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I would like to install an extremely small mail server on my VPS and I am only interested in it sending out mail (activation links) from my web site. I don't need it to support mailboxes or incoming mail (although having that option for the future might be nice).

The main requirement is that I don't have to worry about monitoring it as often and protecting against people bouncing messages off my server or wasting resources with incoming mail. I just want to send mail out. So something small that only listens on localhost would be ideal. The other requirement is that it is documented so I can learn how to set it up and manage it.

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I found an article using Exim – Xeoncross Jun 3 '10 at 2:15
up vote 8 down vote accepted

There are multiple options:

  • There are several SMTP clients that just allow sending of mail via a regular ("relaying") SMTP server. That is the simplest solution for "just sending". You could use e.g. MSMTP or sendemail (not be confused with sendmail, which is anything but simple ;-))
  • There are many libraries to send email directly from various languages, e.g. JavaMail or Mail::Sendmail. If you want to send mail from a program, this may be the best approach.
  • Finally, many full-featured email servers are easy to set up as send-only servers. Postfix has a good reputation in this respect, though there are others. Exim on Debian also can easily be configured on installation to only allow sending of mail. This makes it easy to later transition to a "real" mail server.

So take your pick...

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+1 for Postfix. I'd recommend this, even though it is a full-featured e-mail server. It's still small and quick, and easily allows for future expansion. – Paul Kroon Jun 3 '10 at 2:17
If you want really small go with a relaying SMTP server. You do run the risk of dropped email if the real SMTP server is down. If you only want it to send activation links, point your software at the email server instead of localhost. – BillThor Jun 3 '10 at 13:47

Just to be complete, Courier fits all those requirements. All (well, most) of it's bits'n'pieces need to be explicitly turned on, so you can install it, and only enable the MTA. Courier also supports MSA mode, which means is an MTA listening on a different port and with some relaxed rules for accepting mail. That's almost enough for you right out-of-the-box.

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Just configure it correctly and let it run.

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The trick is in the "configure it correctly" part. – mpez0 Jun 4 '10 at 15:49

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