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Secure connections

July 17th, 2017 No comments

Since commit 5881ed4, there is now an Encrypted session tri-state checkbox in the login dialog, to be certain that the connection to the mail database is encrypted.

When the checkbox is neither checked or unchecked (it’s in the third state), it means to use the default, which generally consists of trying an encrypted connection first, and if that’s not accepted by the server, an unencrypted connection next.

When the checkbox is checked, it means to attemps an encrypted connection exclusively.

Finally when it’s unchecked, a non-encrypted connection is requested. This can be a good choice when the transport channel is already encrypted, such as with a VPN or an SSH tunnel, or if it’s local.

It’s still possible, as it has always been, to have finer control over encryption by setting directly sslmode as a libpq parameter in the “More parameters” text field of the dialog.
In that case, the new checkbox should be left in the “neither checked or unchecked” state, so as not to conflict with the setting in the other field.
As an alternative, the environment variable PGSSLMODE will be be taken into account if set in the environment. See Environment Variables and SSL Support in the PostgreSQL documentation for all the details.

Manually setting sslmode is necessary to use the more specific modes verify-ca or verify-full, which in addition to request an encrypted connection, require that the server-side certificate is signed by a trusted authority.

Now, what if the server is not set up to support TLS? There’s still the possibility of encrypting the connection through an SSH tunnel, provided you have a shell account on the server, or at least on a proxy server closer to the database server, and which itself can connect securely to it.

An SSH tunnel requires finding a free-to-use TCP port on the client machine running the Manitou-Mail user interface. It can be 5432, the default PostgreSQL port, if there’s no local PostgreSQL instance on that host, otherwise an unused port should be taken. For example, if using 4000, this command would do:

ssh -N -L4000:localhost:5432 dbserver.example.org

Then in Manitou-Mail connection window, the host should be set to localhost and to port to 4000 through the “More parameters” field. When the user interface will connect to localhost:4000, ssh will do the rest by having the remote server connect to its own localhost at port 5432, and from then pas all the traffic between the user interface and the database through itself, all encrypted.

manitou-connect-ssh

In addition to the encryption, this method also alleviates the need for pg_hba.conf to allow the IP address of the remote user interface, since what connects to it is the ssh server running locally on the database server itself, or close to it in the case of a gateway to the LAN.

Categories: New features, User Interface Tags:

Users management in the interface

September 21st, 2016 Comments off

Starting with version 1.6, Manitou-Mail will allow the creation of users and groups from within the user interface, as shown in the screenshot below:

ui-users-1

Although PostgreSQL has merged users and groups into “roles” years ago (since version 8.1), we intentionally stick to the old terminology, because it’s easier to describe the model. Users are accounts for persons connecting to the database. Groups are entities having a set of permissions, and to which users are assigned. Users can belong to multiple groups.

Under the hood, users correspond to PostgreSQL roles having the LOGIN attribute, so they can log in (assuming proper permissions), whereas groups are roles that don’t have this attribute. Permissions are associated to groups through SQL GRANT commands.

Manitou-Mail chooses to associate permissions to groups, instead of individual users, given its focus on team work and shared mail corpuses. For a set of permissions that apply to a single person, a group will have to be created with only that user as member.

The set of permissions currently handled is shown in the snapshot below. More fined-tuned permissions will probably be added in the future depending on users needs.

 

ui-users-2

Version 1.6 can be built from the git repository; pre-compiled binaries and packages will be made available soon.

Categories: New features, User Interface Tags:

Operators in the search bar

July 9th, 2016 Comments off

Until now, the search bar in the user interface did not support query
terms to search on metadata.
I’m glad to say that commits 2ddddaae and a1cbe72a add support for filtering
by date and message status right from the search bar, introducing
five operators:

  • “date:” must be followed by an iso-8601 date (format YYYY-MM-DD),
    or by a specific month (format YYYY-MM), or just a year (YYYY).
    It selects the messages from respectively that day,or month, or year.

  • “before:” has the same format but selects messages dated
    from this day/month/year or an earlier date.

  • “after:” is of course the opposite, selecting messages past
    the date that follows.

  • “is:” must be followed by a status among read,replied,forward,archived,sent.
    Criteria can be combined by using the option several times, as statuses are cumulative, not mutually exclusive,

  • “isnot:” is of course the opposite of “is”. It accepts the same arguments
    and filters out the messages that have the corresponding status bit.
    “is:” and “isnot:” can also be combined, for instance: “is:archived isnot:sent”.

A few more search bar operators are likely to be added to that list, as it’s a pretty handy and fast way to express basic queries.

Categories: New features, User Interface Tags:

Experimental Qt5 package available for Ubuntu

March 15th, 2016 Comments off

The Qt5 port of the user interface is in good shape, successful tests have been made with up to Qt5.5.

The development still happens in a branch:
(github link), but that will be merged soon into the main trunk, and the Qt4.x version will become a separate branch.

In the meantime, a binary package for Ubuntu 14.04 or 15.10 on amd64 architecture is available in an experimental repository, which can be added to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/manitou.list:

deb http://manitou/apt trusty experimental

The package is manitou-ui, version 1.5.0. It’s built with Qt-5.2.1 on Ubuntu 14.04.


# apt-cache show manitou-ui
Package: manitou-ui
Version: 1.5.0
Architecture: amd64
Maintainer: Daniel Verite
Installed-Size: 2443
Depends: libc6 (>= 2.14), libgcc1 (>= 1:4.1.1), libpq5 (>= 9.0~), libqt5core5a (>= 5.0.2), libqt5gui5 (>= 5.0.2) | libqt5gui5-gles (>= 5.0.2), libqt5network5 (>= 5.0.2), libqt5printsupport5 (>= 5.0.2), libqt5webkit5, libqt5widgets5 (>= 5.2.0), libstdc++6 (>= 4.6)
Priority: extra
Section: mail
Filename: pool/experimental/m/manitou-ui/manitou-ui_1.5.0_amd64.deb
Size: 674752
SHA256: 1974bf59cc40d1da67e7fd097b41d78707c012c29d7934610b9ff3a020c14cc4
SHA1: fa6df5ac14a33de5411f06a4139ab86dff3b8536
MD5sum: 937578411e1eff15f5763eb219a1c7a9
Description: Manitou-Mail's user interface
Qt-based GUI that acts as a front-end to a Manitou-Mail database.
Description-md5: 1fcf376b591321a77a965062e2ea0b97

Categories: Development, User Interface Tags:

Quick resend functionality

November 25th, 2011 Comments off

Sometimes a message that has been previously sent needs to be sent again. The normal way to do that is to recompose a new message by copying the contents of the old one. This leads to a new message with identical contents except for the Date and Message-Id header fields.
However, there is a quicker way to re-send an outgoing message without the need to create a duplicate of the original: if the Sent and Archived bit of the message status are cleared, manitou-mdx will just pick up again the message for sending as if it was new. To clear these bits, use the Message->Properties command and check No in the boxes drawn with the red border in the screenshot:

Categories: Usage, User Interface Tags:

Manitou-Mail for Mac OS X

October 2nd, 2011 Comments off

For you Mac users out there, I’m glad to announce that the Manitou-Mail interface is now available for Mac OS X, thanks to Adebe Networks that funded the work for the port and TLK Games who lent their Mac machine. The application bundle is available here: manitou-1.1.0.dmg (42Mb, with Qt-4.7 and libpq5 compiled with ssl support). Enjoy!

Categories: User Interface Tags:

Face header support

October 7th, 2009 Comments off

While the X-Face header (48×48 BW picture) has been supported for a long time in the Manitou-Mail user interface, the Face header (48×48 color PNG) was not until yesterday.
Now it is, and while testing the code, I’ve found that it was another case where an SQL query quickly solved a practical selection problem. The Face header is indeed not so widely used, so getting a significant sample of different pictures to show is not obvious. Ideally I wanted to extract from my mail archive a gallery of pictures that would be all different. That is, if someone had posted 1000 messages with the same Face header, I wasn’t interested in getting all those messages, only one of them, let’s say the first by it’s ID, and I wanted the next mail in the list to be with a different, non-empty Face, and so on for every message that I wanted to look at. It turns out, that in SQL, it can be expressed with:

SELECT min(mail_id)
FROM header
WHERE position(E'\nFace: ' in lines)>0
GROUP BY
split_part(substr(lines, position(E'\nFace: ' in lines)+7, 1300), E'\n', 1)

position(…) let us know where the Face header field begins, substr(…) extracts a sufficient length of it, and split_part(…) cuts exactly the value at the first newline which marks the end of this header’s value (they’re unfolded in the header table precisely to be able to perform that kind of extraction).
Finally the GROUP BY ensures that each row in the result represents a distinct value of the Face header.

This query can be directly input into the SQL statement field of the Query Selection dialog, after which all there is to do is wait for the database engine to run it to completion.

On my sample database of about 800,000 messages from various mailing lists, it turned out that the result was a list of 176 messages. Here is a collage of a selection of the pictures (public messages only).
face-gallery
Here is how one particular message looks with its Face header:
face-sample-msg
Right now this is just about displaying, sometime in the future I’ll try to add Face headers to outgoing mail, and also I’d like to associate pictures to sender addresses so that messages from people who don’t use a Face header (the majority) still can be shown with a dedicated picture. I feel like even tags or sender domains (which means companies and organizations), could benefit from that kind of visual representation in certain cases.

Categories: New features, Usage, User Interface Tags:

Repackaged windows client available

October 3rd, 2009 Comments off

Since HTML viewing has been integrated, I’ve had reports that under Windows, the images in messages weren’t always displayed, but my attempts at reproducing the problem were unsuccessful.
I’ve recently understood that it was a packaging issue: on machines that don’t have Qt installed, image plugins must be distributed with the application (except for PNG that is supported as built-in).

So I’ve repackaged Manitou-Mail 0.9.12 for Windows with the necessary plugins that get installed into an imageformats directory, and re-uploaded the installer:
Manitou-Installer-0_9_12.exe

For users who were concerned by this problem, I suggest they reinstall and report if it still doesn’t work.

Categories: Uncategorized, User Interface Tags: