The Book of IMAP

Book of IMAP

Building a Mail Server with Courier and Cyrus
by Peer Heinlein and Peer Hartleben
May 2008, 368 pp.

IMAP (the Internet Message Access Protocol) allows clients to access their email on a remote server, whether from the office, a remote location, or a cell phone or other device. IMAP is powerful and flexible, but it's also complicated to set up; it's more difficult to implement than POP3 and more error-prone for both client and server.

The Book of IMAP offers a detailed introduction to IMAP and POP3, the two protocols that govern all modern mail servers and clients. You'll learn how the protocols work as well as how to install, configure, and maintain the two most popular open source mail systems, Courier and Cyrus.

Authors Peer Heinlein and Peer Hartleben have set up hundreds of mail servers and offer practical hints about troubleshooting errors, migration, filesystem tuning, cluster setups, and password security that will help you extricate yourself from all sorts of tricky situations. You'll also learn how to:

  • Create and use shared folders, virtual domains, and user quotas
  • Authenticate user data with PAM, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and LDAP
  • Handle heavy traffic with load balancers and proxies
  • Use built-in tools for server analysis, maintenance, and repairs
  • Implement complementary webmail clients like Squirrelmail and Horde/IMP
  • Set up and use the Sieve email filter

Thoroughly commented references to the POP and IMAP protocols round out the book, making The Book of IMAP an essential resource for even the most experienced system administrators.

Author Bio 

Peer Heinlein has been operating an independent ISP in Berlin with his colleagues since 1992. He specializes in mail servers of various sizes and enjoys ambitious Linux projects. He shares his experience in books and trainings.

Peer Hartleben is a CTO and Linux Security Consultant with a focus on Cyrus-based mail servers.

Co-published with Open Source Press; translated from German by Katherine Salter.

Table of contents 


PART 1: How to Set Up and Maintain IMAP Servers
Chapter 1: Protocols and Terms
Chapter 2: POP3 and IMAP at the Protocol Level
Chapter 3: Load Distribution and Reliability
Chapter 4: Selecting a Filesystem
Chapter 5: Complementary Webmail Clients
Chapter 6: Migrating IMAP Servers

PART 2: Courier-IMAP
Chapter 7: Structure and Basic Configuration
Chapter 8: Maildir as Email Storage Format
Chapter 9: User Data
Chapter 10: The Work of a Courier Administrator

PART 3: Cyrus-IMAP
Chapter 11: Structure and Basic Configuration
Chapter 12: A Closer Look at the Configuration Files
Chapter 13: Authentication and Safeguards
Chapter 14: Advanced Cyrus Configuration
Chapter 15: Internal Structure and Modules
Chapter 16: Cyrus at the Filesystem Level
Chapter 17: Cyrus in a Cluster

Appendix A: IMAP Command Reference
Appendix B: POP3 Command Reference
Appendix C: Installing from the Source Code

View the detailed Table of Contents (PDF)
View the Index (PDF)


"The Book of IMAP: Building a Mail Server with Courier and Cyrus, by Peer Heinlein and Peer Hartleben, is a quality resource for any serious mail administrator. The approach taken is direct, but at the same time it's very expansive, setting this book apart from most others I have read."
Ryan Masters, OS News (Read More)

"The Book of IMAP is really a how-to guide for anyone wanting to build not just an IMAP server, but one that delivers a high-performance, high-reliability service. . . . Highly recommended."
Mark Gibbs, Gearhead (Read More)

"I've had the opportunity over the years to be a principle person doing the architecture and design of two fairly large-scale email systems, one using commercial products based on Cyrus for a large national ISP and one using purely open-source software and built around Courier-IMAP for a medium-to-large multinational corporation. I feel that this book has definitely helped me achieve a better and deeper understanding of these packages."
;login: The USENIX Magazine (Read More)

"The book is a useful and thoroughly technical read for the mailserver administrator working on IMAP or related professionals wanting to know more about this opensource mailserver technology."
Ganadeva Bandyopadhyay, (Read More)

"IT pros and libraries catering to them need The Book of IMAP: a reference that offers detailed instructions to IMAP and POP3, the basics governing all modern mail servers and clients. The authors have set up hundreds of mail servers: their advice is invaluable and clear."
The Midwest Book Review (Read More)