What is an email alias?

The guide https://www.linode.com/docs/email/postfix/email-with-postfix-dovecot-and-mysql/ has a section where we are to enter aliases into the mysql table "virtual_aliases".

I do not know if I have any need for this functionality. I simply want to provide for a single user at this point: [email protected]

Can I leave the virtual_aliases table blank?

I'd like to see the concept and typical usage for "aliases" as it applies to email services given some additional background. Could a line or two be added to any of the following guides? So far, I've been unable to discover anything particularly helpful via more general searches on this term.

https://www.linode.com/docs/email/running-a-mail-server/

https://www.linode.com/docs/email/postfix/email-with-postfix-dovecot-and-mysql/

https://www.linode.com/docs/email/postfix/troubleshooting-problems-with-postfix-dovecot-and-mysql/

2 Replies

An email alias is basically one email address that forwards to another. An example of an alias might be [email protected], where anything sent to that address will be forwarded to another specified address like, for example, [email protected]

They are quite a few practical applications of an alias. You might use it when the specified target address is long and complicated and difficult to remember. You could also use it to preserve the anonymity of the recipient of the email (like if you wanted Mr. Smith's address kept confidential but still receive admin emails).

If you just want a single user's email on your system and you don't have any qualms about having that address public, then you might not need to worry about an alias.

When it comes to adding that to our documentation, I'll gladly make the suggestion to our team for its potential inclusion!

Thanks for the clarification! I think adding this or something similar to the "basic concepts" guide would be very useful. I was able to figure out that an alias accomplished forwarding, but didn't know if I should be doing an forwarding or not. Having examples of possible scenarios is very helpful for newcomers.

So, I can safely leave the virtual_aliases table empty? It seems like the answer is yes.

I hope to get a strong enough understanding to help with documentation here, down the road. I've had some success writing tutorials in the past (one is approaching 150,000 hits).

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