New on the mail server stack

One of the premises of Ubuntu is to pick one particular tool to do a particular job and focus on making that tool do the job well. For mail servers we’ve been gradually fleshing out a complete, solid stack to do the job. The long standing lineup is:
MTA (Mail Transfer Agent – the mail server): Postfix
MDA (Mail Delivery Agent – puts mail in the mailbox) Dovecot
In Hardy we added amavisd-new to Main to be a ‘hub’ for spam and virus filtering.
Now in Intrepid, clamav and spamassassin have been promoted to Main and so will have official security support. Ubuntu community developers (mostly me) have been supporting those packages well since Feisty was released, so the technical impact of official support isn’t likely to be great, but I imagine Canonical security support will bring piece of mind to some.
I think we have a pretty complete selection here. Dovecot is also recommended for SASL authentication.
What we lack is an easy way to get all these pieces easily integrated. I made some progress with adding some scripts to the postfix package to make it easier to integrate SMTP filters like amavisd-new and policy servers with your postfix setup (I’ll probably do a separate posting on those later). I had planned to use them to deliver an easy fully integrated Postfix, Amavisd-new, Clamav, Spamassassin experience. Unfortunately the Postfix pieces didn’t land until just before Feature Freeze, so that’s as far as we got for Intrepid. I’ll pick that up for Jaunty and we’ll see how far I can get it for 9.04.
In yesterday’s post on clamav, I should have probably mentioned that the Ubuntu clamav package grew an apparmor profile (thanks jdstrand) for Intrepid, so there’s that security bonus too.

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3 Responses to “New on the mail server stack”


  1. 1 jimcooncat October 23, 2008 at 13:43

    This is wonderful. I hope it will eventually become as simple to use on Ubuntu as LAMP is now.

  2. 2 Craig October 25, 2008 at 21:45

    I once asked jdub (at a conference) why Ubuntu went with postfix over Exim (and thus deviated from Debian) – his answer was along the lines of “Canonical hired the postfix author”, which seems to be totally unverifiable.
    Do you have a perspective on why this happened? I can only find conjecture and people making changes based on the decision, no rationale for the decision itself.
    (ob-disclaimer: I used to use amavisd-new (and Mailscanner before) and find Exim’s built in spam and AV filtering to be far superior. It’s a shame it will not be put in front of more people by default. In saying that, Debian’s conf.d system for Exim could well have been to blame, as it was hugely offputting to a lot of Exim SAs!)

  3. 3 ScottK October 27, 2008 at 10:55

    Wietse Venema works for IBM. See http://www.porcupine.org/wietse/ . The selection was before my time. I picked Postfix before I picked Ubuntu as it seems to suit my particular requirements better (I know lots of people swear by other MTAs, but Postfix works for me).
    In general the Ubuntu philosophy is to pick a single tool for a job and focus on making it work well, so focusing on one MTA fits. I’ve no idea why they picked Postfix, but I’m glad they did. Exim is in the Main Ubuntu repository so it has Canonical security support. Enough senior Ubuntu developers are interested in the package I wouldn’t hesitate to use Ubuntu for Exim if that’s your preference.


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