SOHO Postfix

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Merge-arrows-2.pngThis article or section is a candidate for merging with Postfix.Merge-arrows-2.png

Notes: both articles cover the exact same setup (Discuss in Talk:SOHO Postfix#)

This tutorial will configure Postfix using MySQL as backend, Courier-IMAP or Dovecot for IMAP-SSL, Postfix Admin for virtual domains/users management, Spamassassin for spam filtering, and SquirrelMail for webmail. Mailing list and anti-virus are in the works.

What this tutorial doesn't do is a thorough explanation of how everything works with each other. If you are the curious mind, check out the project's documentations. I also expect you already have a good working Apache and MySQL servers.

Required packages

  • postfix
  • mysql (phpmyadmin is optional but recommended!)
  • courier-imap
  • dovecot
  • courier-authlib
  • apache
  • php
  • squirrelmail
  • spamassassin


  • Postfix Admin

The latest stable release as of this writing is v2.1.0.

What is Postfix?


What is Postfix? It is Wietse Venema's mailer that started life at IBM research as an
alternative to the widely-used Sendmail program.

Postfix attempts to be fast, easy to administer, and secure. The outside has a definite
Sendmail-ish flavor, but the inside is completely different.

If you want to know how exactly Postfix works, check out Anatomy of Postfix!


Software installation

Installs Arch packages with following.

pacman -S php mysql apache postfix dovecot courier-imap courier-authlib squirrelmail spamassassin

Note: postfixadmin can be found in AUR

Download Postfix Admin, extract into /home/httpd/html/ and make a symlink.

ln -s /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin-2.1.0 /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin

(there's a new folder structure for apache in Arch: the default httpd folder for html documents is /srv/http)--mvinnicius 08:38, 31 January 2011 (EST)

(If you install from AUR postfixadmin can be found in /usr/share/webapps/postfixAdmin/) -- Foppe (talk)

General configuration

Setup folder to store domain e-mails

All your domains emails will go under /home/vmail/.

groupadd -g 5000 vmail
useradd -u 5000 -g vmail -s /sbin/nologin -d /home/vmail -m vmail
chmod 750 /home/vmail

SSL certs

Certificates generated here can be used by httpd, ftp or any other services supports SSL.

cd /etc/ssl/certs
openssl req -new -x509 -newkey rsa:1024 -days 365 -keyout server.key -out server.crt

When asked about "Common Name", use your FQDN. i.e.

openssl rsa -in server.key -out server.key

Above removes passphrase.

chown nobody:nobody server.key
chmod 600 server.key
mv server.key /etc/ssl/private/

Above are extra securities in case you actually wants to use SSL the real way.


Courier-IMAP's SSL cert is a little different.

vi /etc/courier-imap/imapd.cnf

Make it to suit your environment.


Will generate /usr/share/imapd.pem

mv /usr/share/imapd.pem /etc/courier-imap/

Move the newly generated Courier-IMAP SSL cert.



Make the folder.

mkdir /var/lib/squirrelmail
chown nobody:nobody /var/lib/squirrelmail

Configure SquirrelMail on CLI.

cd /home/httpd/html/squirrelmail/config - (is now /srv/http/squirrelmail/config), 04.12.2011 

Yes, it works! Check it out here!

RoundCube Webmail is a browser-based multilingual IMAP client with an application-like user interface.
It provides full functionality you expect from an e-mail client, including MIME support, address book,
folder manipulation, message searching and spell checking. RoundCube Webmail is written in PHP and
requires a MySQL or Postgres database. The user interface is fully skinnable using XHTML and CSS 2.

As for the configuration of RoundCube, note that I'm using PostfixAdmin, which can make the query quite different. For the configuration, you should look in the, and consider several options:

$rcmail_config['auto_create_user'] = TRUE;
$rcmail_config['default_host'] = 'your.fdm';
$rcmail_config['virtuser_query'] = 'SELECT username FROM postfix.mailbox WHERE username = "%u" or name = "%u"';
$rcmail_config['smtp_server'] = 'mail.your.fdm';
$rcmail_config['smtp_user'] = '%u';
$rcmail_config['smtp_pass'] = '%p';
$rcmail_config['smtp_helo_host'] = 'your.fdm';
$rcmail_config['imap_root'] = 'INBOX'; // Important: Otherwise, folders like "Sent" and "Trash" will not be created
$rcmail_config['create_default_folders'] = TRUE;
$rcmail_config['enable_spellcheck'] = FALSE; // Communicates with Google - do we want this?


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

Create Spamassassin user/group and folder.

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 look like 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.


Postfix Admin

Obs1: There's a package in AUR

Obs2: The user/group in the recent apache pkg are http:http)

Obs3: Check the instructions for the use of setup.php in the postfixadmin folder --mvinnicius 08:47, 31 January 2011 (EST)

Sets up correct permissions.

chown -R nobody:nobody /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin-2.1.0/
cd /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/
chmod 640 *.php
cd /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/admin/
chmod 640 *.php
cd /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/images/
chmod 640 *.png
cd /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/languages/
chmod 640 *.lang
cd /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/templates/
chmod 640 *.php
cd /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/users/
chmod 640 *.php

Look at /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/DATABASE_MYSQL.TXT and modify the lines with password of your like. (edited by silvernode NOTE: DATABASE_MYSQL.txt does not seem to exist in postfixadmin-2.3.2)

INSERT INTO user (Host, User, Password) VALUES ('localhost','postfix',password('YOUR_NEW_PASSWD'));
(Line 28?)
INSERT INTO user (Host, User, Password) VALUES ('localhost','postfixadmin',password('YOUR_NEW_PASSWD'));
(Line 31?)

Load Postfix Admin MySQL database structure.

/etc/rc.d/mysqld start
mysql -u root -p < /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/DATABASE_MYSQL.TXT
/etc/rc.d/mysqld stop

(Remember to remove YOUR_NEW_PASSWD from /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/DATABASE_MYSQL.TXT!)

Make Postfix Admin configuration file.

cp /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/ /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/
chmod 640 /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/

You may want to go over /home/httpd/html/postfixadmin/ and configure it to suit you, but the following line needs to match what password you set above.

$CONF['database_password'] = 'YOUR_NEW_PASSWD';
(Line 32?)

Make sure it uses newer MySQL protocol

$CONF['database_type'] = 'mysqli';
(Line 29?)

Courier-IMAP and Courier-authlib

Courier-IMAP is a bit harder to configure and noticeably slower compared to Dovecot. However, if you prefer something tried-and-true, Courier-IMAP won't disappoint you.

Make sure following files have following contents.

  • /etc/conf.d/courier-imap
  • /etc/authlib/authdaemonrc
  • /etc/authlib/authmysqlrc
MYSQL_SERVER            localhost
MYSQL_USERNAME          postfix
MYSQL_SOCKET            /tmp/mysql.sock
MYSQL_PORT              3306
MYSQL_OPT               0
MYSQL_DATABASE          postfix
MYSQL_USER_TABLE        mailbox
MYSQL_UID_FIELD         5000
MYSQL_GID_FIELD         5000
MYSQL_LOGIN_FIELD       username
MYSQL_HOME_FIELD        "/home/vmail"
  • /etc/courier-imap/imapd-ssl


Dovecot is an open source IMAP and POP3 server for Linux/UNIX-like systems, written with security
primarily in mind. Dovecot is an excellent choice for both small and large installations. It's fast,
simple to set up, requires no special administration and it uses very little memory.

At this time Dovecot is recommended as it is faster and newer than courier-imap, it is also much easier to setup

Make sure the following files with following contents.

I strongly recommend go over all settings within this file, but I've listed what's required.

  • /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf

Obs: In the recent package, besides the dovecot.conf file, the configurations below are splitted in other files at /etc/dovecot/conf.d--mvinnicius 09:02, 31 January 2011 (EST)

protocols = imap # since new version of dovecot, 'imaps' is not necessary 
ssl = yes # or can be ssl = required
ssl_cert = </etc/ssl/certs/server.crt
ssl_key = </etc/ssl/private/server.key
first_valid_uid = 5000
first_valid_gid = 5000
auth_username_chars = abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ01234567890.-_@
namespace {
 inbox = yes
 location = maildir:/home/vmail/%u/ #The %u is needed since this setting overrides all others, probably this isn't even needed if you have the mysql setup
 prefix = 
 separator = /
 type = private
protocol imap {
  imap_client_workarounds = delay-newmail tb-extra-mailbox-sep
protocol lda {
 postmaster_address = admin@YOUR_DOMAIN.TLD
 hostname = YOUR_SERVER_NAME
 sendmail_path = /usr/sbin/sendmail
service auth {
 unix_listener /var/spool/postfix/private/auth {
   group = postfix
   mode = 0666
   user = postfix
 unix_listener auth-userdb {
   group = vmail
   mode = 0600
   user = vmail
userdb {
 args = /etc/dovecot/dovecot-sql.conf
 driver = sql
passdb {
  driver = sql
  args = /etc/dovecot/dovecot-sql.conf

  • /etc/dovecot/dovecot-sql.conf
driver = mysql #if you are using mysql, check the dovecot wiki for other options
connect = host=localhost dbname=postfix user=postfix password=YOUR_NEW_PASSWD
default_pass_scheme = CRYPT
password_query = SELECT password FROM mailbox WHERE username = '%u' AND active = '1'
user_query = SELECT maildir AS mail, 5000 AS uid, 5000 AS gid, "/home/vmail" AS home FROM mailbox WHERE username = '%u' AND active = '1'


Edit /etc/php/php.ini and make the following changes.

magic_quotes_gpc = On
(Required for Postfix Admin)
open_basedir = /home/:/tmp/:/usr/share/pear/:/var/lib/squirrelmail/
(Required for SquirrelMail)


I strongly recommend you go through all the lines in /etc/postfix/ and configure it to your needs. Only followings are required for this setup!

mydestination = localhost
mynetworks_style = host
relay_domains = $mydestination

Add the following to end of /etc/postfix/

# Postfix with MySQL maps (Configure domain emails with Postfix Admin)
# Virtual Mailbox Domain Settings
virtual_alias_maps = mysql:/etc/postfix/
virtual_mailbox_domains = mysql:/etc/postfix/
virtual_mailbox_maps = mysql:/etc/postfix/
virtual_mailbox_limit = 51200000
virtual_minimum_uid = 5000
virtual_uid_maps = static:5000
virtual_gid_maps = static:5000
virtual_mailbox_base = /home/vmail
virtual_transport = virtual
# Additional for quota support
virtual_create_maildirsize = yes
virtual_mailbox_extended = yes
virtual_mailbox_limit_maps = mysql:/etc/postfix/
virtual_mailbox_limit_override = yes
virtual_maildir_limit_message = Sorry, your maildir has overdrawn your diskspace quota, please free up some space and try again.
virtual_overquota_bounce = yes

(Above addition scrapped from Ubuntu Wiki (Postfix Complete Virtual Mail System) <=== NOT COMPLETE!)

Create the following Postfix maps with contents provided but change out the password.

In Postfix, lookup tables are called maps. Postfix uses maps not only to find out
where to send mail, but also to impose restrictions on clients, senders, and recipients,
and to check certain patterns in email content.
  • /etc/postfix/
user = postfix
password = YOUR_NEW_PASSWD
hosts = localhost
dbname = postfix
table = alias
select_field = goto
where_field = address
  • /etc/postfix/
user = postfix
password = YOUR_NEW_PASSWD
hosts = localhost
dbname = postfix
table = domain
select_field = domain
where_field = domain
#additional_conditions = and backupmx = '0' and active = '1'
  • /etc/postfix/
user = postfix
password = YOUR_NEW_PASSWD
hosts = localhost
dbname = postfix
table = mailbox
select_field = maildir
where_field = username
#additional_conditions = and active = '1'
  • /etc/postfix/
user = postfix
password = YOUR_NEW_PASSWD
hosts = localhost
dbname = postfix
table = mailbox
select_field = quota
where_field = username
#additional_conditions = and active = '1'

Set the proper permissions on those map files.

chgrp postfix /etc/postfix/mysql_*.cf
chmod 640 /etc/postfix/mysql_*.cf

Make Postfix pipe mails through Spamassassin first.

  • /etc/postfix/
smtp      inet  n       -       n       -       -       smtpd -o content_filter=spamassassin
spamassassin    unix    -       n       n       -       -       pipe user=nobody argv=/usr/bin/vendor_perl/spamc -f -e /usr/sbin/sendmail -oi -f ${sender} ${recipient}


This is *OPTIONAL*! I do recommend you use your ISP's SMTP service to send your e-mails.

Basic setup is using SMTPS (SSL; port 465) using SASL+PAM to authenticate with MySQL backend.

Install some packages first.

pacman -S cyrus-sasl cyrus-sasl-plugins pam_mysql

Make the following modifications to specified files.

  • /etc/postfix/
relay_domains = *
smtpd_sasl_auth_enable = yes
smtpd_relay_restrictions = permit_mynetworks, permit_sasl_authenticated, reject_unauth_destination
smtpd_sasl_security_options = noanonymous
smtpd_sasl_tls_security_options = $smtpd_sasl_security_options
smtpd_tls_auth_only = yes
smtpd_tls_cert_file = /etc/ssl/certs/server.crt
smtpd_tls_key_file = /etc/ssl/private/server.key
smtpd_sasl_local_domain = $mydomain
broken_sasl_auth_clients = yes
smtpd_tls_loglevel = 1
  • /etc/postfix/
smtps inet n - n - - smtpd -o smtpd_tls_wrappermode=yes -o smtpd_sasl_auth_enable=yes

Note: as it turns out, smtps was never actually a valid entry in /etc/services (except briefly, for a few months in 1996... see Since recent versions of /etc/services are now "fixed", postfix will not be able to translate the string "smtps" into port 465 any more. As a workaround, you can do this:

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

(You can also change /etc/services so that 465/tcp is smtps again, but this will break mysteriously unless you also tell pacman not to ever touch that file, which, if you ever migrate your server or help a friend set up his, is something you're definitely going to forget you did... and then it will break mysteriously again and you'll spend a few hours Googling until you land here.)

  • /etc/pam.d/smtp
auth required /usr/lib/security/ user=postfix passwd=YOUR_NEW_PASSWD host=localhost db=postfix table=mailbox usercolumn=username passwdcolumn=password crypt=1
account sufficient /usr/lib/security/ user=postfix passwd=YOUR_NEW_PASSWD host=localhost db=postfix table=mailbox usercolumn=username passwdcolumn=password crypt=1 may also be located in /lib/security/ instead of /usr/lib/security/. I find Arch64 uses /usr/lib/security/ and Arch32 uses /lib/security/

  • /etc/conf.d/saslauthd
SASLAUTHD_OPTS="-m /var/run/saslauthd -r -a pam"
  • /usr/lib/sasl2/smtpd.conf
pwcheck_method: saslauthd
mech_list: plain login
saslauthd_path: /var/run/saslauthd/mux
log_level: 7

Put into production!

Firing up services!

Run following command to start all services!

for v in spamd mysqld httpd postfix dovecot;do /etc/rc.d/$v start ;done
(saslauthd if you plan to use SMTP-AUTH)

If you plan to use Courier-IMAP, run following instead!

for v in saslauthd spamd mysqld httpd postfix authdaemond courier-imap;do /etc/rc.d/$v start ;done
(saslauthd if you plan to use SMTP-AUTH)

Go to following site to configure more stuff!

  • Postfix Admin
(Default is USER: admin PASS: admin)

I would look into Apache's documentation on .htaccess/.htpasswd and change out Postfix Admin's default admin page password.

Verify working

  • Postfix

Let's test see if Postfix is up and accepting connections.

[root@monkey1 /etc/rc.d]# telnet localhost 25
Connected to localhost.
Escape character is '^]'.
220 mail.YOUR_DOMAIN.TLD ESMTP Postfix (Arch Linux)
250-SIZE 10240000
250 DSN
mail from: root@localhost
250 2.1.0 Ok
rcpt to: test@YOUR_DOMAIN.TLD
250 2.1.5 Ok
354 End data with <CR><LF>.<CR><LF>
This is a test sending from root@localhost!
250 2.0.0 Ok: queued as 883E910C47B
221 2.0.0 Bye
Connection closed by foreign host.


S-W-E-E-T! :)

  • Dovecot or Courier-IMAP

Fire up your favorite mail client, that supports IMAP-SSL, and connect to your domain see if it works!

  • Spamassassin

If you see something similar in your e-mail headers, Spamassassin is working!

X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 3.2.3 (2007-08-08) on	YOUR_DOMAIN.TLD
X-Spam-Status: No, score=-0.2 required=3.0 tests=ALL_TRUSTED,MISSING_SUBJECT	autolearn=no version=3.2.3
  • Postfix Admin

Play around see everything works like it should.

  • SquirrelMail


If you firewalled your server, make sure the ports 25 80 443 993 (and 465 for SMTP-AUTH) are open!

Don't forget to add services to your /etc/rc.conf!

Any configuration files with YOUR_NEW_PASSWD in it you should chmod 640 it!


Comments? Questions? Rants? Please let me know at terii [-AT-] linuxmonkey [-DOT-] net.

You can also catch me on Freenode IRC under #archlinux; quad3d, quad3datwork, limlappy, gangsterlicious, or portofu.

Thanks to for hosting my VPS! This guide is not possible without my VPS. Find this guide useful? Thinking about having your own VPS at Ask me for my reference e-mail so I can get some credit! :)

See also