Even though I’ve been happy running Postfix – and to some degree rather enjoy the rôle of sysadmin – I’m not happy having my email depend on the caprice of our crappy DSL modem. If my web site is down for several days while I’m away its not such an inconvenience, but having reliable email is a must.

Not only that, but the pieces required to build a secure and relatively spam-free email system are a pain to find and configure. I was running Postfix, and Binc IMAP. I did my best locking down Postfix, but never set up any kind of Bayesian filtering, nor did I ever finish the experiment of using OpenSSL to set up a simple certificate authority (CA) so I could mint and sign my own SSL certs.

Overall there were too many little hurdles; it just seemed like too much bother. Latterly I’ve been forwarding my mail to Gmail and reading it there; Google’s spam filtering does a good job.

In addition to the hassle of setting it up, I don’t find email infrastructure that interesting. I’d rather spend time on hosting the wiki, my source code repositories, and whatever else I may think of.

Until recently there wasn’t (to my knowledge) a good & cheap option for offloading email hosting. But I started reading about Google Apps and got excited about using that service to host my email. Some say Google is evil (contrary to their motto – heavens!) and that giving them my email is a bad idea; but as I was already doing this – by relaying it from my machine (running Postfix) to my Gmail account – removing my unreliable link sounded appealing.

The only “problem” I’ve seen so far is that now I have more Gmail accounts than I know what to do with. Right now I forward the Google Apps email to my original Gmail account. One odd quirk is that spam isn’t forwarded. This sounds like a good thing but not all mail in the spam folder really is spam: there are occasional false positives. But they are infrequent enough that simply logging into the “front line” Gmail account and checking it isn’t an overwhelming burden.

One fabulous recent addition to Gmail is IMAP access. Now it’s possible to use local email clients – like mutt, Apple Mail, or Thunderbird – to access Gmail-hosted mail.

I’m looking forward to sending encrypted mail via Gmail – perhaps using Thunderbird and X509 certs (of my own making of course ;-) – and seeing what ads Google serves, or if they get excited and block the traffic...