IT Development/Email Migration

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IT Development
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This page will document the process for migrating email and mailing list services for WMUK to the new server infrastructure.

Mail servers work as follows; an SMTP server acts as the core Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) receiving and sending mail for users. This mail is then stored on disk, either in Maildir or Mbox format. A second server will provide POP3 & IMAP (i.e. mailbox) access to users by reading those delivered files.

In practice migrating the archives is relatively simple, however locating all the configuration settings and mail and ensuring it is adequately migrated will take a little time.

Current setup[edit | edit source]


  • Qmail (SMTP)
  • Courier (POP3 & IMAP)
  • SpamAssassin (anti-spam)
  • Mailman (mailing list)

Mail is stored in Maildir format & accounts are configured using Plesk Panel.

Migration scheme[edit | edit source]

  • Install Qmail/Courier/Mailman onto Services & perform basic configuration
  • For each domain:
    • Copy configuration settings & data for the above using rsync
    • Test delivery to new server
    • Add a new MX record pointing to the new server
    • Remove the old MX record (24 hours later)
  • Once all domains are migrated:
    • Perform a final sync on mail from old server, to ensure everything is captured

I plan for this to take around 4-5 days work over the Christmas period, it may take a little longer if problems occur. Because of the monolithic nature of the email/mailing list setup (unavoidable) it has to all go at once (per domain) meaning a lot of potential risk points - however by migrating, testing *then* failing over I believe we can remove any possibility of down-time or data loss.

I plan to start with the Wikiconferences domain/email before moving onto the others.

Notification[edit | edit source]

I plan to notify everyone affected at least 48 hours before their domain is changed - they may need to update some settings to continue to receive email (i.e. via imap or pop3) or view webmail. I also plan to make public announcements to the mailing lists warning of the migrations in plenty of time. Please let me know what other notifications are needed.

Mailing List[edit | edit source]

Hi everyone,

Over the next few weeks I, as one of WMUK's two technology contractors, will be migrating all email and mailing list services to a new server. This is one of the final steps in transitioning all of the charities web properties onto the new infrastructure.

You can read all about this process here:

  • How does this affect me?*

If you have an email address with the charity you may need to update some settings. You will be receiving a more detailed email to your personal account in the coming days with the full information. Alternatively, please have a read of this page: If you have a redirected email account (i.e. all mail is forwarded to a personal account) then nothing will change and no action needs to be taken.

All other users: the mailing list migration is scheduled for the weekend of the 20th January. Over this period there may be small windows when the mailing list is unavailable. At the same time I will be migrating all office & trustee email accounts.