Installing OCSweb on FreeBSD
Pages: 1, 2, 3

A brief check of the OCSweb mailing list archive told me that the OCSweb data directory needs read and write permissions for the web server user (i.e., nobody/nogroup). A simple chmod fixed that. My login worked now, but when I clicked on the mail link I got:


Content-type: text/html 

Software error:

You don't have a user called mail on the server 

For help, please send mail to the webmaster 
(, giving this error message 
and the time and date of the error. 


Well, if this is the best OCSWeb can do to stop me, I'm pretty much set. I used vipw to copy the entry for nobody to mail, setting the gid and uid to 25.

Finally, I could log in. OCSmail told me that I had no mail. That's odd, as elm told me that I really ought to be answering any of the thirty or so messages I've deemed important enough to keep. Also, the graphics all showed up as broken links.

Here, Netscape's "view source" function is my friend. I could see why my mailbox appeared to be empty:

<input type=hidden name=omb 

FreeBSD stores mail under /var/mail/, not /var/spool/mail. The shotgun approach served well here:

grep -R spool /usr/local/ocs/*

turned up the OCSweb e-mail configuration file,, which I vaguely remembered from reading the documentation. I found a few other useful options to set here, such as the path to Fetchmail.

As I guessed, the image problem was Yet Another Permissions Issue (tm, pat. pend).

Moments later, I was calling up my mail on the Web.

Better still, OCSweb can store e-mail in classic "Mbox" format. Mail is stored under ~home/mail. A simple edit in .elm/elmrc, a mv Mail mail, and Elm and OCSweb now share the same directory; I have an interoperable e-mail setup no matter where I'm working.

Despite numerous petty headaches, OCSweb is not that difficult to install on FreeBSD. It seems it would be fairly simple to turn into a port. In a future column, we'll do just that.

Now, all that remains is to get the OCSweb designers to put a little red daemon near the penguin in the logo.

Michael W. Lucas

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