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I'm new to server hosting and whatnot, but I have a question regarding SMTP servers. I have an old computer lying around and would like to make use of it. Is it possible for me to have this machine act as an SMTP server? It will only be sending/receiving emails, not hosting anything. What would be the best way to set one up and will I be able to have any outgoing name as alias, if I own the domain name?


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I see some votes to close this as belonging on superuser...while it might since it is about a home system, this is an email server, and people who set them up at home do something that can affect other system admins. If he really wants to learn about mail administration, let's keep the question here, no? – Bart Silverstrim Jan 28 '10 at 22:41
@Bart, I agree. The Op never said it was about a home system, so that's just people making assumptions, which generally ends in tears. I have heaps of old machines lying around the office and if I wanted to turn one into an MTA, I would ask here. – Mark Henderson Jan 28 '10 at 23:31
up vote 1 down vote accepted

yes, you could. I'd probably install a small linux distro. But you should definitely read up on mail administration and if you use this for other people (or want your own email to be reliably available) you would need to look at backups and some form of redundancy.

You should also look into your ISP terms of service to make sure it's allowed.

Also get a dedicated connection with a dedicated IP, not one that frequently changes or periodically changes via DHCP to your DSL/Cable modem.

You'll also want to read up on your spam filtering and security; if your system gets hijacked, you'll become a relay for sending spam. You will want to familiarize yourself with outside websites that will test your system for common misconfiguration issues.

If you're completely new to system administration you might not realize just how difficult it can be to properly administer an email server...

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Hi, I am quite new to this, so I think I'll just mess around for learning sake right now. Thanks for the pointers, it's much appreciated! – user33195 Jan 28 '10 at 22:41
Have a look at a how-to for postfix, a popular mail server: – gbjbaanb Jan 28 '10 at 23:14
Thanks, I'll look into postfix. Seems relatively straight forward to get up and running with. – user33195 Jan 29 '10 at 19:33

If you want to expand beyond the Linux distro world yet still stay small-footprint, check out installing FreeBSD. It comes with Sendmail (general ugh, but good enough out of the box) as part of the base install. You didn't say how little your old computer has, but FreeBSD should run just fine on something as little as 64M.

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Sendmail is really, in my opinion (and at the risk of raising ire), complicated for newcomers to configure in anything but the simplest defaults. Postfix is great as a drop in replacement, but there are other favorites out there. I personally used postfix a few times and liked the simplicity in configuration and getting modules plugged into it like ClamAV for inline virus scanning, and FreeBSD is a good choice also for running a server. Active community willing to help newcomers. – Bart Silverstrim Jan 29 '10 at 0:38

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