Self-Hosting Email Research Log
This rabbit hole started with trying to get off gmail, like any good rabbit hole, simple enough at first.
This will be a somewhat detailed report, for anyone also curious in this, with some musings on connections with ssb.
I installed yunohost on a digital ocean droplet, and used rainloop as an email client. Pretty cool how easy it is to install apps with it, install letsencrypt certificates for domains, pair domains with apps, and that it comes with a full email stack included by default including postfix and all the correct dkim and spif settings which I don't fully understand
However, even with all the correct settings, when I started sending emails... many were ending up in people's spam folders because they were coming from an "unknown IP address" (according to gmail, yahoo etc.)... when I realized this, it seemed like a sort of failed experiment. The path to becoming a "known IP address" sounded long and fraught
based on the recommendation of a blog post of someone who has been self-hosting email for 14 years I ended up configuring it so my outgoing email goes through an smtp relay provided by dreamhost (which is the domain registrar I used). this somewhat defeats the purpose of self-hosting, as my email now still goes through dreamhost, a service which I pay for, but it means I'm able to reliably send and receive emails (I think)
with this setup, my email does seem to be quick to load and I like the rainloop UI. I also like that I could easily port this setup to a local server at somepoint, and it should theoretically still work (since I'm using an SMTP relay to send anyway).
image of the rainloop UI, you can also see it at their demo app
Learnings / thoughts:
setting it up was complicated enough, and annoying that I have to use the relay, that I wouldn't really recommend this to anyone, especially non-technical friends. Most of my interest in self/community-hosting is in thinking about how things could be extended to serve not just technical folks, so this setup is not great in that regard
I now understand the dark side of email and spam filtering. interesting how gmail spam filtering has effected the decentralized email space, by making the spam filtering somewhat centralized in nature.
this makes me excited about ssb private messages... its so direct... P2P... it feels really good in comparison. it also makes me wonder, what will attempts by spammers look like on ssb if it ever gets that popular so they really come out?
related to above, in an ideal world, I would like to be able to provide an ssb address on a website such that someone I've never met before could get in touch with me... but also not to be overrun with spammers... maybe its not possible to have both... but maybe there is some way?
given how complicated it was to setup, I'm also still dreaming of collectives that host your services for you, but using all open source software. You pay for the service, but they use open source tools and give you a sort of whole package. Not just another email company. More like a small collective that host multiple open source services for you and make sure its well operated and secure, ideally also using E2E tools (like ssb private messages) where they don't have access to your personal data either.
#email #community-infra #yunohost #self-hosting #rainloop