Mail Vacation Messages

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When one goes on vacation, one often wants to send an automatic e-mail to all those who send e-mail informing them to expect a response at a later date. This document describes how to set up the e-mail vacation mechanism.

The Vacation Message File

The first step in setting up the e-mail vacation mechanism is to create/edit the vacation message file -- ~/.vacation.msg. The variable $header_subject: (note the mandatory ":" at the end) can be used to incorporate the subject of the sender's message in the body of the vacation response.

The following is an example of a ~/.vacation.msg file:

I am away from Jerusalem and will return on Monday, June 18, 2007.

Your mail regarding "$header_Subject:" will be read when I return.

Please direct any administrative requests to "kenan@cs".

Virtually yours,
George Cohen

Enabling the Vacation Mechanism

The following command will enable the vacation mechanism:

  echo real-login, vacation-login > ~/.forward

where login is the user's CSE login.


  echo real-coheng, vacation-coheng > ~/.forward

Enabling the Vacation Mechanism along with Mail Forwarding

To both enable the vacation mechanism and forward a copy of one's mail to another e-mail address, do the following:

  echo real-login, vacation-login, > ~/.forward

where login is the user's CSE login and is the remote address.


  echo real-coheng, vacation-coheng, > ~/.forward

For further details on mail forwarding, see Forwarding Incoming Mail.

Disabling the Vacation Mechanism

To disable the vacation mechanism, simply remove the ~/.forward file -- i.e.

  rm ~/.forward

What the Sender will Receive

The sender of a message to a person with the vacation mechanism enabled will receive an automatic message with the subject "I am out of town" with the contents of the message being the recipient's ~/.vacation.msg file having substituted the sender's message's subject in the variable $header_subject:.

Note that if the sender sends a number of messages to the recipient during the same vacation period, the sender will only receive an automated vacation message once a week.

Users with Complex ~/.forward Files

Users that have Exim filters as their ~/.forward should not use this vacation mechanism, but rather the explicit vacation mechanism described in the document