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Configuring Linux Mail Servers/I

Email is an important part of any Web site you create. In a home environment, a
free web based email service may be sufficient, but if you are running a business,
then a dedicated mail server will probably be required.

This chapter will show you how to use sendmail to create a mail server that will
relay your mail to a remote user's mailbox or incoming mail to a local mail box.
You'll also learn how to retrieve and send mail via your mail server using a with
mail client such as Outlook Express or Evolution.

Configuring Sendmail
One of the tasks in setting up DNS for your domain ( is to use the MX
record in the configuration zone file to state the hostname of the server that will
handle the mail for the domain. The most popular Unix mail transport agent is
sendmail, but others, such as postfix and qmail, are also gaining popularity with
Linux. The steps used to convert a Linux box into a sendmail mail server will be
explained here.

How Sendmail Works

As stated before, sendmail can handle both incoming and outgoing mail for your
domain. Take a closer look.

Incoming Mail

Usually each user in your home has a regular Linux account on your mail server.
Mail sent to each of these users ( eventually arrives at your
mail server and sendmail then processes it and deposits it in the mailbox file of the
user's Linux account.

Mail isn't actually sent directly to the user's PC. Users retrieve their mail from the
mail server using client software, such as Microsoft's Outlook or Outlook Express,
that supports either the POP or IMAP mail retrieval protocols.

Linux users logged into the mail server can read their mail directly using a text-
based client, such as mail, or a GUI client, such as Evolution. Linux workstation
users can use the same programs to access their mail remotely.
Outgoing Mail

The process is different when sending mail via the mail server. PC and Linux
workstation users configure their e-mail software to make the mail server their
outbound SMTP mail server.

If the mail is destined for a local user in the domain, then sendmail
places the message in that person's mailbox so that they can retrieve it using one of
the methods above.

If the mail is being sent to another domain, sendmail first uses DNS to get the MX
record for the other domain. It then attempts to relay the mail to the appropriate
destination mail server using the Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP). One of
the main advantages of mail relaying is that when a PC user A sends mail to user B
on the Internet, the PC of user A can delegate the SMTP processing to the mail

Note: If mail relaying is not configured properly, then your mail server could be
commandeered to relay spam. Simple sendmail security will be covered later.

Sendmail Macros

When mail passes through a sendmail server the mail routing information in its
header is analyzed, and sometimes modified, according to the desires of the systems
administrator. Using a series of highly complicated regular expressions listed in
the /etc/mail/ file, sendmail inspects this header and then acts

In recognition of the complexity of the /etc/mail/ file, a much simpler file

named /etc/ was created, and it contains more understandable
instructions for systems administrators to use. These are then interpreted by a
number of macro routines to create the file. After editing,
you must always run the macros and restart sendmail for the changes to take effect.

Each directive starts with a keyword, such as DOMAIN, FEATURE,

or OSTYPE, followed by a subdirective and in some cases arguments. A typical
example is.

As stated before, sendmail can handle both incoming and outgoing mail for your
domain. Take a closer look.

FEATURE(`virtusertable',`hash -o /etc/mail/virtusertable.db')dnl
The keywords usually define a subdirectory of /usr/share/sendmail-cf in which the
macro may be found and the subdirective is usually the name of the macro file itself.
So in the example, the macro name is /usr/share/sendmail-
cf/feature/virtusertable.m4, and the instruction `\ hash -o /etc/mail/virtusertable.db'
is being passed to it.

Notice that sendmail is sensitive to the quotation marks used in the m4 macro
directives. They open with a grave mark and end with a single quote.


Some keywords, such as define for the definition of certain sendmail variables and
MASQUERADE_DOMAIN, have no corresponding directories with matching
macro files. The macros in the /usr/share/sendmail-cf/m4 directory deal with these.

Once you finish editing the file, you can then execute the make
command while in the /etc/mail directory to regenerate the new file.

[root@bigboy tmp]# cd /etc/mail

[root@bigboy mail]# make

If there have been no changes to the files in /etc/mail since the last time make was
run, then you'll get an error like this:

[root@bigboy mail]# make

make: Nothing to be done for `all'.
[root@bigboy mail]#

The make command actually generates the file using the m4 command.
The m4 usage is simple, you just specify the name of the macro file as the argument,
in this case, and redirect the output, which would normally go to the
screen, to the file with the ">" redirector symbol.

[root@bigboy tmp]# m4 /etc/mail/ > /etc/mail/

I'll discuss many of the features of the file later in the chapter.

Installing Sendmail

Most RedHat and Fedora Linux software products are available in the RPM
format. You will need to make sure that the sendmail, sendmail-cf, and m4 software
RPMs are installed. (Chapter 6, "Installing RPM Software", will tell you how.)
When searching for the RPMs, remember that the filename usually starts with the
software package name by a version number, as in sendmail-8.12.10-1.1.1.i386.rpm.
Starting Sendmail

You can use the chkconfig command to get sendmail configured to start at boot:

[root@bigboy tmp]# chkconfig sendmail on

To start, stop, and restart sendmail after booting, use

[root@bigboy tmp]# service sendmail start

[root@bigboy tmp]# service sendmail stop
[root@bigboy tmp]# service sendmail restart

Remember to restart the sendmail process every time you make a change to the
configuration files for the changes to take effect on the running process. You can
also test whether the sendmail process is running with the pgrep command:

[root@bigboy tmp]# pgrep sendmail

You should get a response of plain old process ID numbers.

How To Restart Sendmail After Editing Your Configuration Files

In this chapter, you'll see that sendmail uses a variety of configuration files that
require different treatments for their commands to take effect. This little script
encapsulates all the required post configuration steps.

cd /etc/mail
/etc/init.d/sendmail restart

It first runs the make command, which creates a new file from the file and compiles supporting configuration files in the /etc/mail
directory according to the instructions in the file /etc/mail/Makefile. It then
generates new e-mail aliases with the newaliases command, (this will be covered
later), and then restarts sendmail.

Use this command to make the script executable.

chmod 700 filename

You'll need to run the script each time you change any of the sendmail
configuration files described in the sections to follow.
The line in the script that restarts sendmail is only needed if you have made changes
to the /etc/mail/ file, but I included it so that you don't forget. This may
not be a good idea in a production system.

Note: When sendmail starts, it reads the file for its configuration. is a more user friendly configuration file and really is much easier to
fool around with without getting burned. The file is located in different
directories depending on the version of RedHat you use. The /etc/ file is
used for versions up to 7.3, and /etc/mail/ is used for versions 8.0 and
higher and Fedora Core.

The /etc/mail/ File

You can define most of sendmail's configuration parameters in the

/etc/mail/ file, which is then used by the m4 macros to create the
/etc/mail/ file. Configuration of the file is much simpler
than configuration of, but it is still often viewed as an intimidating task
with its series of structured directive statements that get the job done. Fortunately,
in most cases you won't have to edit this file very often.

How to Put Comments in

In most Linux configuration files a # symbol is used at the beginning of a line

convert it into a comment line or to deactivate any commands that may reside on
that line.

The file doesn't use this character for commenting, but instead uses the
string "dnl". Here are some valid examples of comments used with the
configuration file:

These statements are disabled by dnl commenting.

dnl DAEMON_OPTIONS(`Port=smtp,Addr=, Name=MTA')

dnl # DAEMON_OPTIONS(`Port=smtp,Addr=, Name=MTA')

This statement is incorrectly disabled:

# DAEMON_OPTIONS(`Port=smtp,Addr=, Name=MTA')

This statement is active:

DAEMON_OPTIONS(`Port=smtp,Addr=, Name=MTA')
Configuring DNS for sendmail

Remember that you will never receive mail unless you have configured DNS for
your domain to make your new Linux box mail server the target of the DNS
domain's MX record. See either Chapter 18, "Configuring DNS", or Chapter 19,
"Dynamic DNS", for details on how to do this.

Configure Your Mail Server's Name In DNS

You first need to make sure that your mail server's name resolves in DNS correctly.
For example, if your mail server's name is bigboy and it you intend for it to mostly
handle mail for the domain, then must correctly
resolve to the IP address of one of the mail server's interfaces. You can test this
using the host command:

[root@smallfry tmp]# host has address
[root@smallfry tmp]#

You will need to fix your DNS server's entries if the resolution isn't correct.

Configure The /etc/resolv.conf File

The sendmail program expects DNS to be configured correctly on the DNS server.
The MX record for your domain must point to the IP address of the mail server.

The program also expects the files used by the mail server's DNS client to be
configured correctly. The first one is the /etc/resolv.conf file in which there must be
a domain directive that matches one of the domains the mail server is expected to
handle mail for.

Finally, sendmail expects a nameserver directive that points to the IP address of the
DNS server the mail server should use to get its DNS information.

For example, if the mail server is handling mail for and the IP address
of the DNS server is, there must be directives that look like this:


An incorrectly configured resolv.conf file can lead to errors when running the m4
command to process the information in your file.

WARNING: local host name (smallfry) is not qualified; fix $j in config

The /etc/hosts File

The /etc/hosts file also is used by DNS clients and also needs to be correctly
configured. Here is a brief example of the first line you should expect to see in it: localhost.localdomain localhost bigboy

The entry for must always be followed by the fully qualified domain name
(FQDN) of the server. In the case above it would be Then you
must have an entry for localhost and localhost.localdomain. Linux does not function
properly if the entry in /etc/hosts doesn't also include localhost and
localhost.localdomain. Finally you can add any other aliases your host may have to
the end of the line.

How To Configure Linux Sendmail Clients

All Linux mail clients in your home or company need to know which server is the
mail server. This is configured in the file by setting the SMART_HOST
statement to include the mail server. In the example below, the mail server has been
set to, the mail server for the domain.


If you don't have a mail server on your network, you can either create one, or use
the one offered by your ISP.

Once this is done, you need to process the file and restart sendmail. To
do this, run the restarting script we from earlier in the chapter.

If the sendmail server is a Linux server, then the /etc/hosts file will also have to be
correctly configured too.

Converting From a Mail Client to a Mail Server

All Linux systems have a virtual loopback interface that lives only in memory with
an IP address of As mail must be sent to a target IP address even when
there is no NIC in the box, sendmail therefore uses the loopback address to send
mail between users on the same Linux server. To become a mail server, and not a
mail client, sendmail needs to be configured to listen for messages on NIC interfaces
as well.

1) Determine which NICs sendmail is running on. You can see the interfaces on
which sendmail is listening with the netstat command. Because sendmail listens on
TCP port 25, you use netstat and grep for 25 to see a default configuration listening
only on IP address (loopback):

[root@bigboy tmp]# netstat -an | grep :25 | grep tcp

tcp 0 0* LISTEN
[root@bigboy tmp]#

2) Edit to make sendmail listen on all interfaces. If sendmail is listening

on the loopback interface only, you should comment out the daemon_options line in
the /etc/mail/ file with dnl statements. It is also good practice to take
precautions against spam by not accepting mail from domains that don't exist by
commenting out the accept_unresolvable_domains feature too. See the fourth and
next to last lines in the example.

dnl This changes sendmail to only listen on the loopback
dnl device and not on any other network
dnl devices. Comment this out if you want
dnl to accept email over the network.
dnl DAEMON_OPTIONS(`Port=smtp,Addr=, Name=MTA')
dnl We strongly recommend to comment this one out if you want
dnl to protect yourself from spam. However, the laptop and
dnl users on computers that do
dnl not have 24x7 DNS do need this.
dnl FEATURE(`accept_unresolvable_domains')dnl
dnl FEATURE(`relay_based_on_MX')dnl

Note: You need to be careful with the accept_unresolvable_names feature. In the

sample network, bigboy the mail server does not accept e-mail relayed from any of
the other PCs on your network if they are not in DNS. Chapter 18, "Configuring
DNS", shows how to create your own internal domain just for this purpose.

Note: If your server has multiple NICs and you want it to listen to one of them, then
you can uncomment the localhost DAEMON_OPTIONS entry and add another one
for the IP address of the NIC on which to wish to accept SMTP traffic.

3) Comment out the SMART_HOST Entry in The mail server doesn't
need a SMART_HOST entry in its file. Comment this out with a dnl at
the beginning.

dnl define(`SMART_HOST',`')
4) Regenerate the file, and restart sendmail. Again, you can do this with
the restart script from the beginning of the chapter.

5) Make sure sendmail is listening on all interfaces (

[root@bigboy tmp]# netstat -an | grep :25 | grep tcp

tcp 0 0* LISTEN
[root@bigboy tmp]#

You have now completed the first phase of converting your Linux server into a
sendmail server by enabling it to listen to SMTP traffic on its interfaces. The
following sections will show you how to define what type of mail it should handle
and the various ways this mail can be processed.

A General Guide To Using The File

The file can seem jumbled. To make it less cluttered I usually create
two easily identifiable sections in it with all the custom commands I've ever added.

The first section is near the top where the FEATURE statements usually are, and
the second section is at the very bottom.

Sometimes sendmail will archive this file when you do a version upgrade. Having
easily identifiable modifications in the file will make post upgrade reconfiguration
much easier. Here is a sample:

dnl ***** Customised section 1 start *****

dnl ***** Customised section 1 end *****

The /etc/mail/relay-domains File

The /etc/mail/relay-domains file is used to determine domains from which it will

relay mail. The contents of the relay-domains file should be limited to those domains
that can be trusted not to originate spam. By default, this file does not exist in a
standard RedHat / Fedora install. In this case, all mail sent from my-super-duper- and not destined for this mail server will be forwarded:

One disadvantage of this file is that controls mail based on the source domain only,
and source domains can be spoofed by spam e-mail servers. The /etc/mail/access file
has more capabilities, such as restricting relaying by IP address or network range
and is more commonly used. If you delete /etc/mail/relay-domains, then relay access
is fully determined by the /etc/mail/access file.

Be sure to run the restart sendmail script from the beginning of the chapter for
these changes to take effect.

The /etc/mail/access File

You can make sure that only trusted PCs on your network have the ability to relay
mail via your mail server by using the /etc/mail/access file. That is to say, the mail
server will relay mail only for those PCs on your network that have their e-mail
clients configured to use the mail server as their outgoing SMTP mail server. (In
Outlook Express, you set this using: Tools>Accounts>Properties>Servers)

If you don't take the precaution of using this feature, you may find your server
being used to relay mail for spam e-mail sites. Configuring the /etc/mail/access file
will not stop spam coming to you, only spam flowing through you.

The /etc/mail/access file has two columns. The first lists IP addresses and domains
from which the mail is coming or going. The second lists the type of action to be
taken when mail from these sources or destinations is received. Keywords include
RELAY, REJECT, OK (not ACCEPT), and DISCARD. There is no third column to
state whether the IP address or domain is the source or destination of the mail,
sendmail assumes it could be either and tries to match both. All other attempted
relayed mail that doesn't match any of the entries in the /etc/mail/access file,
sendmail will reject. Despite this, my experience has been that control on a per e-
mail address basis is much more intuitive via the /etc/mail/virtusertable file.

The sample file that follows allows relaying for only the server itself (,
localhost), two client PCs on your home 192.168.1.X network, everyone on your
192.168.2.X network, and everyone passing e-mail through the mail server from
servers belonging to Remember that a server will be considered a part
of only if its IP address can be found in a DNS reverse zone file:

localhost.localdomain RELAY
192.168.2 RELAY RELAY
You'll then have to convert this text file into a sendmail readable database file
named /etc/mail/access.db. Here are the commands you need:

[root@bigboy tmp]# cd /etc/mail

[root@bigboy mail]# make

The sendmail restart script we configured at the beginning of the chapter does this
for you too.

Remember that the relay security features of this file may not work if you don't
have a correctly configured /etc/hosts file.

The /etc/mail/local-host-names File

When sendmail receives mail, it needs a way of determining whether it is

responsible for the mail it receives. It uses the /etc/mail/local-host-names file to do
this. This file has a list of hostnames and domains for which sendmail accepts
responsibility. For example, if this mail server was to accept mail for the domains and another-site then the file would look like this:

In this case, remember to modify the MX record of the DNS

zonefile point to Here is an example (Remember each "." is

; Primary Mail Exchanger for MX 10

Which User Should Really Receive The Mail?

After checking the contents of the virtusertable, sendmail checks the aliases files to
determine the ultimate recipient of mail.

The /etc/mail/virtusertable file

The /etc/mail/virtusertable file contains a set of simple instructions on what to do

with received mail. The first column lists the target email address and the second
column lists the local user's mail box, a remote email address, or a mailing list entry
in the /etc/aliases file to which the email should be forwarded.

If there is no match in the virtusertable file, sendmail checks for the full email
address in the /etc/aliases file. webmasters marc paul paul error:nouser User unknown

In this example, mail sent to: will go to local user (or mailing list)

webmasters, all other mail to will go to local user marc.
sales at will go to the sales department at
paul and finance at goes to local user (or mailing list) paul

All other users at receive a bounce back message stating "User

After editing the /etc/mail/virtusertable file, you have to convert it into a sendmail-
readable database file named /etc/mail/virtusertable.db with two commands:

[root@bigboy tmp]# cd /etc/mail

[root@bigboy mail]# make

If these lines look like you've seen them before, you have: They're in your all-
purpose sendmail restart script.

The /etc/aliases File

You can think of the /etc/aliases file as a mailing list file. The first column has the
mailing list name (sometimes called a virtual mailbox), and the second column has
the members of the mailing list separated by commas.

To start, sendmail searches the first column of the file for a match. If there is no
match, then sendmail assumes the recipient is a regular user on the local server and
deposits the mail in their mailbox.

If it finds a match in the first column, sendmail notes the nickname entry in the
second column. It then searches for the nickname again in the first column to see if
the recipient isn't on yet another mailing list.

If sendmail doesn't find a duplicate, it assumes the recipient is a regular user on the
local server and deposits the mail in their mailbox.
If the recipient is a mailing list, then sendmail goes through the process all over
again to determine if any of the members is on yet another list, and when it is all
finished, they all get a copy of the e-mail message.

In the example that follows, you can see that mail sent to users bin, daemon, lp,
shutdown, apache, named, and so on by system processes will all be sent to user (or
mailing list) root. In this case, root is actually an alias for a mailing list consisting of
user marc and

# Basic system aliases -- these MUST be present.

mailer-daemon: postmaster
postmaster: root

# General redirections for pseudo accounts.

bin: root
daemon: root
abuse: root
# trap decode to catch security attacks
decode: root

# Person who should get root's mail

root: marc,

Notice that there are no spaces between the mailing list entries for root: You will get
errors if you add spaces.

Note: The default /etc/aliases file installed with RedHat / Fedora has the last line of
this sample commented out with a #, you may want to delete the comment and
change user marc to another user. Also after editing this file, you'll have to convert
it into a sendmail readable database file named /etc/aliases.db. Here is the command
to do that:

[root@bigboy tmp]# newaliases

In this simple mailing list example, mail sent to root actually goes to user account
marc and Because aliases can be very useful, here are a
few more list examples for your /etc/aliases file.

Mail to "" goes to users "peter", "paul" and "mary".

# Directors of my SOHO company

directors: peter,paul,mary

Mail sent to "" goes to users "grandma", "brother" and


# My family
family: grandma,brother,sister
Mail sent to admin-list gets sent to all the users listed in the file

# My mailing list file

admin-list: ":include:/home/mailings/admin-list"

The advantage of using mailing list files is that the admin-list file can be a file that
trusted users can edit, user root is only needed to update the aliases file. Despite this,
there are some problems with mail reflectors. One is that bounce messages from
failed attempts to broadcast go to all users. Another is that all subscriptions and
unsubscriptions have to be done manually by the mailing list administrator. If either
of these are a problem for you, then consider using a mailing list manager, such as

One important note about the /etc/aliases file: By default your system uses sendmail
to mail system messages to local user root. When sendmail sends e-mail to a local
user, the mail has no To: in the e-mail header. If you then use a mail client with a
spam mail filtering rule to reject mail with no To: in the header, such as Outlook
Express or Evolution, you may find yourself dumping legitimate mail.

To get around this, try making root have an alias for a user with a fully qualified
domain name, this forces sendmail to insert the correct fields in the header; for

# Person who should get root's mail


Sendmail Masquerading Explained

If you want your mail to appear to come from and not, then you have two choices:

Configure your email client, such as Outlook Express, to set your email
address to (I'll explain this in the "Configuring Your POP
Mail Server" section.).
Set up masquerading to modify the domain name of all traffic originating
from and passing trough your mail server.

Configuring masquerading

In the DNS configuration, you made bigboy the mail server for the domain my- You now have to tell bigboy in the sendmail configuration file
that all outgoing mail originating on bigboy should appear to be coming from my-; if not, based on our settings in the /etc/hosts file, mail will appear to come
from This isn't terrible, but you may not want your Web site to be
remembered with the word "mail" in front of it. In other words you may want your
mail server to handle all email by assigning a consistent return address to all
outgoing mail, no matter which server originated the email.

You can solve this by editing your configuration file and adding some
masquerading commands and directives:


The result is that:

The MASQUERADE_AS directive makes all mail originating on bigboy

appear to come from a server within the domain by rewriting
the email header.
The MASQUERADE_DOMAIN directive makes mail relayed via bigboy
from all machines in the and localdomain domains appear
to come from the MASQUERADE_AS domain of Using DNS,
sendmail checks the domain name associated with the IP address of the mail
relay client sending the mail to help it determine whether it should do
masquerading or not.
FEATURE masquerade_entire_domain makes sendmail masquerade servers
named *, and * as In other words,
mail from would be masqueraded as If this
wasn't selected, then only servers named and
would be masqueraded. Use this with caution when you are sure you have
the necessary authority to do this.
FEATURE allmasquerade makes sendmail rewrite both recipient addresses
and sender addresses relative to the local machine. If you cc: yourself on an
outgoing mail, the other recipient sees a cc: to an address he knows instead of
one on localhost.localdomain.

Note: Use FEATURE allmasquerade with caution if your mail server handles
email for many different domains and the mailboxes for the users in these
domains reside on the mail server. The allmasquerade statement causes all
mail destined for these mailboxes to appear to be destined for users in the
domain defined in the MASQUERADE_AS statement. In other words, if
MASQUERADE_AS is and you use allmasquerade, then mail
for enters the correct mailbox but sendmail rewrites
the To:, making the e-mail appear to be sent to originally.
FEATURE always_add_domain always masquerades email addresses, even
if the mail is sent from a user on the mail server to another user on the same
mail server.
FEATURE masquerade_envelope rewrites the email envelope just as
MASQUERADE_AS rewrote the header.

Masquerading is an important part of any mail server configuration as it enables

systems administrators to use multiple outbound mail servers, each providing only
the global domain name for a company and not the fully qualified domain name of
the server itself. All email correspondence then has a uniform email address format
that complies with the company's brand marketing policies.

Note: E-mail clients, such as Outlook Express, consider the To: and From:
statements as the e-mail header. When you choose Reply or Reply All in Outlook
Express, the program automatically uses the To: and From: in the header. It is easy
to fake the header, as spammers often do; it is detrimental to e-mail delivery,
however, to fake the envelope.

The e-mail envelope contains the To: and From: used by mailservers for protocol
negotiation. It is the envelope's From: that is used when e-mail rejection messages
are sent between mail servers.

Testing Masquerading

The best way of testing masquerading from the Linux command line is to use the
"mail -v username" command. I have noticed that "sendmail -v username" ignores
masquerading altogether. You should also tail the /var/log/maillog file to verify that
the masquerading is operating correctly and check the envelope and header of test
email received by test email accounts.

Other Masquerading Notes

By default, user "root" will not be masqueraded. To remove this restriction use:


command in /etc/mail/ You can comment this out if you like with a
"dnl" at the beginning of the line and running the sendmail start script.
Using Sendmail to Change the Sender's Email Address

Sometimes masquerading isn't enough. At times you may need to change not only
the domain of the sender but also the username portion of the sender's e-mail
address. For example, perhaps you bought a program for your SOHO office that
sends out notifications to your staff, but the program inserts its own address as
sender's address, not that of the IT person.

Web-based CGI scripts tend to run as user apache and, therefore, send mail as user
apache too. Often you won't want this, not only because apache's e-mail address
may not be a suitable, but also because some anti-spam programs check to ensure
that the From:, or source e-mail address, actually exists as a real user. If your
virtusertable file allows e-mail to only predefined users, then queries about the
apache user will fail, and your valid e-mail may be classified as being spam.

With sendmail, you can change both the domain and username on a case-by-case
basis using the genericstable feature:

1) Add these statements to your /etc/mail/ file to activate the feature:

FEATURE(`genericstable',`hash -o /etc/mail/genericstable.db')dnl

2) Create a /etc/mail/generics-domains file that is just a list of all the domains that
should be inspected. Make sure the file includes your server's canonical domain
name, which you can obtain using the command:

sendmail -bt -d0.1 </dev/null

Here is a sample /etc/mail/generics-domains file:

3) Create your /etc/mail/genericstable file. First sendmail searches the

/etc/mail/generics-domains file for a list of domains to reverse map. It then looks at
the /etc/mail/genericstable file for an individual email address from a matching
domain. The format of the file is


Here is an example:

4) Run the sendmail restart script from the beginning of the chapter and then test.

Your e-mails from linux-username should now appear to come from

Troubleshooting Sendmail

There are a number of ways to test sendmail when it doesn't appear to work
correctly. Here are a few methods you can use to fix some of the most common

Testing TCP connectivity

The very first step is to determine whether your mail server is accessible on the
sendmail SMTP TCP port 25. Lack of connectivity could be caused by a firewall
with incorrect permit, NAT, or port forwarding rules to your mail server. Failure
could also be caused by the sendmail process being stopped. It is best to test this
from both inside your network and from the Internet.

Chapter 4, "Simple Network Troubleshooting", covers troubleshooting with


Further Testing of TCP connectivity

You can also mimic a full mail session using TELNET to make sure everything is
working correctly. If you get a "500 Command not recognized" error message along
the way, the cause is probably a typographical error. Follow these steps carefully.

1) Telnet to the mail server on port 25. You should get a response with a 220 status

[root@bigboy tmp]# telnet 25

Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.
220 ESMTP server ready

2) Use the hello command to tell the mail server the domain you belong to. You
should receive a message with a successful status 250 code at the beginning of the

250 Hello
[], pleased to meet you.

3) Inform the mail server from which the test message is coming with the MAIL
FROM: statement.

250 2.1.0 Sender ok

4) Tell the mail server to whom the test message is going with the " RCPT TO:"


250 2.1.5 Recipient ok

5) Prepare the mail server to receive data with the DATA statement

354 Enter mail, end with "." on a line by itself

6) Type the string "subject:" then type a subject. Type in your text message, ending
it with a single period on the last line. For example.

Subject: Test Message

Testing sendmail interactively
250 2.0.0 iA75r9si017840 Message accepted for delivery

7) Use the QUIT command to end the session.

221 2.0.0 closing connection
Connection closed by foreign host.
[root@bigboy tmp]#

Now verify that the intended recipient received the message, and check the system
logs for any mail application errors.

The /var/log/maillog File

Because sendmail writes all its status messages in the /var/log/maillog file, always
monitor this file whenever you are doing changes. Open two TELNET, SSH, or
console windows. Work in one of them and monitor the sendmail status output in
the other using the command

[root@bigboy tmp]# tail -f /var/log/maillog

Common Errors Due To Incomplete RPM Installation

Both the newaliases and m4 commands require the sendmail-cf and m4 RPM
packages. These must be installed. If they are not, you'll get errors when running
various sendmail related commands.

Sample Errors when running newaliases

[root@bigboy mail]# newaliases

Warning: .cf file is out of date: sendmail 8.12.5 supports version
10, .cf file is version 0
No local mailer defined
QueueDirectory (Q) option must be set
[root@bigboy mail]#

Sample errors when processing the file

[root@bigboy mail]# m4 /etc/mail/ > /etc/mail/

/etc/mail/ m4: Cannot open /usr/share/sendmail-
cf/m4/cf.m4: No such file or directory
[root@bigboy mail]#

Sample errors when restarting sendmail

[root@bigboy mail]# service sendmail restart

Shutting down sendmail: [ OK ]
Shutting down sm-client: [FAILED]
Starting sendmail: 554 5.0.0 No local mailer defined
554 5.0.0 QueueDirectory (Q) option must be set
Starting sm-client: [ OK ]
[root@bigboy mail]#

If these errors occur, make sure your m4, sendmail and senmail-cf RPM packages
are installed correctly.

Incorrectly Configured /etc/hosts Files

By default, Fedora inserts the hostname of the server between the and the
localhost entries in /etc/hosts like this: bigboy localhost.localdomain localhost

Unfortunately in this configuration, sendmail will think that the server's FQDN is
bigboy, which it will identify as being invalid because there is no extension at the
end, such as .com or .net. It will then default to sending e-mails in which the domain
is localhost.localdomain.

The /etc/hosts file is also important for configuring mail relay. You can create
problems if you fail to place the server name in the FDQN for entry. Here
sendmail thinks that the server's FDQN was my-site and that the domain was all
of .com. localhost.localdomain localhost (Wrong!!!)

The server would therefore be open to relay all mail from any .com domain and
would ignore the security features of the access and relay-domains files I'll describe

As mentioned, a poorly configured /etc/hosts file can make mail sent from your
server to the outside world appear as if it came from users at localhost.localdomain
and not

Use the sendmail program to send a sample e-mail to someone in verbose mode.
Enter some text after issuing the command and end your message with a single
period all by itself on the last line, for example:

[root@bigboy tmp]# sendmail -v

test text
test text
. Connecting to via
220 LiteMail v3.02(BFLITEMAIL4A); Sat, 05 Oct
2002 06:48:44 -0400
>>> EHLO localhost.localdomain Hello [], pleased to meet you
250 HELP
>>> MAIL From:<root@localhost.localdomain>
250 <root@localhost.localdomain>... Sender Ok
>>> RCPT To:<>
250 <>... Recipient Ok
>>> DATA
354 Enter mail, end with "." on a line by itself
>>> .
250 Message accepted for delivery Sent (Message accepted for delivery)
Closing connection to
>>> QUIT
[root@bigboy tmp]#

localhost.localdomain is the domain that all computers use to refer to themselves, it

is therefore an illegal Internet domain. Consider an example: Mail sent from
computer PC1 to PC2 appears to come from a user at localhost.localdomain on PC1
and is rejected. The rejected e-mail is returned to localhost.localdomain. PC2 sees
that the mail originated from localhost.localdomain and thinks that the rejected e-
mail should be sent to a user on PC2 that may not exist. You end up with an error in

Oct 16 10:20:04 bigboy sendmail[2500]: g9GHK3iQ002500: SYSERR(root):

savemail: cannot save rejected email anywhere
Oct 16 10:20:04 bigboy sendmail[2500]: g9GHK3iQ002500: Losing
./qfg9GHK3iQ002500: savemail panic

You may also get this error if you are using a spam prevention program, such as a
script based on the PERL module Mail::Audit. An error in the script could cause
this type of message too.

Another set of tell tale errors caused by the same problem can be generated when
trying to send mail to a user (the example uses root) or creating a new alias database
file. (I'll explain the newaliases command later.)

[root@bigboy tmp]# sendmail -v root

WARNING: local host name (bigboy) is not qualified; fix $j in config
[root@bigboy tmp]# newaliases
WARNING: local host name (bigboy) is not qualified; fix $j in config
[root@bigboy tmp]#

An accompanying error in /var/log/maillog log file looks like this:

Oct 16 10:23:58 bigboy sendmail[2582]: My unqualified host name

(bigboy) unknown; sleeping for retry

Fighting SPAM
Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE or SPAM) can be annoying, time consuming to
delete and in some cases dangerous when they contain viruses and worms.
Fortunately there are ways you can use your mail server to combat SPAM.

Using Public SPAM Blacklists With Sendmail

There are many publicly available lists of known open mail relay servers and spam
generating mail servers on the Internet. Some are maintained by volunteers, others
are managed by public companies, but in all cases they rely heavily on complaints
from spam victims. Some spam blacklists simply try to determine whether the e-
mail is coming from a legitimate IP address.
The IP addresses of offenders usually remain on the list for six months to two years.
In some cases, to provide additional pressure on the spammers, the blacklists
include not only the offending IP address but also the entire subnet or network
block to which it belongs. This prevents the spammers from easily switching their
servers' IP addresses to the next available ones on their networks. Also, if the
spammer uses a public data center, it is possible that their activities could also cause
the IP addresses of legitimate e-mailers to be black listed too. It is hoped that these
legitimate users will pressure the data center's management to evict the spamming

You can configure sendmail to use its dnsbl feature to both query these lists and
reject the mail if a match is found. Here are some sample entries you can add to
your /etc/ file; they should all be on one line.

RFC-Ignorant: A valid IP address checker.

FEATURE(`dnsbl', `',`"550 Mail from "

$&{client_addr} " refused. Rejected for bad WHOIS info on IP of your
SMTP server - see"')

Easynet: An open proxy list.

FEATURE(`dnsbl', `', `"550 5.7.1 ACCESS

DENIED to OPEN PROXY SERVER "$&{client_name}" by DNSBL
("', `')dnl

Spamcop: A spammer blacklist.

FEATURE(`dnsbl', `', `"450 Mail from " $`'&{client_addr}

" refused - see"')

Spamhaus: A spammer blacklist.

FEATURE(`dnsbl',`',`Rejected - see')dnl

Be sure to visit the URLs listed to learn more about the individual services.


Once sendmail receives an e-mail message, it hands the message over to procmail,
which is the application that actually places the e-mail in user mailboxes on the mail
server. You can make procmail temporarily hand over control to another program,
such as a spam filter. The most commonly used filter is spamassassin.

spamassassin doesn't delete spam, it merely adds the word "spam" to the beginning
of the subject line of suspected spam e-mails. You can then configure the e-mail
filter rules in Outlook Express or any other mail client to either delete the suspect
message or store it in a special Spam folder.

Downloading And Installing Spamassassin

Most RedHat and Fedora Linux software products are available in the RPM
format. When searching for the RPMs, remember that the filename usually starts
with the software package name and is followed by a version number, as in
spamassassin-2.60-2.i386.rpm. (For help downloading, see Chapter 6, "Installing
RPM Software").

Starting Spamassassin

You can use the chkconfig command to get spamassassin configured to start at boot:

[root@bigboy tmp]# chkconfig --level 35 spamassassin on

To start, stop, and restart spamassassin after booting:

[root@bigboy tmp]# service spamassassin start

[root@bigboy tmp]# service spamassassin stop
[root@bigboy tmp]# service spamassassin restart

Configuring procmail for spamassassin

The /etc/procmailrc file is used by procmail to determine the procmail helper

programs that should be used to filter mail. This file isn't created by default.

spamassassin has a template you can use called

/etc/mail/spamassassin/spamassassin-spamc.rc. Copy the template to the /etc

[root@bigboy tmp]# cp /etc/mail/spamassassin/spamassassin-spamc.rc


Configuring Spamassassin

The spamassassin configuration file is named /etc/mail/spamassassin/ A full

listing of all the options available in the file can be found in the Linux man
pages using the following command:
[root@bigboy tmp]# man Mail::SpamAssassin::Conf

You can customize this fully commented sample configuration file to meet your

# See 'perldoc Mail::SpamAssassin::Conf' for
# details of what can be adjusted.

# These values can be overridden by editing
# ~/.spamassassin/ (see spamassassin(1) for details)

# How many hits before a message is considered spam. The lower the
# number the more sensitive it is.

required_hits 5.0

# Whether to change the subject of suspected spam (1=Yes, 0=No)

rewrite_subject 1

# Text to prepend to subject if rewrite_subject is used

subject_tag *****SPAM*****

# Encapsulate spam in an attachment (1=Yes, 0=No)

report_safe 1

# Use terse version of the spam report (1=Yes, 0=No)

use_terse_report 0

# Enable the Bayes system (1=Yes, 0=No)

use_bayes 1

# Enable Bayes auto-learning (1=Yes, 0=No)

auto_learn 1

# Enable or disable network checks (1=Yes, 0=No)

skip_rbl_checks 0
use_razor2 1
use_dcc 1
use_pyzor 1

# Mail using languages used in these country codes will not be marked
# as being possibly spam in a foreign language.
# - english
ok_languages en

# Mail using locales used in these country codes will not be marked
# as being possibly spam in a foreign language.

ok_locales en

Be sure to restart spamassassin for your changes to take effect.

Testing spamassassin

You can test the validity of your file by using the spamassassin command
with the --lint option. This will list any syntax problems that may exist. In this
example two errors were found and corrected before the command was run again.

[root@bigboy tmp]# spamassassin -d --lint

Created user preferences file: /root/.spamassassin/user_prefs
config: SpamAssassin failed to parse line, skipping: use_terse_report
config: SpamAssassin failed to parse line, skipping: auto_learn
lint: 2 issues detected. please rerun with debug enabled for more
[root@bigboy tmp]# vi /etc/mail/spamassassin/
[root@bigboy tmp]# spamassassin -d --lint
[root@bigboy tmp]

Startup spamassassin

The final steps are to configure spamassassin to start on booting and then to start it.

[root@bigboy tmp]# chkconfig spamassassin on

[root@bigboy tmp]# service spamassassin start
Starting spamd: [ OK ]
[root@bigboy tmp]#

Tuning spamassassin

You can tune the sensitivity of spamassassin to the type of spam you receive by
adjusting the required_hits value in the file. This can be made easier by
viewing the score spamassassin assigns a message in its header. In most GUI based
email clients this can be done by looking at the email's properties. In this case, a
Nigerian email scam spam was detected and given a score of 20.1 and marked as

X-Spam-Status: Yes, score=20.1 required=2.1 tests=DEAR_FRIEND,

* 0.5 FROM_ENDS_IN_NUMS From: ends in numbers
* 0.2 RISK_FREE BODY: Risk free. Suuurreeee....
* 0.4 US_DOLLARS_3 BODY: Mentions millions of $
* 0.8 DEAR_FRIEND BODY: Dear Friend? That's not very dear!
* 2.2 NA_DOLLARS BODY: Talks about a million North American
* 1.8 RCVD_IN_BL_SPAMCOP_NET RBL: Received via a relay in
* [Blocked - see <>]
* 1.1 RCVD_IN_SBL RBL: Received via a relay in Spamhaus SBL
* [ listed in]
* 1.4 DNS_FROM_RFC_POST RBL: Envelope sender in postmaster.rfc-
* 1.9 NIGERIAN_BODY3 Message body looks like a Nigerian spam
message 3+
* 2.9 NIGERIAN_BODY1 Message body looks like a Nigerian spam
message 1+
* 1.4 NIGERIAN_BODY4 Message body looks like a Nigerian spam
message 4+
* 1.7 SARE_FRAUD_X5 Matches 5+ phrases commonly used in fraud
* 0.5 NIGERIAN_BODY2 Message body looks like a Nigerian spam
message 2+
* 1.7 SARE_FRAUD_X3 Matches 3+ phrases commonly used in fraud
* 1.7 SARE_FRAUD_X4 Matches 4+ phrases commonly used in fraud
* 0.0 MSGID_FROM_MTA_HEADER Message-Id was added by a relay

Limiting your spam fighting efforts to the required_hits value isn't usually
adequate. You will probably need additional spamassassin tools to be more selective
and accurate in your tests. This will be covered next.

The Rules du Jour Spamassassin Tool

There are groups of open source developers that create and update customized
spamassassin configuration files that make the tool even more effective. They have
even made life easier for the harried systems administrator by creating a script
named rules_du_jour that, on a daily basis, will automatically download the rules
you select.
The rules_du_jour script can be downloaded from its website at which has easy to
understand installation instructions, but there are some caveats which need to be

The /etc/rulesdujour/config Configuration File

Rules du Jour's configuration file located at /etc/rulesdujour/config has four

variables that need to be defined. Each must be enclosed in quotation marks.

The first is SA_DIR, which defines the directory in which you have installed
spamassassin. The second is MAIL_ADDRESS which defines the address to which
Rules du Jour sends its status messages. The third, SA_RESTART, is the command
to be used to restart spamassassin each time the rules_du_jour script is run.

The final parameter, TRUSTED_RULESETS, is the most complicated. It is a space

delimited list of all the rules you wish to use. A full list can be found on the Rules du
Jour website but there isn't much explanation about what they do and how sensitive
each one is to marking email as being spam. Fortunately, you can get this
information from the "Rules" section of the Rules Emporium site

It is important to read the notes for each rule they sometimes have sub-groupings of
rules that may more suitable for your needs. For example, the SARE_HTML rule
includes all the rules in SARE_HTML0, SARE_HTML1, SARE_HTML2,
SARE_HTML3 and SARE_HTML_ENG, but according to Rules Emporium, only
SARE_HTML0 has a low degree of false positives.

Here is a sample of a /etc/rulesdujour/config configuration file that has taken

advantage of some of the more popular and reliable rules.

# File: /etc/rulesdujour/config

# Script information can be found at:

SA_RESTART="service spamd restart"
Note: The Rules du Jour and Rules Emporium sites use the terms "spam" and
"ham" frequently. Spam is unwanted email, while ham is the opposite.

Installing Rules du Jour

Installation is fairly simple, here is how it is done:

1) Download the rules_du_jour script with the wget command, make it executable
and place it in the /usr/local/bin directory.

[root@bigboy tmp]# wget

=> `rules_du_jour'
Connecting to||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 63,448 (62K) [application/octet-stream]
10:58:28 (79.59 KB/s) - `rules_du_jour' saved [63448/63448]

[root@bigboy tmp]# chmod 700 rules_du_jour

[root@bigboy tmp]# mv rules_du_jour /usr/local/bin

2) Create and edit your /etc/rulesdujour/config configuration file.

[root@bigboy tmp]# mkdir -p /etc/rulesdujour

[root@bigboy tmp]# vi /etc/rulesdujour/config

3) Run the rules_du_jour script, and then run spamassassin in lint mode to test for
errors. There should be none.

[root@bigboy tmp]# /usr/local/bin/rules_du_jour

exec: curl -w %{http_code} --compressed -O -R -s -S -z
/etc/mail/spamassassin/RulesDuJour/rules_du_jour 2>&1
curl_output: 304

------ TRIPWIRE ------


/^\s*#.*(vers?|version|rev|revision)[:\.\s]*[0-9]/i;' | sort | tail -n 1

[root@bigboy tmp]# spamassassin -d --lint
[root@bigboy tmp]#
4) The final step is to add /usr/local/bin/rules_du_jour to your cron table. In this
case, I have just created the file /etc/cron.d/rulesdujour with the following entry:

# Get latest SpamAssassin rules. Runs at 12:23AM every day.
0 23 * * * root /usr/local/bin/rules_du_jour

5) You may have to restart crond to get this configuration to become active

[root@bigboy tmp]# service crond restart

Stopping crond: [ OK ]
Starting crond: [ OK ]
[root@bigboy tmp]#

My experience with Rules du Jour has been very good. Without it, I could only set
the required_hits value in the /etc/mail/spamassassin/ file to a relatively
insensitive value of 4.5. Anything lower would create too many false positives and
valuable mail would be marked as being suspicious. Rules du Jour selectively raises
the score of specific types of spam such that I can make the required_hits setting
have a very sensitive value of 2.1 with very few false positives.

Using Greylisting

To maximize the effect of their efforts, spammers try to send email as quickly as
possible. They take note of the emails that bounce, so that they know which
addresses to remove from their lists to make their next mailing more efficient.

When mail servers receive mail too rapidly for them to handle, they can ask the
sender to try again later. Spammers often view resending emails to valid addresses
as a waste of computing time that could be used to send mail to brand new
addresses that belong to faster mail servers. Emails that need to be resent are
usually abandoned.

Some emails need reliable delivery to be effective and the senders of these types of
messages are willing to resend. These include bank statement notifications,
ecommerce purchase confirmations, and subscription newsletters.

In a previous section we saw where spamassassin always rejects emails from

blacklisted sources. With greylisting, sources are just asked to resend. One of the
most popular greylist mail filter (milter) products is the milter-greylist package
which also works seamlessly with spamassassin. It is easy to use and Ill discuss how
can be configured on your mail server.
Downloading and Installing milter-greylist

Installing milter-greylist is relatively simple, but there are a lot of steps. Heres how
to do it:

1. You will have to first install the sendmail-devel software package. Most RedHat
and Fedora Linux software products are available in the RPM format. When
searching for the RPMs, remember that the filename usually starts with the
software package name and is followed by a version number, as in sendmail-devel-
8.13.1-2.rpm. (For help downloading, see Chapter 6, "Installing RPM Software").

2. The next step is to download the milter-greylist tar file which you can download
from the milters website at In this case
we download the version 2.0.2 file using the wget command.

[root@bigboy tmp]# wget

=> `milter-greylist-2.0.2.tgz'
Connecting to||:21... connected.
Logging in as anonymous ... Logged in!
=> SYST ... done. => PWD ... done.
=> TYPE I ... done. => CWD /pub/milter-greylist ... done.
=> PASV ... done. => RETR milter-greylist-2.0.2.tgz ... done.
Length: 116,459 (114K) (unauthoritative)
10:48:20 (70.79 KB/s) - `milter-greylist-2.0.2.tgz' saved [116459]
[root@bigboy tmp]#

3. Now that you have the file, youll have to extract the contents using the tar

[root@bigboy tmp]# tar -xzvf milter-greylist-2.0.2.tgz


[root@bigboy tmp]#

4. Now enter the newly created milter-greylist directory and compile the package
with the configure command. Take a look at the README file before doing this as
there may be some additional options you require, but for most cases the defaults
are sufficient.
[root@bigboy milter-greylist-2.0.2]# ./configure && make && make install
checking for gcc... gcc
checking for C compiler default output file name... a.out
checking whether the C compiler works... yes
/usr/bin/install -c -d -m 755 /etc/mail
test -f /etc/mail/greylist.conf -o -f /etc/mail/greylist.except || \
/usr/bin/install -c -m 644 greylist.conf /etc/mail
/usr/bin/install -c -d -m 755 -o root /var/milter-greylist
[root@bigboy milter-greylist-2.0.2]#

The next step is to configure the package, which will be covered next.

Configuring milter-greylist

Configuring milter-greylist requires these four quick steps:

1. Add the milter-greylist statements listed in the README file to your

/etc/mail/ file:

define(`confMILTER_MACROS_CONNECT', `j, {if_addr}')
define(`confMILTER_MACROS_HELO', `{verify}, {cert_subject}')
define(`confMILTER_MACROS_ENVFROM', `i, {auth_authen}')
define(`confMILTER_MACROS_ENVRCPT', `{greylist}')

2. There will be a number of shell scripts in the milter-greylist tar directory that
correspond to various versions of Linux. Copy the correct version to your /etc/init.d
directory and use the chkconfig command to make sure the milter starts on the next

[root@bigboy milter-greylist-2.0.2]# cp

[root@bigboy milter-greylist-2.0.2]# chmod 755 /etc/init.d/milter-
[root@bigboy milter-greylist-2.0.2]# chkconfig --add milter-greylist
[root@bigboy milter-greylist-2.0.2]# chkconfig milter-greylist on
[root@bigboy milter-greylist-2.0.2]# chkconfig --list | grep milter
milter-greylist 0:off 1:off 2:on 3:on 4:on 5:on 6:off
[root@bigboy milter-greylist-2.0.2]#

3. Edit the /etc/mail/greylist.conf configuration file. Here we set the try again later
to five minutes and use the whitelist command to deactivate the timer for trusted
networks so that mail is delivered immediately.

# File: /etc/mail/greylist.conf
# How long a client has to wait before we accept
# the messages it retries to send. Here, 1 hour.
greylist 5m

# Whitelist addresses within my own home/office network
acl whitelist addr

4. Start the milter with the service command.

[root@bigboy milter-greylist-2.0.2]# service milter-greylist start

Starting Milter-Greylist: [ OK ]
[root@bigboy milter-greylist-2.0.2]#

Your new spam mitigation tool should now be fully functional. Delete the mister-
greylist directory in /tmp and you should be ready to go!

Configuring milter-greylist

Now that we have milter-greylist installed, we need to be able to do some basic

troubleshooting. The /var/log/maillog file should be used to determine what is
happening to your mail. Here are two samples of what to expect:

Dec 24 00:32:31 bigboy sendmail[28847]: jBO8WVnG028847: Milter:

reject=451 4.7.1 Greylisting in action, please come back in 00:05:00

Dec 23 20:40:21 bigboy milter-greylist: jBO4eF2m027418: addr from
<> rcpt <>:
autowhitelisted for 24:00:00

In the first entry, the email received is given a tag (jBO8WVnG028847) based on
key characteristics in the mail header and a request is sent to the sender to resend
the email in five minutes. Any email that is received with the same calculated key
within the autowhite period configured in the greylist.conf file will then be
automatically accepted without delay. In the second entry, the email has been resent
and immediately accepted. Any other email from that source within the next 24
hours will be accepted without delay.

Note: Greylisting is very effective, but you will have to tne its operation to make
sure critical emails are not delayed at all. One soluton is to set the autowhite period
in /etc/mail/greylist.conf to slightly more than 24 hours especially if you get mail
from certain recipients, such as newsletters, on a daily basis. This makes them
arrive without interruption.
A Simple PERL Script To Help Stop SPAM

Blacklists won't stop everything, but you can limit the amount of unsolicited spam
you receive by writing a small script to intercept your mail before it is written to
your mailbox.

This is fairly simple to do, because sendmail always checks the .forward file in your
home directory for the name of this script. The sendmail program then looks for the
filename in the directory /etc/smrsh and executes it.

By default, PERL doesn't come with modules that are able to check e-mail headers
and envelopes so you have to download them from CPAN ( The
most important modules are:


I have written a script called that effectively filters out spam e-mail for
my home system. A few steps are required to make the script work:

1. Install PERL and the PERL modules you downloaded from CPAN.
2. Place an executable version of the script in your home directory and modify
the script's $FILEPATH variable point to your home directory.
3. Update file mail-filter.accept, which specifies the subjects and e-mail
addresses to accept, and file mail-filter.reject, which specifies those to reject.
4. Update your .forward file and place an entry in /etc/smrsh.

Mail-filter first rejects all e-mail based on the reject file and then accepts all mail
found in the accept file. It then denies everything else.

For a simple script with instructions on how to install the PERL modules, see
Appendix II, "Codes, Scripts, and Configurations".

Configuring Your POP Mail Server

Each user on your Linux box will get mail sent to their account's mail folder, but
sendmail just handles mail sent to your domain. If you want to retrieve
the mail from your Linux box's user account using a mail client such as Evolution,
Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express, then you have a few more steps. You'll also
have to make your Linux box a POP mail server.

Fedora Linux comes with the easy to use dovecot IMAP/POP server RPM package
which requires very little configuration after installation.
Installing Your POP Mail Server

Most RedHat and Fedora Linux software products are available in the RPM
format. You will need to make sure that the dovecot software RPM is installed.
(Chapter 6, "Installing RPM Software", will tell you how.) When searching for the
RPMs, remember that the filename usually starts with the software package name
by a version number, as in dovecot-0.99.11-1.FC3.4.i386.rpm.

Starting Your POP Mail Server

You can use the chkconfig command to get dovecot configured to start at boot:

[root@bigboy tmp]# chkconfig dovecot on

To start, stop, and restart dovecot after booting, use

[root@bigboy tmp]# service dovecot start

[root@bigboy tmp]# service dovecot stop
[root@bigboy tmp]# service dovecot restart

Remember to restart the dovecot process every time you make a change to the
configuration files for the changes to take effect on the running process. You can
also test whether the dovecot process is running with the pgrep command:

[root@bigboy tmp]# pgrep dovecot

You should get a response of plain old process ID numbers:

The /etc/dovecot.conf File

You can define most of dovecot's configuration parameters in the /etc/dovecot.conf

file. By default dovecot will act as a server for IMAP, secure IMAP (IMAPS), POP
and secure POP (POPS). You can limit this list by editing the protocols line in the
/etc/dovecot.conf file and then restarting dovecot for the change to take effect. In the
example below dovecot is configured to serve only POP3.

# File /etc/dovecot.conf sample

# Protocols we want to be serving imap imaps pop3 pop3s

#protocols = imap imaps pop3 pop3s
protocols = pop3
You can then use the netstat command to do a simple preliminary test to make sure
dovecot is serving POP3 only.

[root@bigboy tmp]# netstat -a | egrep -i 'pop|imap'

tcp 0 0 *:pop3 *:*
[root@bigboy tmp]#

How To Configure Your Windows Mail Programs

All your POP e-mail accounts are really only regular Linux user accounts in which
sendmail has deposited mail. You can now configure your e-mail client such as
Outlook Express to use your use your new POP/SMTP mail server quite easily. To
configure POP Mail, set your POP mail server to be the IP address of your Linux
mail server. Use your Linux user username and password when prompted.

Next, set your SMTP mail server to be the IP address/domain name of your Linux
mail server.

Configuring Secure POP Mail

If you need to access your e-mail from the mail server via the Internet or some other
insecure location, you may want to configure POP to work over an encrypted data
channel. For this, modify the protocols section of the /etc/dovecot.conf file to include
pop3s and then restart dovecot. Encrypted POP runs on TCP port 995, so firewall
rules may need to be altered as well.

Most POP clients support secure POP. For example, Windows configures it in the
Advanced menu of the Outlook Express Account Configuration window.

How to handle overlapping email addresses.

If you have user overlap, such as John Smith ( and John Brown
(, both users will get sent to the Linux user account john by
default. You have two options for a solution:

Make the user part of the email address different, and for example, and create Linux accounts john1 and john2.
If the users insist on overlapping names, then you may need to modify your
virtusertable file.

Create the user accounts john1 and john2 and point virtusertable entries for to account john1 and point
entries to account john2. The POP configuration in Outlook Express for each
user should retrieve their mail via POP using john1 and john2, respectively.

With this trick you'll be able to handle many users belonging to multiple domains
without many address overlap problems.

Troubleshooting POP Mail

The very first troubleshooting step is to determine whether your POP server is
accessible on the POP TCP port 110 or the secure POP port of 995. Lack of
connectivity could be caused by a firewall with incorrect permit, NAT, or port
forwarding rules to your server. Failure could also be caused by the xinetd process
being stopped or the configuration files being disabled. Test this from both inside
your network and from the Internet. (Troubleshooting TCP with TELNET is
covered in Chapter 4, "Simple Network Troubleshooting")

Linux status messages are logged to the file /var/log/messages. Use it to make sure
all your files are loaded when you start xinetd. Check your configuration files if it
fails to do so. This example starts xinetd and makes a successful secure POP query
from a remote POP client: (Linux logging is covered in Chapter 5,
"Troubleshooting Linux with syslog").

Aug 11 23:20:33 bigboy xinetd[18690]: START: pop3s pid=18693

Aug 11 23:20:33 bigboy ipop3d[18693]: pop3s SSL service init from
Aug 11 23:20:40 bigboy ipop3d[18693]: Login user=labmanager host=172- [] nmsgs=0/0
Aug 11 23:20:40 bigboy ipop3d[18693]: Logout user=labmanager host=172- [] nmsgs=0 ndele=0
Aug 11 23:20:40 bigboy xinetd[18690]: EXIT: pop3s pid=18693
Aug 11 23:20:52 bigboy xinetd[18690]: START: pop3s pid=18694
Aug 11 23:20:52 bigboy ipop3d[18694]: pop3s SSL service init from
Aug 11 23:20:52 bigboy ipop3d[18694]: Login user=labmanager host=172- [] nmsgs=0/0
Aug 11 23:20:52 bigboy ipop3d[18694]: Logout user=labmanager host=172- [] nmsgs=0 ndele=0
Aug 11 23:20:52 bigboy xinetd[18690]: EXIT: pop3s pid=18694
E-mail is an important part of any Web site, and you need to plan its configuration
carefully to make it a seamless part of the Web experience of your visitors. Without
it, your Web site won't seem complete.

A fully functioning Web site is just the beginning. It needs to be maintained to

reduce the risk of failure and monitored to help detect potential problems. Chapter
22, " Monitoring Server Performance", discusses many Linux-based tools that you
can be use to track the health of your Linux server.

How to set up a mail server on a GNU /

Linux system/II

How to set up a mail server on a GNU /

Linux system
Step by step guide to install Postfix

Ubuntu + Postfix + Courier IMAP + MySQL + Amavisd-new +

SpamAssassin + ClamAV + SASL + TLS +
SquirrelMail/Roundcube + Postgrey

Easy to follow howto on setting up a mail server with unlimited users and domains,
with IMAP/Pop access, anti-spam, anti-virus, secure authentication, encrypted
traffic, web mail interface and more.

Based on an Ubuntu distribution platform, but instructions are distro generic.

Examples are run on Amazon AWS ec2, but only for demonstration purposes.

| More

10th edition
Author Ivar Abrahamsen

License: Respect (CC by-sa)

Last Update: 2010-06-11

Contact / Discuss



List of different versions of this document.


Brief description of this document.

o Aim
o Research
o Donate

Which software packages are we using and why.


How to install all packages and which ones.

o Distrobution
o Base Install
o Repositories
o Packages

Post install, what to configure for each section, with full command examples.

o Firewall (Shorewall)
o MTA (Postfix)
o Database (MySQL)
o Pop/IMAP (Courier)
o Content Checks (amivisd-new)
Anti-Virus (ClamAV)
Policy Check (PostGrey)
o Authentication (SASL)
o Encryption (TLS)
o Webmail (SquirrelMail)
o Administration (phpMyAdmin)

Creating the basic stub of data, and how to add your own.

o Add users and domains

o Common SQL

Testing and troubleshooting each element.

o Common problems
o Test strategy
o Switch debug on
o Tail, tail and tail again
o Telnet is your friend
o Can postfix receive?
o Can postfix send?
o Can courier read?

If receiving an already setup machine, a list of actions to do to initialize and

configure it.


Post working system, detailed instructions on optional features to add.

o Remote MX mail backup

Relay recipient lookup
o Local file backup
o Sender ID & SPF
o Spam Reporting
o White/Black lists
o Relocation notice
o Pop-before-SMTP
o Auto Reply
o Block Addresses
o Throttle Output
o Mail Lists
o Admin software
o Google Apps / GMail
o Maildrop, spam folder and vacation messaging
o Roundcube webmail client
Elastic Compute Cloud (ec2)

Amazons' hosting service. Used as examples for this howto.

o Impressions of EC2
o ec2 introduction, tips and hwotos
o Using EC2 with this howto
o Amazon EC2 Images: AMIs
o EC2 Links
o About author
o Contact
o Why
o References
o Software Links
o Difference between Ubuntu versions
o Download
o Todo
o Change Log


Return to top.

Edition State Started Updated Description
1st Released (outdated) 2004-01 2004-02 Based on Mandrake 9.1.
2nd Released (outdated) 2004-02 2004-07 Based on Mandrake 10.x, but
valid for all distributions. Very
thorough. Includes package
description, where to get the
sources and binaries, how to
build them or which RPMs to
use, includes many refrences,
etc etc. Starts off with a basic
working server, then advances,
extends and tightens it in
Based on Ubuntu 5.04, Hoary
Hedgehog. More concise
simplified guide to get an
3rd Released (outdated) 2005-05 2005-11
advanced server working
quickly. Now includes SASL &
TLS integration.
Based on Breezy Badger,
4th Released (outdated) 2005-10 2005-12
Ubuntu 5.10. Includes Postgrey
Based on Dapper Drake,
5th Released (outdated) 2006-05 2006-11
Ubuntu 6.06 LTS.
Was to be based on Edgy Eft,
Ubuntu 6.10 or 7.04. include
6th Scrapped 2006-11 2007-10 Domain Key signing. include
my mail admin or my catchall
aliases admin.
Updated, based on Ubuntu
8.04 LTS Hardy Heron. Using
7th Released 2008-04 2009-06 Amazon EC2 as example.
(Tested with 8.10 & 9.04 as
Based on Ubuntu 8.10
(intrepid), then tested with 9.04
8th 2009-05 2009-11 (jaunty) & 9.10 (karmic) as
well. Using official Ubuntu ec2
as examples.
Based on Ubuntu 9.10 (karmic)
Released using Canonical's cloud
9th 2009-11 2010-05
(superseeded) images. Added Roundcube
webmail option.
Based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS
10th (this) Release (candidate) 2009-12 2010-06 (lucid) using Canonical's cloud

Further details available in the change log and below in the introduction.

Return to top.

This is a step by step howto guide to set up a mail server on a GNU / Linux system.
It is easy to follow, but you end up with a powerfull secure mail server.

The server accepts unlimited domains and users, and all mail can be read via your
favourite clients, or via web mail.

It is secure, traffic can encrypted and it will block virtually all spam and viruses.

Return to top.


Dont take my word for it! Research others opinions and methods. Look at my
references, look at's howtos, read the excellent books available (E.g.
Kyle's or Hildebrandt's), search the web or read the proper documentation.

If you refer to this howto in your own document, or find useful links, then let me

If you found this howto very useful, spread the word
and help others?

If this howto was exceptionally useful why not donate

me some beer money?

Or buy a postfix book using my amazon affiliate links

further down? UK US EU

Or buy a t-shirt from my t-shirt shop?

Otherwise send me a Thank You note?

Return to top.

What software packages have/will I use and why.

OS: Ubuntu Linux

Ah the age old distro argument... Thankfully this set up should work on most
distros. I used to base this howto on Mandrake(now Mandriva), and I started
this new edition on a Gentoo box. But I don't have the patience for Gentoo,
nor the money to stay with Mandriva Power editions. Why Ubuntu? Its free,
simple and slick. As Ubuntu is derived from debian the installations used
here will be apt-get based. Please refer to my other editions for details on
RPM or source based installations.

MTA: Postfix

Simple, free and slick. Yup I am a sucker for anything that works easily.
Postfix is powerfull, well established, but not too bloated, and is security
concious from the start.

Pop/IMAP: Courier IMAP

My first mail server installtion was with Courier. I have not found a reason
to change this as again it is simple, and free.

Database: MySQL

Although I use Firebird for my application development, (or Hibernate/C-

JDBC hybrids), MySQL is well supported for the sort of lookups required in
a mail server.

Content Check: Amavisd-new

Easy plug in solution for spam, virus checking etc.

Anti-Spam: SpamAssassin

Powerfull renowned spam fighting tool.

Anti-Virus: ClamAV

Free virus scanner that can be trusted and includes update daemon.

Authentication: Cyrus SASL

Secure and trusted crypthography technology for authentication of SMTP



Postgrey is an excellent little script to stop 99% of all spam. All it does is on
first contact for specific from-to combinations, tells the sender server to try
again in a little while, which most spammers cant afford to do. When proper
servers try again after a few minutes it lets it through.

Encryption: TLS

Secure and trusted crypthography technology for encryption of SMTP

traffic. Not too be confused with client encryption technology like GnuPG
and S/MIME. They are covered in the extend section. Formerly referenced as

WebMail: SquirrelMail or Roundcube

Easy to set up php based web mail client. Extensive plugin selection.

Ajaxified prettier web mail client. Not quite as solid as SquirrelMail.

Platform: Amazon ec2

This guide can be installed locally, co-located or in the cloud.

My preference is ec2, and I provide ec2 based examples, however it makes no
difference where you install your mail server.

Please see software links appendix for further information about these software
packages. In that section there is more links to documentation or forums, and viable
alternatives, downloadable packages, versions details etc.

Further software and tweaks are discussed in the extension section.

Also review other peoples opinion on these packages via my references.

Return to top.


Base Install


This section is different for every distribution and for every version.

This howto is based on Ubuntu and its base of debian which uses apt-get. Therefor
this section uses apt packages to its fullest.

For other installation method please refer to previous edition's software links and
your own distribution for the documention for other ways of installing. My 2nd
edition(outdated) has instructions for Mandriva, general RPM and tarball

To follow the rest of this howto with another distrobution, you need to ensure all
your packages have been installed with the same modules, E.g MySQL lookup on
postfix and sasl, php in apache etc.

I have set up mail servers using the 32bit and 64bit x86 platforms, and if all the
packages are available then other, E.g. Mac platforms should work too.

Base Install

With installing Ubuntu you have a choice of which base system to install. You may
choose server or desktop image or very basic setups. I will assume a server install,
but it should not differ.

Or if you have chosen an ec2 based server, you can:

Base it on a Canonical image

Apply my ec2 Ubuntu server suggestions
Use my prebuilt ec2 public images for this postfix mail server

Ps. Please note that after a while Ill stop specifying the use of sudo, as it is up to
yourselves if you use it or use a priviliged user, e.g. root.

For assistance with repositories, refer to this article on ubuntu's wiki.

A previous edition discussed repository configuration in more detail.

But basically for this you need main and universe, and I also throw in the other
"safe" ones: restricted and multiverse (and partner, when available). sudo vi
/etc/apt/source.list If main and universe already is listed, this is a quick find
and replace to add the others all over: :%s/main un/main restricted multiverse

As mentioned in the previous edition you also might want to find a repository closer
to your server.


You need to install a whole bunch of packages. We will install them bit by bit. But
first check your package sources are correctly pointing to main multiverse restricted
universe repositories of your current Ubuntu version. sudo vi
/etc/apt/sources.list Secondly update your current system: sudo aptitude
update sudo aptitude safe-upgrade


First we'll install MySQL sudo aptitude install mysql-client mysql-server

This will prompt you for a root password. Choose someting wise and remember it!
For purpose of this tutorial I will set it to rootPASSWORD


Then we'll install postfix sudo aptitude install postfix postfix-mysql This
will prompt you to choose type of email server. Select internet site It will also suggest
a server name. Correct this if needed.

sudo aptitude install libsasl2-modules libsasl2-modules-sql libgsasl7\
libauthen-sasl-cyrus-perl sasl2-bin libpam-mysql

sudo aptitude install clamav-base libclamav6 clamav-daemon clamav-
freshclam (Earlier vesions of Ubuntu may use libclamav5)

Amavis, SpamAssassin, postgrey

sudo aptitude install amavisd-new sudo aptitude install spamassassin
spamc sudo aptitude install postgrey

sudo aptitude install squirrelmail squirrelmail-locales php-pear php5-

sudo aptitude install phpmyadmin

Enter Yes to set it up, enter root mysql password, enter a phpmyadmin mysql user
password twice. Accept apache2 as the web server.

sudo aptitude install shorewall-common shorewall-perl # for earlier
ubuntu versions use package shorewall instead sudo aptitude install
shorewall shorewall-doc

Amazon provides a firewall/ access control for its servers, so not always needed
then, but nice to have. And in all others situations; a must have.

sudo aptitude install courier-base courier-authdaemon courier-authlib-
mysql \ courier-imap courier-imap-ssl courier-ssl will prompt you about
webdirectories. You can say no to this. It will also warn you about the certificate
location. Ignore it.


I also install a few other packages that I personally prefer. But nothing todo with
the mail server. sudo aptitude install vim mutt lynx

Package status

To find out which packages you may have installed, you can use for example: sudo dpkg --list
| grep postfix or sudo aptitude search postfix

EC2 Bundle

My AMI flurdy-amis/ubuntu-mail-server-clean is based on Canonical's official Ubuntu with these

basic mail server packages installed.

Return to top.


o Firewall (Shorewall)
o MTA (Postfix)
o Database (MySQL)
o Pop/IMAP (Courier)
o Content Checks (amivisd-new)
Anti-Virus (ClamAV)
Policy Check (PostGrey)
oAuthentication (SASL)
oEncryption (TLS)
Webmail (SquirrelMail)
Administration (phpMyAdmin)

Simple mail server

Now lets configure a simple mail server using some of the packages installed.



Not essential for an EC2 image. It is essential for a normal server. UFW is bundled
with recent Ubuntu distributions, but I still prefer Shorewall for servers.

Basically at first you want to only allow SSH. Then SMTP and IMAP from your IP

When you are confident that the mail server is secure, you can open SMTP to the
world. If you prefer you can also open IMAP to the world, unless you have a very
small client IP range.

Later you may open web access to the webmail and admin gui. This you may also
restrict to specific IPs.

SSH only
By default Shorewall in Ubuntu has an empty set up. You can find the default
values for Shorewall in /usr/share/doc/shorwall-common/default-config. And
examples in /usr/share/doc/shorwall-common/examples. We will create a basic set up.

First configure which network adapters we are accessing the net. cp

/etc/shorewall/ vi /etc/shorewall/interfaces net eth0 detect

Then we will configure network zones cp /usr/share/doc/shorewall-

common/default-config/zones /etc/shorewall/ vi /etc/shorewall/zones Add
the firewall if not there and the internet as a zone. fw firewall # loc ipv4 net

Then if needed to specify hosts you can do it in this file. E.g. If you wanto specify
what is your home IP etc. cp /usr/share/doc/shorewall-common/default-
config/hosts /etc/shorewall/ vi /etc/shorewall/hosts # loc

Then set what is the default policy for firewall access. cp

/usr/share/doc/shorewall-common/default-config/policy /etc/shorewall/
vi /etc/shorewall/policy $FW net ACCEPT net $FW DROP info net all DROP

For safety in case it goes down. cp /usr/share/doc/shorewall-common/default-

config/routestopped /etc/shorewall/ vi /etc/shorewall/routestopped eth0 routeback You may put in a netmask of your ip range if you are more

Now for the main firewall rules. You can find predetermined macro rules for
Shorewall in /usr/share/shorewall. cp /usr/share/doc/shorewall-
common/default-config/rules /etc/shorewall/ vi /etc/shorewall/rules

Open for business

Once your server is working come back to this step and open up SMTP and Web
access to others.

vi /etc/shorewall/rules Ping/ACCEPT net $FW # Permit all ICMP traffic

FROM the firewall TO the net zone ACCEPT $FW net icmp # mail lines

Firewall configuring is always risky business, as it is easy to lock yourself out. To

test the setup syntax, run shorewall check Restart it with /etc/init.d/shorewall

Then to switch it on during boot: vi /etc/default/shorewall startup=1

For more details on IP Tables and Shorewall, look up its website.

Return to top.



You should put the name of your server in this file sudo vi /etc/mailname Could
be something like, where domain name obviously is replaced with
your domain name.

Now will open the main postfix configuration file: sudo vi /etc/postfix/
Debian and Ubuntu already puts in some sensible default values in this file. You
may need to comment some of them out if we put the same in as well.

First specify the name of your server. # This is already done in /etc/mailname
#myhostname= Next is the origin which is the domain appended
to email from this machine, this can be your full servername, or domain name. #

Then decide what the greeting text will be. Enough info so it is useful, but not
divelge everything to potential hackers. smtpd_banner = $myhostname ESMTP

Next you need to decide whether to send all outgoing mail via another SMTP server,
or send them yourself. I send via my ISP's server, so it has to worry about the
queing etc. If you send it yourself then you are not reliant on 3rd party server. But
you may risk more exposure and accidentally be blocked by spam blockers. And it is
more work for your server. Also many servers block dynamic dns hosts, so you may
find your server gets rejected. However choose whichever you are comfortable with.
# leave blank to do it yourself relayhost =# or put it an accessible
smtp server relayhost =

Next is network details. You will accept connection from anywhere, and you only
trust this machine inet_interfaces = all mynetworks_style = host

Next you can masquerade some outgoing addresses. Say your machine's name is You may not want outgoing mail to come from, as you'd prefer You can
also state which domain not to masquerade. E.g. if you use a dynamic dns service,
then your server address will be a subdomain. You can also specify which users not
to masquerade. # masquerade_domains = ! # masquerade_exceptions = root

As we will be using virtual domains, these need to be empty. local_recipient_maps

= mydestination =
Then will set a few numbers. # how long if undelivered before sending
warning update to sender delay_warning_time = 4h # will it be a
permanent error or temporary unknown_local_recipient_reject_code = 450
# how long to keep message on queue before return as failed. # some
have 3 days, I have 16 days as I am backup server for some people #
whom go on holiday with their server switched off.
maximal_queue_lifetime = 7d # max and min time in seconds between
retries if connection failed minimal_backoff_time = 1000s
maximal_backoff_time = 8000s # how long to wait when servers connect
before receiving rest of data smtp_helo_timeout = 60s # how many
address can be used in one message. # effective stopper to mass
spammers, accidental copy in whole address list # but may restrict
intentional mail shots. smtpd_recipient_limit = 16 # how many error
before back off. smtpd_soft_error_limit = 3 # how many max errors
before blocking it. smtpd_hard_error_limit = 12

Now we can specify some restrictions. Be carefull that each setting is on one line
only. # Requirements for the HELO statement smtpd_helo_restrictions =
permit_mynetworks, warn_if_reject reject_non_fqdn_hostname,
reject_invalid_hostname, permit # Requirements for the sender details
smtpd_sender_restrictions = permit_mynetworks, warn_if_reject
reject_non_fqdn_sender, reject_unknown_sender_domain,
reject_unauth_pipelining, permit # Requirements for the connecting
server smtpd_client_restrictions = reject_rbl_client,
reject_rbl_client, reject_rbl_client # Requirement for the recipient address
smtpd_recipient_restrictions = reject_unauth_pipelining,
permit_mynetworks, reject_non_fqdn_recipient,
reject_unknown_recipient_domain, reject_unauth_destination, permit
smtpd_data_restrictions = reject_unauth_pipelining

Further restrictions: # require proper helo at connections

smtpd_helo_required = yes # waste spammers time before rejecting them
smtpd_delay_reject = yes disable_vrfy_command = yes

Next we need to set some maps and lookups for the virtual domains. # not sure of
the difference of the next two # but they are needed for local aliasing
alias_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/aliases alias_database =
hash:/etc/postfix/aliases # this specifies where the virtual mailbox
folders will be located virtual_mailbox_base = /var/spool/mail/virtual
# this is for the mailbox location for each user virtual_mailbox_maps =
mysql:/etc/postfix/ # and this is for aliases
virtual_alias_maps = mysql:/etc/postfix/ # and this is
for domain lookups virtual_mailbox_domains =
mysql:/etc/postfix/ # this is how to connect to the
domains (all virtual, but the option is there) # not used yet #
transport_maps = mysql:/etc/postfix/

You can (as in my older editions) use a lookup for the uid and gid of the owner of
mail files. But I tend to have one owner(virtual), so instead add this:
virtual_uid_maps = static:5000 virtual_gid_maps = static:5000
You need to set up an alias file. This is only used locally, and not by your own mail
domains. sudo cp /etc/aliases /etc/postfix/aliases # may want to view
the file to check if ok. # especially that the final alias, eg root
goes # to a real person sudo postalias /etc/postfix/aliases

Next you need to set up the folder where the virtual mail will be stored. This may
have already been done by the apt-get. And also create the user whom will own the
folders. # to add if there is not a virtual user sudo mkdir
/var/spool/mail/virtual sudo groupadd --system virtual -g 5000 sudo
useradd --system virtual -u 5000 -g 5000 sudo chown -R
virtual:virtual /var/spool/mail/virtual

Note: If using Amazon ec2 you may want to move the mail spool to /mnt or an EBS
location. You will need to symlink correctly afterwards.

Return to top.

Postfix's MySQL configuration

Next we need to set up the files to access the lookups via the database. We will only
set up a few now, and the rest later when/if needed:

Edit(create) how to find the users mailbox location sudo vi


user=mail password=mailPASSWORD dbname=maildb table=users

select_field=maildir where_field=id hosts=
additional_conditions = and enabled = 1

Create how to find the email alias: sudo vi /etc/postfix/

user=mail password=mailPASSWORD dbname=maildb table=aliases

select_field=destination where_field=mail hosts=
additional_conditions = and enabled = 1

Create how to find the domains: sudo vi /etc/postfix/

user=mail password=mailPASSWORD dbname=maildb table=domains

select_field=domain where_field=domain hosts=
additional_conditions = and enabled = 1

If you specify an ip in hosts, (as opposed to 'localhost') then it will communicate

over tcp and not the mysql socket. (chroot restriction). Ps. remember to replace the
passwords with your chosen mail user password.

Return to top.


Now we will need to create the tables for thos lookups just specified. First you need
to create a user to use in MySQL for mail only. Then you need to create the
database, Take note of your chosen mail username and password. You will need the
password you specified for root during MySQL package installation.

# If not already done (in package installation)... mysqladmin -u root

password new_password # log in as root mysql -u root -p # then enter
password for the root account when prompted Enter password: # then we
create the mail database create database maildb; # then we create a new
TO 'mail'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED by 'mailPASSWORD'; GRANT
IDENTIFIED by 'mailPASSWORD'; exit; Obviously replace mailPASSWORD with
your chosen password!

Then you will need to create these tables:


We will create more later on for further extensions, but only these are relevant now.

Log in to mysql as the new mail user mysql -u mail -p maildb # enter the
newly created password Enter password:

Then run this commands to create the tables:

CREATE TABLE `aliases` ( `pkid` smallint(3) NOT NULL auto_increment,

`mail` varchar(120) NOT NULL default '', `destination` varchar(120) NOT
NULL default '', `enabled` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '1', PRIMARY KEY
(`pkid`), UNIQUE KEY `mail` (`mail`) ) ; CREATE TABLE `domains` ( `pkid`
smallint(6) NOT NULL auto_increment, `domain` varchar(120) NOT NULL
default '', `transport` varchar(120) NOT NULL default 'virtual:',
`enabled` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '1', PRIMARY KEY (`pkid`) ) ;
CREATE TABLE `users` ( `id` varchar(128) NOT NULL default '', `name`
varchar(128) NOT NULL default '', `uid` smallint(5) unsigned NOT NULL
default '5000', `gid` smallint(5) unsigned NOT NULL default '5000',
`home` varchar(255) NOT NULL default '/var/spool/mail/virtual',
`maildir` varchar(255) NOT NULL default 'blah/', `enabled` tinyint(3)
unsigned NOT NULL default '1', `change_password` tinyint(3) unsigned
NOT NULL default '1', `clear` varchar(128) NOT NULL default 'ChangeMe',
`crypt` varchar(128) NOT NULL default 'sdtrusfX0Jj66', `quota`
varchar(255) NOT NULL default '', `procmailrc` varchar(128) NOT NULL
default '', `spamassassinrc` varchar(128) NOT NULL default '', PRIMARY
KEY (`id`), UNIQUE KEY `id` (`id`) ) ;
The last few fields in the users table are not required, but useful if you extend later.

# To visualise the tables created: describe aliases; describe domains;

describe users; # then quit mysql exit;

Next is to edit the MySQL's my.cnf file. In Ubuntu/debian this is created by default.
In Mandrake I had to manually create a blank one in /etc. But we need to configure
it, so: sudo vi /etc/mysql/my.cnf In previous version you needed to comment out
this line #skip-networking However in todays file the default is to bind the address
to localhost, which is fine. bind-address = It is very useful at the start
to log any SQL calls that makes it to MySQL. So enable these lines:
general_log_file = /var/log/mysql/mysql.log general_log = 1 Then in a few
weeks comment it out when everything is working, as it slows mysql down

Restart MySQL to make sure its picking up the new settings. sudo
/etc/init.d/mysql restart

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Courier IMAP

Please refer to previous edition for more explanations. But below is the details of
what you need to change.

sudo vi /etc/courier/authdaemonrc Change to mysql mode.

authmodulelist="authmysql" Further down enable logging. DEBUG_LOGIN=2

sudo vi /etc/courier/authmysqlrc Changed user MYSQL_USERNAME mail

Changed password to whichever you have chosen MYSQL_PASSWORD mailPASSWORD
Changed database MYSQL_DATABASE maildb Changed users table MYSQL_USER_TABLE
users Keep commented in crypt pw MYSQL_CRYPT_PWFIELD crypt Keep commented
out clear pw # MYSQL_CLEAR_PWFIELD clear Added maildir MYSQL_MAILDIR_FIELD
concat(home,'/',maildir) Added where clause MYSQL_WHERE_CLAUSE enabled=1

Lastly you can have a look at the imapd file, but no changes is needed. vi

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You now have a basic mail server!

Before continuing to the advanced and secure mail server you must ensure the basic
setup works. This will save you from loads of pain further on.
It is very easy to make typos, miss tiny steps, unclear steps or simple actual errors in
this howto.

Insert stub data from data section

Apply advice from test section judicously
Ensure the mail server can receive email correctly first, then try sending.
Once you are positive the mail has been received, the mail folders have been
automatically created,
only then you should test if you can actually read the emails before proceding

Ive created an EC2 bundle for this stage: flurdy-amis/ubuntu-mail-server-simple.

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Somewhere, something went terribly wrong

Advanced mail server

Now lets extend this setup with more useful content checks , security and user

Content Checks (Anti spam & anti virus)


Amavisd ties together all the different ways of checking email content for spam and

The defaults are pretty good and also the ubuntu documentation is pretty clear, and

Here is a tweaked version of it:

Initially we will not enable spam or virus detection! This is so we can get amavis set
up to receive, check and pass on emails before we go on and over-complicate it.
All of amavis' configuration files are in /etc/amavisd. They are now spread across
several files in conf.d. Debian and Ubuntu defaults are now very sensible and spread
into seperate files. cd /etc/amavis/conf.d

01-debian defaults are fine.

Have a look at less 05-domain_id but dont change anything in it.

Have a look at less 05-node_id but dont change anything in it.

Have a look at less 15-av_scanners but dont change anything in it.

Edit content check file sudo vi 15-content_filter_mode Comment out both virus
and spam scans. (Default). # #@bypass_virus_checks_maps = ( # \
%bypass_virus_checks, \@bypass_virus_checks_acl, \
$bypass_virus_checks_re); # @bypass_spam_checks_maps = ( # \
%bypass_spam_checks, \@bypass_spam_checks_acl, \$bypass_spam_checks_re);

Have a look at less 20-debian_defaults and less 21-ubuntu_defaults but dont

change anything in them.

25-amavis_helpers defaults are fine.

30-template-localization defaults are fine.

Edit user file sudo vi 50-user In the middle insert: @local_domains_acl =

qw(.); $log_level = 2; $syslog_priority = 'debug'; $sa_kill_level_deflt
= 8.0; # triggers spam evasive actions $final_spam_destiny = D_PASS; #
$final_spam_destiny = D_DISCARD;

We have now setup amavis to scan and pass along incomming email. Next we will
setup postfix to talk to amavis.

vi /etc/postfix/ Append these lines to the end of the file (make sure
they are not already present). (Note the -o lines have spaces in front of them. amavis
unix - - - - 2 smtp -o smtp_data_done_timeout=1200 -o
smtp_send_xforward_command=yes -o disable_dns_lookups=yes -o max_use=20 inet n - - - - smtpd -o content_filter= -o
local_recipient_maps= -o relay_recipient_maps= -o
smtpd_restriction_classes= -o smtpd_delay_reject=no -o
smtpd_client_restrictions=permit_mynetworks,reject -o
smtpd_helo_restrictions= -o smtpd_sender_restrictions= -o
smtpd_recipient_restrictions=permit_mynetworks,reject -o
smtpd_data_restrictions=reject_unauth_pipelining -o
smtpd_end_of_data_restrictions= -o mynetworks= -o
smtpd_error_sleep_time=0 -o smtpd_soft_error_limit=1001 -o
smtpd_hard_error_limit=1000 -o smtpd_client_connection_count_limit=0 -o
smtpd_client_connection_rate_limit=0 -o
cks Also add the following two lines immediately below the "pickup" transport
service: -o content_filter= -o

and then added to sudo vi /etc/postfix/ content_filter =


Enable scanning by ClamAV of amavis' temporary files. sudo adduser clamav


This should be it to get amavis working. If emails are picked up by amavis and
passed back to postfix then it looks okay. Only when finished testing do you proced
to uncomment the anti virus and anti spam lines in sudo vi 15-
content_filter_mode @bypass_virus_checks_maps = ( \%bypass_virus_checks,
\@bypass_virus_checks_acl, \$bypass_virus_checks_re);
@bypass_spam_checks_maps = ( \%bypass_spam_checks,
\@bypass_spam_checks_acl, \$bypass_spam_checks_re); But do that after the
next section (SpamAssassin).

When things are working we will turn down logging level, and start
bouncing/discarding spam. sudo vi /etc/amavis/conf.d/50-user
@local_domains_acl = qw(.); $log_level = 1; $syslog_priority = 'info';
$sa_kill_level_deflt = 8.0; # triggers spam evasive actions
#$final_spam_destiny = D_PASS; $final_spam_destiny = D_DISCARD;

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The default config of spam assassin is okay. You could refer to previous edition for
more configuration options.

You do need to tell SpamAssassin to start smapd on boot. vi

/etc/default/spamassassin ENABLED=1

One configuration option you could tweak is to enable Bayes and auto learning.
vi /etc/spamassassin/

I read your email

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Anti Virus
ClamAV does not need setting up. Configuration files are in /etc/clamav, but they
are automatically generated, so do not edit.

By default freshclam, the daemon that updates the virus definition database, is run
24 times a day. That seems a little excessive, so I tend to set that to once a day. sudo
dpkg-reconfigure clamav-freshclam It will also ask if you want it to be daemon
(yes) and which server is closest to you.

If needed, the command below will redefine the configuration with a lot of
questions. Not needed unless you need to configure. sudo dpkg-reconfigure

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The default config of postgrey is okay. However you need to tell Postfix to use it.
sudo vi /etc/postfix/ And then edit the recipient restrictions:
smtpd_recipient_restrictions = reject_unauth_pipelining,
permit_mynetworks, permit_sasl_authenticated,
reject_non_fqdn_recipient, reject_unknown_recipient_domain,
reject_unauth_destination, check_policy_service inet:,

You can tweak whitelisting in /etc/postgrey. You can tweak postgrey configuration
by tweaking /etc/default/postgrey. E.g. delay, auto whitelisting, or reject message.
POSTGREY_OPTS="--inet=10023 --max-age=365"

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You know have an advanced mail server. You can use this, but Id recommend
continuing. However this is a good point to test the set up so far and to insert some
data in the db.

Ive created an EC2 bundle for this stage: flurdy-amis/ubuntu-mail-server-spam.

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No, I will not fix your computer

Secure mail server

Stopping hackers, phishers, spammers, your boss and your neighbour from
accessing your server or the traffic in between is important, and easily done.


Normal email traffic between clients and servers are in open plain text. That
includes passwords and content of emails.


SASL secures the actual authentication (login), by encoding the passwords so that it
can not be easily intercepted. The rest of the emails are however in clear plain text.

SASL can be a royal pain to set up, especially as it does not support storing
encrypted passwords by default in Ubuntu.
Therefor my previous editions described how to configure SASL using plain text
passwords in the database.

Obviously this is not ideal, so there are ways to combine SASL and storing
encrypted passwords. In the future the packages that comes with Ubuntu may
support the password_format configuration option for SASL. But until then you can
configure SASL to ask PAM to compare the passwords:

Install packages if not all installed already:

sudo aptitude install sasl2-bin libpam-mysql libsasl2-modules libsasl2-


Enable postfix to access SASL files:

sudo adduser postfix sasl

Create sasl files accessibly even by chrooted Postfix:

sudo mkdir -p /var/spool/postfix/var/run/saslauthd

Add SASL configurations to Postfix:

sudo vi /etc/postfix/ # SASL smtpd_sasl_auth_enable = yes # If

your potential clients use Outlook Express or other older clients #
this needs to be set to yes broken_sasl_auth_clients = no
smtpd_sasl_security_options = noanonymous smtpd_sasl_local_domain =

Modify these existing configurations:

# Add permit_sasl_authenticated to you existing

smtpd_sender_restrictions smtpd_sender_restrictions =
permit_sasl_authenticated, permit_mynetworks, warn_if_reject
reject_non_fqdn_sender, reject_unknown_sender_domain,
reject_unauth_pipelining, permit # Add permit_sasl_authenticated to you
existing smtpd_recipient_restrictions smtpd_recipient_restrictions =
reject_unauth_pipelining, permit_mynetworks, permit_sasl_authenticated,
reject_non_fqdn_recipient, reject_unknown_recipient_domain,
reject_unauth_destination, check_policy_service inet:,

Change how SASLAUTHD is run:

sudo vi /etc/default/saslauthd # Toggle this to yes START=yes # Switch

this to be under postfix's spool # And add -r so that the realm(domain)
is part of the username OPTIONS="-r -c -m

Tell postfix how to interact with SASL:

sudo vi /etc/postfix/sasl/smtpd.conf pwcheck_method: saslauthd

mech_list: plain login cram-md5 digest-md5 log_level: 7
allow_plaintext: true auxprop_plugin: mysql sql_engine: mysql
sql_hostnames: sql_user: mail sql_passw: mailPASSWORD
sql_database: maildb sql_select: select crypt from users where id='%u@
%r' and enabled = 1

(When SASL is working you can remove the log_level line.)

Tell the pam how to to authenticate smtp via mysql:

sudo vi /etc/pam.d/smtp

These must be on 2 lines only, but I have broken them up for easier to read.

auth required user=mail passwd=aPASSWORD host=

db=maildb table=users usercolumn=id passwdcolumn=crypt crypt=1 account
sufficient user=mail passwd=aPASSWORD host=
db=maildb table=users usercolumn=id passwdcolumn=crypt crypt=1
In addition to tailing var/log/mail.log and /var/log/mysql/mysql.log it is quite usefull
to tail the auth.log as well when testing SASL.

tail -f /var/log/auth.log

Restart postfix and saslauthd to enable SASL for sending emails.

sudo /etc/init.d/saslauthd restart sudo /etc/init.d/postfix restart

Imap SASL / Courier

I tend not to have SASL for my courier authentication, as I enforce TLS for all my
However if you have a more lenient access policy which is wise if you have many
users, then you may want SASL in Courier as well:

sudo vi /etc/courier/imapd

This may already be avaiable as a commented out line. If not replace the current
line by adding UTH=CRAM-MD5 AUTH=CRAM-SHA1 so it resembles something
like this: (Again on one line)


AUTH=CRAM-SHA1 IDLE" sudo /etc/init.d/courier-authdaemon restart;
sudo /etc/init.d/courier-imap restart

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Encrypting the traffic stops anyone else listening in on your email communications.
And is very recommended. There are different types of communication to encrypt:
The data traffic between your email applications and the server when you read
emails or when you send emails, and communication between other email servers
and your server.

For the encryption of reading emails, it is Courier you need to configure. For
sending, and beetwen server encryption it is Postfix.

TLS in Postfix

To encrypt you need certificates. Ubuntu creates some for you for which you can use
while setting up the server. However before you go live, it is recommended to create
your own with your proper domain name etc. Please refer to previous edition for
more detail.

vi /etc/postfix/ There are already some TLS settings in the default

debian/ubuntu version of this file. I moved these to the end, for clarity, but that is up
to you. # TLS parameters #smtp_use_tls = no smtp_tls_security_level = may
#smtpd_use_tls=yes smtpd_tls_security_level = may #smtpd_tls_auth_only
= no smtp_tls_note_starttls_offer = yes smtpd_tls_loglevel = 1
smtpd_tls_received_header = yes smtpd_tls_session_cache_timeout = 3600s
tls_random_source = dev:/dev/urandom
#smtpd_tls_session_cache_database = btree:$
{data_directory}/smtpd_scache #smtp_tls_session_cache_database = btree:

Next we have a look at the file. vi /etc/postfix/ By default

only the normal smtp service is enabled, which is fine. But I prefer to enable
submission (port 587), so that clients can use it, and I can restrict them to TLS only.
Also enabled smtps service (port 465), for some compatebility with some older
clients (outlook express etc).

submission inet n - n - - smtpd -o smtpd_sasl_auth_enable=yes # if you

do not want to restrict it encryption only, comment out next line -o
smtpd_tls_auth_only=yes # -o smtpd_tls_security_level=encrypt # -o
header_checks= # -o body_checks= -o
nation,reject -o smtpd_sasl_security_options=noanonymous,noplaintext -o
smtpd_sasl_tls_security_options=noanonymous # -o
milter_macro_daemon_name=ORIGINATING smtps inet n - - - - smtpd -o
smtpd_tls_wrappermode=yes -o smtpd_sasl_auth_enable=yes -o
smtpd_tls_auth_only=yes -o
smtpd_client_restrictions=permit_sasl_authenticated,reject -o
smtpd_sasl_security_options=noanonymous,noplaintext -o
smtpd_sasl_tls_security_options=noanonymous # -o

TLS in Courier

Again Ubuntu has created a certificate for you, but if you want to create your own,
especially for a properly named server, then do this. cd /etc/courier openssl req
-x509 -newkey rsa:1024 -keyout imapd.pem \ -out imapd.pem -nodes -days
999 For more details review last edition.

Then you need to edit vi /etc/courier/imapd-ssl By default Ubuntu already

points to you certificate TLS_CERTFILE=/etc/courier/imapd.pem Modify this if

Also you if want to restrict IMAP users to SSL/TLS only toggle this setting to 1.
For maximum compatability it is not wise to restrict to TLS only for the traffic
between servers. As this means not all valid emails sent by others can reach your
server. However enabling them the option to encrypt is a good idea.

Be aware that the emails are not encrypted on your machine, nor on the server. For
this type of client encryption, please refer to previous edition for more on GnuPG.

In some situations SASL and TLS do not play well together. Those situations are in
combinations of storing encrypted passwords, using MD5 authentication over
encrypted traffic. I recommend, insisting on TLS traffic with your authenticating
clients, which then negates the need for SASL.

You know have an advanced secure mail server. Now is another good point to test
the set up so far and to insert some data in the db.

Ive created an EC2 bundle for this stage: flurdy-amis/ubuntu-mail-server-secure.

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Using among others the as an

updated reference.


If you prefer the prettier Roundcube, but less powerfull (at the moment), the follow
the Roundcube section in the extention section.

Enable web access

You may need to enable web access in the firewall. Check the firewall configuration
if this neccessary.

You need to copy a SquirrelMail configuration to apache. sudo cp

/etc/squirrelmail/apache.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available/squirrelmail
And enable with this: sudo ln -s /etc/apache2/sites-
available/squirrelmail /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/500-squirrelmail Or as
Florent recommends, use: sudo a2ensite squirrelmail

You may accept the default apache configuration where squirrelmail is folder in all
sites. But I prefer virtual hosting. But you dont need to do these next steps. sudo vi
/etc/apache2/sites-available/squirrelmail Comment out the alias. # alias
/squirrelmail /usr/share/squirrelmail Uncomment the virtual settings., and
insert your servers name. # users will prefer a simple URL like DocumentRoot /usr/share/squirrelmail
ServerName If you have apache SSL enabled in apache, then
you can also uncomment the mod_rewrite section for further security.

Reload apache to activate changes. First test if ok. sudo apache2ctl -t Then reload
it. sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 reload

You can now go or if you

chose virtual host. This should show a squirrel mail page. Log in wont work yet

Start configuring squirrel mail.

sudo squirrelmail-configure

Initially change nothing. You can customize more afterwards. You can browse, and
exit sub menues by typing R.

Type 2 to edit server settings. Type A to edit IMAP settings.

Type 8 to edit server software. Enter courier. courier

Now they say using TLS over localhost is a waste of time. But I do anyway. Type 7
to edit secure IMAP. Type Y to enable it.

Type 5 to edit IMAP port. Enter 993

Type S to save your changes. Hit Enter.

Type Q to exit.

You can now go to or if you

chose virtual host. This should show a squirrel mail page. Log in will now work.
(Except you may not have defined users, check data section. And they may not have
received an email which also means you can not view any IMAP info.)

Please refer to previous edition for more detail. E.g. creating address books and user

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Enable web access

You may need to enable web access in the firewall. Check the firewall configuration
if this neccessary.

You may choose to restrict phpMyAdmin to a spefic virtual host. If so you need to,
edit sudo vi /etc/apache2/conf.d/phpmyadmin and comment out the alias. #Alias
/phpmyadmin /usr/share/phpmyadmin And insert the alias instead into a virtual
host configuration in /etc/apache2/sites-available/. For this example we are not.

Reload apache to activate changes. First test if ok. sudo apache2ctl -t Then reload
it. sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 reload

You can now go to, and login with the mail

user. You can use it as it is, but I recommend securing it a bit more.

One simple way is adding apache's .htaccess login requirement.

Further restrictions can be restricting to a specific virtual host. Or renaming the

folder. Purely ubfuscating, but simple.

Or using the example in the webmail section, and adding SSL requirement to the
connection. Or disabel mysql root's access via phpMyAdmin.

Please refer to previous edition for example on htaccess, and mysql user restriction.

You know have a finished mail server. This is as far as the main guide goes. Hope it
was clear enough to follow.

Now it is time to insert data, and to test how it works.

Feel free to extend it with my suggestions further down.

Ive created an EC2 bundle for this stage: flurdy-amis/ubuntu-mail-server-webmail.

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Add users and domains

o Required domains and users
o Example domains and users
o Adding template
Common SQL
Add users and domains

So we got a fully set up mail server... Well no, there is no users, domains, no

Okay, first you need add some default data, some which are required,
some which make sense.

Then we'll add your own users and domains.

Required domains and users

First the required domains for local mail

# Use phpMyAdmin or command line mysql INSERT INTO domains

(domain) VALUES ('localhost'), ('localhost.localdomain');

Then some default aliases. Some people say these are not needed, but I'd include

INSERT INTO aliases (mail,destination) VALUES

('root@localhost','root@localhost'), ('@localhost','root@localhost'),

Then a root user.

INSERT INTO users (id,name,maildir,crypt) VALUES

('root@localhost','root','root/', encrypt('apassword') );

Domains and users

Now lets add some proper data.

Say you want this machine to handle data for the fictional domains of "",
"" and "".

Then say this machine's name is "".

All email to is to be forwarded to

INSERT INTO domains (domain) VALUES (''),

(''), (''), (''); INSERT INTO aliases
(mail,destination) VALUES ('',''),

You also have two users called "Xandros" and "Vivita".

INSERT INTO users (id,name,maildir,crypt) VALUES

('','xandros','xandros/', encrypt('apassword') ),
('','vivita','vivita/', encrypt('anotherpassword') );
INSERT INTO aliases (mail,destination) VALUES

You want all mail for to go to xandros (catchall).

INSERT INTO aliases (mail,destination) VALUES


There is also a "Karl" user, but he does want all mail forwarded to an external

INSERT INTO aliases (mail,destination) VALUES


So what does each of these lines actually do? Well the domains are pretty straight

The users are as well, it requires four fields. ID is the email address of the user, and
also its username when loggin in, described later on. NAME is optional description
of the user. MAILDIR is the name of the folder inside /var/spool/mail/virtual. It
must end in a /, otherwise it wont be used as a unix maildir format. CRYPT is the
encrypted text password to use.

The alises are the interesting part. Lets start from a top down view to see how
emails get delivered:

Say an email arrives addressed to "".

Postfix looks up domains and say is an domain it listens to.

Postfix then looks up aliases and searches for a row where the mail field
matches "".
None does so it next searches for "", which is the way to specify
catch all others for that domain.
It finds one row and its destination is "".
It then searches for "" and finds one, which destination
is the same as the mail, therefor it is the final destination.
It then tries to deliver this mail. The look up says is a local mail
so it looks up users for a matching id and delivers it to its maildir.
Lets try "".

Postfix looks up domains and it is an domain it listens to.

First lookup does not find this user, but the next finds the catchall
"". But its destination is another catchall, "".
This means Postfix will look for "". This address
is not found either, nor is a catchall for Therefor this address is
not valid and the message will be bounced.

Any mail arriving for "" or "", gets forward to an

external address of "". So forwarding is simple. I tend to
use a subdomain for all my friends addresses as easily I forget what their real
addresses are, and I use different email clients all the time.

I also added the required aliases of postmaster and abuse to and The catchall for means they are not required for that domain.
Another useful alias to add is root, as often you get admin mail from e.g cron jobs
within those domains etc. Other often used aliases are info, sysadmin, support, sales,
webmaster, mail, contact and all. But they are also honeypots for spam, so just
include the ones you think you will need.

Adding template

So to add a new domain to the system, You do this, replacing the italics with
relevant data:

INSERT INTO domains (domain) VALUES ('domain.tld'); INSERT INTO aliases

(mail,destination) VALUES ('@domain.tld','email@address'),

And to add a new user to the system, do this:

INSERT INTO users (id,name,maildir,clear) VALUES

description','foldername/',encrypt('password')); INSERT INTO aliases
(mail,destination) VALUES ('email@address','email@address');

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Common SQL

A selection of useful sql statements, if you are not using an admin/manager program
to maintain your email domains and users.

Find domains without a catchall

#Remember some might be disabled SELECT dom.domain FROM domains dom
LEFT JOIN aliases al ON CONCAT( '@', dom.domain ) = al.mail WHERE
al.mail is null OR al.enabled = 0 ORDER BY dom.domain ASC

Find aliases for an invalid domain

SELECT al.* FROM aliases al LEFT JOIN domains dom ON dom.domain =
SUBSTRING(al.mail,LOCATE('@',al.mail)+1) WHERE dom.domain is null OR
dom.enabled = 0 ORDER BY al.mail ASC

Find all non local destination aliases

SELECT al.* FROM aliases al LEFT JOIN domains dom ON dom.domain =
SUBSTRING(al.destination,LOCATE('@',al.destination)+1) WHERE dom.domain
is null ORDER BY al.enabled, al.destination ASC, al.mail ASC

Find all aliases for a certain domain

SELECT al.* FROM aliases al WHERE SUBSTRING(al.mail,LOCATE('@',al.mail)
+1) = 'domain.tld' ORDER BY al.enabled, al.mail ASC

Find all aliases for a certain domains, checking if enabled for both
domain and alias
select * from domains d join aliases a on a.mail like
concat( '%','@',d.domain) and a.enabled = 1 where d.enabled = 1 and
d.domain like '%foobar%' order by d.domain,a.mail

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Test Widgets

Common problems
Test strategy
Tail, tail and tail again
Switch off services
Switch debug on
Telnet is your friend
Can postfix receive?
Can postfix send?
Can courier read?
Common problems

Missed a step

If you mistakenly or intentially skipped past sections, you may have missed
an important step in your configuration, which my guide pressumes you have


99% of all problems is spelling errors or typos you entered while following
this guide. Sorry, but it just happens. Often it can be trivial, such as a space
at the end of the configuration line which was not expected etc. Or not
understanding my example where it is a multi line entry.

Typo by me

Yes, I make a lot of mistakes. Nothing wrong in that, but I hope I have
corrected most over time. Any new sections are however at risk... :)

Different application or configurations

It is obviously entirely up to you how you set up your system. But the more
you deviate from this guide, the more likely incompatibilties or confusion will

Distrobution/version differences

If you run a different version or even distrobution to this guide, then some
things will be different. Small issues, such as default values and significant
things such as path differences etc. Some sections in this guide are not always
thouroughly tested with every new release of Ubuntu, but these differences
gets pointed out by people for me.

Walking before crawling

Don't try the full blown mail server before the basics are working.

Gamma rays and little goblins

Got to blame it on something or someone.

Return to top.
Test strategy

What steps to think of when testing.

Test early and frequently

It is very helpfull to test early in this set up, to establish if the first sections are
working as expected.

So when you only have your very basic postfix and mysql up: Test it!
That way you know that bit worked and can rule it out of any future problems.
Don't wait till you complicated and mudded the water after amavis, courier etc is

By constantly testing if you can send and receive you can tick off and black box each
section as working, and immidietly spot issues.

Isolate the problem

Testing how things work is often about isolating the problem first. So by using the
steps of testing early above, you can see which step caused the problem.

Also if you can't log into your webmail it is often nothing to do with the webmail
section that is causing the problem. Often postfix itself is broken etc.

Test in order

As part of the isolating the problem rule, you most of the time test in order, and test
each section thus isolating the problem. This would then quickly isolate the problem
when e.g. such as above issues of reading emails via the webmail. This would be in

1. Access: Can I get(ssh) to the box, and is there a firewall issue?

2. Database: Is the database up, do my application reach it?
3. Postfix: Can I send email by command line, do I receive emails via telnet?
4. Content checks: Do they cause a problem?
5. Courier: Can I read emails?
6. Webmail: And last but not least does the web integration work?

Simplify the system

Assisting in isolating the problem, you often have to disable options and
applications. Such as turn of postgrey or content checks to make sure emails to get

Previous editions do have some more detail on how to achieve this

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Tail, tail and tail again

Essential to monitor what actually happens, and tailing specifically the mail and
mysql log.


In one window: tail -f /var/log/mail.log And in another window: tail -f

/var/log/mysql.log In a third or more do your actual configuration or testing.

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Switch off services

previous edition 1

previous edition 2

The previous editions has detail on switching services off untill time to test them.
It also details locking down your server from spammers untill finished testing.

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Switch debug on

You can also switch on more messages for when the firewall is rejecting connections.
Add info to all REJECT, BOUNCE and DROP policies. sudo vi
/etc/shorewall/policy such as: net all DROP info


There is no point in tailing the mysql log if query debugging is not turned one.
By default it is not. However in this guide I do switch it on, in case that was missed
switch it on now: sudo vi /etc/mysql/my.cnf Make sure this is not commented out
log = /var/log/mysql/mysql.log

As mentioned in the setup , switching on debugging for Courier is easy: sudo vi

/etc/courier/authdaemonrc DEBUG_LOGIN=2


You can also debug amavis: sudo vi /etc/amavis/conf.d/50-user And perhaps

bump it up if already debugging: $log_level = 2;

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Telnet is your friend

When testing a mail server, telnet is alpha & omega. You use it to simulate real mail
servers to test responses by your mail server.

1. First you test it on the server to exclude firewall and network issues.
2. Then you test it from another machine to simulate an actual other mail
3. Once these are working you can use proper email clients, however 99% I just
use mutt locally when I need to test if a server is working.

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Can postfix receive?

Lets assume:

You have followed my guide up to basic configuration at least

You have entered data into the database
The services MySQL and Postfix are running.
If testing a fuller stack, then amavis, postgrey, clamav-daemon, spamassassin
etc must also be running.

Try this locally on the server first, then try from another machine once it is working

Lets try and send a message to (replace with your own user in
this setup, or use postmaster@localhost) from (again replace with
a real email address you use that is not associated with this server.) telnet
localhost 25 # Open the hand shake with ehlo and the server name you
are connecting from... # Change to something valid eg
your servername EHLO # The mail server will then dump
out some details about its capabilities, e.g. > >250-
PIPELINING >.... >.... # then say who is the sender of this email MAIL
FROM: <> > 250 Ok # then say who the mail is for RCPT
TO: <> > 250 Ok # then enter the keyword data data >
354 End data with <CR><LF>.<CR><LF></LF></CR></LF></CR> # enter
message bodyand end with a line with only a full stop. blah blah blah
more blah . > 250 Ok; queued as QWKJDKASAS # end the connection with
quit > 221 BYE

If while you were doing this you were tailing the /var/log/mail.log you would see
some activities and if any errors occured. (You should probably get some complaints
about missing headers as we skipped most...)

If while you were doing this you were tailing the /var/log/mysql.log as well you really
should have seen some activity otherwise you have a problem.

If you see any errors (or worse no activity) in these log files, this is what you need to
fix! For common problems and solutions check the previous edition.

However if no errors popped up, and the folder /var/mail/virtual/xandros now exists
then your server can receive emails!

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Can postfix send?

You need to make sure you can first receive emails as above
The services MySQL and Postfix are running.

Basically you just tested that above, but we need double check if it can send out to
other servers. Again we will first test locally, which should work, then remotely
which introduces many possible problems. telnet localhost 25 # Open the hand
shake with ehlo and the server name you are connecting from... # This
time it has to be the name of your server EHLO # The
mail server will then dump out some details about its capabilities, e.g.
> >250-PIPELINING >.... >.... # then say who is the
sender of this email, which is a local user MAIL FROM:
<> > 250 Ok # then say who the mail is for which is
an external address e.g. gmail etc. RCPT TO: <> > 250 Ok
# then enter the keyword data data > 354 End data with
<CR><LF>.<CR><LF></LF></CR></LF></CR> # enter message bodyand end
with a line with only a full stop. blah blah blah more blah . > 250 Ok;
queued as QWKJDKASAS # end the connection with quit > 221 BYE
We have to assume receiving works above so no need to tail mysql's logs.
However if any rejection errors occured in the mail.log then you have an

However if no errors occured and you see in the log something like this:
Dec 17 10:25:45 servername postfix/smtp[12345]: 12345678:
to=<>, relay=[]:10024, delay=15,
delays=15/0.01/0.02/0.11, dsn=2.0.0, status=sent (250 2.0.0 Ok,
id=12345-09, from MTA([]:10025): 250 2.0.0 Ok: queued as
1234567) Then the sending emails work!

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Can courier read emails

You need to make sure you can first receive emails as above
You need to make sure you can send emails as above
You need to make sure you have received an email and the folder
/var/mail/virtual/xandros exists
The services MySQL, courier-authdaemon and courier-imap are running.

There is not too much you can test via telnet for courier. But you can check if it is up
and you can connect to it. telnet 10024 Trying Connected
to Escape character is '^]'. 220 [] ESMTP amavisd-new service
ready The rest you would have to test via a proper email IMAP client.

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Brief hints if you receive a ready setup machine (or EC2 AMI), and what then to
check and to customize it to your setup.

Stop services
Restrict firewall
Change passwords
Check configurations
Set machine name
Start and test services
Insert data
Reload postfix
Open firewall
Stop services

First stop services so they wont accidentally do something. sudo

/etc/init.d/postfix stop sudo /etc/init.d/courier-imap-ssl stop sudo
/etc/init.d/courier-imap stop sudo /etc/init.d/courier-authdaemon stop
sudo /etc/init.d/mysql stop sudo /etc/init.d/amavisd stop sudo
/etc/init.d/spamassassin stop sudo /etc/init.d/clamav stop

Restrict firewall

Check what the firewall rules are. vi /etc/shorewall/rules Refer to the firewall
settings. Restrict to just SSH access for now.

Change passwords

Next the passwords needs to be changed. For both the system and mysql.

System passwords

Check which users are defined on the system. cat /etc/passwd Apart from all the
system ones, there should probably be none (if EC2 AMI) or just your user if it is a
standard Ubuntu install. If there are some users, you need to change their

SSH Access

Next we check whom got SSH access. If there was any users defined, check their
home folders for ssh keys. cat /home/username/.ssh/auth* Remove any you do
not expect to be there. Next check if and which specific users has been defined for
SSH access in vi /etc/ssh/sshd Usually this is fine.

MySQL passwords

First you need to change the root mysql user. If none has been set do this
mysqladmin -u root password new_password Otherwise do this and you will be
prompted for the old password mysqladmin -u root password new_password -p

Then the default mail user as well. If you know the old password mysqladmin -u
mail password new_password -p Otherwise log into mysql as root: mysql -u root
-p Enter new root password specified above, then: update mysql.user set
password=password('apassword') where user='mail'; flush privileges; You
may need to revisit the top of MySQL section to re-grant the mail use rights on the

If you do not know the old root password, you have to restart mysql without grant
rights. Google it... :)
Update postfix mysql configuration files with the new password. sudo vi
/etc/postfix/mysql* password=apassword Update courier's authmysql file with
the new password as well. sudo vi /etc/courier/authmysqlrc MYSQL_PASSWORD

If SASL is set up, then you need to update its passwords. First in postfix SASL file:
sudo vi /etc/postfix/sasl/smtpd.conf sql_passw: aPASSWORD Then on both
lines in: sudo vi /etc/pam.d/smtp passwd=aPASSWORD

Check configurations

You should scan the postfix, courier, etc. configurations to check if they match what
you expect.

Set machine name

Now you need to define your machine name, e.g. something like You need to define it in sudo vi /etc/mailname And then
your domain name in sudo vi /etc/postfix/ under the mydomain setting It could also be smart to check what the unix hostname
is specified as hostname This can be reset by sudo hostname All though this does not have to be the same as your postfix
mail server name. You may want to speficiy some hosts in hosts file as well, sudo vi
/etc/hosts localhost.localdomain localhost smtp


You could go along with the generated certificates (if they are there, default for
Ubuntu). Or if you could create new ones with the correct machine name in them.
Especially if this a mail server used by many, and authenticiy is important. Follow
the TLS certificate instructions for Postfix and Courier.

Start and test services.

Next you need to start your mail services and test them. sudo /etc/init.d/mysql
start sudo /etc/init.d/spamassassin start sudo /etc/init.d/clamav start
sudo /etc/init.d/amavisd start sudo /etc/init.d/postfix start sudo
/etc/init.d/courier-imap-ssl start sudo /etc/init.d/courier-imap start
sudo /etc/init.d/courier-authdaemon start

So test tjenestene via testing section.

Insert data

Insert your mail domains, aliases and users using the data section.
Some times there are test data already in the database. Remove them.
E.g.; mysql -u mail -papassword maildb delete from domains where
domain = ''; delete from aliases where mail =

Open firewall

Then open up the firewall, follow the world access bit in the firewall configuration.
Voila. Up and running. Well we hope.

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Please refer to previous edition for how and why you can extend this mail server.

By now you should have a fully working system. No point extending and
complicating it untill then. What next? There are many ways to extend the server, to
create your own powerfull customized version.

Remote MX mail backup

o Relay recipient lookup
Local file backup
Sender ID & SPF
Spam reporting
White/Black lists
Relocation notice
Admin Software
Auto Reply
Block Addresses
Throttle Output
Mail Lists
Google Apps / GMail
Roundcube webmail

Some of these sections can be brief as they are not core to this howto.

Remote MX mail backup

With MX backup loosing emails are unlikely.

Normally if someone sends an email destined for you, their server will try and
connect to your server. If it can't reach your server for whatever reason ( it is down,
dns issues, there is network problems, or just too busy ), the other server will back
off and try again in a bit. How many and for how long it will try again is determined
by the sending server. Some of them are not very patience, and it will report
undelivered after only a few attempts. So you would have lost that email.

If you had specified a backup MX, this email may not have been lost. Upon first
failure to connect to your server, the sender would see if there is any alternative
server to send to. So it connects to your backup mx server. This server spools and
queues your message and will try at intervals to send the message to you. It too will
though eventually give up.

What is the difference? Simple, you (or whoever controls the backup mx ) is in
control how long and often to try connecting to your machine. So if you have a
reasonable values and your server is not down for weeks, no mail is lost.

How to implement it? First edit the DNS records again, and add a backup mx with a
higher value.

# your server details domain.tld IN MX 10 #

new backup server domain.tld IN MX 20

Now presuming the other backup mx is a postfix server identical to this, or you are
backuing up someone else's server; Go into mysql and create this tables:

CREATE TABLE `backups` ( `pkid` smallint(6) NOT NULL auto_increment,

`domain` varchar(128) NOT NULL default '', `transport` varchar(128) NOT
NULL default ':[]', `enabled` smallint(6) NOT NULL default '1', PRIMARY
KEY (`pkid`), UNIQUE KEY `domain` (`domain`) );

Then still on the backup server, edit and add these:

relay_domains = mysql:/etc/postfix/ transport_maps =


You may choose to have this as the last line in the file, as you may use small cron
jobs to modify this ip address, if you don't have a permanent static address. It
should contain your IP addres, hence if you do not have a very static IP address,
that you need to automatic editing if the postfix file.

proxy_interfaces =

If someone comes with a better way, then let me know.

Next create this file /etc/postfix/

user=mail password=apassword dbname=maildb table=backups
select_field=domain where_field=domain hosts=
additional_conditions = and enabled = 1

Next create this file /etc/postfix/

user=mail password=apassword dbname=maildb table=backups

select_field=transport where_field=domain hosts=
additional_conditions = and enabled = 1

You noticed I added a transport lookup. This is a field in both the domain and the
backup tables. In domains it is used to determine how to deliver the email, ie either
virtual (correct) or local (not used in this howto). When backing up servers, your
also need to specify in the transport field how to connect to the correct servers.

Say you are backiup for a friends server,, for the domains of and So you should insert this into your backup table.

INSERT INTO backups (domain,transport) VALUES ('' , ':

[]' ), ('' , ':[]' );

The :[] tells to connect directly to this server, not doing any more look ups for valid
MX servers.

This shouls now work fine. Further tweaking of the queue values, review these and
modify as appropiate. Shorter warning times are good for the sender, so that they
realise the email has not arrived yet, but may also be annoying. Tradeoffs.. Look in
the first configurations for ways to do so.

Relay recipient lookup

Unfortunetly spammers are using backup mx as a way to saturate the networks with
invalid emails, known as backscatter mail.

They simply lookup a domain's MX servers and connect directly to one of the lower
priority servers whom may be just a backup mx. This server if configured as above
will not check for valid addresses aliases but will accept and queue all emails for the
domain's it is configured as a backup mx for. These will then be delivered by the
server later to the primary MX server, whom will then maybe reject them as the
aliases are not valid. However the sender addresses are often invalid and a long trail
of reject messages to and forth around the net follows...

To avoid this you can enable relay recipient lookup in Postfix.

Edit /etc/postfix/ and add: relay_recipient_maps =

mysql:/etc/postfix/ Then create a new file
/etc/postfix/ user=mail password=apassword dbname=maildb
table=relays select_field=recipient where_field=recipient
hosts= additional_conditions = and enabled = 1 Then add the
following MySQL table: CREATE TABLE `relays` ( `pkid` smallint(6) NOT
NULL auto_increment, `recipient` varchar(120) NOT NULL default '',
`enabled` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '1', `status` varchar(10) NOT
NULL default 'OK', PRIMARY KEY (`pkid`), UNIQUE KEY `recipient`
(`recipient`) );

If the relay_recipient_maps setting is set, then postfix will reject all email addresses
not specificed in this table. As with many postfix lookups, it will recursively search
for a match from the full address.

In the following examples, emails to are the only emails that will
be accepted for the whole domain.
However for all emails will be accepted for backup, except any for which will be rejected. insert into relays
(recipient,status) values ('','OK'),
('','REJECT'), ('','OK');

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Local file backup

Here is rough backup script to backup your configurations and mail folders. You
may want to backup the folders seperatly as they can quickly grow to GBs. Adding
this to a cronjob automates this process. Be aware that you should stop postfix and
courier while backing up the mail folders. And that if they have grown large, that
this may take some time.

tar czf mail-config.xxxxx.tgz /etc/postfic /etc/courier

/etc/spamassassin /etc/clamav /etc/amavis /etc/mysql/my.cnf tar czf
mail-fold.xxxx.tgz /var/spool/mail/virtual mysqldump -u mail
-papassword -t maildb > data.sql mysqldump -u mail -papassword -d
maildb > schema.sql tar czf schema.sql data.sql tar
cf mail.xxxxx.tar mail-*.xxxxx.tgz

You may combine a full backup with a intermediate update of what has changed
recently only.

tar --newer-mtime "2005-01-01"

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Sender ID & SPF

Further security features is using Microsoft's Sender ID or Pobox's SPF. I'd use
SPF as there is much argument over Sender ID.

SPF should limit who can send mail on behalf of your domains, and is an open
design. I do recommend SPF, with some reservations, detailed below.

While Microsoft is not always entirely evil, as sometimes they do nice things and
make some useful software, I would prefer not to be locked into their Sender ID

SPF configuration

The pobox site has some nice SPF generation tools to setup your SPF configuration.
Probably best to use theirs.

But the way I have my setup, is generally one domain with detailed SPF, then all
other domains just with an SPF alias to it. e.g:

Main domain DNS TXT field:

"v=spf1 a mx ~all"

The important elements are:

I list the mail servers and websites associated with this domain (the a and mx
I then specifically list the name of a server I may send mail from applications
automatically using addresses within this domain.
As you can see I also use Google Apps with this domain, thus tell SPF to also
allow all mail servers associated with google mail.

Then for most of the other domains I would use this DNS TXT field:

"v=spf1 a mx ~all"

The important elements are:

I list the mail servers and websites associated with this domain
Then I tell SPF to also allow all mail servers associated with my main domain

And for all these I use ~all!

Ps. Some domains I have added an even stricter SPF, as these are domains that will
never send an email.
SPF problem

It is worth noting about SPF, that you should leave the decision to whether to reject
or allow the email to the mail servers. Therefor using -all instead of ~all is not a
good choice. Leave it to the SPAM scoring by the receiving server, like SpamAssasin
does it. You then minimise the risk of false positives.

One of the reason I do discourage -all use, is that SPF has a distinct problem:
It does not like email forwarding or use of backup MX!

Consider this: Your address of sends a joke email to a few friends.
One of these is
Trixie's email address is actually an alias and forwards the email to her private
webmail account on

Now if your domain,, have a strict SPF set up, which only allows emails
to be sent by its mail server. And you/the mail admin has added -all to the SPF,
which tells other server to reject emails not from your server. This you think makes
sense, spammers can not use your domain for spoof emails.

So what happens: receives the email from lulu, and possible checks the
SPF, which is OK, and forwards it on to
However if also checks SPF, it will receive the email from, check the SPF to see's mail server is allowed to send emails
on behalf SPF will say No!, and with the -all, email
server will reject the email!

2nd scenario if lulu email trixie directly at, but

main mail server was down, and email was sent to the backup mx server. When the
main server came online again, and the backup spooled the email back to it, the SPF
would again fail as the's SPF would not mention backup
mx as an allowed mail server.

Of course you can not list all possible forwarding / backup mx email server that
your domain's users might at some point email!
I simple just use the ~all option. Which simple say it is not the expected server, but
probably ok.
And if this is added to a scoring by the receiver, then the accumulated spam score
might be enough to reject dodgy emails.

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Spam reporting
Reporting spam to Pyzor, Razor and SpamCop, for collaboration in spam fighting.

More detail on SpamCop is here.

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White/Black Lists

You can implement white and black lists to explicitly allow or block domains and

You have already visited the option of a blackhole list of known open relays in the
postfix configuration.

You can implement further lists inside Postfix or SpamAssassin. Amavisd-new

already has a few well known white/black listed items in its config files.
SpamAssissin also as a feture to automaticly learn white lists.

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Adding support for GnuPG and S/MIME increases indiviual security.

This is not implemented on the postfix server side, as this totally a client side option.

However SquirrelMail has a GnuPG option. It is a plugin that can be downloaded

from their website. Which can then be enabled via SquirrelMail's config script.

Here is how to create a GnuPG key pair.

# check you have not already got a key gpg --list-keys # then create one
gpg --gen-key

To import GnuPG into Evolution; in your settings/preferences edit your account

settings and add you private key under the security tab. The private key is found via
listing the GnuPG keys as above, then it is the 8 characters after the "sub 1024g/"
bit of you key.

To use GnuPG with Thunderbird you need to install EnigMail.

S/MIME is another way to encrypt and/or sign messages. You can create you own
certificate or use known organizations like Thawte. (Thawte was originally set up by
the Ubuntu founder)

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Relocation notice

If people change addresses, a bounced message stating so if people send email to the
old address is quite useful. To implement this in postfix, frst create a lookup table in
the database.

CREATE TABLE `relocated` ( `pkid` smallint(6) NOT NULL auto_increment,

`oldadr` varchar(128) NOT NULL default '', `newadr` varchar(128) NOT
NULL default '', `enabled` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '1', PRIMARY KEY
(`pkid`), UNIQUE KEY `oldadr` (`oldadr`) ) ;

Then add this to /etc/postfix/

relocated_maps = mysql:/etc/postfix/

The create this file /etc/postfix/

user=mail password=apassword dbname=maildb table=relocated

select_field=newadr where_field=oldadr hosts=

Then if has changed address to

INSERT INTO relocated (oldadr,newadr)VALUES


If anyone sends an email to, they will get a message back stating
he has changed address to

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If SASL didn't work, or you are using clients which dont support it, the Pop-Before-
SMTP is an easy way around that issue, so that people externally can still securly
send mail via your server.

Refer to my 2nd edition on Pop-before-SMTP setup.

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Admin software

Trying out a few admin software might make you life easier, if phpMyAdmin gets to
crude. Quick search

More to come later.

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Auto Reply

Postfix have now features to auto reply to an email, while still delivering it to its

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Block Addresses

If you use catch alls, which are useful for some domains, then eventually some
addresses will be target for spam. You can then either stop the catch all, or stop
indivdual addresses.

By implementing a lookup and adding this restriction to

smtpd_recipient_restrictions accomplises this.

check_recipient_access mysql:/etc/postfix/,
smtpd_recipient_restrictions = permit_mynetworks,
permit_sasl_authenticated, \ check_recipient_access
mysql:/etc/postfix/, \ reject_non_fqdn_recipient,
reject_unauth_destination, \ check_relay_domains

Beware of the order is important here, if any options says ok before

check_recipient_access it will ignore it.

Next create to lookup addresses. Either create a another table,

or add a blocked field to aliases table.

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Throttle Output
For some users with restrictions on bandwidth, you may wish to control how much
mail is sendt out. Postfix has long refused to implement these features, out of
ideolocial beliefs that mail servers should not be restricted. However there are some
ways around this. More to come later.

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Mail Lists

Rich Brown has written a howto on adding Mailman, a mail list program, to my
howto. Click here to read it.

Do note it is not part of my howto, so do not contact me regarding it. And although I
think it is fine, I can't guarantee it will work.

If you do need assistance or need to talk about it, contact Rich via his howto or use
the forums for this howto.

If you want a simple mailling list, it can be implemented by simply seperating aliases
in the destination field in the aliases table with a comma.

INSERT INTO aliases (mail,destination) VALUES ( '' ,

',,jj@somewhere.tld' );

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Google Apps / GMail

I have for various reasons integrated some Google Apps hosted domains into my
mail server. And you can still have good control over the addresses by using your
server with Google Apps.

More information on Google Apps.


Some already have their domain's email hosted with Google.

Some people prefer Google's web based interface.
Temporary Migrations.
Include Google's security features on top of yours.

The easiest and simples solution is not to have a domain MXed to your server, and
simply alias email to those domains. eg All email to hosted on your
server are forwarded to hosted with google.

You may set up your own server to simple be a mail server backup (mx) for a
domain hosted with google. If you are the first priority in the MX details of the
DNS, you still have some control, but not all will obey the priority listing. E.g.
spammers, but some valid senders as well.

However the one I use and the option where you are most in control is to keep you
server as the only MX server in the DNS. And only forward certain aliases onto
Google after all your servers checks. Other aliases and user can just use your mail
server if you prefer. I will explain how to do this in the next steps.


You only put your mail server as the mx for the domain in question. Google will
complain about this, as it will not be able to verify that email is setup correctly.
Ignore this as it will still accept emails.

MySQL tables

You setup you aliases as normal. However you domain table needs tweaking. This is
because otherwise your server will just forward the email to itself. You can actually
specify aliases in the domain table.


If for wants to use gmail. does not.

If not already configured as a backup mx:

Add a transport lookup to your /etc/postfix/ file: transport_maps =
mysql:/etc/postfix/ Then create
/etc/postfix/ file: user=mail password=apassword dbname=maildb
table=backups select_field=transport where_field=domain hosts=
additional_conditions = and enabled = 1

Assuming there are no data in any tables

(domain,alias,users,relays,backups): insert into domains (domain,transport)
values ('','smtp:[]:587'),
('','virtual:'); insert into aliases (mail,destination)
values ('',''),
('',''); insert into users
(id,name,maildir,crypt) values
The domains insert is the interesting one. The transport map lookup checks
recursively for an alias match and will first look for user@domain before it looks at
the general for which transport to use. The square brackets around indicates that this server will not lookup for mx settings for this
domains DNS, but instead connect directly. (This can avoid never ending recursive

Note if you have backup mx configured and chosen to enable relay recipient lookup
to avoid backscatter mail spam, then you need to add your Google Apps users to the
relays table: insert into relays (recipient,status) values
('','OK'); Refer to backup mx section for creation of this table.


There are some items you should consider when integrating Google Apps.

First there is the privacy issue. This is the same as if you were using Google Apps
only or GMail. Google can and will read your email. However probably not a
person, but they will use it for commercial reasons, E.g. showing relevant ads. Some
people really hate this part and refuse to use Google's mail products. However I
trust them a little bit, and do use it.

If you forward spam, then consider your own servers reputation. Should be okay

If you use SPF for your domain, consider that both your server and google will
receive and send mail on behalf of that domin. Adding
should cover it.

Google internally
Be aware Google think they host you domain. So if others inside google, or using
google hosted apps or GMail, if they email you, the email may not go via your email
server, but directly to the Google Apps for your domain. That could be an issue if
not all aliases you have use Google Apps. This needs to be tested more though.
Especially as it may only be an issue if Google's servers are part of you domains
MXs. It may be worth adding aliases in your Google Apps admin for the non google
apps adresses to some user whom can handle these?

Return to top.

Maildrop, spam folder and vacation messaging

Villu have documented swapping in Maildrop for virtual transport and

automatically deliverin spam to a spam folder. (And links to a post about vacation
Please read his post here.

Return to top.

Roundcube webmail client

As an alternative to SquirrelMail, Roundcube has a more modern feel to it. It is

however not got the long testing track record of SquirrelMail, and is not yet a 1.0
release version. However if you prefer its very much more appealing interface then
follow these easy steps:

You may optionally want to uninstall SquirrelMail:

sudo aptitude remove squirrelmail squirrelmail-locales

Then install Roundcube

sudo aptitude install roundcube roundcube-mysql

It will ask you if you want to configure its database access, answer yes, then select
mysql. Then it will ask for the root mysql uses password, which it will create a
roundcube mysql user and ask for its desired password.

This will create a symblink in /etc/apache2/conf.d/ to /etc/roundcube/apache.conf.

Edit this file.

sudo vi /etc/roundcube/apache.conf

Depending on your setup you may want to move those Alias commands at the top to
your virtual hosts configuration, or for this example enable them here for all hosts.

# Uncomment them to use it or adapt them to your configuration Alias

/roundcube/program/js/tiny_mce/ /usr/share/tinymce/www/ Alias
/roundcube /var/lib/roundcube

Next edit the configuration file

sudo vi /etc/roundcube/

Modify these lines for added security and ease of log in:

$rcmail_config['default_host'] = 'ssl://localhost:993';
$rcmail_config['smtp_server'] = 'ssl://localhost';
$rcmail_config['smtp_port'] = 465; # keep as default or change to your
mail server name $rcmail_config['smtp_helo_host'] = '';
$rcmail_config['create_default_folders'] = TRUE;

There are other tweaks and security features you can enable such as:
$rcmail_config['sendmail_delay'] = 1;

But perhaps concentrate on getting the basics working firtst...

Save, exit and reload Apache to enable these aliases for Roundcube to work

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 reload

Then go to your roundcube installation depending where and how you modified
those Aliases, e.g. at
That should be it

You can obviously modify and tweak further. One thing that may be usefull is to
have the Roundcube Apache Alias on different virtual hosts, and configure
username_domain in to append different email addresses, or configure
the default_host to different mail server depending on virtual host... More details on
the Roundcube Wiki.

Return to top.


If you have any suggestions to other ways of extending a postfix server, then fire off
a mail to me via the contact form further down.
(Or rather, Id prefer that you write down the extension, and let me know the
link! :))

Return to top.

Elastic Compute Cloud

Recommended ec2 books

Amazon Web Services Made Simple: Learn how Amazon E

Donald Robinson

Host Your Web Site On The Cloud: Amazon Web Services

Jeff Barr (Paperb
Cloud Application Architectures: Building Applic
George Reese (P

Programming Amazon Web Services: S3, EC2, SQS, FPS

James Murty (Pa
Get Widget Widgets

ec2 introduction, tips and hwotos
Using EC2 with this howto
Amazon EC2 Images: AMIs
EC2 Links


Easy to use. Anyone can use, not just big companies. Very useful. Tools are
command line but simple. Firefox extensions work well. Recommended.

I find it very usefull. Basically it is a colo hosting environment. Some may use it as
for Saas, ie single scalable application in the cloud, but I use it as a hosting
environment for complete servers.

ec2 introduction, tips and howtos

I have made a separate tips and howto on the use of ec2 for general server needs.
Hope it will be useful for people.

How I use it for my mail servers

Different images to launch for different needs. Good way to scale backup MXs if
needed. Can script backup to S3 of mail dirs etc.
Using EC2 with this howto

If you plan to use EC2 to follow this howto, then familiarise yourself with EC2 first.
Check the links further down, e.g. my tips.

Once competent enough on EC2, launch the latest official Ubuntu ec2 image or one
of Eric Hammond images. You can cheat by using my other images, but you should
really know how the whole server was built by starting from the bottom.

When using EC2 images, be aware of security groups as they restricts access to your
server on top of the firewall. Initially you will need SSH (22) access, quite soon you
will need SMTP and IMAP ports opened, 25,143,465,587 and 993, and eventually
webserver ports of 80 and 443. Read here for tips on securing AMIs.

Also do not terminate your instances without backing up your machine. This you
can do by either create your own image. Or backup certain data if you got an image
to instantiate from. Back up to S3 or your local machine. Create images only now
and then. Backup configurations, database, maildirs more regularily.

Once launched, follow my Initialize section.

1st note: lists amazons ec2 ip ranges as dynamic, thus many mail
servers will reject emails from it. (Including other people using this howto.) But
Spamhaus has a simple web page to remove ips, which they link to in rejection
messages. Simple look in your logs, click on the link on follow the instrucions:
basically fill in your ip, email and state its for a mail server. Then Spamhaus will
remove your IP from their database.

2nd Note: Amazon has extended this spam limitations, so if you have a busy mail
server, follow their FAQ entry for removing mail throttling.

3rd Note: This fix needs to applied to the instances buildt on an early 8.04 base. This
is not a problem with the later Hammond or any Canonical based images.

4th Note: Check I have not left my SSH key in the root or ubuntu user.

5th Note: Please let me know if I've been silly enough to leave a bash history or
anything like that?

Amazon EC2 Images: AMIs

Public AMIs to use as base:

Current AMIs:
AMI Description S3 Name Extended from Status
US ami- ubuntu-
W: c997c68c Ubuntu's images/ubuntu- 10.04
official server lucid-10.04- LTS OK
ami- AMI i386-server- Lucid
cf4d67bb 20100427.1
ami- My base ami-
US E: flurdy-
f8a64e91 Ubuntu server 10.04 2d4aa444 Ubuntu's
AMI. Postfix LTS official OK
ami- lucid-base- ami-
EU: not Lucid base
91341ee5 20100604-02 cf4d67bb
Basic Postfix
amis/ubuntu- 10.04
ami- server, with ami- flurdy's
US E: lucid-mail- LTS Testing
9c947cf5 MySql, f8a64e91 base
server-base- Lucid
amavis, TLS.
amis/ubuntu- 10.04
ami- With Courier ami- Basic
US E lucid-mail- LTS Testing
0a957d63 IMAP, SASL 9c947cf5 Postfix
imap-20100610- Lucid
With flurdy-
ami- RoundCube amis/ubuntu- ami- With
US E LTS Testing
c0ee06a9 Webmail, lucid-mail-web- 0a957d63 Courier
PhpMyAdmin 20100611-01

Older AMIs:

( Images with strike through them are no longer recommended. Their are fine for
experimenting and testing, but should not be used for permanent "live" servers )

AMI Description S3 Name Extended from
Base install: canonical-cloud-
ami- Canonical's Official us/ubuntu-karmic- 9.10
1515f67c Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic 9.10-i386-server- Karmic
32bit US 20091027.1
ami- Base install: canonical-cloud- 8.10
Canonical's Official
5059be39 Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Intrepid
32bit US
Base install: Alestic
ami- alestic/ubuntu-8.04- 8.04 LTS
Ubuntu 8.04 LTS
c4f615ad hardy-base-20091011 Hardy
Hardy 32bit US
Base install: Alestic
ami- alestic/ubuntu-8.04- 8.04 LTS
Ubuntu 8.04 LTS
ce44a1a7 hardy-base-20080430 Hardy
Hardy 32bit US
Clean with all flurdy-amis/ubuntu-
ami- 8.10 ami-5059be39
packages installed but mail-server-clean-
4132d428 Intrepid (Canonical)
no configuration 20090529-2
Clean with all flurdy-amis/ubuntu-
ami- 8.04 LTS ami-ce44a1a7
packages installed but mail-server-clean-
0f41a466 Hardy (Old Alestic)
no configuration 080502-1
flurdy-amis/ubuntu- ami-4132d428
ami- Just mysql, postfix and 8.10
mail-server-basic- (Clean
eb39df82 courier configured Intrepid
20090604-1 Canonical)
ami- Just mysql, postfix and 8.04 LTS ami-0f41a466
8541a4ec courier configured Hardy (Clean Alestic)
ami- Including anti spam 8.04 LTS ami-8541a4ec
9941a4f0 and anti virus Hardy (Simple)
Including TLS and flurdy-amis/ubuntu-
ami- 8.04 LTS ami-9941a4f0
SASL encryption and mail-server-secure-
395fba50 Hardy (Spam)
authentication 080527-2
ami- With webmail and 8.04 LTS ami-395fba50
275fba4e admin enabled Hardy (Secure)
8.04 LTS ami-275fba4e
ami-xxx With back up mx mail-server-backup-
Hardy (Webmail)
8.04 LTS ami-395fba50
ami-xxx With back up mx only mail-server-backup-
Hardy (Secure)

If you have a comment or question about the ec2 images, please discuss it in the
forums? If you notice a security problem, or I have not cleaned the images properly
please let me know?
EC2 Links

Amazon web services (AWS)

Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2)
Simple Storage Service (S3)
AWS Cost Calculator

EC2 Resource Centre

EC2 Starter Guide

EC2 Firefox extension: Elasticfox

Elasticfox for Firefox 3

S3 Firefox extension: S3Fox
EC2 to S3 Admin Scripts
Eric Hammond 8.04 AMI
alestic, ubuntu ec2 images
Ubuntu ec2
Ubuntu Cloud
Ubuntu ec2 Starter Guide
My ec2 Tips and Howtos

Return to top.


About author
Software Links
Difference between Ubuntu versions
Change Log
About author

Ivar Abrahamsen, an IT Senior Consultant from Norway. Specialising in developing

and integrating middleware application systems. Mainly open source and Java
based technology stack. Recently moved back to Oslo, Norway after 15 years in

Return to top.


Remember I have stood on the shoulders of giants. I just ended up with a system
that worked for me, and decided to document its evolution.

Before contacting, have you?:

Read this document properly? Followed it step by step?

(While we can not insist on the same setup for everyone, assistance is easier
and more likely if less customised)
Applied the solutions provided in the test section?
Read the forums for solutions already posted?
Read the FAQ?
Tailed the mail.log? It usually tells you what the problem is!
Tailed the mysql.log? If nothing happens there it should indicate something...
Include a short dump of the mail.log with your post. (Remember to
anonymise the servernames, email adresses & definetly passwords!)


Use the Ubuntu forums! :)

Here is a thread on this specific mail server howto.

And another one by me which is also used..

Please participate in the forums.

If you see an issue you also have, contribute with more information.
And even better if it something you may know how to solve, please let people
And especially, if you post a problem, then solve it, let people know what the
solution was! (and not just that you solved it...)

I am rubbish in replying to emails, and the forums are read and answered by people
whom know a lot more about Postfix than me.

Questions sent to me directly may not be answered for a while or at all unfortunetly.
Return to top.

Consultancy and advice

Not to be rude, but in attempt to reduce the volume of emails I receive please
consider the following:

If you simply want advice please use the forum.

My references and the people whom follow the forums and the postfix
mailling lists are much more knowledgable than me.
People whom follow the forums and the postfix mailling lists are much more
likely to reply than me.
I am a firm believer in: Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a
man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime. (Playing far too much Civ
was not all wasted..)
So if you have any questions, problems with using this guide, or any other
issues with this guide, please use the forum.
Then it is also an available archive for others to find solutions in the future.
Any technical difference of opinion, please use the forum.
Interested in Postfix, or got a technical query about it? Considered the
postfix mailling lists.
If you made / found an extensions to this tutorial, Fantastic! Please let me
know, and Ill link to it. And shout at me, if I am slow in doing so. :)
Any clear technical mistakes by me in this guide, then let me know, but
perhaps discuss it first in the forums?
If you find any spelling mistakes or broken links, please let me know.
Thank you messages are very appreciated however! Actually it makes my
day. :)
(People whom buy a T-shirt of me makes my week.. ;p )

If you still want my advice or hire me:

You may hire me as a consultant via

You may hire me to set up a complete server for you via
In the end I am contactable via :)
However :
o Do remember my fishing analogy.
o I do not appreciate people whom wants shortcuts and ask me to set
their server up for them, especially for free.
o Nor do I find it amusing when people have not even followed my
suggested steps, and/or not tested properly and ignored the logs etc.
o Email servers are important and potentially dangerous, so you really
need to learn how it works, and how to tweak it.

Return to top.

Why your own mail server

Main reason: Because you can.

Other good reasons: Basically it leaves you in complete control, to expand,
customize and tweak your mail server to your needs. You are not dependant on 3rd
party providers, limited by their technology contraints or your budgets. With your
own mail server you can add as many aliases, users and domain as you'd like, be as
restrictive or open about security, virus, spam, file sizes etc as you prefer. And is it is
well known, frequently updated, open source application stack, you can also trust
the software you use.

Why I wrote this howto

When I set up my first email server I used a mix of other howtos on the net. And
they were so helpfull that I though I would contribute back with my experience.
And it has been useful as a recipe script for myself every time I need to
install/update a server.

A less angelic reason is that back in 2003 I was setting up mail server for a few
friends and collegues. Soon I was getting more request, and being a lazy
programmer, I thought.. "Why don't I write a howto and let them do it
themselves..." Soon it was listed on and I was getting thousends of hits
and lots of emails. (blessing in disguise)

Why I wrote this edition

Or rather why no new edition or updates for two years? Well basically no time or
need to do so, so basically lazyness...
My last edition was written two years ago, and was pretty complete and thorough so
my inclination to write a new one has been low, especially as my own mail server
had not changed since then either.

But then my server started crashing so I upgraded it to Ubuntu 8.04 which went
pretty smooth, but with a few tweaks. So time for another edition.

This time I expanded reliability to include the possibility of running backup mx

servers using Amazon's Elastic Computing Cloud. Note, however this is an optional
extra at the end.

Return to top.


Postfix howtos
Kyle's book
John Locke on TechRepublic
Hildebrandt's book
Hildebrandt's website
Genco Yilmaz
Christop Haas
Nenzel & Peet
Andy "Besy"
Meta Consultancy

New references

Postfix TLS
Postfix doc
Bypassing amavisd
Ubuntu Help: Squirrelmail

Return to top.

Software Links

Please refer to the previous edition for a list of urls and suiteable downloads.
However most are unneccessary with decent package manager.

Difference between Ubuntu versions

I used to distinguish differences, which were available in a previous edition.


Please refer to the previous edition for a complete lists of downloads that are

Change log

Brief list of latest changes.

2010-06-09: Improved Google Apps integration. Added backup relay

recipient lookup. Update phpmyadmin section.
2010-06-07: Updated for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx Modified mysql log
option. Removed dynamic uid & gid in postfix.
2010-02-15: Redid SASL secure authentication section.
2009-12-16: Expanded test section with text from older editions and new
2009-11-25: Bumped to edition 9!
And added Roundcube as webmail client.
2009-11-11: Updated to work with 9.10 Karmic Koala.
2009-06-04: made basic server image available on ec2. based canonical's
official ec2 ami.
2009-06-02: made clean server image available on ec2. based canonical's
official ec2 ami.
2009-05-29: changed contact section.
2009-05-29: started 8th edition

Used to refer to all changes, but got too long. A previous edition contains such a list.

Return to top.


Spell check!
Remove uid and guid
Create backup mx AMI

Please refer to the previous edition for some old todos....


There is not yet an extensive FAQ.

But please, most of the frequent questions have been asked and answered in the
Most are also unneccessary as following the test section will have solved them.

Some question that frequently get sent to me, which first of all should have been
asked in the forums and has been answered there many times, which then I tend to
ignore are:

Squirrelmail does not allow me to log in

This is due to many things. Most are due to skipping too fast forward,
ignoring test sections etc.


o Does postfix work?

No point trying to run before you can crawl. Send emails to recipients
on your server, tail mail.log to see if everything is okay.
Often mysql is not configured properly, check the mysql logs for
o Have they ever received an email?
If not they can not log into squirrelmail as the email folders will not
yet exist.
o Does Courier work?
If it doesn't then you have still got some more setup to do.
o If all above is okay, then it may be a problem with your Squirrelmail
Check empty spaces in squirrelmail mysql setup. More details in test
Email folders do not exist

Mentioned many times in this guide and forums.


o Have they received an email?

If not they you can not log into squirrelmail as the email folders will
not yet exist. When receiving their first email, postfix will create all
the neccessary folders. If it does not your postfix setup is broken.
o There is a program that creates the folders for you.
I do not recommend it, as basically your postfix setup is broken if no
folders are created, and you better fix it instead.

Creating a Linux Mail Server

(Postfix, Procmail, Fetchmail, SpamBayes, Courier-
imap, Mutt, SquirrelMail)/III

What this Document is About

Software Used

Installing the Software

Installing Postfix
Installing Fetchmail
Installing Procmail
Installing SpamBayes
Installing Mutt
Installing courier-imap courier-authlib
Installing SquirrelMail
Installing pop-before-smtp

Postfix Configuration

Fetchmail Configuration

Spambayes and Procmail Configuration

Spam System Initial Setup

Procmail Configuration for Spambayes

Mutt Configuration

.muttrc Configuration
New Mutt Commands

SquirrelMail Configuration

Courier Authentication

Pop-before-smtp Configuration

Additional Simple Procmail Recipes and Mailbox Config



Example Files


What this Document is About

This document covers how I have set up my Linux box to work as a Mail Server.
The details will be specific to Arch Linux, but it will be be general enough for any
*nix distribution if you have a knowledge of installing software packages, finding
the location of configuration files, and starting/stoping services..
My goals in creating this mail system are to have all of my mail, from various email
accounts, stored locally on my machine so I can access it anytime via SSH, the web,
or imap. I wanted all of my mail delivered to my local user account and I wanted the
spam to be sucked out and launched into space.

The backbone of the mail system is the Mail Transport Agent (MTA). It will handle
receiving mail addressed directly to your machine, sending it to the correct users
mail box, and sending mail out from the machine. I determined Postfix to be the
best choice for my MTA and after some reading found Procmail for sorting mail,
SpamBayes for detecting spam, and Fetchmail for grabbing mail from my pop

Bellow is a flow diagram for mail moving through the system:

The SpamAssassin and sa-learn can be ignored. I will describe how to use it with
SpamBayes since I was not happy with Spam Assassin's performance and had made
the diagram when I was still using it.

Software Used

Arch Linux
Postfix 2.1.5
Secure, fast, easy to administer drop in replacement for Sendmail.
(MTA) Provides smtp-server.
(Requires sasl installed and support for sasl compiled into Postfix if
sending mail through an intermediary as you may need to do if you
have a domain name pointing to a dynamic IP address.)

Cyrus SASL 2.1.21

SASL authentication daemon.

Procmail 3.22

Highly configurable auto mail processing.

Fetchmail 6.25

A remote-mail retrieval utility.

SpamBayes 1.1a1

a Bayesian anti-spam filter, initially based on the work of Paul

Graham. The major difference between this and other, similar
projects is the emphasis on testing newer approaches to scoring


A small but very powerful text-based mail client

Courier-imap 4.0.4

IMAP / POP3 Server

Courier-authlib 0.57

Authentication library for the courier mailserver.

SquirrelMail cvs 1.5.1

For checking mail via the web.

(requires imap-server, perl, and php)

Pop-before-smtp 1.38

A simple daemon written in Perl, to allow email relay control based

on successful POP or IMAP logins.
Installing the Software

Installing Postfix

A note for those with dynamic IP addresses: Before installing Postfix we

must first consider if it will need to make use of Simple Authentication and
Security Layer (SASL). If you have a dynamic IP address and are using a
service like you will need to have Postfix send your mail through
your ISP's mail server (with authentication) making use of SASL for the
connection. This is because many domains that you will send email to will
recognize your hostname as pointing to a dynamic IP address and send the
mail back. Check if your distributions Postfix package was built with SASL
support or if you are compiling Postfix from scratch add SASL with a
./configure option.

If you've determined you do not need SASL support in postfix:

$ pacman -Sy postfix

If you do need SASL support we need to install cyrus-sasl and use the Arch
Build System (abs) utility for building Postfix. Follow the instructions bellow
or follow these Arch Wiki instructions:

$ pacman -Sy cyrus-sasl

$ abs
$ cd /var/abs
$ mkdir -p local/postfix
$ cp -v extra/daemons/postfix/* local/postfix

Now edit /var/abs/local/postfix/PKGBUILD. Under the build() section


make OPT="${CFLAGS}" || return 1


make OPT="${CFLAGS}" \
CCARGS="-DUSE_SASL_AUTH -I/usr/include/sasl/" \
AUXLIBS="-L/usr/lib/sasl2 -lsasl2" || return 1
Now run:

$ makepkg
$ pacman -A postfix-

I like to then copy the package into a directory under /var/lib/pacman so I

have access to all of my abs built packages later:

$ mkdir /var/lib/pacman/abs_built
$ cp postfix-*.pkg.tar.gz

Installing Fetchmail
$ pacman -S fetchmail

Installing Procmail
$ pacman -S procmail

Installing SpamBayes

SpamBayes is not yet in the pacman repository. Download it, extract, and
install (substitute version numbers with most current):

$ wget\
$ tar zxvf spambayes-1.1a1.tar.gz
$ cd spambayes-1.1a1
$ python install

Installing Mutt
$ pacman -S mutt

Installing courier-imap and courier-authlib

SquirrelMail as well as other mail clients (evolution, outlook, cell phone, etc.)
will use this to connect to the mail box. Courier-imap also depends on
courier-authlib, so this command will install that as well.
$ pacman -S courier-imap

Installing SquirrelMail
$ pacman -S squirrelmail

Installing pop-before-smtp

You are going to want to consider using Postfix/TLS or pop-before-smtp if

you are interested in users connected via IMAP being able to send mail
(using your mail server as a SMTP relay). I recommend using Postfix/TLS
but will not cover how to install/configure it in this document.

Pop-before-smtp is not in pacman repositories. Substitute version numbers

with the most current.

$ wget
$ tar zxvf pop-before-smtp-*.tar.gz
$ cd pop-before-smtp-*

Read the README in this directory and then read

README.QUICKSTART in the contrib directory for where to copy the
necessary files to.

Postfix Configuration

Now change to the '/etc/postfix' directory and open up for editing.

The domain name for my machine is through Set your

myhostname and my domain to something like this:

myhostname = mydomain =

Next we are going to want to set Postfix up for using qmail-style delivery with
Maildir (where each email is stored in its own file). This is for courier-imap
which SquirrelMail will be using to access the mail and will have other
advantages. Don't forget the ending forward slash.
home_mailbox = Maildir/

Set it up so that incoming mail is sent through procmail and so we can alias
names/users to mailboxes.

mailbox_command = /usr/bin/procmail -a "$DOMAIN"

alias_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/aliases

If you have a dynamic IP or have trouble with mail being returned from
large ISP's or mail systems you are going to have to take a few extra steps.
We will set it up so that mail will go through a relay host. In this example I
will use my ISP's (SBC) smtp server as an example. Make these additional
changes to

relayhost = []

# authentication for sbc yahoo

smtp_sasl_auth_enable = yes
smtp_sasl_security_options = noanonymous
smtp_sasl_password_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

That wraps up our changes to We just need to create the hash aliases
databases that we defined above. Add these lines to the top of /etc/postfix/aliases
(replacing hypexr with your user account of course):

root: hypexr

spam: hypexr
ham: hypexr

Generate the database. From /etc/postfix dir:

$ postalias aliases

Set up smtp server and authentication for SBC mail relay. sasl_passwd:
Note: Server name can change from time to time. There is a CNAME that points to
this name but CNAMEs do not work here.

Generate the database:

$ ./postmap sasl_passwd

Start the postfix server and we are done with postfix!!!!

$ /etc/rc.d/postfix start

Having problems getting it to start? Check out the Postfix log file usually in
/var/log/mail or /var/log/maillog.

Fetchmail Configuration

We are going to run our fetchmail daemon from user root. So create the file

set postmaster "postmaster"

set bouncemail
set no spambounce
set properties ""
set daemon 60
poll with proto POP3
user 'user_name' there with password 'my_password' is
'local_user_to_deliver_to' here options flush
poll with proto POP3 port 995
user '' there with ssl with password
'my_password' is 'hypexr' here options keep

This tells fetchmail to check every minute for mail at and also at
my gmail account. The flush option at the end of the mypop entry tells it to remove
the mail after it is downloaded. I do not want the mail removed from my Gmail
account so I use the keep option. Google also uses ssl, hence the "with ssl".
Fetchmail comes with its configuration utility fetchmailconf which makes setting up
your .fetchmailrc file easy.

I don't believe that Arch Linux has a rc script for fetchmail. The one that I made
(/etc/rc.d/fetchmail) looks like this (stat_busy, stat_fail, stat_done are specific to
Arch Linux. You could take these out):

. /etc/rc.conf
. /etc/rc.d/functions


PID=`pidof -o %PPID ${DAEMON_NAME}`

case "$1" in
stat_busy "Starting ${DAEMON_NAME}"
[ -z "$PID" ] && ${DAEMON_PATH} -f ${DAEMON_CONF}
-d 60 &> /dev/null
if [ $? -gt 0 ]; then
add_daemon ${DAEMON_NAME}
stat_busy "Stopping ${DAEMON_NAME}"
[ ! -z "$PID" ] && kill "$PID" &> /dev/null
if [ $? -gt 0 ]; then
rm_daemon ${DAEMON_NAME}
# calling 'stop' and 'start' without the $0
$0 stop
sleep 3
$0 start
echo "usage: $0 {start|stop|restart}"
exit 0

And start the fetchmail daemon:

$ /etc/rc.d/fetchmail

Or if you don't want to create/modify an rc script you can start the fetchmail
daemon like:
$ /usr/bin/fetchmail -d 60

Spambayes and Procmail Configuration

We are going to be using Spambayes to train and determine if mail is spam and
Procmail to sort the mail into folders when they enter our mail system. These two go
together as far as Procmail is going to use Spambayes to help sort the mail.

I had used SpamAssassin for a year and had not been very happy with its
performance. I have only been using Spambayes for a few weeks and have been
pleasantly surprised by how well it has worked and how quickly it adapts. In
fairness I had been training SpamAssassin on all of my spam, the spam it had
caught and the spam it had missed as well. It was also an older version and I was not
using all of the features. With that being said if you are curious give it a try. Many
other excellent programs exist. A quick search on Google will turn them up.

When Spambayes is installed it is going to move several files that start with sb_ into
your /usr/bin directory. We are going to be interested in and The former trains the spam filter and the later classifies incoming
spam. There are two methods I tried for the initial training:

1. Since I already had thousand of spam and ham (non spam) messages saved
up I first tried initially training on this older mail. The results were okay but
it was miss sorting mail. These problems would have sorted them selves out
with the continued training of the misclassified mail but it would have also
took a little while because the database had already been trained so much.
2. The second method I used was extremely effective. I started out with no
training on initial messages. I simply let Spambayes work with no
information. I then sent the spam and ham messages that ended up in the
wrong mailbox to a designated folder. I then run the Spambayes training
program on these miss classified messages.

The results from the second method have been amazing. Without even having to
manually classify very many messages Spambayes has been performing at superior
levels. Check out Spambayes Wiki for many other training methods. I will discuss
easy methods of sorting miss classifications in the Mutt and Squirrel Mail sections.

Spam System Initial Setup

We are going to want Maildir folders to hold our regular mail, mail classified
as spam, mail classified as unsure, missed spam, and missed ham.
If the standard Maildir directory (~/Maildir) doesn't already exist lets create
it with the necessary sub directories to make it a mail box. Run these
commands from your user account who will be receiving the mail.

$ mkdir ~/Maildir
$ mkdir ~/Maildir/{new,cur,tmp}

And now the other 4 directories that we are going to use for dealing with
spam (Making the directories hidden is going to be done for integration with

$ mkdir ~/Maildir/{.MissedSpam,.MissedHam,.CaughtSpam,.Unsure}
$ mkdir ~/Maildir/.MissedSpam/{new,cur,tmp}
$ mkdir ~/Maildir/.MissedHam/{new,cur,tmp}
$ mkdir ~/Maildir/.CaughtSpam/{new,cur,tmp}
$ mkdir ~/Maildir/.Unsure/{new,cur,tmp}

The messages that we are going to be training as spam are going to be in

~/Maildir/.MissedSpam and ham will be in ~/Maildir/.MissedHam. Lets
create the script and cron job that will take care of training the Spambayes
db. Create a file ~/Maildir/train_spambayes and add this:

# Script to copy mail missed spam and ham into correct
# and run to train spambayes
# Training will be done only on missed spam and ham

# Files we saved or bounced may be in the new directory

# We want them in cur for training
mv /home/hypexr/Maildir/.MissedSpam/new/* \
/home/hypexr/Maildir/.MissedSpam/cur 2>/dev/null
mv /home/hypexr/Maildir/.MissedHam/new/* \
/home/hypexr/Maildir/.MissedHam/cur 2>/dev/null
/usr/bin/ -d /home/hypexr/.hammie.db \
-g /home/hypexr/Maildir/.MissedHam \
-s /home/hypexr/Maildir/.MissedSpam

Make the script executable:

$ chmod +x ~/Maildir/train_spambayes

Set up our database that will be consulted for new email and trained on new
$ /usr/bin/ -d $HOME/.hammie.db -n

You will want cron installed so that it can launch the script above, which
trains Spambayes, every night at 3:21 am. Edit your cron jobs with the
command crontab -e and add:

21 3 * * * ~/Maildir/train_spambayes

Procmail Configuration for Spambayes

These are basic procmail recipes that will sort the spam from ham. From
Spambayes on Unix or Linux. Add these lines to your mail recipient's


#Spambayes process
| /usr/bin/ -d /home/hypexr/.hammie.db

* ^X-Spambayes-Classification: spam

* ^X-Spambayes-Classification: unsure

# Catches everything else.

# Anything left over goes into the DEFAULT folder

So incoming mail is not filtered through procmail's rules where Spambayes's

sb_filter decides whether it is spam or ham. The mail is now sitting in the
correct directories and ready to be accessed by whatever reader/front-end
you would like. Next I going to describe setting up Mutt and SquirrelMail for
viewing your mail. Mutt will be the most powerful option combining speed
and sleekness but SquirrelMail will be able to match functionality.
Mutt Configuration

First we need to set the MAIL variable so that Mutt will know where to look for
your mail. In your ~/.bashrc (create if does not exist) add the line:


Exit out of your shell and log back in so that the variable will be set or run export
MAIL='~/Maildir'. On some systems mutt will not use $MAIL to determine the
location of your mail box. When trying to start mutt if it reports a message that no
mail directory exists you can try setting the MAILDIR variable or just create the
directory that it wants to use and make it a valid Maildir: mkdir -p ~/.maildir/
{cur,new,tmp} where .maildir is the folder that mutt wants to use. If you use a
directory other than ~/Maildir remember to substitute that wherever I reference
Maildir in this document.

Now for the fun part. Lets make everything look pretty and integrated in Mutt. If
you start up Mutt right now you will see any mail that your system has received
since you have completed the steps above. If no mail shows up in Mutt and there
should be mail you need to first check if Spambayes has filtered it into your .Unsure
or .CaughtSpam directories. Type 'c' to change directories and enter
~/Maildir/Unsure and check out the mail thats been classified as spam: 'c'
~/Maildir/CaughtSpam. If you still have not found the mail that you are expecting to
have received make sure that you have configured Postfix, Fetchmail, and Procmail
correctly. Also, try sending mail directly to and
see if it shows up in one of the directories above.

Now mail is flowing into your system and we can check how Spambayes has
classified it by checking the different mail folders. The miss classified mail just
needs to be moved into the correct folders for the training.
To manually move the misclassified spam mail:

1. From you Maildir inbox tag each message that has arrived that is spam. Do
this by pressing 't' and an asterisk will appear by the messages. After all of
the messages have been tagged, press '; m' and enter ~/Maildir/MissedSpam
and the spam messages in your inbox will be moved to the MissedSpam
mailbox for training by spambayes.
2. When looking at the mail that it has classified as spam in
'~/Maildir/CaughtSpam', tag all of the messages it considered spam that were
ham and press '; C' and enter ~/Maildir/MissedHam. Now tag them again
and press '; m' and enter ~/Maildir to move them into your inbox, where they
should have been placed in the first place.

Of course all of this manual stuff is a huge pain so lets automate all of it in .muttrc.
.muttrc Configuration

This .muttrc file is going to save you a quazillion.. thats right a quiazalliona
hours in productivity in dealing with our current setup. Here it is:

# Emacs is my editor of choice. I have mostly read that

people like
# using emacs-client here and using an emacs server so
that the
# editing opens up in an existing emacs session but I
# loading up a fresh instance. The default editor is some
set editor="emacs"

# Setting these macros is going to save us all of that time

I was
# talking about. Now instead of having to type all of
# characters to move the mail around we will can just tag
the messages
# and, for the instance of spam in your inbox, hit 'S'.

# Move mail to correct directories

macro index S ";s~/Maildir/.MissedSpam\r\r$\r"
macro pager S ";s~/Maildir/.MissedSpam\r\r$\r"
macro index H
macro pager H
macro index M ";s~/Maildir/\r"
macro pager M ";s~/Maildir/\r"

# This one lets me quickly move job search related emails

to the
# correct directory. Want to give me a job? :)
macro index B ";s~/Maildir/.Job\r\r$\r"
macro pager B ";s~/Maildir/.Job\r\r$\r

# This is how we are going to move around to the different

# mailboxes. Hitting 'alt-1' will take us to our inbox
# 'alt-2' and we are looking at the mail Spambayes
# as spam. etc.
# The extra mailboxes I have in here are for mailing lists
I am on.
# I will show the procmail recipe that automatically puts
# the mailing list mail into its correct mailbox further

# Move to mailboxes quickly

macro index <Esc>1 "c~/Maildir\r"
macro pager <Esc>1 "c~/Maildir\r"
macro index <Esc>2 "c~/Maildir/.CaughtSpam\r"
macro pager <Esc>2 "c~/Maildir/.CaughtSpam\r"
macro index <Esc>3 "c~/Maildir/.Unsure\r"
macro pager <Esc>3 "c~/Maildir/.Unsure\r"
macro index <Esc>4 "c~/Maildir/.Tur\r"
macro pager <Esc>4 "c~/Maildir/.Tur\r"
macro index <Esc>5 "c~/Maildir/.Sbayes\r"
macro pager <Esc>5 "c~/Maildir/.Sbayes\r"
macro index <Esc>6 "c~/Maildir/.Wikka\r"
macro pager <Esc>6 "c~/Maildir/.Wikka\r"
# Training Maildirs for Spam and Ham
macro index <Esc>8 "c~/Maildir/.MissedSpam\r"
macro pager <Esc>8 "c~/Maildir/.MissedSpam\r"
macro index <Esc>9 "c~/Maildir/.MissedHam\r"
macro pager <Esc>9 "c~/Maildir/.MissedHam\r"
# Job E-mails
macro index <Esc>0 "c~/Maildir/.Job\r"
macro pager <Esc>0 "c~/Maildir/.Job\r"

# Setting these colors makes it easy to tell which emails

# Spambayes has missed.
# Turn spam red and unsure green
color index red default "~h '^X-Spambayes-Classification:
color index green default "~h '^X-Spambayes-Classification:
# Turn gmail mail brightblue
# (My regular expression is not correct here. I think
that it
# is looking anywhere in the header for my gmail address
# instead of what I wanted.. Just in the 'To:'.
# It still works for the most part)
color index brightblue default "~h '(^)*'

# Lets set more colors to make things look beautiful.

Judging by
# my title for this section I must have had bad feelings
# colors when I added this.
#Color crap
color index brightwhite default ~N # color for new
color status black yellow
color attachment brightyellow default # file attachments
color search brightred default # search matches
color quoted brightyellow default # quoted text in
color quoted1 magenta default # quoted text in
color body cyan default "((ftp|http|https)://|news:)[^
>)\"\t]+" # URLs
color body cyan default "[-a-z_0-9.+]+@[-a-z_0-9.]+"
# email

# The rest of this stuff is pretty important for

functionality and
# readability.

# Don't ask to move read message

set move=no

# My signature is in this file

set signature="~/.signature"

# Change mail to look like from

# Stick your email address here.
my_hdr From: Scott Rippee <>

# Header control h displays header when in pager

# I want to only see the unignored by default
ignore * # weed out
all headers
unignored date from: to cc subject organization # now show
me these...

# Thanks to many people whom have written the documents and

posts that I
# have gotten these settings from.

New Mutt Commands

Here are the most useful (as far as dealing with spam) commands that we can
now use in mutt:

t Tag messages to be manipulated

S Send message/s to spam training folder
H Send message/s to ham training folder and to inbox
alt-1 Change mailbox to Maildir/ (inbox)
alt-2 Change mailbox to .CaughtSpam
alt-3 Change mailbox to .Unsure
alt-8 Change mailbox to .MissedSpam
alt-9 Change mailbox to .MissedHam

So for example, if a couple of spam messages show up in your inbox you can
now tag them and hit 'S' (remember its uppercase s) and have them vanished
into .MissedSpam for training.

SquirrelMail Configuration

To configure SquirrelMail go into your html_base_directory/squirrelmail/config

and run ./ Edit the options to fit your needs. If you want to test your config
cruise over to http://localhost/squirrelmail/src/configtest.php.
Now go to http://localhost/squirrelmail/ and login using your user account. If you
have any email in your in box you should see it after you log in. Now click on the
Folders option that is along the top, select all of the mailbox folders that we created
earlier (they are listed here because we prefixed them with a period), and click on
subscribe. Hit refresh and the mailboxes should be listed in the side panel. Now you
can use SquirrelMail for almost all of you mail needs including tagging messages
and moving them to the correct folders for Spambayes training and checking on the
mail that Spambayes has classified as spam and unsure. The only functionality from
our mutt setup that can't be duplicated in SquirrelMail is copying missed ham into
its training folder and then moving it into your inbox. This is due to the lack of
copying ability. So you will have to go into the ham training folder to see some of the
mail that should be in your inbox.

!!! IMPORTANT SECURITY NOTE!!! - Using SquirrelMail like this is not secure!
Sending the plain text passwords that you use for your Unix account can be accessed
by by a 3rd party, which would them access to your account. You should set up a
secure server with SSL and have Courier-imap use passwords that differ from the
users system password using Courier Authlib, which I will demonstrate in the next
session. Excellent documents exist all over the net for setting up your web server
with ssl.

Courier Authentication

Now is a good time to address a bit of essential security. As of now when a user
connects via the SquirrelMail or IMAP interface the passwords are being sent in
plain text and if these are sniffed that users system account is compromised.
Without adding secure connections we can minimize the threat by using alternate
passwords for imap connections. The snoop would then have access to your mail,
but not be able to log in to the system.

Edit your authdaemonrc file. If your on Arch Linux this will be in /etc/authlib.
Under authmodulelist I commented out:

authmodulelist="authpam authpwd authuserdb

authshadow ..."

And replaced it with:


I believe that adding authuserdb to the front of the list may work, but I am only
using this method of authentication so it is all I need in my list.

Lets create the user account entry:

$ userdb "some_user_name" set home=/home/user_dir \

mail=/home/user_dir/Maildir \
uid=users_userid gid=users_groupid

$ userdbpw | userdb "some_user_name" set systempw

You will now be prompted for this pseudo users new password. Next make sure that
/etc/authlib/userdb has read/write/execute access for the owner. If not chmod 700
/usr/authlib/userdb. Now create the user database that courier is going to look to for

$ makeuserdb

Again look to using Postfix/TLS for a tunneling the connection through a secure

Pop-before-smtp Configuration

To successfully configure pop-before-smtp follow the straight forward instructions

in contrib/README.QUICKINSTALL. When you are done and everything is
working it is important to make sure that you have not some how made your mail
server an open relay! This would cause your mail server to be flooded with traffic
and be put on the open relay ban lists.

!!! IMPORTANT SECURITY NOTE!!! - I will not use the pop-before-smtp method
because it involves sending a password over an insecure connection. Use Postfix
through a SSL connection, Postfix/TLS, to accomplish this. Since your local
machines are likely already allowed to use your Postfix as a mail relay the only time
that you would be using this method is from a non-trusted server where you
password can be sniffed. If you still choose to use this method make sure that you
have changed the users courier password as described in Courier Authentication.

Additional Simple Procmail Recipes and Mailbox Config

If you are a member of any news letters/mailing lists you can have them
automatically sorted to their own mailbox using Procmail. First create the new mail
directory in your ~/Maildir directory. Lets call it .Sbayes and pretend that we are on
the Spambayes mailing list. So exactly as before with the spam related mailboxes:

mkdir -p ~/Maildir/.Sbayes/{cur,new,tmp}

Now add this new rule to your ~/.procmailrc:

# mailing list

* ^X-BeenThere:

In the .mutrc example above it shows an example of setting alt-5 as the macro to see
your Spambayes emails.

A slightly different method can be used to send spam and ham for training. Adding
the following lines will allow you to bounce spam messages to spam@localhost
(localhost or your and ham messages to ham@localhost:

# Mail has been bounced to spam@localhost

* ^Resent-To:.*spam

# Mail has been bounced to ham@localhost

* ^Resent-To:.*ham

If you want to bounce messages to the spam and ham addresses like this, you will
need to make sure that the headers stay intact. Do not try using this or a similar
technique for forwarding mails to an address because the email's headers would not
be intact and this is a large part of the spam classification. This method works
because above we specified spam and ham as aliases for hypexr in the Postfix aliases


For Arch Linux users, Add saslauthd authdaemond courier-imap postfix fetchmail
to DAEMONS in your /etc/rc.conf file and they will be started automatically when
your machine boots. If you are running a web server have the httpd service listed
after the services we are adding.


DAEMONS=(... saslauthd authdaemond postfix courier-imap

fetchmail ...)

Enjoy your new mail system and centralized mailbox. If you are handling a large
number of users for you email system this is just the tip of the iceberg and you are
going to mostly be interested in virtual users, security, and a system wide spam
classifier. There are many good documents on various setups to accomplish this, see
the links section. If you have any suggestions, questions, comments, or corrections
send me an email or drop a note in the forum. If this document has been of any use
to you, cheers. :)


Example Files

o .fetchmailrc
o .procmailrc
o .muttrc
o train_spambayes

o Arch Linux
o Postfix
o Procmail
o Fetchmail
o SpamBayes
o Mutt
o SquirrelMail
o Courier-imap
o Courier-authlib

Virtual users and mailboxes using MySQL and setting up SSL for

o Arch Wiki - Postfix Howto

o Gentoo - Virtual Mailhosting System with Postfix Guide

Other Useful links

o Arch Linux Postfix HowTo

o Jkx@Home's Courier Authentication
o Postfix with TLS and SASL - geared towards FreeBSD
o Setting up Postfix + MySQL + Courier-IMAP + Mailman + vmail +
Procmail + SpamAssassin - geared towards Fedora/Red Hat
o Postfix Howtos and FAQs
o The Mutt E-Mail Client Manual
o Timo's procmail tips and recipes


Thanks to Constantinos Laitsas for reworking the fetchmail rc file so that it will
start as a daemon correctly

Thanks to Robert Schweikert for corrections to the train_spambayes script and the
path to

Thanks to Alex Satrapa for tips on example domain naming conventions

Thanks to Austin Duncan for tips on postfix configuration and mutts workings on
other distros