Book review: Setup and Run a Small Office Email Server Using Postfix, Courier, Procmail, Squirrelmail, Clamav and Spamassassin

Email is one the killer application of Internet. It is the easy method of composing, sending, storing, and receiving messages over electronic communication systems. Leading free web based email providers such as Gmail , Yahoo or your own ISP uses UNIX / Linux based email servers.

However many new sysadmin finds it difficult to setup and maintain an email server system. This book is aimed at all new sysadmin who wish to learn the basis of mail server, setup & configuration issues, and advanced topics such as spam/virus protection. This book gives you just what you need to know to set up and maintain an email server:

  1. Configure and run your own industry strength Postfix mail server
  2. Provide and configure POP3 and IMAP services
  3. Configure Anti virus and anti spam protection for your mail server
  4. Security and optimization of an email server
  5. Other mail server related admin issues such as Backup, Recovery and tips.

The entire book is divided into ten chapters.

Chapter 1: Linux and Email Basics

This chapter explains the fundamental concepts related to Email such as software/hardware requirements to run an email server, mail server protocols (SMTP, POP, IMAP etc) and their overview etc. It also explains role of a DNS server in e-mailing.

Chapter 2: Setting up Postfix

Postfix is the name of a mail transfer agent (MTA) program. It makes sure that your mails are received and delivered to correct mailboxes. This chapter introduces you to Postfix MTA and its architecture. It covers following topics:

  • Installing Postfix from both binary package and source code
  • Configuring Postfix mail server
  • Stopping Spam with Postfix inbuilt anti-spam mechanism, DNS blacklists, email headers and content based filtering etc
  • Virtual domain configuration i.e. single mail server can act as an email server for multiple domains (just like your web server aka virtual hosting)
  • Troubleshooting Postfix mail server problems

Chapter 3: Incoming Mail with POP and IMAP

Postfix will receive your email but to read these emails from Desktop clients such as Outlook express you need special server software. This chapter deals with the Courier – IMAP suite of software installation and configuration. It also walkthrough you configuring mail clients such as Outlook express and Mozilla Thunderbird.

Chapter 4: Providing Webmail Access

The idea of accessing e-mail via the web from a computer anywhere in the world was originally pioneered by Hotmail service (now MSN Hotmail). Your corporate or personal mail server can be access just like Hotmail using special webmail program called SquirrelMail. This chapter explains the configuration, setup and issues related to SquirrelMail webmail software.

Chapter 5: Securing Your Installation

Hackers and crackers are everywhere. They are waiting for cracking your mail server infrastructure. But, wait there are other issues like open relay, worms and much more. This chapter deals with security of your entire mail infrastructure. It also covers issues such as SMTP after POP, Virtual private network and SMTP authentication using Postfix SMTP Auth and Cyrus SASL using LDAP and SQL backends.

Chapter 6: Getting started with Procmail

Procmail mail is filter or a program to process incoming emails on a computer. It is a common practice is to let procmail call an external spam filter program, such as SpamAssassin to filter out Spam. This chapter talks about potential uses for mail filtering, forwarding mail etc. It covers most wildly use Procmail usage such as scanning e-mail headers, message body and filtering out emails.

Chapter 7: Advanced procmail

After learning some basic usage, it is time to put procmail at work. You will learn how to write procmail macros, advanced recipe analysis etc. This chapter also has advanced procmail recipe such as
=> Setting up a Vacation auto reply
=> Organizing emails etc

Chapter 8: Busting Spam with SpamAssassin

SpamAssassin is one of the most effective spam filters. It can filter e-mail based on content-matching rules, checksum-based, statistical filtering, DNS etc.
This chapter covers SpamAssassin installation and confirmation. It also covers amavisd-new software, which is use to scan for e-mail virus.

Chapter 9: Antivirus protection

Most business and personal e-mail comes with attachments. These attachments can bring disaster in form of viruses. Therefore scanning incoming e-mails (infected attachments) is an essential task for any mail server.

You will learn about ClamAV anti-virus system and configuration with ClamSMTP (an interface between Postfix and ClamAV anti-virus software).

Chapter 10: Backing up your system

Final chapter talks about backing up you dedicated mail server. You will learn
What to backup
How to perform backup and recovery operation of an email server
Installing and configuring subversion software. Therefore, Postfix mail server configuration can be traced using Revision control system.


I recommend this book for following reasons:

  • Ease of use – If you follow the book at the end of day, you will have a complete working email server for your personal or business needs.
  • Open source software – You will learn how to build a high performance email server with Open source software.
  • If you have a basic understanding of Linux go and pick the book you will not regret. All authors have done a remarkable job explaining complex topic such as Email server. I gave this book to my friend who is actually a PHP web developer but they needed an email server for office. He just followed information mentioned in this book over weekend to setup their email server with SpamAssign and webmail access.
  • Book title: Linux Email: Setup and Run a Small Office Email Server Using Postfix, Courier, Procmail, Squirrelmail, Clamav and Spamassassin
  • Author: Carl Taylor, Alistair McDonald
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing
  • Pub Date: May 2005
  • ISBN: 190481137
  • Pages: 295 pages (Paperback)
  • Level of experience needed: Beginners/Intermediate Linux server sys admin
  • Who will find useful: Email server admin
  • Additional goodies included (such as CDROM) : No
  • Purchase online at Amazon

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🐧 9 comments so far... add one

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9 comments… add one
  • anupriya Aug 27, 2009 @ 11:31

    SirMadam my project is postfix mailserver in ubuntu i finshed installation and configuration i dont no how to run the seperate mailserver pls guide us me with clear procedure as soon as possible

  • Tweety20 Nov 2, 2008 @ 16:47

    I need to setup a small mail server for my company with spam filtering and other useful stuff. Also not to forget that I want to use postfix. Does this book cover my needs? If I read the whole book shall I get a complete Linux Mail Server Solution?

    Thank you VIVEK.

  • Charles Ng Jun 25, 2007 @ 9:30

    Dear vivek (and to those who might have a clue),

    I have this quick question and hope you can shed me some light.

    I was following the guide you prompted me and during the yast2 installation, neither 2 of my online sources nor my 10.2 OpenSuSE DVD disc has courier-imap and courier-authlib.

    So what am I going to do? Any suggestions, please?

    Many thanks.


  • meeran Jun 20, 2007 @ 6:37

    i need know how to create a auto-reply setting in the Linux mail server pls send me a user guide

  • 🐧 nixCraft Jun 15, 2007 @ 17:09

    CA, DN, CN, LDAP -> Those all are LDAP centralized authentication parameters. It is only required if you are going to use centralized authentication system using Novell eDirectory or OpenLDAP.

    By reading your comment it appears that you are new to Linux. Yes this is a full step by step guide for people like you.

    If you just need a simply guide try this


  • Charles Ng Jun 15, 2007 @ 15:24

    I was trying to set up an email server with SLES 10 too.

    When the basic installation was finished, it asked me questions with abbreviations I had no idea on such as CA, DN, CN, LDAP … etc. After I chose to skip inputting values for those fields, I found myself searching for the meanings, examples, reference for all those erratas rather than setting up an e-mail server. All I wanted was just to setup an e-mail server that’s all …
    Anyway, would this book do any help? Comments please? Thanks.


  • 🐧 nixCraft May 31, 2007 @ 8:46

    Book does covers RPM based installation. POSTFIX mta is not distro specific setup. You can use any Linux distro as long as you know how to edit files using a text editor 😉

  • Nirmala Jain May 31, 2007 @ 8:36

    Does this book cover setting up postfix on suse linux enterprise server 10?

  • Muhammad Iftikhar Nov 16, 2006 @ 13:55

    its too good for the neww comers

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