Category Archives: dovecot

Geek: How to use offlineimap and the dovecot mail server to read your Gmail in Emacs efficiently

2014-04-09: This post is from 2008. =) I think I used dovecot+offlineimap because Gnus and maildir weren’t getting along properly and directly connecting with IMAP to Gmail’s server was slow, but things have probably changed a fair bit since then. I eventually moved to using the Gmail web interface for most things, but I still miss my Gnus setup!
  1. Make sure you’ve set up Postfix or some other mail server that can send mail. I’m not going to cover that because my configuration for outgoing mail doesn’t use Gmail.
  2. Install dovecot (IMAP server) and offlineimap (IMAP synchronization). You can probably find binaries for your distribution.
  3. Edit /etc/dovecot.conf and set the following:
    default_mail_env = maildir:%h/Maildir
  4. Put the following in ~/.offlineimaprc, changing your_local_username, your_username, and your_gmail_password:
    accounts = Gmail 
    maxsyncaccounts = 1
    [Account Gmail]
    localrepository = Local
    remoterepository = Remote
    [Repository Local]
    type = IMAP 
    remotehost = localhost
    port = 143
    remoteuser = your_local_username
    [Repository Remote]
    type = IMAP
    remotehost =
    remoteuser = [email protected]
    remotepass = your_gmail_password
    ssl = yes
    maxconnections = 1
    realdelete = no
    folderfilter = lambda foldername: foldername in ['INBOX']

    If you feel comfortable specifying your password for your local account in your ~/.offlineimaprc, you can do so by adding a remotepass line under the remoteuser line in the [Repository Local] section.

  5. chmod go-rwx ~/.offlineimaprc for a little bit of safety.
  6. Type offlineimap to start synchronizing.
  7. While that’s synchronizing, use something like this as your ~/.gnus:
    (setq gnus-select-method
          '(nnimap "Mail"
    	       (nnimap-address "localhost")
    	       (nnimap-stream network)
    	       (nnimap-authenticator login)))
    (setq user-mail-address "[email protected]")
    (setq gnus-ignored-from-addresses "youruser")
  8. Start Emacs. Start Gnus with M-x gnus. If you don’t see the INBOX group, press ^ (gnus-group-enter-server-mode), open nnimap:Mail, move your cursor to the INBOX, and either press RET to go into the group or press u (gnus-browse-unsubscribe-current-group) to toggle the subscription status until you’re subscribed to the group. Then it should show up on the group screen (M-x gnus).
  9. Hope that helps. Have fun!