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E-Mail Server Update

A long time ago I posted that I was going move my E-Mail server away from OS X Server (RIP old friend) to something at that point still undecided in a project that I called XAPPLEPUSHSERVICE. I really did want to turn this into a series of multiple posts about how I switched, the options I considered etc. but I just didn’t have the time with my daily work schedule and having others depend on the E-Mail server being operational. I tested two options, opted for the second one and moved to a new operating system and E-Mail server setup over night while everybody that depended on it being online was asleep.

Just like all my other projects I set the server up to be as maintenance free as possible. Months and months or even years of uptime with no required update or me logging is always the target. Everything that can be automated in a reasonable fashion is automated and as long as I don’t get a message that something burns down I consider it to be online and doing what it’s supposed to be doing for me.

In the end I opted to format the SSD of my server to Ubuntu 18.04 Desktop Edition and installed mailcow. It’s a “mailserver suite”, which is essentially just a fancy term for various docker containers chained together to become something useful. A E-Mail Server.

Everything required to not go crazy operating a E-Mail server, including a web management UI comes with it and allows me to quickly take care of administrative tasks when needed. Users can also log into SoGo (which is written in Objective-C btw, the non-Apple reimplementation of Objetive-C) to get webmail access. It has yet to give me any trouble at all, apart from my own misconfigurations and is absolutely rock solid! I think you can run this setup on essentially any VPS and get yourself a great little E-Mail server which allows you to own your E-Mail data and not have to rely on the mood of any particular VP at some big company in Silicon Valley or Seattle. I do know that there are many other providers out there, I pay for and enjoy Fastmail a lot but they are the exception in an industry filled with big companies trying to lock users in with predatory behaviors.

I have been operating five domains with this one E-Mail server without any trouble for well over a year and can only recommend it. They also offer support packages in case you ever get yourself into some real trouble and hosted setups, meaning they setup and maintain the host but you own your data which in turn also supports further development of this “mailserver suite”.

One of the main downsides that I was prepared for but haven’t yet been able to solve again is the XAPPLEPUSHSERVICE part of this setup. I really miss not getting Push Notifications for incoming E-Mails and I really do not understand why Apple is not openly documenting the interaction, after all they do have to support with it with their own iCloud E-Mail service and have granted Fastmail an exception and allow them to send Push Notifications if you’re using their service through the builtin and not through the Fastmail app that you can download from the App Store. Parts of the interaction are already documented by Apple hidden in their open source archive of OS X Server but some are not and maybe some of it has changed in iOS 11/12/13.