Juno Retriever

In 1996, Greensboro, my roommate Paul hooked me up with a Juno email account. Juno was a special thing then, because it allowed us, without a dialup account, to use his low-powered computer and modem to send and receive email with the world for free. The client software would, at our prompting, connect to the Juno dialup number, transfer any mail and advertising in the queue, and then hang up so we can read it.

Technically, Juno was my first post-college email address, so it’s something a little special to me. Over the years that I used the service, I gathered a ton of messages. This corpus represents a time capsule of my thinking, life, and communications with the people who were important to me during my mid-20s. Before I moved away, I made a meticulous backup of my account with all the messages, addresses, and settings I had so that, when I eventually built my own computer, I would be able to install the client, restore from my backups and continue on.

I still used the service for a while after I got a dialup account with its own email address. Juno served as my backup address, my go-to for important stuff like friends, taxes, domain registration, etc., because I knew the service would still be around even if I failed to keep up my dialup and phone bills (1999 was a rough year). Some time in the first half of the millennial decade, Juno announced that they were cutting support for the standalone email client and suggested users migrate to the webmail service, which I did begrudgingly. The webmail panel didn’t contain any of the old messages; users would have to upload them to the server themselves (Juno should’ve published a tool to do so automatically). After a time, all development stopped on the client, and I could no longer use it to fetch mail, so I made another backup of all my account settings and uninstalled the client.

I’ve had this backup sitting on disk for the past however-many years, and I’ve been meaning to migrate it to something more modern and non-proprietary. Well, last night, I finally did it. Found a tool called juno5bdb that will take the two Berkeley-DB mail storage files (mailbox.atr and mailbox.bdb), parse them, and split out all of the mail folders and messages into UNIX-standard mbox files that you can then import into your preferred email application. I use Thunderbird, so the import works best with the ImportExportTools plugin. I managed to import most of the mbox files, but the few that remained failed because the plugin mistook them for Eudora’s variant of the mbox file, which it doesn’t directly support. After some examination, I found a set of scripts in the Eudora2Unix project that went the last mile in transforming the message headers to make them look more like UNIX-standard mbox files.

With all the message folders imported into Thunderbird’s “Local Folders”, I renamed and rearranged them to something similar to the hierarchy I remember from the client. Then, in clumps, I drag-dropped the folders into my local IMAP mail storage (the same one mentioned here). Now I have all of my old Juno emails together, at last, with the rest of the mail I’ve accumulated over the years from all of my other accounts. Everything finally together, all under one server. Kumbayah.

Published by Shawn

He's just this guy, you know?