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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Developer Center > Can I host my own e-mail server?

Can I host my own e-mail server?
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kisol007
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May 17, 2004, 02:32 AM
 
I was the lucky recipient of a new G5 recently! And now my trusty (well, it hadn't been for a little while...) B&W G3 is just collecting dust.

I was wondering if I could use it as an email server for a domain I have registered. The company I registered with gives me a couple of "[email protected]" but for a price. I would love not to be paying for this if I could.

It would just be for a couple of accounts (myself and a couple friends) and I have a high-speed connection...

Is this a possibility? If so, any tutorials?

Thanks.

Seth.
     
bens1901
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May 17, 2004, 04:11 AM
 
Hosting your own email server can be a wonderful thing, but it can be horrible too!

All email servers are targets for hackers. Many "spammers" hack into an email server and then use it to distribute their spam to thousands of people. The major email companies maintain their own list of addresses that are used for spam. If you end up on this list, then any email from your server will be blocked.

For example....let's say you have an email address [email protected] , and your site gets hacked. The sites like Yahoo, AOL, and Hotmail may put you on their list. This would cause any email from "myserver.com" to be classified as Junk Mail. Once on the list, it's hard to get off the list. So any email that you send from your accoutn will be tossed in the junk folder by these systems.

I don't have first hand experience with running an email server and the possibility of being hacked by spammers, but several friends have been hacked and they've told me about the headaches invovled.

The moral of this whole story I've told: When running your own email server you should keep a strong firewall and stay up-to-date on the latest security issues and patches.

Good luck.
     
thePurpleGiant
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May 17, 2004, 05:08 AM
 
While I wish you all the best with this, my suggestion would probably be to simply find an 'email only' plan with a host, to save yourself the hassles. The last thing you want is to lose emails or have issues at a critical time, with only yourself to fix it. (ie, no one to blame!!)
     
kisol007  (op)
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May 17, 2004, 10:44 AM
 
OK, I'll have to take all of this into account.

BUT, lets say I DO want to do this, how do I go about it?

Thanks.
     
fc_
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May 17, 2004, 11:51 AM
 
There's an article here that should get you started.

http://www.macdevcenter.com/pub/a/ma...ar_server.html

Good luck!
     
genevish
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May 17, 2004, 04:27 PM
 
I have my personal domain hosted on my home machine. Since it's just for personal email and is not "mission critical" at all, I decided to scrap the mac.com address and host my own.

Using Mac OS X makes it pretty easy. I used the Postfix Enabler tool to set up Postfix for the job. The only problem I had was some ISP's won't accept email sent from a dynamic IP address. I solved this by using DynDNS's MailHop Outbound service. You might be able to relay the mail through your web hosts server.

I don't remember all the steps I took along the way right offhand, so if you need more clarification, let me know.
Scott Genevish
scott AT genevish DOT org
     
kisol007  (op)
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May 17, 2004, 05:18 PM
 
I've been looking into Postfix. People seem to be using that more than the built in Sendmail.... but I am stilll not clear on all this quite yet.

Since your IP address was changing some email would get returned? Did the service you refer to, MailHop, do the job?

Thanks.
     
genevish
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May 17, 2004, 06:11 PM
 
Originally posted by kisol007:
I've been looking into Postfix. People seem to be using that more than the built in Sendmail.... but I am stilll not clear on all this quite yet.

Since your IP address was changing some email would get returned? Did the service you refer to, MailHop, do the job?

Thanks.
You'll need a dynamic hostname for the changing IP address. I use DynDNS. You should be able to sign up for one of their free addresses, then configure your mail exchanger for your main domain to be yourname.dyndns.com. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
Scott Genevish
scott AT genevish DOT org
     
kisol007  (op)
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May 19, 2004, 01:03 AM
 
Thanks!

Also, would it be possible to host a webmail service with this, like webmail.mac.com? It would just be for a handful of people, but that would be cool...

If so, what would people recommend? I went to sourceforge and found a bunch but don't know what would be easiest...

Seth.
     
bygimis
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May 19, 2004, 06:30 AM
 
Originally posted by kisol007:
Thanks!

Also, would it be possible to host a webmail service with this, like webmail.mac.com? It would just be for a handful of people, but that would be cool...

If so, what would people recommend? I went to sourceforge and found a bunch but don't know what would be easiest...

Seth.
I use SquirrelMail for webmail, I have a fixed IP address and use Exim and Courier IMAP for MTA and delivery.

Exim and Squirrel were a sinch, but Courier IMAP was a b**ch to setup - I wanted a MailDir in each users home folder... My live server is Linux now, not Mac, but as I compiled all the sw from source anyway it would be the same on a G5.
Nobody made a greater mistake than
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do a little. Edmund Burke
     
genevish
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May 19, 2004, 01:58 PM
 
I use Squirrelmail here too. Easy to set up and administer. As for IMAP, Postfix enabler has a setting for it. Couldn't be easier.
Scott Genevish
scott AT genevish DOT org
     
Millennium
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May 19, 2004, 02:44 PM
 
If you're going to do this, then it might be a good idea to run it on a non-standard port. This makes configuring e-mail clients slightly more bothersome (you have to remember to set the port), but it will defeat some of the simpler port-scanning scripts.

Yeah, it's security through obscurity, so make sure you have real security measures on hand to back it up. It does, however, make a decent first line of defense; easily breached by anyone above the level of script-kiddie, but the script kiddies are a good 80% of your worries.
You are in Soviet Russia. It is dark. Grue is likely to be eaten by YOU!
     
kisol007  (op)
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May 19, 2004, 06:26 PM
 
Alright, I appreciate the suggestions!

I've been messing around with squirllmail and was wondering if there was a nice resource somewhere to help me out. None of this is really an area of expertise... I spend most of my time on my Mac in FCP, AE and photoshop... but I have a week off here and that is how I was even thinking about this stuff...

Any suggestions (books, internet, etc...) would be great.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I can actually get all this working!

Seth.
     
Simon Mundy
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May 19, 2004, 11:18 PM
 
Originally posted by kisol007:
Alright, I appreciate the suggestions!

I've been messing around with squirllmail and was wondering if there was a nice resource somewhere to help me out. None of this is really an area of expertise... I spend most of my time on my Mac in FCP, AE and photoshop... but I have a week off here and that is how I was even thinking about this stuff...

Any suggestions (books, internet, etc...) would be great.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I can actually get all this working!

Seth.
I highligh recommend http://www.securitysage.com/antispam/postfix.html to get some great insight to setting up Postfix to battle spam, tighten up security and to also get a much better picture of the whole mail delivery process.

Postfix on Linux has been fairly straightforward to setup and maintain, but make sure you keep a watchful eye on patches/updates and general email security notices to ensure you don't get caught out. Having said that, Postfix is a pretty secure program in its own right.

Once you have that setup, you can look at implementing SASL with MySQL, and maintain all your accounts/domains via a web interface like the one that's used at http://www.probsd.net/vmail/
Computer thez nohhh...
     
ppmax
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Jun 1, 2004, 02:01 AM
 
If you do run a mail server be sure to visit this site and run the tests:
http://www.abuse.net/relay.html

Also you can check out your mail log from time to time to see if anyone is using you as a relay.

have fun.
     
philzilla
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Jun 1, 2004, 04:27 PM
 
Originally posted by ppmax:
If you do run a mail server be sure to visit this site and run the tests:
http://www.abuse.net/relay.html

Also you can check out your mail log from time to time to see if anyone is using you as a relay.

have fun.
awesome. mine passed. i'd seen a few attempts in the log, so i was glad to have such a test to put the server through. cheers.
"Have sharp knives. Be creative. Cook to music" ~ maxelson
     
   
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