email hosting - How do you do it?

Zane C. B-H. v.velox at
Sat Jan 28 15:03:30 UTC 2012

On Thu, 26 Jan 2012 15:51:05 -0700
"Peter" <fbsdq at> wrote:

> Hello,
>   I've been on qmail/vpopmail combo forever and am looking to build
> a new, mail server.

As some one who has was once a unix admin for a ISP that ran Qmail
for a SMTP server, I can safely say you should avoid it like the
plague. Managing it is a bloody PITA given how incomplete it is in so
many ways.

> First choice so far is postfix, but almost all the virtual hosting
> 'howtos' require an SQL database, or editing files by hand. The SQL
> part seems like an overkill for ~20-50 email accounts, the editing
> files by hand seems like a pain and requires me doing everything
> but I'd rather let people manage their own domains.

Postfix is a great choice. A lot more manageable than Qmail and it is
pleasantly fast, easy to configure, and integrates nicely with

If you are just dealing with a single domain, I would strongly
suggest looking into just using system users. This works fairly
nicely and you can lock down access via PAM.

In regards to authentication, you will need to look into something
other than the master.passwd stuff authentication as that is only
usable as root. I would strongly suggest LDAP. In regards to managing
users/groups in LDAP I would suggest sysutils/p5-Plugtools . It is
something I wrong awhile back and maintain, so if you have any
requests for add on to, please just let me know.

> Just curious on how everyone else does small/medium/large email
> hosting so that the users have an easy option to change passwords,
> manage their domains, quotas, vacation auto responders, etc. ?

My setup involves...

backend - The backend server runs LDAP and has a nice bit of disk
space shared via NFs.
frontend - The frontend servver runs all the external facing stuff,
webmail(horde), more web stuff, Dovecot(POP3/IMAP/Sieve), and
NFS - Used for sharing home directories.
LDAP - Used for authentication, addressbooks, and user/groups.
Dovecot  - Use for POP3/IMAP/Sieve.
Postfix - Used for SMTP.
syslogd - Used for centralized logging for logging from the frontend
to the backend.
Horde - It makes a truely kick ass webmail system. It is nice as
allows easy integration of Sieve and LDAP addressooks.
ZFS/gmirror - Gmirror backed ZFS pools work really nicely for if you
need large amounts of storage.

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