Webmail 2.0

One of the really annoying things about starting a new job is learning a completely new infrastructure. Oh it’s not figuring out what 900 Linux hosts do, learning to debug SAN issues, or comprehending the multiple financial businesses my new company is involved in that’s the challenge. The challenge is figuring out how to conveniently read my personal e-mail.

Since most internet access there is restricted or proxied, I decided to just make better use of my webmail setup which runs Squirrelmail. It’s a fine product, but it’s not very flashy, and lacks any sort of Gmail-like conveniences like drag-and-drop message control. Sure I could use ssh to tunnel multiple ports through multiple hosts so that I could run Thunderbird locally, but really web applications like e-mail have gotten a huge boost from “web 2.0” technology like AJAX, so why not?

I spent about an hour looking at various applications, and ended up installing a PHP-based application called RoundCube. The product is still very much in development (you can’t collapse folders, can’t force a message pane at the bottom of the screen, and the inbox list doesn’t always refresh even though it tells you that you have a new message), but looks promising and has a really nice UI. It was simple to set up, so until I stumble upon something better, I’m hooked. It’s definitely high on my “cool AJAX apps” list with mp3act (a really cool streaming music server).

If anyone has any recommendations for other webmail apps (or other must have AJAX-enabled apps), please comment below.

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