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I have a user who's an old time unix guy, he's been managing his email using the same tools (unix mail/Mail/mailx) since he started work at Bell labs in 1980. So he's got 20+ years of mail and associated shell variables he uses for filing mail and he'd like to continue using this system. He's had a rough time since we migrated mail from a Solaris 8 mail server to something more modern (Zimbra). He hates graphical email clients and web mail and although he's been running Alpine connecting via IMAP he is desperate to get back to using mailx managing his mail. Our new mail server only provides IMAP/POP/web access, what's the best way to allow him to use unix mail to get his mail?

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He must be one very important user for you to go to such measures to make him happy. – joeqwerty Oct 29 '10 at 0:54
Yep, quite special. He built the first dept mail server in the early 90s. – notpeter Nov 24 '10 at 23:20
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Heirloom mailx is an updated version of unix mail/mailx formerly known as 'nail' which supports IMAP & SMTP with AUTH over SSL. There's even an OSX binary package.

Update: Although the last official OSX alpine binary (1.10) functioned, subsequent releases have got even better and the user ended up being quite happy with alpine entirely replacing 'Mail'. Current Alpine binaries (OSX & Windows) and active development continues over at

Update2: He continues to run Alpine, but Alpine 2.20 which is now a simple brew install alpine away. No fancy patches required.

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