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This is intended to be the concise summary of my email server installation, with references to other pages for more detail as appropriate.


See AboutThesePages.


Was It Worth It

It was a pain, but it was worth it to me:

  • I needed an email server:
    • I run a home LAN and share one Internet connection among the entire family -- a common thing to do
    • I share one email address among the entire family -- an uncommon thing to do
  • It's given me a boost in adopting Linux:
    • I spend more time in Linux now that I am no longer tied to Netscape Navigator on Win95
    • I absorbed more Linux as I installed / configured the mail server.
  • I want Linux to succeed on the desktop:
    • to provide strong competition for Microsoft
    • so I can customize software to suit my work style / requirements.

Goals / Constraints

  • On a private LAN:
    • sharing a dial up connection to the Internet
    • without a registered domain name
    • sharing one email address among my entire family, but sorting mail to each member based on extra clues in the To: and From: addresses (like "Other User Name" <rhkramer@fast.net>
  • Mail to be stored on one machine accessible from any machine on the LAN, by any user, and from Windows or Linux

The Configuration

See EmailOverviewSketch. In words:


The email server, comprised of several programs, runs on host System8.home.d (

My domain name (home.d) is not registered, so email addressed to me must use my email address at my ISP (rhkramer@fastPLEASENOSPAM.net).

I do not run a local DNS, nor have I included all the local computer names in the /etc/hosts files, so, when addressing machines on the LAN, I must use an IP address instead of a domain name. (For example, when I set up an email client, I specify the SMTP or outgoing mail server as rather than System8.home.d.)

All software mentioned in the following runs on System8 unless clearly stated otherwise.

Outgoing Mail

Postfix runs on System8.home.d ( and relays outgoing mail to my ISP.

Mail clients on System8 move outgoing mail from their outboxes to the postfix incoming mail spool.

Mail clients on other machines send outgoing mail via SMTP to port 25 on

Postfix either delivers the mail locally (if it is for a local user (on the LAN)) or relays it to my ISP.

Local mail is recognized when it is sent to an address on System 8 (like dad@192PLEASENOSPAM.168.0.8). Mail sent to rhkramer@fastPLEASENOSPAM.net is also delivered locally.

Incoming Mail

Under user dad, a cron job starts a script (ipr_getmail.scr) every 10 minutes which, among other things, runs fetchmail to get mail from my ISP (via POP3) and deliver it to postfix (at port 25 on

When postfix recognizes mail as being for a local user, it calls procmail to deliver the mail to the user's mail spool on System8 (/var/spool/mail/<username>).

Postfix is configured to send a bcc of every email it handles (incoming or outgoing) to user rhkmail.

Procmail runs on user dad's incoming mail spool to:

  • send mail destined for other users to their incoming mail spools
  • sort mail destined for user dad into folders based on content

Procmail runs on user rhkmail's incoming mail spool to:

  • sort copies of mail sent by local users into folders based on addressee or content
  • return copies of email sent from a user to himself by putting them in his incoming mail spool

What's described in the previous two paragraphs is a little more complicated than most people will probably want / need. The reason I go to that trouble is because I may send email from any client on the network, and I want copies of my outgoing email collected on the server so I can access it from any client. I won't describe simpler ways of doing it at this time, but may later.

In order for email clients on other machines to access mail via POP3 or IMAP, POP3 and IMAP daemons run on the email server.

Using POP3, clients can download mail from their incoming mail spool on System8. Using IMAP, clients can read mail in their incoming mail spool and their mail directories on System8.

Setting It Up

For some words about the setup of each program comprising my email server, and actual copies of (most of) the configuration files, see EmailServerFiles.

Programs discussed:

  • Cron
  • Fetchmail
  • Postfix
  • Procmail
  • xinetd
  • Pop / Imap Daemons

Other Stuff

I have a lot of pages on WikiLearn dealing with email -- many of them false starts or containing erroneous information. If you really want to see them, do searches on all of the following:

  • mail
  • postfix
  • procmail
  • IMAP
  • POP

I intend to gradually work my way through them again, trying to get them fully correct or deleted. The good ones will be listed on this page or somewhere similar.


See EmailServerToDos

Maintenance and Backup


  • () RandyKramer - 27 Sep 2002
  • <If you edit this page: add your name here; move this to the next line; and include your comment marker (initials), if you have created one, in parenthesis before your WikiName.>

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Topic revision: r10 - 2002-10-05 - RandyKramer
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