One of the more frequent requests we get is to put an email server in Amahi. We have an email server in the works (and we’d like to give it a memorable name, BTW, so chip in!), and the team is updating it for the latest Amahi release.
We thought we’d review an interesting book called “Linux E-mail. Setup, maintain and secure a small office e-mail server,” which is apropos for this type of endeavor:
First, as someone who has handled his email server for many years, I can honestly say, email is hard. Or it has become harder and harder over the years. Bounces, authentication schemes, spam, blacklists, retries, timeouts, mutiple accounts per user, security, forwarding, etc., etc.
My advice is: DON’T DO IT!
That probably is not much of a deterrent for the more entrepreneurial of you. Admittedly, running a local and outgoing-only server is easier (and actually manageable, for a small volumes of email) than an incoming email server.
Let’s get on to the book review!
The book is for junior to mid-level system administrators and has 10 chapters, starting with the basics. Chapter 1 covers the basics of the mail-related protocols like SMTP, POP, IMAP, setup basics like DNS and backup servers. Chapter 2 is entirely dedicated to Postfix, configuration and settings. Postfix is my preferred mail transport agent (MTA). The chapter is fairly complete with inbox format, spam settings, use of blacklists, access controls, with various tips on troubleshooting, which come in very helpful.
Next, on the other side of things, the book covers IMAP/POP access for clients, explaining the various tradeoffs nicely, as well as how to configure the desktop clients (Chapter 3). Chapter 4 covers web-based clients, focused mostly on the very popular SquirrelMail, covering installation and configuration. Of course, when we have it in Amahi as an app, it will be one-click install, and pre-configured, of course.
The focus of Chapter 5 is security. This chapter is fairly comprehensive covering SASL/TLS and rate limitation, and it’s really intended for advanced users. However, I was disappointed that it does not cover email signing, which is a must for even medium volumes of email (we know first hand by running the Amahi email services).
We’ll gloss over two chapters dedicated to procmail (which makes “filters” easy), a personal favorite. Suffice it to say that it’s pretty complete coverage. The next two chapters are on spam protection and antivirus. The part on spam protection with SpamAssassin is quite detailed, with three methods and client configuration, though personally, it “just works” for me, without too much configuration as I use a text based client (mutt). Completing the book is the last chapter, about backing up your system. This chapter includes information on more than just email backups. However, the emphasis is in backing up and restoring the email system.
Overall, a great book on running an email server, if you really want to do that (or just have to do it) 😀