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SquirrelMail Administrator's Manual: Quick Start Guide Next Previous Contents

2. Quick Start Guide

SquirrelMail can be downloaded from the SquirrelMail website or provided by your OS packager. It is configured with the conf.pl utility, that is stored in the config directory. You must configure SquirrelMail before using it. SquirrelMail can be used by accessing it in web browser just like any other files and scripts stored on your web server.

If you want to install SquirrelMail, check the chapters about SquirrelMail installation.

2.1 Directory layout

SquirrelMail files are split into subdirectories according to file type and provided functions.


class directory stores various classes used with mime messages, email delivery, localizations and other interface functions.

config directory stores SquirrelMail configuration files and configuration utility. conf.pl script is a perl based utility used to manage SquirrelMail configuration. The config_default.php file stores default configuration values. The config.php file stores current configuration. The file config_local.php can store local site configuration overrides and configuration options that are not supported by configuration utility. default_pref stores default user preferences that are used when a new user logs in for the first time. default_pref file was stored in the data directory before SquirrelMail 1.5.1.

The contrib directory stores files that provide extra features to SquirrelMail package, but are not used directly in the webmail interface.

The data directory is default location for SquirrelMail users' preference files. You should move that directory outside of web tree or make sure that it can't be accessed by external users. This directory is not packaged anymore since SquirrelMail 1.5.1.

The doc directory stores some documentation about SquirrelMail.

functions directory stores SquirrelMail function files. The decode subdirectory stores charset decoding functions that are used to read emails encoded in different charsets. The encode directory stores charset encoding functions that are used to convert emails to charset used in interface when user replies or forwards email written in different charset.

Under help are SquirrelMail help files. Information from these files is displayed when a user clicks on Help link in SquirrelMail menu line. Help files use XML formating. They can be translated into different languages.

The images directory stores various image files that can be used in interface.

The locale directory stores SquirrelMail translations. A user can select their preferred translation in SquirrelMail Display Options.

The plugins directory stores plugins that can be used to extend SquirrelMail functionality. Activation of plugins is controlled through the SquirrelMail configuration utility. Some plugins might also use their own configuration files or functions provided by other plugins. See README and INSTALL files in each plugin's directory.

The po directory stores scripts that are used to work with SquirrelMail translation files. xgetpo script extracts translatable strings from SquirrelMail script. mergepo script combines default strings with selected translation. compilepo script compiles selected translation. These scripts are usually used only by SquirrelMail translators.

The src directory stores scripts that are used when user accesses the webmail interface.

The templates directory stores template files that can be used in SquirrelMail 1.5.1 and later versions.

The themes directory stores SquirrelMail colour themes, and the css subdirectory stores style sheet files available to end user.

2.2 User data storage

SquirrelMail stores users' preferences and address books in simple text files. The location of these files is set with the data directory setting in the SquirrelMail configuration. SquirrelMail can also use a database or some other storage facility (if the required backend is provided by a plugin) for managing user preferences.

Users' preferences are stored in .pref files. Address books are stored in .abook files. .sig and .si<somenumber> files store users' signatures. Some plugins might use other files to store users' data.

When the number of files in the data directory becomes somewhat large, directory access time can be affected. In such cases, the administrator can split preference files into subdirectories by enabling directory hashing in the SquirrelMail configuration.

2.3 Configuration utility

SquirrelMail can be configured with conf.pl, a Perl script that is stored in the config/ directory. You can start it by running the configure script in the SquirrelMail base directory or by running the conf.pl script in the config directory.

# cd /path/to/squirrelmail
# cd config
# ./conf.pl

This configuration utility provides menu based configuration options:

SquirrelMail Configuration : Read: config_default.php (1.4.0)
Main Menu --
1.  Organization Preferences
2.  Server Settings
3.  Folder Defaults
4.  General Options
5.  Themes
6.  Address Books
7.  Message of the Day (MOTD)
8.  Plugins
9.  Database
10. Languages

D.  Set pre-defined settings for specific IMAP servers

C   Turn color on
S   Save data
Q   Quit

Command >>

Menu is controlled by entering numbers or letters that are listed on the left side.

2.4 The address book format

By default SquirrelMail stores address books in files, one per address book, named [user account name].abook. These address book files are kept in the data directory. Address books can also be stored in a database or, if the required functions are provided by a plugin, another storage facility. SquirrelMail can also be configured to lookup addresses in LDAP directories, if the PHP installation contains LDAP support.

An address book file contains five fields, which are delimited by the vertical line (|): the first field stores nicknames, short names that are used to identify address book entries; the second field stores names; the third field stores surnames; the forth field stores mail addresses; and the fifth field stores additional information.

Additional address book fields and functions can be provided by the experimental vcard address book format and some address book plugins. You can find list of address book plugins at the SquirrelMail site.

Also see personal and shared address books.

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