Webmail Program Comparisons

This research for this page was done in 2002, so it's OUT of DATE!

Round abouts Dec of 2001, i started looking for a good Open Source webmail program for use with Apache 1.3.24 (with mod_ssl) on UltraSPARC machine running Solaris 8.

Almost a year later, after having moved to NetBSD on alpha, i chose Prayer, and used it for many years. In 2013, it was announced that Prayer would no longer be developed. Packages of it still seem to be available in FreeBSD ports and Debian paackges, though, so perhaps it's still usable, but i have not tested it.

My general requirements were:

  1. I really do not like the idea of setuid:root anything. This shouldn't be necessary, and putting anything setuid:root in my cgi-bin seems like a Really Bad Idea.
  2. I'd rather not use PHP for several reasons:
  3. Run-time scripting languages (PHP, Perl, Python) are flexible, but substantially slower than a code written in a pre-compiled langauge like C, making it necessary to throw an unnecessary amount of CPU power and RAM at what should be a fairly simple application.

Here are the data i compiled in 2002:

Program Version POP3 IMAP Folders Address book Attachments Installation Ease (1-10) Source
acmemail 2.2.3 Yes Yes No No Yes 7 Perl 5
BoboMail 0.6pre1 Yes partial Yes Yes Yes ? Python
eCorrei 1.2.5 Yes Yes No Yes Yes ? PHP with IMAP module
IMP 3.0 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ? PHP with IMAP module
Null webmail 0.6.2 Yes Unstable No No Yes 2 C
Nwebmail 0.1.80 No No No Yes Yes 3 C
Open WebMail 1.65? Yes* No Yes Yes Yes 4 Perl, Javascript
popper 1.41 No Yes Yes Yes Yes ? PHP4, MySQL, CSS
Postman 1.12 ? ? ? ? ? ? C++
Prayer 1.0.4 No Yes Yes Yes Yes 4 C
SquirrelMail 1.2.5 No Yes Yes Yes Yes 7 PHP
Sqwebmail 3.3.4 Yes partial Yes Yes Yes 3 C/C++
TWIG 2.7.5 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ? PHP4, MySQL, CSS
Webþing Mailer 2.7.5 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 5+ C/C++

For "Installation Ease," "1" is the easiest (./configure; ./make install) and "10" is the most difficult.



Requires lots of Perl modules. Did not compile cleanly with latest version of U Washington's IMAPd.


"BoboMail is currently in development and may be not useful for end users."



Null webmail

Trivial to compile and install. Clean and fast, it would be perfect if it had an address book and mail folders.


I like this program. If it had mail folders, i would use it.

Good things:

Suboptimal things:

Open Webmail


Probably won't work with Netscape, because of CSS issues.



Finally, a package i like enough to use.



Compiles and installs relatively easily, though one does need to supply a lot of options to configure:

./configure --enable-https \
--enable-hardtimeout=3600 \
--enable-softtimeout=360 \
--enable-autopurge=30 \
--enable-maxpurge=90 \
--enable-cgibindir=/tew/vweb/www.ewranglers.com/cgi-bin \
--enable-imagedir=/tew/vweb/www.ewranglers.com/htdocs/webmail/images \
--enable-imageurl=/webmail/images \
--with-maxargsize=1048576 \
--with-maxformargsize=10485760 \
--with-ispell=/usr/local/bin/ispell \
--with-fcgi \
--enable-mimetypes=/var/httpd/conf/mime.types \
--with-module=authpam \
--without-authpwd \
--without-authshadow \
--without-authuserdb \
--without-authvchkpw \
--without-authldap \


Webþing Mailer

"þ" is a Norse/Icelandic/Old English character that is pronounced sort of like "th," so you'd pronounce this like "webthing."

I ran into trouble getting this to build:

ragno:/tew/src/www/mail/webthing $ make
c++ -I/usr/local/include/mini-libg++ -O2 -Wall -c ShowFolder.cc
In file included from ShowFolder.cc:16:
Folder.h:41: invalid type `int' for default argument to `const gnuString &'
ShowFolder.cc: In function `void MAIN_folder()':
ShowFolder.cc:41: using typedef-name `DIR' after `struct'
make: *** [ShowFolder.o] Error 1

The "INSTALL" file says:

6. Now try "make".  Depending on your compiler configuration, you
   may have to change the "cc" command in the Makefile.
   NOTE: recent libg++ versions have dropped the String and Regexp
   functions used by this software.  It is possible to use them,
   but it will build most simply with GCC 2.6.x or 2.7.x.

...So i'm guess the compiler error i'm seeing might be related to the fact that i am using gcc 2.9.3. I looked at the C++ source, but it's beyond my meager abilities to fix in a reasonable amount of time.

$Id: webmailcomp.html,v 1.8 2007/04/27 23:14:05 johan Exp $