File and mail migration (2020)

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In October and November 2020, ECE IT will be performing migrations of two major systems that will affect ECE users.

ECE network file storage migration

What and why

ECE's network file server (the "NetApp") is no longer supported by the vendor. Therefore, files need to be copied to a new file server (the "Isilon") as soon as practical. This migration affects the home directories of all ECE accounts, as well as the network shares used by some research groups (mounted from using the CIFS/SMB protocol). No change in functionality or features is expected.

Impact to users

The migration process involves some disruption during each user's cutover period. Synchronization with the new server will require that your files be made read-only for a brief period of time. Following cutover, NFS clients will need to unmount and remount, likely requiring a reboot in practice. Any running processes on the ssh-linux servers will be forcibly terminated during your cutover period.

IT staff will be contacting staff and faculty to provide further information, including a proposed window for cutover.

The cutover for undergraduate students will happen during Thanksgiving weekend (October 10-12).

ECE E-mail server upgrade

What and why

ECE will be making some changes to our e-mail servers to improve our service offering and to facilitate the network file storage migration:

1. Mail will no longer be stored in a Maildir directory within your home directory, but will be stored in mailboxes that are accessible only via IMAP and Webmail. We are making this change for three reasons:

(a) Mail stored inside home directories was subject to home directory quotas and storage limits. Users are often surprised and inconvenienced when they fail to receive mail due to the presence of unrelated large files in their home directories (or worse, in the home directories of other users in their research group). In the new segregated scheme, mail quotas will be distinct from filesystem quotas, and your mail storage size can be reported by IMAP clients that support it.
(b) Users sometimes unknowingly delete their Maildir directory or change its file permissions, causing mail delivery to fail. These accidents will no longer be possible.
(c) As your mail will be seamlessly migrated before the rest of your home directory, your mail service will be disrupted less during the file migration.

2. The mail server software is being changed from Courier to Dovecot, for better reliability, performance, and features.

3. Server-side mail processing will be more user-friendly:

(a) Filtering rules will no longer be defined by editing your ~/.forward or ~/.procmailrc file. Instead, they will be defined using a system called Sieve. Most users will find that the easiest way to manage their mail-filtering rules is by using the rule editor in ECE Webmail's settings.
(b) Users will be able to manage their vacation auto-responders themselves through the same Webmail settings. (On the other hand, ECE IT can no longer create vacation auto-responders to be activated automatically according to a schedule; you will need to active such auto-responders yourself.)

Impact to users

For the majority of users, the ECE e-mail migration will happen seamlessly and with negligible disruption. We will therefore proceed with migrating users with no further notice. (After the migration, your ~/.procmailrc file will be renamed to ~/.OBSOLETE-procmailrc if you have customized it. If your ~/.procmailrc has never been edited, then after the migration you will not have a ~/.procmailrc file at all.)

If you have any Procmail rules, they will be migrated automatically to the new Sieve system. The exception is if your mail rules forward mail to addresses other than common Canadian domains such as,, If your current rules forward mail to, say,, we will automatically translate your rule to instead send a notification to that your ECE account received a message. (For compliance with the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act, ECE IT cannot automatically configure your account to forward mail outside of Canada, as such forwarding could result in disclosing personal information, such as "Jean Chen is a student at UBC".)