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On a RedHat derivitive (CentOS 5.2) linux email server, I'd like users to be able to set an "Out of Office" auto-reply.

The mail server stack uses postfix + amavisd + dovecot + roundcube for the main elements.
Users only have access to the server through email (no shell or file access).

User will enable and disable the "out of office" service by themselves, either by sending an email to a certain account or through other mean.
It must be simple to use for users.

Some of the features I'm looking for "Out of Office" auto-replies:

  • ideally, only send the notification to a given sender once over the period of absence.

  • doesn't send notification to mailing lists.

  • must be server based and not require the user to have their mail client open (I know that Thunderbird can be configured to do that, but it's not a practical solution for us).

  • ideally, allow the user to set their own message (we have users speaking different languages, some will be able to check their emails while they are away, other won't, so I'd like to give them the choice).

Thanks for any help.

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Have you thought about hosted email? There are some good business-class providers out there and then all these headaches disappear. – Ben Dunlap Jun 5 '09 at 6:24
Thanks but not a solution. We already have our mail servers working fine. User have requested the "Out Of Office" auto responders as something they'd like to have, so I'm investigating it. – Renaud Bompuis Jun 5 '09 at 6:37
Just sayin'. I love me my hosted email and I can't imagine hassling with in-house servers. But to each his own I suppose. – Ben Dunlap Jun 5 '09 at 6:48

There's a program called vacation that is a part of most unix and linux distributions. It is server based, and you can set your own messages. I don't think it's too smart, though, so it might not support the first two point on your list.

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Remo Fritzsche's "goldfish" software was written for database-backed virtual email setups (Dovecot, Postfix, ...) as I have documented in my ISPmail tutorial on to provide vacation autoresponders. See: It's basically a cron-based PHP script that uses a database in the background to remember who has already been sent an autoreply. It can be enabled/disabled by a flag in the user accounts table that Postfix/Dovecot use.

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