E-Mail Server: Please Recommend..

I would like recommendations on an EASY to Install/Configure E-Mail Server to use on my Linode (running Debian).

I am particularly interested in any recommendations for the following:

1. Step-by-step websites that offer tutorials on how-to install & configure a linux e-mail server (paricularly for Debian).

2. Alternate recommendations for EASY to use email servers, besides the big 3 - sendmail, qmail & postfix.

I tried installing QMail via qmailrocks.org, however after many attempts, I continue to run into setup/config issues.

Thanks. 8)

7 Replies

Qmail is not the easiest to set-up.

I use postfix and courier both are easy enough to use, you should be able to find how-tos by googling


I run Postfix on Debian stable, and it's been pretty easy to configure so far. I just use the Debian package rather than compiling from source. I've even got TLS and authentication enabled.

The one nonobvious thing you'll really want in your main.cf is:

local_recipient_maps = $alias_maps, unix:passwd.byname

Without this, Postfix will accept mail for a nonexistent user, attempt local delivery, and only then generate a bounce message. This means spam to nonexistent users clutters up your mail queue with bounces that your server has to send out.

The proper behavior is to reject the message in the SMTP session; that's what the above config option does.

This only occurs with older Postfixes, like the one in Debian. In newer ones, the above is the default. In Woody, the default is empty.


I would like recommendations on an EASY to Install/Configure E-Mail Server to use on my Linode (running Debian).

Postfix, thought there may be a little bit of work to set it all up.

The debian packages for postfix are old (well duh, what isn't ?!). It is suggested that you compile postfix via hand. I have an unfinished howto at http://opencurve.org/~sunny/nix/postfix/index.html that shows you how to compile and install Postfix + SSL/TLS.

Bill Clinton

I had no experience with mail servers until two weeks ago. I was able to successfully set up a postfix mail server on my Mandrake linode by simply following the recepes on the web.




Things I did not know:

You need to be able to set of MX records in your zone file at your DNS provider. IF you do not do this, nobody can see your server.

Postfix is an MTA (mail transfer agent.) You wil also need a separate IMPA or POP3 server if you want to permit clients to fetch mail from your server. I used the IMAP package, which provides both.

I wanted to send mail from my home machine via my linode, so the rest of the world would see my mail as coming from crystre.com rather than cox.net. But cox refuses to let me send on port 25 to any MTA other than cox. Solution: open a port other than 25, and use it in addition to 25.

WARNING: do not, under any circumstances, run an "open relay." If you do not know what this means, do not run a mail server at all. (I knew this one, so I never had an open relay.)

Good luck!

If you prefer maildir, here is a good howto on setting up Courier with IMAP, POP, SSL, and MySQL authentication:



I wound up forcing myself to use Qmail due to the completeness of this step-by-step guide:


It is so far the most complete set of instructions I have found for someone with very little knowledge about setting up a fully-functional mail server. Not everything worked well for me, and I couldn't quite figure out the best way to do the admin interfaces for virtual hosts (I'm sure it's not that hard, but like I said, I have "very little knowledge"), but everything important worked pretty well. That was on a Red Hat 9 (Large) setup.

@Bill Clinton:

The debian packages for postfix are old (well duh, what isn't ?!).

Have you looked at backports.org? They have newer packages that are for use in debian stable. I am using clamav and amavis from there (with the old postfix). In your /etc/apt/sources.list just add a line like:

deb http://www.backports.org/debian/ stable clamav amavisd-new postfix


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