We have about 10,000 users in our university. What I'm looking for is which mail server is appropriate for our university? We used daemon before. The most important things for me are stability, trust, and having the best performance with the usual servers.

Someone said Postfix and GMail are the best ones. Can this be a right alternative to using Microsoft Exchange for an alternative to Postfix mail server in the MX layer (this can help when the main server can't recive mails).

Please help me to choose the best one.

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  • 3
    what was wrong with your exchange environment? – Jim B Dec 25 '09 at 18:31
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    @Jim B - well.. i guess at this scale exchange becomes 'interesting' and costly even with all the 'edu' discounts. – pQd Dec 25 '09 at 18:32
  • considering that in the other question they are deploying AD, they are probably already paying for enterprise CALS (I don't think the EDU discount sells anything less) which means they are already mostly paying for exchange. – Jim B Dec 26 '09 at 19:24
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    If people can answer those other questions, then they'll answer them without you bugging them in comments. – womble Dec 27 '09 at 22:50
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    @Jim B: Not everybody wants Exchange et al. For various reasons. – wzzrd Dec 30 '09 at 10:42

It's tough to really give a useful answer as you've included almost no detail in your question. Where are you in the world? Why are you looking at changing? What are the current problems? What is your budget?

If the Exchange/Postfix solution isn't working for you now I'd guess that you have one or more of the following problems:

  • Insufficient budget to purchase appropriate equipment
  • Insufficient budget to pay for Exchange
  • Pressure to increase mailbox size without budget impact
  • Design/Implementation issues
  • Problems attracting and keeping staff with Exchange skills

IMO, unless there is a good reason not to, it doesn't make sense to run on-premise email solutions if you have any combination of the problems that I listed above. I'd recommend using a hosted email solution (Google, Microsoft Live, Microsoft EHS, etc) at least for the students, as these services are usually month to month and you can terminate student accounts at the end of the semester.


i might repeat myself but:

  • for mta - imho postfix is your best choice, but it's a metter of taste and other can argue qmail or exim will do better job.
  • for imap/pop3 access - courier or dovecot
  • tnx for your attention – Ansari Dec 25 '09 at 18:35
  • @ansari - i cannot really advice you on AD part of that question. – pQd Dec 25 '09 at 19:23

How about Google Apps for Education? There are a great number of colleges and universities moving to Google for their mail, and nearly without exception, they all have outstanding reviews of the service.

  • 1
    There can be problems with privacy issues. – cstamas Dec 25 '09 at 23:41
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    @cstamas - Elaborate please? – Chris_K Dec 26 '09 at 6:41
  • except the reviews that came after the recent outages.... :( – gbjbaanb Dec 27 '09 at 2:21
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    @Chris_K: The fact that you're shipping all of your e-mail to a third party service, possibly one in another legal jurisdiction, and one which is known to trawl every byte of data it can get it's hands on to work out how to sell you more ads. – womble Dec 27 '09 at 22:52
  • in addition google apps doesn't support AD integration it only does a directory sync. Federated services from MS that supports SAML is still in beta. – Jim B Dec 28 '09 at 2:02

What's the rest of your environment like? When you have that many users, management and automation becomes a big factor. If you already have a Windows / Active Directory setup then I would ask why you felt that Exchange was not meeting your needs.

Postfix is probably one of the most scalable / well used open source options but you need to think carefully about how it will integrate into your environment, otherwise you or your colleagues will spend far too much time on the management of such a system.


Hi ,

we have about 10000 users in our university ,

A fair number of people. And being a university, many new ones will arrive, and many will leave. So you will have some constant turnover in your user-base.

what i'm looking for is which mail server is appropriate for our uni (we used daemon before) .

There are several mail servers to choose from. By the way, which "daemon" did you use?

the most important things for me are stability , trust , having the best best performance with the usual servers .

Pretty much "standard fare" for mail servers. Go on.

(someones said postfix and qmail are the best ones) can this be a right choice ?

Under the right circumstances, either of those mailers will work just fine. But you need to outline some of your requirements a little more.

using ms exchange and for alternative postfix mail server in the MX layer(this can help when the main server can't recive mails).

This is a pretty typical setup for some companies, as it allows the Exchange server to not be exposed at all to the outside, and there are several Postfix setups that do a decent job of filtering unwanted email and virus attacks.

plz help me to choose the best one .

I think that several people here can recommend different solutions; Postfix + Amavisd + Dovecot has worked fine for me for several years, although that setup has changed for me recently.

Look. I'll just come out and say it, you need to provide more details about your planned deployment. To answer this correctly, you'll need to outline:

  • What percentage of users are permanent (university staff) and what percentage are temporary (students)

  • What kind of email volume you anticipate having. 1,000,000 messages a day? 100,000 daily? Maybe just 25,000?

  • What kind of storage requirements you might need. This will have an impact on performance if you allow users to turn email into their personal filing system (which they sometimes have a bad habit of doing). The larger the attachment size you allow, the more storage you potentially could use.

  • What kind of client access you wish to provide. IMAP over SSL? POP over SSL?

  • What kind of clients are you using? Outlook? Thunderbird? Eudora? OS X Mail?

  • What kind of authentication are you using? Active Directory? Kerberos? Old-fashioned username/password pairs in a flat file?

  • How many servers can you dedicate to this project? 10? 5? Just 1?

  • How many hours are you willing to put into administration and upkeep? 10 hours a day? 2? Just a few minutes?

  • Do you need to back up the data? Do you have sufficient backup storage media to cover your primary storage?

I'm sure there are a few more questions I've missed as I'm writing in a hurry, but this should cover the basics.

  • tnx , about 10% profs and staffs and others are students , i think about 10 per user a day , 50mb students and 150mb others , we want to use as MOSS mailserver too , both pop3 and imap , webmail and Outlook and Thunderbird , Active Directory authentication , 2hp-dl380 for mailcore and mail-services(smtp+imap+pop3) and 3 for MX , we use external hard – Ansari Jan 9 '10 at 10:36

Zimbra Website is a good 'out of the box', 'affordable' (for .edu) option to look at, IMHO - if you're not wanting to build, tweak and integrate a system from the ground up. It is based on Open Source technologies, such as Postfix.

There's a good Exchange compatibility with exchange clients/phones such as outlook/entourage, and the AJAX web interface is quite intuitive as well. It will authenticate to pre-existing AD infrastructure.

Trying not to sound like too much of a Zimbra fanboy - it is good to setup/configure/integrate with FLOSS yourself, however when you have an already existing production userbase, sometimes life is too short to spend time tweaking, or having the risk of things going wrong (with email inevitably lost, or end-users annoyed with disruptions to service).

If you're not concerned about data privacy, both Microsoft and Google have been chasing after .edu business to take up their Live@Edu Microsoft Live@EDU and Google Applications for Education Google services. The main selling points that Microsoft & Google are selling is that

  • The student has that email account 'for life'
  • There is no cost at all for the institution - no more servers / software licensing to worry about
  • Live@EDU & Google authenticate to your .edu pre-existing authentication schema

With budgets becoming tight, a lot of Universities who are at the crossroads of having to upgrade their email infrastructure are choosing either Google or Microsoft 'cloud' email services, purely because the cost is effectively nil.

Good luck in your choice.

  • we have a great backbone for our network , cause of ... we should use our mail server in our uni , we cant use google or microsoft mail services – Ansari Dec 30 '09 at 13:59
  • Is this a legal issue from your university's legal department, or is it just a "We already have the infrastructure, we need to use it" issue? – phuzion Jan 17 '10 at 6:08

Postfix is a really good MTA in most situations, fast, reliable and easy to setup. Exim might come handy when you need to do more advanced kind of things.


Everybody agrees on Postfix being the best MTA and I agree with that.

But you probably want to store those incoming emails somewhere. I had the best experience with Cyrus IMAPD which allows for "virtual" users to be created, ie. those that do not have login accounts on the mail server. With Cyrus you can put user account details in local files, or pull them from MySql or LDAP. It's a very flexible system.


I've heard good things about Zimbra, you find out more here http://www.zimbra.com/

I've also seen many universities in the UK use Microsofts Live@Edu service (http://www.microsoft.com/liveatedu/free-hosted-student-email.aspx)

I agree, that if your already paying for Exchange, then this would be the best solution for your privacy and service uptime concerns.

  • +1 for the Zimbra recommendation. – ktower Jan 4 '10 at 14:36

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