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Download all required software

You can find the SquirrelMail package at the SquirrelMail site. PHP can be found at the PHP site .

Install web server and PHP (version 4.1.0 or above)

SquirrelMail needs a web server with PHP support. Please refere to the PHP installation manual for information about what web servers PHP works with and its installation procedures.

Note that some Linux and Unix distributions provide a precompiled web server with PHP support built in.

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We recommend the following PHP settings:

  • register_globals off - This is a dangerous setting when enabled, and is not generally needed for most recent PHP applications. We no longer release security advisories for issues only exploitable with this setting turned on because it has long been a well-known weakness in PHP (and has been removed from PHP 6). Note that you can easily enable it only for a single legacy application that may require it while keeping the default off for the rest of your applications.
  • magic_quotes_ off - SquirrelMail may work with any of these turned on, but if you experience stray backslashes in your mail or other strange behaviour, it may be advisable to turn them off.
  • file_uploads on - This is needed if your users want to attach files to their emails.
  • safe_mode on or off - Turning safe mode on in SquirrelMail's case is not much more secure than having it off. When it is enabled, incompatibilities with some functionality may arise (see our safe mode notes ).

Install IMAP server

What IMAP server you can use depends on what the other components in your email system are and how they were installed and configured. The IMAP server needs to understand and be compatible with how messages are stored on your system.

If you use Unix or Linux with a standard sendmail MTA server, you probably have to install an IMAP server that works with mail stored in /var/spool/mail/. such as UW IMAP, Dovecot, etc.

If you are running your email server on a Windows platform, you might have to enable an IMAP service that is bundled with your email server.

If your email server does not support IMAP, you might have to find some other email server product.

Unpack SquirrelMail package

Unpack the SquirrelMail package in a web-accessible location.

Prepare data and attachment directories

Select a data dirrectory and attachment dirrectory outside of the web server's reach (for example in a Unix or Linux environment, a subdirectory of /var is a good place for these).

The data directory is where SquirrelMail user preferences are stored - even when you have configured SquirrelMail to store user preferences in a database, some plugins might still need to use this directory. The attachment directory is used mainly for temporary storage of file uploads that will become email attachments.


Both of these directories should be writable (not readable) by the web server and no one else (except you). In a Unix or Linux environment, that means that they should be owned by the root user if possible (otherwise whatever user you log in as), their group should be the same as that that the web server runs as (e.g. "www-data", "apache", "nobody", "wheel", etc.), and their permissions should be 0730 (rwx-wx---).

If you use PHP with safe mode enabled, check our safe mode notes which explain other possible limitations on these directories.

Directory access considerations

Only a small subset of the SquirrelMail source code needs to be directly accessible to users' browsers. The rest of the source code is used internally by SquirrelMail. Leaving the entire source tree open to outside access is not a problem or vulnerability, but some attackers have been known to snoop for old versions of SquirrelMail by trying to inspect things such as the ChangeLog file. If you want to employ the maximum level of protection against snoops and would-be attackers, you can make use of the .htaccess files that come with the SquirrelMail source code by adding " AllowOverride AuthConfig " to the Directory settings for SquirrelMail in your Apache configuration file (if using the Apache web server), or you can use the Directory settings suggested in the Apache configuration section below.

Configure SquirrelMail

Run config/conf.pl (or just configure ) from the command line. This is a Perl script, so if you do not have Perl installed, please refer to our notes about how to configure SquirrelMail without shell access .

Use the D option to load predefined settings for your particular IMAP server, and edit at least the Server Settings and General Options (making sure to set the "Data Directory" and "Attachment Directory" settings).

Check your SquirrelMail configuration

Browse to example.com/squirrelmail/src/configtest.php to test your configuration for common errors. You'll need to adjust the " example.com " and " squirrelmail " parts to match the location where you installed it. Note that in SquirrelMail versions 1.5.0 and up, if you are accessing configtest.php from any place other than the machine where SquirrelMail is installed, you'll need to make sure $allow_remote_configtest is enabled in your configuration file to do so (or see " 11. Tweaks " ==> " 7. Allow remote configtest " in the configuration utility). If you do that, be sure to disable it again when you are finished.

Log into SquirrelMail

Browse to example.com/squirrelmail/ to log in. Again, you'll need to change " example.com " and " squirrelmail " to whatever the location is that you have it installed.

This chapter covers the installation of SquirrelMail and related packages on a generic Unix or Linux system. It does not cover the installation of the operating system or any other tools required for a fully functional email system.

Any version numbers used in these examples are specific to the time when this documentation was written. You should generally use the most up to date versions of all software involved. That is, if there are newer versions of these packages available now, you'll probably want to substitute the newer numbers in the examples below. Make sure that you are not using old, obsolete or vulnerable software!

This guide uses the UW IMAP server, because it is a simple (and ubiquitous) example and because it can be used in most generic email system setups where incoming mail is stored in the /var/spool/mail directory. If you are planning to offer webmail on a system with a large number of users or where users have large mailboxes, consider planning a better email system design and using different IMAP server software.

PLEASE NOTE that before you begin installing such things as a web server, PHP or an IMAP server, you should check whether or not your system already has such software installed. Many server-class systems come with that kind of software ready to go. Also note that these installation instructions use generic compilation commands that should work on most any system, however your system may have more graceful (and even easier) ways to install software, like the apt-get tool in systems such as Debian and the yum tool in systems such as Fedora/Red Hat.

Typically, you'll need to have root-level access to your server to perform these operations.

Download required software

Unpack and install Apache

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