Strong opinions, weakly held

Setting up other accounts with Gmail

Yesterday I noticed that my Gmail account has been upgraded to allow me to check mail on other accounts. It occurred to me at that point that I didn’t want to give my password to Google because the email account is also a shell account on my server and that its password can be used with sudo to do things with root access on the server.

So today I went and created a brand new mail account that’s not able to log in via the shell at all, and then configured /etc/aliases so that all of the mail that was being sent to my shell account is now sent to the new mail account. I then let Google have POP access to the new account, and now virtually all of my personal email is being shuttled to my Gmail account.

The first thing I notice is that Gmail’s spam filters are better than mine. I use amavisd on my server to filter spam get rid of viruses, and while it (and some milter rules I set up for Postfix) toss out hundreds of unwanted email messages a day, generally 100 to 200 still make it through. Gmail seems to be correctly marking virtually all of them as spam.

The other advantage is consolidation. I usually forget to open Thunderbird and download the personal email that is sent to the addresses that I was hosting myself. Now it’s all in one big inbox.

At this point I’m kind of wondering why I didn’t just set up a forward for my personal email to Google in the first place, since I could have done that as well a long time ago.


  1. I check my Gmail settings daily hoping that it’s been added to my account. I’ve forwarded all but one last pesky account to Gmail. While deep down I’m a little troubled with all of my email going through Google, the convenience factor wins.

  2. You’re not giving them your password, but all your personal mail to datamine, analyze and read? ummmm….. ok.

  3. Thanks for the notice, my account also has gained POP access. I would not have checked otherwise.

  4. Personal email is way less sensitive than a root-access password. I also forward all my personal email to Gmail, and I use them for some somewhat work-related mailing lists, but I haven’t moved my work email to it unlike many of my coworkers, partially because of privacy concerns (I work for a university and FERPA is pretty picky about the type of data I come in contact with) but mostly because I don’t like to mix my work and personal email.

    Gmail’s interface wins big over Thunderbird, though. I feel crippled in T-bird. Maybe I’m missing some useful plugins, but the lack of keyboard control is maddening to me. And email search can’t compare to Gmail.

  5. Rafe, just to clarify, is this what you did?

    Create [email protected]; have [email protected] forwarded to [email protected]; give gmail access to [email protected]; configure gmail to send as [email protected]

    Is that right?

  6. Yep, Gen, that’s exactly what I did. Except that instead of using a .forward file I just mapped my old email address to the new email address in the system’s aliases file.

  7. I currently forward my email from my main email address to my Gmail account. The only thing I don’t like is that email I send comes from my Gmail address, not my main address, and some people end up using the Gmail address instead if they only reply, or use the reply to email address. I would like everyone to continue using my main non-Gmail address.

    By setting up Google to get my mail via POP, I assume this problem still exists. Is that true? Or does Gmail somehow remember that the original recipient of the email was my main address and then send email with as from that email address?

  8. Oh, and due to this issue, I’ve toyed with just switching to Gmail for domains, but I’ve been to lazy to deal with it.

  9. If you go to the account settings in Gmail, you can authorize it to send email from any address you like (assuming you can get email at that address). Then you can set one of them as the default From: address.

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