appending -ProfileManager to the execute command.

Create the new profile (e.g., "facebook") and then create a new Firefox icon, removing the -ProfileManager and adding "-p facebook -no-remote" (without the quotes).

Change your original Firefox icon and add "-p default -no-remote" to the execute command line. You no longer need to use the -ProfileManager switch.

The -p option specifies a profile to use, and the -no-remote allows multiple profiles to be loaded concurrently, so you can have your normal browser and your Facebook browser open at the same time.

Once you have a dedicated Facebook profile setup, use the Blocksite add-on to prevent Beacon from working.

It might also be a good idea to prevent Facebook loading in your default profile, just in case you forget where you are. Again, this can be done using the Blocksite add-on.

Another step you can take to protect your privacy is to use a Yahoo! email disposable address specifically for Facebook. This means that third parties won't be able to link you based on your email address.

It's unlikely that this will be the end of the Facebook privacy problem, but hopefully these techniques will help Facebook isolated from the rest of your online activity.