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From Postfix's site:

"Postfix attempts to be fast, easy to administer, and secure, while at the same time being sendmail compatible enough to not upset existing users. Thus, the outside has a sendmail-ish flavor, but the inside is completely different."

The goal of this article is to setup Postfix and explain what the basic configuration files do. There are instructions for setting up local system user-only delivery and a link to a guide for virtual user delivery.


Install the postfix and openssl packages from the official repositories.

DNS records

An MX record should point to the mail host. Usually this is done from configuration interface of your domain provider.

A mail exchanger record (MX record) is a type of resource record in the Domain Name System that specifies a mail server responsible for accepting email messages on behalf of a recipient's domain.

When an e-mail message is sent through the Internet, the sending mail transfer agent queries the Domain Name System for MX records of each recipient's domain name. This query returns a list of host names of mail exchange servers accepting incoming mail for that domain and their preferences. The sending agent then attempts to establish an SMTP connection to one of these servers, starting with the one with the smallest preference number, delivering the message to the first server with which a connection can be made.

{{Note|Some mail servers will not deliver mail to you if your MX record points to a CNAME. For best results, always point an MX record to an A record definition. For more information, see e.g. [[Wikipedia:List of DNS record types|Wikipedia's List of DNS Record Types].}}


/etc/postfix/ is the master configuration file where you can specify what kinds of protocols you will serve. It is also the place where you can put your new pipes e.g. to check for Spam!

It is recommended to enable secure SMTP as described in #Secure SMTP.

/etc/postfix/ is the main configuration file where everything is configured. The settings below are recommended for virtual local-only delivery.

  • myhostname should be set if your mail server has multiple domains, and you do not want the primary domain to be the mail host. You should have both a DNS A record and an MX record point to this hostname.
myhostname =
  • mydomain is usually the value of myhostname, minus the first part. If your domain is wonky, then just set it manually.
mydomain =
  • myorigin is where the email will be seen as being sent from. I usually set this to the value of mydomain. For simple servers, this works fine. This is for mail originating from a local account. Since we are not doing local delivery (except sending), then this is not really as important as it normally would be.
myorigin = $mydomain
  • mydestination is the lookup for local users.
mydestination = $myhostname, localhost.$mydomain, localhost
  • mynetworks and mynetwork_style control relaying, and whom is allowed to. We do not want any relaying.
For our sakes, we will simply set mynetwork_style to host, as we are trying to make a standalone Postfix host, that people will use webmail on. No relaying, no other MTA's. Just webmail.
mynetworks_style = host
  • relaydomains controls the destinations that Postfix will relay TO. The default value is $mydestination. This should be fine for now.
relay_domains = $mydestination
  • home_mailbox or mail_spool_directory control how mail is delivered/stored for the users.
If set, mail_spool_directory specifies an absolute path where mail gets delivered. Alternatively, if set, home_mailbox specifies a mailbox relative to the user's home directory where mail gets delivered.
Courier-IMAP requires "Maildir" format, so you must set it like the following:
home_mailbox = Maildir/

Default message and mailbox size limits

Postfix imposes both message and mailbox size limits by default. The message_size_limit controls the maximum size in bytes of a message, including envelope information. (default 10240000) The mailbox_size_limit controls the maximum size of any local individual mailbox or maildir file. This limits the size of any file that is written to upon local delivery, including files written by external commands (i.e. procmail) that are executed by the local delivery agent. (default is 51200000, set to 0 for no limit) If bounced message notifications are generated, check the size of the local mailbox under /var/spool/mail and use postconf to check these size limits:

# postconf -d mailbox_size_limit
mailbox_size_limit = 51200000
# postconf -d message_size_limit
message_size_limit = 10240000


You can specify aliases (also known as forwarders) in /etc/postfix/aliases.

You need to map all mail addressed to root to another account since it is not a good idea to read mail as root.

Uncomment the following line, and change you to a real account.

root: you

Once you have finished editing /etc/postfix/aliases you must run the postalias command:

postalias /etc/postfix/aliases
Tip: Alternatively you can create the file ~/.forward, e.g. /root/.forward for root. Specify the user to whom root mail should be forwarded, e.g. user@localhost.

Local mail

To only deliver mail to local system users (that are in /etc/passwd), you only need to change the following lines in /etc/postfix/ Uncomment them and modify them to the specifics listed below. Everything else can be left as installed.

mydestination = $myhostname, localhost.$mydomain, localhost
inet_interfaces = loopback-only
mynetworks_style = host
append_dot_mydomain = no
default_transport = error: Local delivery only!

Virtual mail

Virtual mail is mail that does not map to a user account (/etc/passwd).

See Virtual user mail system for a comprehensive guide how to set it up.

Postfix check

Run the postfix check command. It should output anything that you might have done wrong in a config file.

To see all of your configs, type postconf. To see how you differ from the defaults, try postconf -n.

Start and test Postfix

Start/enable postfix.service using systemd.

Now lets see if Postfix is going to deliver mail for our test user.

telnet servername 25
mail from:<>
rcpt to:<cactus@virtualdomain.tld>
This is a test email.


Error response

451 4.3.0 <>:Temporary lookup failure

Maybe you have entered the wrong user/password for MySQL or the MySQL socket is not in the right place.

550 5.1.1 <>: Recipient address rejected: User unknown in virtual mailbox table.

Double check content of and check the for mydestination

See that you have received a email

Now type $ find /home/vmailer.

You should see something like the following:


The key is the last entry. This is an actual email, if you see that, it is working.



To use PostfixAdmin, you need a working Apache/MySQL/PHP setup as described in Apache HTTP Server.

You can install postfixadmin from the official repositories.

Edit the PostfixAdmin configuration file:

$CONF['configured'] = true;
// correspond to dovecot maildir path /home/vmail/%d/%u 
$CONF['domain_path'] = 'YES';
$CONF['domain_in_mailbox'] = 'YES';
$CONF['database_type'] = 'mysql';
$CONF['database_host'] = 'localhost';
$CONF['database_user'] = 'postfix_user';
$CONF['database_password'] = 'hunter2';
$CONF['database_name'] = 'postfix_db';

// globally change all instances of ''change-this-to-your.domain.tld'' 
// to an appropriate value

Create the Apache configuration file:

Alias /postfixadmin "/usr/share/webapps/postfixAdmin"
<Directory "/usr/share/webapps/postfixAdmin">
    DirectoryIndex index.html index.php
    AllowOverride All
    Options FollowSymlinks
    Require all granted

And include it in /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf:

# PostfixAdmin configuration
Include conf/extra/httpd-postfixadmin.conf
Note: If you go to yourdomain/postfixadmin/setup.php and it says do not find, add /etc/webapps to the open_basedir line in /etc/php/php.ini.
Note: If you get a blank page check the syntax of the file with php -l /etc/webapps/postfixadmin/

Secure SMTP

To enable STARTTLS over SMTP (port 587, the proper way of securing SMTP), uncomment these lines in /etc/postfix/

smtp      inet  n       -       n       -       -       smtpd
submission inet n       -       n       -       -       smtpd
  -o smtpd_tls_security_level=encrypt
  -o smtpd_sasl_auth_enable=yes

If you also need to support the deprecated SMTPS (port 465), see #SMTPS over port 465

SMTPS over port 465

The deprecated method of securing SMPT using the wrapper mode uses the system service "smtps" which is a non-standard service and runs on port 465.

To enable it uncomment the following lines in /etc/postfix/

smtps     inet  n       -       n       -       -       smtpd
  -o smtpd_tls_wrappermode=yes
  -o smtpd_sasl_auth_enable=yes

And verify that these lines are in /etc/services:

smtps 465/tcp # Secure SMTP
smtps 465/udp # Secure SMTP

If they are not there, go ahead and add them (replace the other listing for port 465). Otherwise Postfix will not start and you will get the following error:

postfix/master[5309]: fatal: Servname not supported for ai_socktype


Go over /etc/mail/spamassassin/ and configure it to your needs.

Create an user and group for SpamAssassin.

# groupadd -g 5001 spamd
# useradd -u 5001 -g spamd -s /sbin/nologin -d /var/lib/spamassassin -m spamd
# chown spamd:spamd /var/lib/spamassassin

Make sure /etc/conf.d/spamd looks like the following:

SPAMD_OPTS="--create-prefs --max-children 5 --username spamd --helper-home-dir ${SAHOME} -s ${SAHOME}spamd.log --pidfile /var/run/"

To leave the service ready to run, let's update the SpamAssassin matching patterns.

# /usr/bin/vendor_perl/sa-update
Note: If you want to combine Spamassassin and Dovecot Mail Filtering you have to ignore the next two lines and continue further down instead.

Edit /etc/postfix/ and add the content filter under smtp.

smtp       inet  n       -       n       -       -       smtpd
       -o content_filter=spamassassin

Also add the following service entry for spamassassin

spamassassin   unix   -     n       n      -       -       pipe
       user=spamd argv=/usr/bin/vendor_perl/spamc -f -e /usr/sbin/sendmail -oi -f ${sender} ${recipient}

Now you can start spamassassin.service using systemd.

SpamAssassin combined with Dovecot LDA / Sieve (Mailfiltering)

Set up LDA and the Sieve-Plugin as described in Dovecot#Sieve. But ignore the last line mailbox_command... .

Instead add a pipe in /etc/postfix/

 dovecot   unix  -       n       n       -       -       pipe
       flags=DRhu user=vmail:vmail argv=/usr/bin/vendor_perl/spamc -f -u spamd -e /usr/lib/dovecot/dovecot-lda -f ${sender} -d ${recipient}

And activate it in /etc/postfix/

 virtual_transport = dovecot

Hide the sender's IP and user agent in the Received header

This is a privacy concern mostly, if you use Thunderbird and send an email. The received header will contain your LAN and WAN IP and info about the email client you used. (Original source: AskUbuntu) What we want to do is remove the Received header from outgoing emails. This can be done by the following steps:

Add this line to

smtp_header_checks = regexp:/etc/postfix/smtp_header_checks

Create /etc/postfix/smtp_header_checks with this content:

/^Received: .*/     IGNORE
/^User-Agent: .*/   IGNORE

Finally, restart postfix.service

See also