My host, Dreamhost, comes bundled with IMAP email (which is great btw. Mike explains the benefits much better than I could). SquirrelMail is Dreamhost’s webmail client of choice.

For a while now, SquirrelMail has been bugging me. Now don’t get me wrong, SquirrelMail is has some great features: It’s stable, feature-packed, fairly configurable but BY GOD it’s been beaten with the ugly stick.

Before you send me a torrent of email - yes, I know it’s configurable BUT not it seems with Dreamhost without a load of faffing around with ssh etc. Something which I don’t really fancy getting into.

I mostly use SquirrelMail whilst I’m at work because of the brick, er, firewalls won’t allow IMAP access at all. Pesky proxy servers don’t help either. Anyway, after speaking to some of my esteemed colleagues, I’m directed to an alternative to the ugly SquirrelMail.

RoundCube is a PHP/MySQL based webmail system, which is opensource and rammed full of AJAX goodness. It’s still officially an alpha release, but shows a LOT of promise. Here’s the opening line from the RoundCube website…

RoundCube Webmail is a browser-based multilingual IMAP client with an application-like user interface. It provides full functionality you expect from an e-mail client, including MIME support, address book, folder manipulation and message filters. RoundCube Webmail is written in PHP and requires the MySQL database. The user interface is fully skinnable using XHTML and CSS 2.

As you can see, it’s pretty well stocked with features already, some of which really appeal (like skinnable XHTML and CSS for example). Not only is it already feature packed but it looks great. There’s some great icons designed by Stephen Horlander and Kevin Gerich for, a great looking ‘mac-like’ UI and it’s all very simple looking. I’m hoping, as more features are added, that this doesn’t change.

There are some features it needs though, and soon. Signatures is the biggest request I have. There’s also a strange icon for sending email, but as this application is skinnable, that’s not really too much of a problem.

So, I’ve only been using it for a day, but so far so good.