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transfer linux email configuration and data

Posted on 2000-04-12
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Last Modified: 2010-03-18
I need to transfer over the entire email configuration and data from an older machine to a new one.  The server software being used is whatever comes with the RedHat 6.0 distribution.  (If it helps, I use the linuxconf tool to add and remove users, etc.)  I need to know which files and directories I need to copy over to the new computer and what I have to do to complete the switch.
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Question by:hopperp
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Expert Comment

by:jlevie
ID: 2710591
You'll need to transfer the contents of /etc/passwd (and shadow if used) as well as /etc/group & aliases for starters. You'll also need the user's home dirs and the contents of /var/spool/mail. I'm pretty sure that the sendmail version changed so you need to set up the new box's sendmail yourself. Also you may need to install IMAP/POP3 on the new system if you have remote access to mail.

A caution about the passwd/shadow file... If you are moving from 6.0 to 6.1 or 6.2 you can merge the passwd/shadow entries for your users into the new systems files with an editor. If the new system doesn't use the same encryption scheme for passwords (MD5 vs DES for example), then you'll need to enter each user's password into the new system. Do the same thing with the group and alises file, merge what you need in rather than just copying.
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LVL 40

Expert Comment

by:jlevie
ID: 2711605
You'll need to transfer the contents of /etc/passwd (and shadow if used) as well as /etc/group & aliases for starters. You'll also need the user's home dirs and the contents of /var/spool/mail. I'm pretty sure that the sendmail version changed so you need to set up the new box's sendmail yourself. Also you may need to install IMAP/POP3 on the new system if you have remote access to mail.

A caution about the passwd/shadow file... If you are moving from 6.0 to 6.1 or 6.2 you can merge the passwd/shadow entries for your users into the new systems files with an editor. If the new system doesn't use the same encryption scheme for passwords (MD5 vs DES for example), then you'll need to enter each user's password into the new system. Do the same thing with the group and alises file, merge what you need in rather than just copying.
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Expert Comment

by:egf9ef041700
ID: 2740595
don't try to use the sendmail configuration file "sendmail.cf" from the older host on the new host, unless both have the same version of sendmail installed.  ie: a sendmail.cf from 8.8.5 will not work under sendmail 8.9.3.  You will need to build a new .cf file from the .mc file using the same defines, features, etc. that the old host had in the .mc file.
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Author Comment

by:hopperp
ID: 2751511
Sorry it's taken so long for me to respond to your comments.  Test runs have gone okay and we're going to try to make the switch by the end of the week.  Thank you for your help.  I'll be sure to let you know how things go.
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Author Comment

by:hopperp
ID: 2753806
All of our tests went okay, but when we made the actual switch, we weren't able to check email.  My password would not give me access to my account until I changed it on the server.  Here's a list of the files I copied over:

  etc/passwd
  etc/passwd-
  etc/group
  etc/group-
  var/spool/mail/*.*

jlevie, you suggest that the encryption schemes may be different... how can I check this?  Could it be that the problem is not with the password encryption schemes and I've just missed some files that need to be transferred over?

Any suggestions for what I should try next?
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Author Comment

by:hopperp
ID: 2753808
Adjusted points from 50 to 75
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Accepted Solution

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jlevie earned 75 total points
ID: 2754134
Is the new or the old box using shadow passwords, i.e. does /etc/shadow exist? If so the actual passwords are in /etc/shadow, not in /etc/passwd. You can tell is the encryption schemes are different (DES vs MD5) by looking at the first two characters of an encrypted passwd. MD5 always has "$1" as the first two and DES with have random cahracters in the first two positions.
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Author Comment

by:hopperp
ID: 2755409
Sorry it's taken so long for me to respond to your comments.  Test runs have gone okay and we're going to try to make the switch by the end of the week.  Thank you for your help.  I'll be sure to let you know how things go.
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Author Comment

by:hopperp
ID: 2755933
Okay, here's a weird twist on things!  There is a user on the original machine, johnsmith.  I send him an email.  I copy the files over to the new machine.  johnsmith checks his email.  Nothing.  I check his email file and see that he does actually have the email listed in there.  It's just not showing up when he checks it.  So, I send him another email, now that the machines are switched.  He gets that one just fine.  When I check his email file, all the emails are there.  For whatever reason, no matter what email client we use, it only sees what has been sent since the switch.

The authentication problem is fixed, but now there's this new one.  I can't figure what it could possibly be.  Any ideas?
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Author Comment

by:hopperp
ID: 2756529
Nevermind that last comment.  I think that was a fluke.  It seems to be working just fine now.  We are holding off on making the switch for another couple hours.  Will let you know how it goes!
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Author Comment

by:hopperp
ID: 2756767
Okay, here's a weird twist on things!  There is a user on the original machine, johnsmith.  I send him an email.  I copy the files over to the new machine.  johnsmith checks his email.  Nothing.  I check his email file and see that he does actually have the email listed in there.  It's just not showing up when he checks it.  So, I send him another email, now that the machines are switched.  He gets that one just fine.  When I check his email file, all the emails are there.  For whatever reason, no matter what email client we use, it only sees what has been sent since the switch.

The authentication problem is fixed, but now there's this new one.  I can't figure what it could possibly be.  Any ideas?
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Author Comment

by:hopperp
ID: 2757403
It's working, it's working!!!  Thanks, you've been a big help!

As I'm sure you can tell, I'm not a Linux person.  But I'm the closest thing my job has to one!  The problem with the email messages seems to have been just a fluke.

Thanks again for all your help!
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LVL 40

Expert Comment

by:jlevie
ID: 2757881
You are most welcome...
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