Migrating To FastMail – Use the Forwarding Tunnel

Great, you’ve decided to migrate your business to FastMail.  Migrating email accounts from one system to another can be a dangerous process. To make it is easy as possible, and to avoid any chance of lost emails, we’ve setup many tools to make it as easy as possible.

An important help article outlines all of the necessary steps to perform: https://www.fastmail.fm/help/business_migrate.html

Another one of FastMail’s hidden gems is the forwarding tunnel.

The forwarding tunnel allows you to forward email from an existing service to an account with the same name at FastMail. e.g. Say you have the account john@example.com at an existing service. You want to create your account as john@example.com at FastMail.FM, but how do you forward from the old john@example.com account to the FastMail.FM john@example.com account while the DNS still points to the old server? This is what the forwarding tunnel solves.

It basically gives an extended email address syntax that you can forward email to, which will deliver to our servers, and then decode to the account name. There are 3 encoding options because some providers are limited by what characters you can put in an email address to forward to.

To forward email to the FastMail account john@example.com, you can forward to any of these 3 addresses

  • john#example.com@forward.messagingengine.com
  • john%example.com@forward.messagingengine.com
  • john@example.com.forward.messagingengine.com

By utilizing the forwarding tunnel, you can ease the transition from an old email system as it migrates to FastMail.  You can setup all the email clients to use FastMail and each business user will receive all their email from one place.

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FastMail and Apple Mac OS X – Many Synergies

Someone was asking me the other day if FastMail worked well with their Apple Macintosh.  Of course!

Here are some of the many reasons a FastMail account is the ideal companion to Mac OS X.

  1. The built-in Mail.app application supports IMAP quite well.  In addition, starting in 10.5.6, Apple Mail will automatically test multiple outgoing SMTP ports (25, 465, 587).  This can resolve many email troubleshooting headaches.
  2. Apple’s iWeb application has an option to use any FTP site to publish your new website.  Why not use FastMail’s file storage area?  It is accessible by using ftp.messagingengine.com and your credentials.  Set this up for each site in iWeb and you can save your site directly to FastMail.
  3. It is easy to import your addresses into FastMail.  Using the built-in Address Book application, it is simple to export your All group to a group vCard file.  Then, simply login to the FastMail website, click Address Book, and click the Import / Export button.  Simply point to the vCard file you created and you are done!
  4. Online Data Storage.  Take advantage of the File Storage area at FastMail.  FastMail supports WebDAV.  In Finder, click on the Go -> Connect To Server… menu.  The server name would be something like: https://dav.messagingengine.com/myuserid.fastmail.fm/   Great for keeping critical files always accessible!
  5. iPhone Support.  The iPhone should automatically synchronize your account information so you can use the Mail application built-into the iPhone (or iPod Touch).  Any changes you make using your iPhone are reflected at the server as well.

Of course, FastMail is the ideal email provider for users of any platform (Windows, Mac, Linux).   All platforms can take advantage of FastMail’s features.

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IBM X3550 M2 or X3650 M2 and Debian/Ubuntu

We’ve been long time IBM hardware users. In general we love IBM hardware, it’s rock solid and just runs and runs. Being able to get 24×7 support contracts with a 4 hour response time for someone with replacement parts to be on site in case of a problem is great as well.

However IBM also have a down side. Often their Linux support is limited to Redhat and SUSE installs and the kernels that go with them. In some cases that means that they only distribute binary blob drivers which only work with the particular kernel and version distributed by Redhat/SUSE. Because we like to use Debian Linux, and also to compile our own kernels from source with just the modules and features we need, a binary blob driver or a driver that only works with Redhat/SUSE kernels is unacceptable for us.

We discovered this problem the hard way with our first X3550 purchase, which came with a ServeRAID 8k-i controller. It turns out that controller was based on some LSI “fakeraid” chipset which needed a binary blob driver (can’t find the link right now) and thus we couldn’t get it to work sanely. We ended up returning the machines.

On the other hand, the ServeRAID 8k controller (note the difference, not the –i version) is actually completely different, and works fine with any Linux kernel with the vanilla open source AACRAID driver. We’ve bought almost a dozen machines with the 8k controller and they’ve all worked really well.

Now however, the X3550 and X3650 machines have been replaced by the newer X3550 M2 and X3650 M2 models, which update the CPUs and motherboards to use the newer Nehalem based CPUs, as well as replacing all the available ServeRAID controller options with new ones again :(

  • ServeRAID-BR10i SAS/SATA Controller (3577)
  • ServeRAID M5014 SAS/SATA Controller (3877)
  • ServeRAID M5015 SAS/SATA Controller (Battery not included) (0093)
  • ServeRAID-MR10i SAS/SATA Controller (3571)

We’re having trouble finding much information about any of these controllers, and what support there is in the vanilla Linux kernel for any of these controllers. If anyone has some good information about vanilla Linux for these controllers (or lack there of), please email me at robm@fastmail.fm

Update: Someone from the IBM Linux Technology  Center passed on the following useful information to us that others might also find useful.

  • ServeRAID-BR10i SAS/SATA Controller (3577)

    LSI 1068[E] support has been upstream prior to 2.6.14 which means that this controller is support by all newer Ubuntu versions. The driver for this card is mptsas.

  • ServeRAID M5014 SAS/SATA Controller (3877) / ServeRAID M5015 SAS/SATA Controller (Battery not included) (0093)

    Both of these are supported by the same megaraid_sas driver which went upstream in 2.6.27 (megaraid_sas version: v00.00.04.01-rc1 or newer), which means these controllers are supported by Ubuntu 9.04 (based off 2.6.28)

  • ServeRAID-MR10i SAS/SATA Controller (3571)

    LSI 1078 support has been upstream sinse 2.6.16 which means this controller is also supported by all newer Ubuntu releases. The driver for this card is megaraid_sas (v00.00.02.04 or newer)

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