Computer Laboratory

Mail in the Computer Laboratory

Mail addresses

Users in the department have three options of University mail address to publish:

  • — using mail router provided by the University Information Services that can only forward your mail to some other Mail Store; ‘accounts’ are available to all members of the university, and you manage them using a Raven-protected database access page. They normally forwward to
  • — a Mail Store provided by the University Information Services, which is typically accessed by an IMAP4 mail reader, or through a web-mail interface; Hermes accounts are in principle available to any member of the University (students usually have one set up when they first arrive).
  • — mostly a mail router, but for a few users a Mail Store, provided by the Laboratory; such accounts are available to staff, visitors and research students

The laboratory requires that everyone (with a computer account or an office here) be readily accessible via email.

Users’ Lab and UIS mail accounts are their CRSID (e.g. gsm10) at the mail service. The Lab system may also have a 'user friendly' form derived from the 'given' and 'family' names in the Active Directory's GECOS information (e.g. Giles.Murchisonk). For example a user Giles Murchison, whose Computing Service CRSid is gsm10 might have email addresses

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The 'user friendly' form is not created automatically but can be generated by the user using the user mail administration web page. If the proposed alias is not suitable then pleasse contact sys-admin

A Lab address is normally allocated before the user arrives in Cambridge.

Types of address

In practice, whether they have an account at the Lab or not, everyone associated with the Lab has an address here. There are different categories of such addresses:

  • If the user is a student on a ‘taught’ course (currently, any part of the Tripos and the ACS MPhil), the address is merely a “stub” pointing at the student’s “@cam” address. These stub addresses are automatically generated and the student has no control over them.
  • If the user is a member of academic or assistant staff, forwarding of the address is initialised to be sent to cam, but is under the user’s control using the user mail administration web page.

Special mail addresses

The Lab maintains a number of “rôle addresses”, with which you can get to the right person quickly, for an enquiry. Browse the list of all such names — it’s unlikely you’ll ever need more than one or two of them on a regular basis.

The Lab also runs a simple mail list system; Lab mail addresses with hyphens in them will typically be addresses of lists. See “managing mail lists” for details.

The Admin lists

The department maintains two “extra-special” addresses, with lists of (more or less) everyone attached. These addresses are:

[Javascript required], which gets to everyone in the building. Building-users will be used to send significant building notices, like closures, possible obstructions, work going on in the building, etc.

[Javascript required], which gets to all Laboratory Staff and Research Students, but not those in other institutions in the building. Teaching-research will be used for notices about seminars, hints about possible grants/prizes, changes to Laboratory systems, etc.

In both cases, the lists are moderated; please mail postmaster, separately, to alert the team to the presence of the message. (Adding postmaster to the addressees of the message (for example, as Cc:) will not work; the copy will also be “frozen for moderation”.)

Mail that doesn’t fit with broad outlines above will be rejected, as will replies to mail on the list.

A further problem arises with attachments: a mailing list is a terrible way to distribute a document (a copy ends up in everyone’s mailbox). Please make the message a simple plain text object (no html, no attachments); if you want to send something more, put it on the web and include a link to the document in your message.

Mail readers

Hermes mail readers

Many users of Hermes will use the Computing Service’s Web mail system; this is a highly efficient service, and will appeal to most who like that sort of service…

Most (if not all) Linux distributions offer the text-based pine mail reader, which may be used for access to Hermes; visually-based mail readers are available in abundance: consult the Computing service advice on settings before proceeding.

Outgoing mail

Computers located within and managed by the Computer Laboratory can send outgoing email via SMTP to port 25 (no SSL/TLS encryption and no authentication is required). Note that this will not work from home or from mobile devices (without a VPN connection). Using this departmental mail server has several advantages over using the Computing Service equivalents (,

  • It accepts local addresses without an @ sign (e.g., sys-admin, gsm10, Giles.Murchison).
  • The validity of local addresses can be verified instantly by the mail client when sending a message.

Mozilla Thunderbird: install the add-on Allow Local Addresses if you want to be able to enter local destination addresses without an @ sign in them.

Forwarding your mail after you leave the department

When you leave the department, you have the option that your Lab email will be forwarded (unless yours is a “stub address” — see above).

Note that forwarding to your ‘@cam’ address will typically not work; that address is deleted, by the Computing Service, shortly after you leave. If you were forwarding to your ‘@cam’ address, and then forwarding from there, set the ultimate destination using the user mail administration web page.


  • Email forwarding will be cancelled if the forward gives us trouble (e.g., through bounces).
  • Currently, we do not apply a spam filter to forwarded mail, but we reserve the right to do so (and to drop mail that is flagged as spam in the Computing Service Spamassassin classification).

Aliases and mailing lists

Are discussed in a page of their own.

Problem resolution

If you’ve exhausted the help you might find from your colleagues, you can mail postmaster for assistance.

If you need some non-standard mail support (for example, you want a different mail reader installed on your system), mail your request to sys-admin (the general systems administrator mailing address).