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Accessing your SDF Email

There are several ways to get and send email at SDF, but the different options depend on your membership(s) here. This guide is intended to describe the options simply and clearly, by membership level

Membership Levels and Email Access

Here are the membership levels that matter for email (see SDF join page for more details):

  • User
  • Pre-validated User: This is before you are “validated” by either sending a nominal amount of money to SDF(enter validate at shell) or by finding a MetaARPA member to validate you
  • Validated User/ARPA
  • MetaARPA

*VHOST includes VPM

The differences of the above accounts, besides the cost, is that VPM, VHOST and MetaARPA are annual memberships, so require continuing support of SDF, while User and ARPA are lifetime memberships, and only require payment once.

Ways to Get and Send Email at SDF

By default your E-mail Address is your SDF username, which by default works with a couple of domain names (you can also choose the domain you would like to use from the list of SDF domain names).

So if your username is “coffee” you can try sending yourself a mail with your existing E-mail account to: or

Then you can try to read it.

Ways to read and send your SDF mail include the following:

Email Programs from Shell (Memberships: User or ARPA or MetaARPA)

You can always access your SDF mail account through any of several email programs installed on the server. All of these emails access your “mail spool”, where your email is put by the mail server.

mutt is available even to Pre-validated Users. Just type mutt at the command prompt. Here's How to Use mutt

Other programs, including pine, alpine, mailx and rmail are available to any Validated User or ARPA or MetaARPA. Pine and Alpine are related programs (Pine is older, Alpine is newer) that are both frequently considered to be the easiest shell email programs to use, with on-screen help and a menu interface. Enter pine or alpine respectively to run either of these. You can find more info on how to use them at E-mail Beginners.

For users at the User level, to learn about your limited allowed space and the significance of the mail spool, see the difference between using mutt and alpine here: mutt and alpine and the spool. This also may be useful if you use both a shell mail client and webmail interchangeably.

Webmail (Memberships: Validated User or ARPA or MetaARPA)

There are two webmail interfaces:

Local Client Email (Memberships: User or ARPA or MetaARPA)

If you want to use an email program running on your computer or phone or tablet or other device to access your SDF mail, things get a little more complicated. At different membership levels, you have a different set of options for both getting (“fetching”) or sending your mail.

Basically, While User or ARPA can read mail on their own machines or devices, the SDF mail server does not offer outgoing SMTP to users at these membership levels. You can still compose messages on your own machine, however, leaving the final delivery to be handled by either:

  • your ISP's mail server, or
  • an SSH session to SDF that initiates sendmail -t instead of the usual interactive shell.

With the first option (local ISP), setting the “Envelope-from” address to might result in the message getting blocked by your recipient's email provider, since your local ISP is not likely to be recognized as a valid origin for an address like (i.e, the message fails SPF/DKIM verification). The second option (sendmail in an SSH session) will present no such discrepancy between “Envelope-from” and originating host, so the message is more likely to be delivered successfully.

Local Client Email: Receiving Mail (Memberships: Validated User or ARPA or VPM or VHOST or MetaARPA)

There are two ways to read your incoming email using a client mail program. You can choose either, except if you are using virtual mailboxes with a VPM membership, in which case your only option is POP3:

  • POP3 fetches a copy of your mail from the mail spool to your local machine, and optionally deletes it from the spool. POP3 works with most any email program, and you can keep the messages on the server to be able to access mail equally from multiple machine/mail programs. However if you are accessing a POP3 server from multiple machines, having to deal with synchronizing and multiple copies and deleting mail from the server can be a problem;
  • IMAP accesses mail on the server and lets you organize it into folders on the server. IMAP keeps your mail centrally located and organized so it is all equally accessible from multiple mail programs and devices at the same time.

Setting up to read mail with POP3

(from the POP3/IMAP email faq)

The mail server to connect to for POP3 is The rest of the POP3 settings should be:

  • Your security should be set to None
  • Your Port should be 110
  • Your user name depends on the account:
    • for your main User/ARPA/metaARPA account, it should be the same as your login name, example: user1234
    • If you are accessing mail for a VPM account, your username should be the full email address with your VPM/VHOST domain name, ex:
  • Your password should be either your account password (for your main User/ARPA/metaARPA account), or the password you set for the VPM email address using mkvpm

Setting up to read mail with IMAP

See this guide for setting up IMAP

IMAP settings should be:

  • Incoming Mail Server Account Type: IMAP
  • Description: SDF
  • Incoming Mail Server:
  • User Name: for your main User/ARPA/metaARPA account, it should be the same as your login name
  • Password: for your main User/ARPA/metaARPA account, it should be the same as your login password

Local Client Email: Sending Email Via SMTP (Memberships: User or ARPA or VPM or VHOST or MetaARPA)

As mentioned above, there are different paths for sending SDF mail from an email client on your computer or other device, depending on your membership level.

If you want to use SDF's outgoing mail server, you must either pay annual dues for any of VPM, VHOST or MetaARPA, or start an SSH session at some point in the message composition/delivery process.

Sending Mail from your client through your ISP

If you are at the User or ARPA level and have downloaded a message to your local client and want to make it look as if is replying, first check whether your mail client lets you define different servers for incoming and outgoing mail. Many mail clients will only let you define a single server per email address, regardless of the direction the mail is going. But K-9 Mail for Android–see the app store–is a client that will definitely work.

After you've set up your email client to receive mail (see above), the next thing you need to do is figure out the outgoing mail server that your computer or device's ISP provides.

For example, if you are with Comcast on your computer at home, you can set up POP3 or IMAP in your favorite mail client as described above to read your SDF mail, and use your Comcast mail SMTP server (outgoing mail server) to send mail “from” your SDF account. On your phone, you can do the same, except you would use Verizon/Sprint/T-mobile's SMTP server (you may have to look up how if you don't know it) for sending messages “from” your SDF account.

Next, you can follow the directions in setting up mail clients, but you'll have to replace the values for the settings with those of your ISP's outgoing SMTP server.

Sending Mail from your client through SDF

Sending Mail from your client through SSH session

Validated users, ARPA, and all other memberships can initiate an SSH session with SDF on port 22 that runs sendmail -t instead of an interactive shell. By telling this SSH session to get its standard input from a MIME-formatted file, you can do the mail composition on your local machine and avoid the lag of a high-latency connection. See ssh noninteractive sendmail for more details.

Sending Mail from your client through SDF port 587 (SMTP with Transport Layer Security)

MetaARPA, VPM or VHOST memberships only: At these membership levels you are allowed to use the SDF SMTP servers to send mail from your computers and devices, as yoou have access to the program mkvpm.

To set up SDF's SMTP service for your mail client, please see setting up mail clients, and use the settings values there.

For VHOST memberships: if you are using email addresses on your VHOST using mkvpm, you need to add a SPF record to your VHOST's .dns file so other mail services (Google, Yahoo!, AOL) won't reject your emails as spam. See Add SPF Record for your VPM mail

email_at_sdf.txt · Last modified: 2023/08/18 19:00 by peteyboy