Nevis Mail Forwarding Tips

Some tips on forwarding your mail, both while you're here at Nevis, and when the time comes for you to leave.

Fowarding your mail

When an account is created for you on the Nevis Linux cluster, you automatically get an e-mail address (as described at the top of the mail page). However, you may wish to receive your mail elsewhere.

You have two choices:

Do it yourself

Create a /a/mail/forward/$user file (where $user is the name of your Nevis user account). Put in the e-mail address that should receive any e-mail received at Nevis.

There are two possible locations for a fowarding file: /a/mail/forward/$user and ~/.forward. Which should you use? The latter location, ~/.forward, is the standard for most Unix systems, and it's supported at Nevis. However, it requires that your home directory is available; if your work group's server goes down, your mail won't be forwarded. If you use /a/mail/forward/$user, your mail will be forwarded even if there's a problem on another server.

The page on mail-related files has more information on which file to use.

There is no "man" page for forwarding files. However, the syntax of the addr_n option in a sendmail aliases file is the same as that of a line in a forwarding file. A separate page has been prepared for typical problems.

The advantage of this approach is that it gives you complete control over how and when your mail is forwarded. The disadvantage is that, if you don't do much work on the cluster, you can forget that the fowarding file is there, what your account password is, or other details.

Put it on the mail server

Ask a systems administrator to create a mail alias for you on the mail server. This is the most efficient way for your mail to be forwarded.

The disadvantage of this approach is that you don't have direct control if you change your mind. You can check the list of mail aliases with the command:

ypcat -k aliases | less 
(The ypcat output is long and unsorted; you'll want to use less, sort, or grep to filter the results.) However, you can't change the alias without asking a systems administrator again.

Old mail accounts

Important note: Your mail account is subject to being locked or cancelled as of the moment your formal connection to Nevis Labs is terminated. The issue is not whether you have a legitimate continuing connection with the research at Nevis; the issue is whether external auditors might conceivably consider that an "old" account would pose a security risk.

Therefore, when you leave Nevis, you'll want to have something done about your mail. You should arrange to have it forwarded as described above.

What happens if you leave without giving any instructions about your mail account?

  • If you created a /a/mail/forward/$user file, it will be left as it is. All your mail will be forwarded to the address in that file.

    If your home directory is moved, archived, or deleted after you've left Nevis, the mail address in your forwarding file will be put into the mail server's aliases file instead.

    The mail alias will remain indefinitely, until you ask for it be removed.

  • If you do not have a forwarding file, your account name will be put into the "locked mail" list. If you're curious to see who is on the list now, use the command:
    ypmatch lock-mail-users netgroup 
    All mail sent to names in this list will be rejected by our mail server with the message "no such user".

  • Unless your mail files take up a significant percentage of the available disk space on the mail server, it's likely that your Nevis mail files will be kept indefinitely.
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Topic revision: r2 - 2019-09-09 - WilliamSeligman
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