I still prefer email

Although instant messaging has overtaken most of the communication with my friends and family, I still prefer plaintext email. I refused to use things like Whatsapp and so they contacted me through SMS. A few weeks ago I installed Signal on my phone, because this is the only messenger that I think can be trusted and is way more secure than SMS. Now I need to tediously convince them to use that instead. But I really like emails over all forms of digital communication.

I'm running my own email server for around 5 years now and I wish more people, groups and communities did. It's sad to see so many people giving up on maintaining their own mail server. The email business is divided up between a few really big players like Google and Microsoft and these companies are at the same time blocking all other private servers by putting their mails strait into the spam folder. I know that. But we should take back our part in the game.

I'm aware that Google puts my mails in the spam folder and outlook sometimes even discards my mails. I don't care. In case you rely on sending emails to Gmail or Outlook then you are pretty much locked into their service. But as smolnet citizens maybe we shouldn't consider Gmail or Outlook as "email". Instead look at it as another proprietary messaging service which should be avoided.

Of course hosting your own mail server also has some advantages. You are in full control of your infrastructure, privacy and data. Most people in the gemini community are aware of this. Another thing is that you are contributing to the decentralized nature of the email protocol like it was originally intended.

So maybe you should at least think about running your own private email server. Possibly for friends and family.

My Email Solution

My server is running "Mailcow", a complete mail server suite built on docker containers. Of course setting up an email server is not the easiest task. For Mailcow you need at least some experience with selfhosting, VPSes, DNS, Docker and the command line. But it's not rocket science. If you can set up Docker on a VPS, follow the installation manual and set up the needed DNS records, you should be good to go. You can also rent a paid support service or even a fully managed Mailcow server. That would help the Mailcow developers but can be expensive. Consider a donation license if you like it. Of course Mailcow is free/libre software and you can run it without cost.

Mailcow Homepage (www)

Mailcow Documentation (www)

Mailcow on GitHub (www)

You can get some support from the community forum if you have done your homework and ask nicely:

Mailcow Community Forum (www)

You can also try out a demo installation (User: admin | Password: moohoo):

Mailcow Demo Server (www)

It's much simpler to set up a Mailcow server than installing all the needed programs and applications manually altough it needs a little more resources. But especially the tricky configuration bits for security are done for you, so you should be safe in a default installation. Read the docs for the minimum requirements of a server:

Mailcow minimum requirements (www)

Here is a Mailcow installation tutorial for debian and ubuntu. Read through it and check if you can follow it. Consult the documentation for updating and backing up your system.

Mailcow installation tutorial (www)

Please send me an email if you want to tell me about your experiences with mailcow, if you like or dislike it and for what reason.

All in all - have fun!



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