I've been running Postfix servers for four years, and one whose reliability is important to me for a year and a half. While it's working well enough, with zero unplanned downtime in that time, I find Postfix configuration to be complete voodoo. In particular:

  1. Rewriting rules - I have no feel for what Postfix is up to. I administered an Exim mail server some years back, whose approach to rewriting made sense to me.
  2. Security - I have internalised no threat model for Postfix. Securing Postfix to me means avoiding changes to config files that don't keep to the letter of advice from a trusted source, and keeping Postfix up-to-date.
  3. Encryption - I'd like to know the role that things like SASL, TLS, &c, can play in the life of a Postfix server.

What should I read to get a clue about these things? I think I'd prefer an article or report to a howto or book.


For my dollar, the postfix web site is very well documented.

  1. address re-writing
  2. security is somewhat addressed in the architecture overview:
  3. TLS and SASL are both addressed as well

If you have some specific questions, I've been running postfix for almost seven years and have been very pleased with both the security and flexibility it offers. Once you get a good understanding of the architecture, understanding the various pieces becomes much easier.

  • Did you find the Postfix site was adequate to get a substantive feel for how Postfix went about things? I certainly count it high among my "trusted sources", but the time I've spent with it so far hasn't yet given me "a good understanding of the architecture". Feb 4 '10 at 19:49
  • well, it's been a long time since I went thru it, but they used to have a very good layout with descriptions of the interactions between the various sub-processes. With a quick read-thru, the architecture overview is a pretty substantial "how this thing works". Beyond that, I've read a few articles about modular (Postfix) versus monolithic (Sendmail) type architectures and I, personally, lean fairly heavily to the modular philosophy. Feb 5 '10 at 2:34
  • Accepted. I can't say I find the official docs easy reading - I think their brains must be wired up differently to mine - but the information is there, and I think I need to be patient, and tolerate the fact that I will often need to read two other pages before i can make sense of the next paragraph. Thank you, btw, for the kind personal offer of assistance. Feb 8 '10 at 14:17
  • anytime...again, if you run into specific issues, please feel free to post up. I've gotten postfix to do some pretty weird things in my time =) Feb 9 '10 at 5:39

If you feel like you still need a guide to get up to speed before using the Postfix web site, I would recommend "The Book of Postfix" by Hildebrandt and Koetter, from No Starch Press.


It may not help you if you are very picky about your environment, however, I find using Webmin a godsend for this sort of thing, it has many templates for mail servers and makes administration as easy as anything!

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