A personal email appliance seems like such a cool idea!

Until you realize that convincing gmail you’re not an email spammer essentially requires renting an IP address from the very big tech companies the marketing copy for this device scares you about.

Which means any products in this space are necessarily priced via subscription, and therefore a non-starter for the independent digital homesteaders targeted by the marketing.

Email is so broken.


You don't need an IP from Google to host your SMTP (which I've been doing for ages). Residential or dynamic IP is a no-go, but any server-designated IP subnet will work assuming it has proper SPF, DKIM, DMARC set up. I agree kind of removes the use case for the Helm which, if I understood correctly, is hosted at home, but hosting your SMTP on a broadband is a bad idea anyway.

@kravietz And even then sometimes your messages still get marked as spam. I used to run into problems when I self-hosted my email out of a cloud VPS. Those problems all went away when I hired FastMail to send mail for me.

Somehow the originally federated email ecosystem has become very centralized lately.


They did indeed and to some extent SMTP became a closed club of a bunch of large suppliers who trust each other. It's mostly due to evolution of anti-spam solutions which are now so multi-layered that it's hard to get everything right if you're new. But it's not impossible, you just need to do much more than just set up SMTP compliant MTA and start sending mail.

@kravietz Yeah, anti-spam protocols have complicated our lives for sure. It sounds like the world has settled on reputation-based systems to flag spammy senders. Maybe that’s why it’s hard to start a small mail server? It’s hard to bootstrap reputation. At least, that’s what my research concluded the last time I tried to do this a few years ago.

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