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SquirrelMail Administrator's Manual: Support, feedback, and suggestions Next Previous Contents

12. Support, feedback, and suggestions

12.1 Before asking for support

First of all you should read the documentation. Apart from the documentation included when installing SquirrelMail (you'll find it in doc/), and the documentation for the end users (which is available through the "Help" link in SquirrelMail), there are a few other useful resources:

After reading the documentation there's one more thing to do: search for more information on your own. The SquirrelMail Project has mailing list archives and trackers which contains useful information. The answers to your questions are likely to be found there if not in the documentation. It's also recommended to use a search engine, such as Google, or the SquirrelMail search page.

Please use the tools described above, to make sure that you're not repeating a question that have been asked before. Chances are that the answer you're looking for is out there already.

12.2 Needed details

To be able to get help solving your problem, you need to provide details about it. The better details you provide, the easier it will become to find the solution needed. Make it a rule to collect as much information as possible, even if you think that it might be irrelevant. Having to ask about more details is quite common and slows down the process, which most likely isn't what you want when asking for support.

Everyone trying to solve a problem, regardless of what kind of problem it might be, wants to know as much as possible about the various things that might affect the situation at hand. Here are some details that's needed when asking for SquirrelMail support.

  • SquirrelMail version (such as 1.4.0, 1.5.0, or 1.4.12-SVN from 2007-10-04)
  • Every plugin installed (both names and version numbers)
  • PHP version (such as 4.2.0 or 5.2.4)
  • Web server (both brand and version number, such as Apache 1.3.27, or IIS 5.0)
  • IMAP server (both brand and version number, such as Courier-IMAP 4.2.0, UW IMAP as packaged by Debian as "uw-imapd (7:2002edebian1-13.1)", or Microsoft Exchange Server 2003)
  • SMTP server (both brand and version number, such as Sendmail 8.14.1, or Postfix as packaged by FreeBSD as "postfix-2.4.5,1")
  • OS and, if applicable, distribution (such as Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 for i386 (kernel "linux-image-2.6.18-4-686 (2.6.18.dfsg.1-12etch2)"), Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.0.0 for PPC, NetBSD 3.1 for ARM, or Windows 2000)
  • How your software was installed, including the package name if applicable (Fedora 7 "dovecot-1.0.1-12.fc7" installed by RPM, or SquirrelMail 1.4.11 installed manually)
  • Browsers tried (both brand and version, such as Firefox 2.0.0.7, or Internet Explorer 7.0.6000.16512)
  • Any things that might make your install different, even if minor (such as web server rewrite rules, configuration files, load balancers, and proxies)
  • Error messages (see below)

The bug report plugin (bundled with SquirrelMail) collects a number of useful details, as does the http://example.com/path-to-squirrelmail/src/configtest.php script script. Make sure that the data provided by at least one of these is part of your request for support.

Read more about how to ask for support in a smart way at How to Ask Questions the Smart Way and How to Report Bugs Effectively. Those pages are general suggestions applicable to almost all open source software, not only the SquirrelMail Project, and aren't maintained by the SquirrelMail Project Team.

Remember that details are of the essence, and it's close to impossible to give too many of them.

Error Messages

When you are getting errors from SquirrelMail, PHP, your IMAP logs, or any other source, please copy and paste the exact message text from all error messages. Error messages from the SMTP or IMAP servers can usually be found in the system mail log, which might be in a place such as /var/log/maillog, and PHP errors might be found in the web server logs (sometimes in a file such as /var/log/httpd/error_log), or by turning PHP error displays on by either using the Debugger plugin or by editing php.ini (display_errors=On and error_reporting=E_ALL) and restarting your web server.

The suggested logs above might not be applicable for your system, so check your system documentation if you don't know where to find the error messages.

12.3 Posting guidelines

In addition to the sections above, there are some extra things to think about when using the mailing lists.

Discuss SquirrelMail

All the lists are related to SquirrelMail, so please don't use them for non-related topics. If, for some reason, you have to post something off topic, please mark that post with "OT" in the subject line.

Post in plain text

Disable HTML posting in your mail client when posting the mailing lists. Most archive tools can't handle HTML, so try to describe your problem with words in plain text, and not in colors and such.

Use a meaningful subject line

See " Choosing a subject line".

Use inline replying

People may argue the pros and cons for various posting styles, such as top-posting, bottom-posting, and double quoting, but use inline replying when mailing to the SquirrelMail mailing lists. Remember that any mail you send isn't just useful now and for yourself. When searching the archives months later, being able to read a mail top-down is much easier than having to jump back and forth in the mail to get the context. More information can be found in Wikipedia's article on posting style.

Trim your replies

Remove irrelevant lines from your replies, such as footers, but leave enough for someone to understand the context when searching the archives.

Link to images, don't attach them

Try not to use images, but sometimes a picture says more than a thousand words. In those cases, please refrain from attaching your picture. Publishing it at the web and providing a link to it helps keeping the list volume down.

Only describe one problem per thread

Don't describe more than one problem per thread. That helps when choosing a fitting subject and is more useful when searching the archives.

Start a new thread when having a new problem

Don't reply to a thread when your own post is not related to it, also known as "hijacking threads". This is valid even if you change both the subject and the mail body, since the other headers (which you can't change from your client) will make your post appear in the thread you're replying to. Always start a new thread from scratch.

Be patient

Don't expect to get a reply within minutes. Wait at least 24 hours before posting the same mail again. If you're impatient, you might want to consider getting commercial support instead.

Remember to follow RFC 1855 - Netiquette Guidelines as much as possible, unless it clashes with the guidelines above.

Choosing a subject line

Make sure to use a subject line that describes the problem at hand. Putting "Help" is a poor description, but something like "Connection dropped by IMAP on login attempts" is more useful, both for you, the people trying to help you, and other people searching the archives since they have similar issues.

To make the mailing list archives easier to search and use, please keep the following in mind when choosing a subject for your post to the mailing list:

  • Not everyone wants to read every message. A good subject lets readers know the subject without opening the message.
  • The mailing list archives serve as a form of self-generating documentation. The better your subject line, the more likely someone will learn from your post or reply.
  • If you are certain that the problem is related to a specific plugin, you should include the plugin name in the subject line.
  • If you are writing a reply, try to preserve the sender's original subject (unless it is the generic "no subject") as this helps preserve threading if other reply mechanisms do not.

Some examples of good subject lines:

  • Warnings with today's SVN trunk
  • SquirrelMail 1.0.1 doesn't work with PHP 4.0.1p1
  • Re: SquirrelMail 1.0.1 doesn't work with PHP 4.0.1p1
  • compose.php won't load in Mozilla
  • mail_fetch plugin 1.4.9a hangs checking for messages
  • Subject line does not appear when sending mail to oneself

Some examples of too generic subject lines which violates the policy:

  • SquirrelMails
  • Problem (or variations thereof, like "I have a problem" or "SquirrelMail Problem")
  • Error
  • (No Subject)
  • squirrelmail-devel digest, Vol x #xxxx - x msgs

12.4 Free support

Before contacting the free support, which is provided by the SquirrelMail Project Team and the SquirrelMail community, make sure that the prerequisites are fulfilled. Please note that this free service is "best effort only", i.e. please do not demand answers within a certain timeframe in the same way as when you have a commercial support agreement.

Please note that the free support only covers the SquirrelMail software, and not any other problems that you might have regarding sending or receiving mail with your employer's or ISP's particular installation. Problems such as "My mail keeps bouncing", "How come the boss didn't get my big proposal? Fix it!", or "Why are you blocking my mail?" is akin to asking the folks who built the road why your car's running poorly.

There are three ways to contact the SquirrelMail Project Team: the mailing lists, the trackers, and the Internet Relay Chat channel. The information needed is applicable to all of them. If you're not sure which method to use, you're most likely best off trying the mailing lists first.

The mailing lists

If you have general questions, comments, or suggestions please send them to our mailing lists. The SquirrelMail Project Team actively monitors the lists, and you should get replies within a reasonable time. The available lists are listed below.

When you try to join a list, a confirmation mail will be sent to you. Simply reply to that confirmation message (leaving the subject line intact), and you will be subscribed. Remember that you must be a member of a mailing list in order to post to it.

Mailing listDescriptionSubscribeArchives
SquirrelMail Announcement Mailing ListVery low traffic, moderated, announcements only. Subscribe S M G N
SquirrelMail CVS Mailing List (legacy name)Messages are sent for every change in the SquirrelMail source code repository. Subscribe S M G N
SquirrelMail Webmail Development Mailing ListFor discussing the development of and submitting patches for SquirrelMail Webmail. Subscribe S M G N
SquirrelMail IMAP Proxy Mailing ListFor discussing both the development and use of SquirrelMail IMAP Proxy. Subscribe S M G N L
SquirrelMail Internationalization Mailing ListQuestions and discussions concerning translations, character sets, etc. Subscribe S M G N
SquirrelMail Webmail Plugins Mailing ListFor help with using and developing SquirrelMail Webmail plugins. Subscribe S M G N
SquirrelMail Spanish Mailing ListThis list is inactive, but the archives still exist.Inactive S M G N
SquirrelMail Stable Series Mailing ListThis list is inactive, but the archives still exist.Inactive S M G N
SquirrelMail Webmail Users Mailing List (legacy name)Despite its name, this list is intended for supporting administrators and not end users. This is the main SquirrelMail Webmail list, dealing mostly with administrating SquirrelMail Webmail and general feedback. Subscribe S M G N

Legend: S = SourceForge, M = MARC, G = Gmane, L = Legacy, N = Nabble (there's also an all-in-one interface for all list archives at Nabble).

The subscription interface for all mailing lists can also be found at the project site at SourceForge.

The trackers

The SquirrelMail Project uses trackers to manage bugs, patches and feature requests. Using a tracker instead of the mailing lists prevent your patches, feature requests, and bug reports from "getting drowned" in the amount of mails at the lists. Try to use the trackers only when reporting new, not previously addressed issues. If you're not sure whether to use the mailing lists or the trackers, ask for advice at the mailing lists.

TrackerUse
Bug reportsFor reporting newly discovered bugs not solved in the latest version of SquirrelMail.
Feature requestsFor requesting features not provided by the latest version of SquirrelMail or any available plugins.
PatchesFor providing patches against a recent repository version of SquirrelMail. See the SquirrelMail Developer's Manual for more information about patches.

A list of all trackers can be found at the project site at SourceForge.

The Internet Relay Chat channel

The SquirrelMail Project has an Internet Relay Chat channel. It can be used to get support on a best effort basis. Ask your question and wait patiently - someone will answer it eventually. Keep in mind that even if the channel appears populated, most of the users are away from their keyboards (AFK) most of the time. And no, typing "Hello?" won't get them back any quicker - it's better to describe what you need help with.

For those interested, there's a page with nickname mapping in the wiki.

12.5 Commercial support

There are third party companies that provide commercial support and service level agreements for SquirrelMail installations. These companies make their living supporting open source software for a fee, so don't call them asking for free support. Depending on the services they provide, they might not require you to do as much research on your own as when asking for free support, and you might be able to have guaranteed response and resolution times as well (check your support contact for the details).

12.6 Security issues

The SquirrelMail Project takes security very seriously. If you think you've discovered a security-related issue in SquirrelMail, i.e. something that's a problem for all users installing and using SquirrelMail, please contact the SquirrelMail Project Team directly. The developers will do their best to work with you towards a solution as quickly as possible and will of course give all credit where it's due.

A list of already solved SquirrelMail security issues and the contact information for security issues can be found at the SquirrelMail security page.


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