Overview of Archiveopteryx

Archiveopteryx is an Internet mail server, optimised to support long-term archival storage. It seeks to make it practical not only to manage large archives, but to use the information therein on a daily basis instead of relegating it to offline storage.

Archiveopteryx runs on Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD and Mac OS X. The source code is written in core C++, using very few libraries, and compiles without any warnings.

Archiveopteryx's unique advantages include:


Archiveopteryx is designed to impose no limits on the size or usage of the archive to the extent of the server hardware's capabilities. It supports a clustered configuration to deal with higher load, and needs no ad-hoc workarounds for common limitations on, for example, the number or size of folders.

Searching and categorisation

Archiveopteryx uses an RDBMS to store mail in a strictly normalized format to make retrieval easy, and to avoid duplication. This makes it possible to search through and categorise even very large quantities of mail in ways that were not anticipated when the archive was first created.

Some of the features that follow naturally from this are:

Interoperability and standards compliance

We place a great deal of emphasis on interoperability with existing implementations, by strictly adhering to Internet mail standards, and by testing against a wide range of clients and servers, and making an effort to operate correctly in spite of bugs and other misbehaviour.

Archiveopteryx implements all the important protocols and standards that are relevant to mail storage and retrieval, including IMAP, POP, SMTP, LMTP, SASL, TLS and Sieve, along with a selection of widely-used extensions, such as the Lemonade extensions for mobile email access.

Stable, long-term archival storage

Apart from being designed to handle large volumes of mail accumulated over a long time, Archiveopteryx keeps the future in mind by storing only the canonical form of each message in the database, correcting common syntax errors at delivery. Because of this, a mail reader in the year 2020 will not need to be bug-compatible with today's version of Microsoft Outlook. Nor will malicious messages crafted to exploit present-day bugs pose any threat to future readers.


Every server on the Internet today operates in a hostile environment, and must be conscious of security concerns at every level. Archiveopteryx has been designed from the start with security in mind, both in terms of the need to protect confidentiality of archived mail, and in order to resist various other forms of malicious attack.

Easy administration

Archiveopteryx tries to make the administrator's job as easy as it can be, by being transparent and providing concise and useful feedback, with its comprehensive documentation and administration tools, and by requiring a minimum of intervention to behave in a reasonable manner.

Relevant links

In case you have any questions, please write to info@aox.org.

About this page

Last modified: 2010-11-19
Location: aox.org/overview