Install Postfix + Dovecot e-mail server

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20 Sep 2020: Stop using mail-stack-delivery.

8 May 2020: Typo errors corrected.

30 May 2019: Anti-virus and spam mail filtering added.

17 May 2019: Copying emails to external accounts added.

7 May 2019: "gksudo gedit" changed to "sudo gedit" as Ubuntu 18.04 dropped "gksudo". Header_checks added. Auto creation of Trash folders added. Webmaster added.

29 Sep 2018: Add "body_checks" for spam control.

20 Sep 2018: Increase message_size_limit to 20 times the default.

5 Apr 2018: Increase message_size_limit to 10 times the default.

25 Dec 2018: Published on web.

12 Apr 2014: Specify maximal_queue_lifetime to notify unsuccessful delivery immediately.

2 Apr 2014: Specify fully qualified domain name.


Postfix is a mail transfer agent (MTA) responsible for sending out and receiving emails between servers.

Dovecot is a mail delivery agent (MDA) responsible for sending out and receiving emails between a server and its users.

Mail-stack-delivery is a combined package containing both Postfix and Dovecot. It would be easier than to install Postfix and Dovecot separately.

Re-direct to server ports​

Set the internet router to re-direct the following connections to server ports:

  • SMTP = port 25 (for receiving or sending emails)
  • secure SMTP = port 465 (for receiving or sending emails securely)
  • IMAP = port 143 (for retrieving emails)
  • secure IMAP = port 993 (for retrieving emails securely)
  • POP3 = port 110 (for retrieving emails)

Install both Postfix and Dovecot​

Ubuntu 20.04 does not support the combined package "mail-stack-delivery" anymore.

Install Dovecot and Postfix individually:

$ sudo apt install dovecot-imapd dovecot-pop3d
$ sudo apt install postfix

However, the previous config file "/etc/dovecot/conf.d/99-mail-stack-delivery.conf" is still retained for use, because "99" represents the last and overriding config file. This eliminates the need to change the individual config files.

(revised to install individually, 20 Sep 2020)

Reconfigure Postfix


$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure postfix

Use Tab key to change selection.

Select "Internet Site".

Enter the following information:

System mail name: <fully qualified domain name, such as "">
Root and postmaster mail recipient: <such as "kctang">
Other destinations to accept mail: <fully qualified domain name, such as "">, <server name such as "server1">, localhost.localdomain, localhost
Force synchronous updates on mail queue: No
Local networks: [::ffff:]/104 [::1]/128
Use procmail for local delivery: No
Mailbox size limit (bytes): 0
Local address extension character: +
Internet protocols to use: all

Activate the changes:

$ sudo systemctl reload postfix
$ sudo service postfix reload

Edit "" settings:

$ sudo gedit /etc/postfix/


myhostname =
# last line changed from server name to fully qualified domain name,
# otherwise some servers would not accept e-mails sent without fully qualified domain name, 2/4/2014
message_size_limit = 204800000
# last line added to increase the default 10 times, 5/4/2014
# increased to 20 times, 20/9/2018
maximal_queue_lifetime = 0
# last line added to report unsuccessful delivery immediately instead of after the default of 5 days, 12/4/2018
body_checks = regexp: /etc/postfix/body_checks
# last line added to refer to another file to check contents of email bodies, 29/9/2018
header_checks = regexp:/etc/postfix/header_checks
# last line added to check headers, KCTang 30/9/2018

Edit "" settings:

$ sudo gedit /etc/postfix/


smtp      inet  n       -       y       -       -       smtpd
smtps     inet  n       -       y       -       -       smtpd
# last line uncommented
   -o smtpd_sasl_auth_enable=yes
# last line added to enable STARTTLS authentication
   -o smtpd_client_restrictions=permit_sasl_authenticated,reject
# last line added to reject if not authenticated, no space after ","
   -o smtpd_tls_wrappermode=yes
# last line added to force use of TLS
   -o milter_macro_daemon_name=ORIGINATING
# last line added

Create "body_checks" file:

$ sudo gedit /etc/postfix/body_checks

Specify​ one or more lines of texts within //:

/unique text contained in email you do not want to receive/ DISCARD

"DISCARD" means delete from the server.

Create "header_checks" file:

$ sudo gedit /etc/postfix/header_checks

Specify similarly.

(header_checks added 7 May 2019)

Change Dovecot settings

Edit config file:

$ sudo gedit /etc/dovecot/conf.d/99-mail-stack-delivery.conf


mail_location = maildir:~/Maildir:LAYOUT=fs
# LAYOUT=fs added to last line, to use "/" instead of "." to denote sub-folders
# IMAP configuration
protocol imap {
    mail_max_userip_connections = 1000
    # 10 in last line increased to 1000
    imap_client_workarounds = delay-newmail
# POP3 configuration
protocol pop3 {
    mail_max_userip_connections = 50
    # 10 in last line increased to 50
    pop3_client_workarounds = outlook-no-nuls oe-ns-eoh

# The following are additional to those in 15-mailboxes.conf.
# They are to auto create Trash folders.
# Trash folders would not be backed up with back-in-time,
# and therefore would need to be re-created after email recovery is done from back-in-time.
namespace inbox {
    mailbox Trash {
      auto = subscribe

(trash folder setting added 7 May 2019)

Activate the changes:

$ sudo systmctl reload postfix
$ sudo service postfix reload
$ sudo systemctl restart dovecot
$ sudo service dovecot reload

Verify success

See whether the Postfix server is running:

$ telnet localhost 25

should display:

220 ESMTP Postfix (Ubuntu)

ehlo localhost

should display the following:


250-SIZE 102400000






250 DSN


to exit to "telnet >" prompt.


to exit telnet.

Try also:

$ telnet localhost 995


$ telnet localhost 465

should display either one:

Connected to localhost

Connected to


 to exit to "telnet >" prompt.


to exit telnet.

Specify internal email forwarding

Edit "aliases" file:

$ sudo gedit /etc/aliases


postmaster: kctang
webmaster: kctang
kctcl: kctcl, kctclpop


(webmaster added 7 May 2019)

"localhost" means "" in our case. For the email user name before "@", there is no need to create a  file system user account for it if all emails addressed to it are forwarded elsewhere. The name serves as an alias only of the email account forwarded to.

(added 17 May 2019)


Activate setting everytime the "aliases" file has been changed:

$ sudo newaliases


Copy to external email accounts

(section added, 17 May 2019)


$ sudo gedit /etc/postfix/

Specify​ at the end of the file:

virtual_alias_domains =
virtual_alias_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/virtual


$ sudo gedit /etc/postfix/virtual

Specify​ to make a copy to itself and a copy to the external email account:

# from               to one or more addresses, separated by a space

Omit making a copy to itself if only email forwarding is required.

Save and exit.

Execute after the "virtual" file is created or changed:

$ sudo postmap /etc/postfix/virtual


$ sudo systemctl restart postfix

Test by sending emails.

Install anti-virus Clamav-Daemon

(section added, 30 May 2019)

Install clamav-daemon:

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install clamav-daemon            (clamav-freshclam also automatically installed)
$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure clamav-daemon   (must be done, generally accept all defaults, set yes to scan emails)
$ sudo systemctl start clamav-freshclam
$ sudo systemctl start clamav-daemon
$ sudo systemctl status clamav-freshclam    (check if running)
$ sudo systemctl status clamav-daemon       (check if running, OK if reported "/bin/mkdir /run/clamav (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE" because directory already created)
$ tail -f /var/log/clamav/clamav.log        (see running progress, Ctrl-Z to exit)

(typo corrected, 8 May 2020)

Filter spam mails

(section added, 30 May 2019)

Execute to install various software:

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install amavisd-new spamassassin
$ sudo apt install postfix-policyd-spf-python                                 (optionally required for spf) 
$ sudo apt install opendkim                                                   (optionally required for opendkim)
$ sudo apt install pyzor razor                                                (optional extras)
$ sudo apt install arj cabextract cpio lhasa nomarch pax rar unrar unzip zip  ("lhasa", not "lha")

Configure ClamAV:

$ sudo adduser clamav amavis
$ sudo adduser amavis clamav

Configure SpamAssassin:

$ sudo gedit /etc/default/spamassassin

 Change "ENABLED=0" to:


(no longer set here, 8 May 2020)

Start the service:

$ sudo systemctl start spamassassin.service

Configure Amavisd-new:

$ sudo gedit /etc/amavis/conf.d/15-content_filter_mode


use strict;

# Uncomment the two lines below to enable antivirus checking mode

@bypass_virus_checks_maps = (
   \%bypass_virus_checks, \@bypass_virus_checks_acl, \$bypass_virus_checks_re);

# Uncomment the two lines below to enable SPAM checking mode

@bypass_spam_checks_maps = (
   \%bypass_spam_checks, \@bypass_spam_checks_acl, \$bypass_spam_checks_re);

1;  # insure a defined return


$ sudo gedit /etc/amavis/conf.d/20-debian_defaults

Change "D_PASS" to:

$final_spam_destiny = D_DISCARD

(revised,  8 May 2020)

Adjust the following values only if desired to flag more messages as spam:

$sa_tag_level_deflt = 2.0; # add spam info headers if at, or above that level
$sa_tag2_level_deflt = 6.31; # add 'spam detected' headers at that level
$sa_kill_level_deflt = 6.31; # triggers spam evasive actions
$sa_dsn_cutoff_level = 10; # spam level beyond which a DSN is not sent


$ sudo gedit /etc/amavis/conf.d/50-user


$myhostname = '';

Re-start the service:

$ sudo systemctl restart amavis.service

Edit the following file to specify domains to be whitelisted if necessary:

$ sudo gedit /etc/amavis/conf.d/40-policy_banks

Test that the Amavisd-new SMTP is listening:

telnet localhost 10024
Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.
220 [] ESMTP amavisd-new service ready

Press Ctrl-]  and enter "quit" to exit.

Configure Postfix

$ sudo gedit /etc/postfix/

Add the following to the end of the file:

smtp-amavis     unix    -       -       -       -       2       smtp
    -o smtp_data_done_timeout=1200
    -o smtp_send_xforward_command=yes
    -o disable_dns_lookups=yes
    -o max_use=20 inet    n       -       -       -       -       smtpd
    -o content_filter=
    -o local_recipient_maps=
    -o relay_recipient_maps=
    -o smtpd_restriction_classes=
    -o smtpd_delay_reject=no
    -o smtpd_client_restrictions=permit_mynetworks,reject
    -o smtpd_helo_restrictions=
    -o smtpd_sender_restrictions=
    -o smtpd_recipient_restrictions=permit_mynetworks,reject
    -o smtpd_data_restrictions=reject_unauth_pipelining
    -o smtpd_end_of_data_restrictions=
    -o mynetworks=
    -o smtpd_error_sleep_time=0
    -o smtpd_soft_error_limit=1001
    -o smtpd_hard_error_limit=1000
    -o smtpd_client_connection_count_limit=0
    -o smtpd_client_connection_rate_limit=0
    -o receive_override_options=no_header_body_checks,no_unknown_recipient_checks,no_milters

Add the following immediately below the "pickup" transport service:

     -o content_filter=
     -o receive_override_options=no_header_body_checks

Configure Postfix

$ sudo gedit /etc/postfix/

Add the following to the end of the file:

content_filter = smtp-amavis:[]:10024

Comment it with "#" at the start of the line if desired to stop using amavis.

Restart service:

$ sudo systemctl restart postfix.service

Check the hidden header of email received after the above to see the presence of one or more of the following:

X-Virus-Scanned: Debian amavisd-new at

If present, the spam filter is working.

See for a full explanation of the above.


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