Postfix Setup

1. Postfix usage

I use postfix as daemon that will accept delivery of mail and process it. Processing mail includes storing it locally so it can be read by a pop3/imap daemon, or forwarding the mail onwards, optionally to multiple recipients.

The official website is at

2. Intial Postfix Setup

Install packages


Local mail storage

If you want to store mail locally, then these steps must be done first.

  1. Choose a unix user that will keep the mail to be stored locally. I've chosen 'vmail'.

    Create the unix user 'vmail'. This is the unix user that has permissions to read and write the mail files that are stored locally.

    # useradd vmail
  2. Create the mail storage directory

    I've chosen /var/mail/vhosts as my directory. Each user's mail will be stored in their own subdirectory under this directory.

    # mkdir /var/mail/vhosts

    Change permission on the directory so only the 'vmail' has access to it.

    # chown vmail:vmail  /var/mail/vhosts
  3. Remember the uid and gid of the 'vmail' user.

    # cat /etc/passwd | grep vmail

    In this case the uid and gid is 1234

  4. Edit postfig config /etc/postfix/

    virtual_uid_maps = static:1234
    virtual_gid_maps = static:1234
    virtual_mailbox_base = /var/mail/vhosts

    Make sure the number matches the 'vmail' user uid and gid, otherwise postfix will not have permissions to store the mail.

    Make sure virtual_mailbox_base points to your chosen mail storage directory.

  5. Add virtual_alias_maps

    virtual_alias_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/virtual

    Copy and forwards config will be stored in /etc/postfix/virtual

  6. Add virtual_mailbox_maps

    virtual_mailbox_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/vmailbox

    Local mailboxes will be defined in /etc/postfix/vmailbox

3. Setup per domain

Add mail exchanger to DNS

Setup DNS so the mail exchanger points to the same server that postfix will be running.

To check that DNS is correct, run

$ nslookup -type=MX

Non-authoritative answer:      mail exchanger = 300

The mail exchanger domain should be where postfix is running.

4. Setup per email

This is assuming you want to setup email only, and the user does not need a unix login to read their mail.

Modify virtual_mailbox_domains

Edit /etc/postfix/ and add the domain to the list of virtual_mailbox_domains.

Make sure the domain isn't listed in mydestination, this is for normal unix mail.

Add a mailbox

If you want to have this mail stored locally, so it can be accessed via pop3 or imap, you can add an entry into /etc/postfix/vmailbox.

If your email looks like, then add the following line:

Remember to add the trailing slash, so mail is stored in a mailbox format usable by courier-imap.

Add forwards and copies

You can have this mail delivered locally to another existing vmailbox, and forwarded elsewhere. e.g. send a copy to gmail

Edit /etc/postfix/virtual,,

If you only want to forward the mail to gmail, use something like will have no mail stored locally on the server.

reload postfix

To make the changes take effect, rebuild the configuration. A corresponding file with extension ".db" will appear

Then reload postfix.

# postmap /etc/postfix/vmailbox
# postmap /etc/postfix/virtual
# postfix reload
postfix/postfix-script: refreshing the Postfix mail system


Send an example from an external system to the new email. If you expected mails to be delivered locally, check the directory /var/mail/vhosts/$email_domain/$email_username. In the above example you should be checking that /var/mail/vhosts/ has new files appearing.

Check logs at /var/log/mail.log.

Setup pop3 and imap access

See Courier IMAP Setup.