E-mail on older systems

edited June 2020 in Software

Lately, I've been trying to get my AOL e-mail working again on my older machines. After much searching, I found an application called stunnel, which is basically a local e-mail proxy server that allows you to connect to SSL-based IMAP or POP3 e-mail providers using a non-SSL-aware client.

The main website for it is here: https://stunnel.org/

Unfortunately, it seems they've discontinued win32 binaries, opting for 64-bit only. However, there is a user-provided binary for 32-bit Windows which can be found here: https://github.com/josealf/stunnel-win32

And here's a screenshot of Netscape 4.79's e-mail client, working again for the first time since AOL discontinued basic IMAP support a few years ago:

Edit: Upon reading further, this is not just for e-mail - it works for many protocols, which means it should be possible to use it for WinWorld's r-type IRC. I'll update this again after some more experiments.


  • Very nice. Thanks for mentioning this. I've had to jump through some hoops to get my preferred e-mail client to work. There are some things, especially involving searching, you just can't do or do easily with webby mail.

  • edited June 2020

    Well, it works for IRC too! I moved stunnel to one of my servers, so I can access it from any machine on the network at any time.

    And here's the relevant parts of my stunnel.conf file for anyone looking to duplicate this at home:

    client = yes
    accept = 143
    connect = imap.aol.com:993
    verifyChain = yes
    CAfile = ca-certs.pem
    checkHost = imap.aol.com
    OCSPaia = yes
    client = yes
    accept = 587
    connect = smtp.aol.com:465
    verifyChain = yes
    CAfile = ca-certs.pem
    checkHost = smtp.aol.com
    OCSPaia = yes
    client = yes
    accept = 6667
    connect = irc.r-type.ca:6697
    verifyChain = yes
    CAfile = ca-certs.pem
    checkHost = irc.r-type.ca
    OCSPaia = yes
  • edited September 2020
    Forgive me for bumping this thread after a little over two months, but you walk me through how to configure this? Where do I need to run stunnel?
  • stunnel is basically an SSL proxy server. You can install it on any machine that will run it. At home, I have it installed on a separate, modern computer. At work, I run it on Windows 2000 on a netbook, which is the same computer that runs the e-mail client I like to use (Outlook 2000).

    Run the installer, then launch the application. You will see an icon for it in the tray area. By default, stunnel is set up for Gmail. If you want to change that to something else, you will have to edit the configuration file with the right servers and ports, then right-click on the tray icon and reload the configuration.

    Mine above is set up for AOL and the r-type IRC network. The accept allows you to set which computers can connect to stunnel and which ports they may connect on. To allow any computer on the network to access it, remove all IP addresses and just leave a port number. You may also have to configure Windows Firewall to allow access to any computers from outside the local machine.

    For the rest, just use my sample file above as a model for the rest of the servers you'd want to connect to. Then, point your e-mail, IRC or whatever client to the machine that has stunnel installed, instead of the actual server. If it's on the same machine as the client, just use localhost.
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