Setup Mail Server using Postfix, Dovecot and SquirrelMail in CentOS

Before install postfix, remove sendmail from the server. Because sendmail is the default MTA in Redhat/CentOS.
[[email protected] ~]# yum remove sendmail


  • The mail server should contain a valid MX record in the DNS server. Navigate to this link how to setup DNS server.
  • Firewall and SELinux should be disabled.
[[email protected] ~]# service iptables stop
[[email protected] ~]# service ip6tables stop
[[email protected] ~]# chkconfig iptables off
[[email protected] ~]# chkconfig ip6tables off
[[email protected] ~]# vi /etc/selinux/config
# This file controls the state of SELinux on the system.
# SELINUX= can take one of these three values:
#     enforcing - SELinux security policy is enforced.
#     permissive - SELinux prints warnings instead of enforcing.
#     disabled - No SELinux policy is loaded.
# SELINUXTYPE= can take one of these two values:
#     targeted - Targeted processes are protected,
#     mls - Multi Level Security protection.

Reboot the server.


In this tutorial my test box
  • Hostname     =
  • IP Address    =
And my server is configured with proper MX record in DNS server.


Postfix is installed by default. If it is not installed, use the below command to install postfix.
[[email protected] ~]# yum install postfix


Open the postfix config file /etc/postfix/ Find the below lines and edit them as shown below.
[[email protected] ~]# vi /etc/postfix/
myhostname = ##line no 75 - uncomment and enter your host name
mydomain =  ##line no 83 - uncomment and enter your domain name 
myorigin = $mydomain  ##line no 99 - uncomment
inet_interfaces = all  ##line no 116 - change to all
mydestination = $myhostname, localhost.$mydomain, localhost, $mydomain  ##line no 164 - add $domain at the end
mynetworks =,  ##line no 264 - uncomment and add your network range
home_mailbox = Maildir/  ##line no 419 - uncomment
Start the postfix service.
[[email protected] ~]# service postfix start
Starting postfix:                                          [  OK  ]
[[email protected] ~]# chkconfig postfix on

Test Postfix

The commands shown in bold letters should be entered by the user.
Note: The dot after the test command is important.
[[email protected] ~]# telnet localhost smtp
Trying ::1...
Connected to localhost.
Escape character is '^]'.
220 ESMTP Postfix
ehlo localhost
250-SIZE 10240000
250 DSN
mail from:<user1>
250 2.1.0 Ok
rcpt to:<user1>
250 2.1.5 Ok
354 End data with <CR><LF>.<CR><LF>
250 2.0.0 Ok: queued as 117113FF18
221 2.0.0 Bye
Connection closed by foreign host.

Check Mail

Navigate to the user mail directory and check for the new mail.
[[email protected] ~]# cd /home/user1/Maildir/new/
[[email protected] new]# ls
[[email protected] new]# cat 
Return-Path: <[email protected]>
X-Original-To: user1
Delivered-To: [email protected]
Received: from localhost (localhost [IPv6:::1])
 by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 117113FF18
 for <user1>; Thu,  7 Feb 2013 17:05:32 +0530 (IST)
Message-Id: <[email protected]>
Date: Thu,  7 Feb 2013 17:05:32 +0530 (IST)
From: [email protected]
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Thats it. Postfix working now.

Install Dovecot

[[email protected] ~]# yum install dovecot

Configure Dovecot

Open the dovecot config file /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf. Find and uncomment the line as shown below.
[[email protected] ~]# vi /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf
protocols = imap pop3 lmtp
Open the file /etc/dovecot/conf.d/10-mail.conf and uncomment the line as shown below.
[[email protected] ~]# vi /etc/dovecot/conf.d/10-mail.conf
mail_location = maildir:~/Maildir  ##line no 24 - uncomment
Open the /etc/dovecot/conf.d/10-auth.conf and edit as shown below.
[[email protected] ~]# vi /etc/dovecot/conf.d/10-auth.conf
disable_plaintext_auth = no  ##line no 9 - uncomment and change from yes to no.
auth_mechanisms = plain login  ##line no 97 - add the text "login"
Open the /etc/dovecot/conf.d/10-master.conf and edit as shown below.
unix_listener auth-userdb {
    #mode = 0600
    user = postfix  ##line no 83 - uncomment and enter postfix
    group = postfix  ##line no 84 - uncomment and enter postfix
Start the dovecot service.
[[email protected] ~]# service dovecot start
Starting Dovecot Imap:                                     [  OK  ]
[[email protected] ~]# chkconfig dovecot on

Test Dovecot

The commands shown in bold should be entered by the user.
[[email protected] ~]# telnet localhost pop3
Trying ::1...
Connected to localhost.
Escape character is '^]'.
+OK Dovecot ready.
user user1
pass user1
+OK Logged in.
+OK 1 messages:
1 428
retr 1
+OK 428 octets
Return-Path: <[email protected]>
X-Original-To: user1
Delivered-To: [email protected]
Received: from localhost (localhost [IPv6:::1])
 by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 117113FF18
 for <user1>; Thu,  7 Feb 2013 17:05:32 +0530 (IST)
Message-Id: <[email protected]>
Date: Thu,  7 Feb 2013 17:05:32 +0530 (IST)
From: [email protected]
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
+OK Logging out.
Connection closed by foreign host.
[[email protected] ~]#
Dovecot is working now.

Install Squirrelmail

Install EPEL repository first. And install SquirrelMail package from EPEL repository.
[[email protected] ~]# wget
[[email protected] ~]# rpm -ivh epel-release-6-8.noarch.rpm 
[[email protected] ~]# yum install squirrelmail
[[email protected] ~]# service httpd start
Starting httpd:                                            [  OK  ]
[[email protected] ~]# chkconfig httpd on
[[email protected] ~]#

Configure Squirrelmail

Go to the squirrelmail config directory and use the command ./ to start configure as shown below.

[[email protected] ~]# cd /usr/share/squirrelmail/config/
[[email protected] config]# ./ 
SquirrelMail Configuration : Read: config.php (1.4.0)
Main Menu --
1.  Organization Preferences
2.  Server Settings
3.  Folder Defaults
4.  General Options
5.  Themes
6.  Address Books
7.  Message of the Day (MOTD)
8.  Plugins
9.  Database
10. Languages
D.  Set pre-defined settings for specific IMAP servers
C   Turn color off
S   Save data
Q   Quit
Command >>1

Select option 1 and set organization details.

SquirrelMail Configuration : Read: config.php (1.4.0)
Organization Preferences
1.  Organization Name      : Ostechnix
2.  Organization Logo      : ../images/sm_logo.png
3.  Org. Logo Width/Height : (308/111)
4.  Organization Title     : Welcome to Ostechnix webmail
5.  Signout Page           : 
6.  Top Frame              : _top
7.  Provider link          :
8.  Provider name          : Ostechnix
R   Return to Main Menu
C   Turn color off
S   Save data
Q   Quit
Command >>R

Press R to return main menu and select option 2. Enter your domain name and select dovecot in the Sendmail or SMTP parameter.

SquirrelMail Configuration : Read: config.php (1.4.0)
Server Settings
1.  Domain                 :
2.  Invert Time            : false
3.  Sendmail or SMTP       : SMTP
A.  Update IMAP Settings   : localhost:143 (uw)
B.  Update SMTP Settings   : localhost:25
R   Return to Main Menu
C   Turn color off
S   Save data
Q   Quit
Command >> S

Once you done, press S to save datas and press Q to exit.
Add the following lines in the httpd.conf file at the end.
[[email protected] ~]# vi /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf
Alias /squirrelmail /usr/share/squirrelmail
<Directory /usr/share/squirrelmail>
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
    RewriteEngine On
    AllowOverride All
    DirectoryIndex index.php
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
Restart the httpd service.
[[email protected] ~]# service httpd restart
Stopping httpd:                                            [  OK  ]
Starting httpd:                                            [  OK  ]
[[email protected] ~]#

Create Users

[[email protected] ~]# useradd user1
[[email protected] ~]# useradd user2
[[email protected] ~]# passwd user1
[[email protected] ~]# passwd user2
Open the browser from any clients. Type the following in the address bar.
Now let us compose a mail from user1 to user2. Refer a below screenshot.
Then sign-out and sign-in back from user2.
Thats it. We have got a mail from user1. If you have any issues in the configuration, post them in the comment section.
Have a good day.

31 Responses

  1. uday says:

    this tuto is gr8. But can you help on Virtual Domain , with multiple emails ids,,

  2. Bardia says:

    The best tutorial I have ever found! Thank you so much 🙂

  3. Dasanro says:

    Thanks for that tutorial.

    I’ve the trouble that I can only send emails to the address on the server, when I send to an email outside my server like to gmail, hotmail,… I don’t receive anyone.
    An other problem is that when I send to [email protected] from [email protected] the user1 receive duplicate the email.

    What I do wrong in the configuration?

    If I set up again the iptables it doesn’t work so the iptables is always disable, so How can I do to turn on again the iptables and selinux to have protect my server and continue going on the mail server?


    Best regards 😉

    • SK says:

      Hi Dasanro

      You need a static(Real) IP and the IP Address should be point to your mail domain. Also you need to add the valid MX records of Mail server in your DNS server. Get help from your ISP(Internet service provider). They will point your IP Address to your Mail domain.

      This should work. Hope this help you.

  4. Todd Tolson says:

    Excelent tutorial. Followed to the letter and got the result expected. Problem being the newbie:
    when I attempt to send mail to external domains using the SquirrelMail Web interface this is what I get:

    Transaction failed
    554 5.7.1 : Relay access denied

    I do have a statice IP. I configured DNS at godaddy; A Record mail2 70.x.x.x; MX Record pri 0
    localhost.localdomain at install is:
    I believe my problem is with my understanding/execution of DNS. I used this great tutorial to set that up:
    with that as the basis, what changes do I make to get this working externally? The follow on will be: my intent is to further use this as a secondary mail server to spool mail when my failing exchange server goes down.
    Help! Thanks

    • SK says:

      Todd Have you seen this thread? Somebody had same problem and its solved.

      • Todd Tolson says:

        [SOLVED] A review of my logfiles revealed the “relay access denied” referrenced an IPv6 address. So, in the /etc/postfix/ file I changed line 116 to read: inet_interfaces = ipv4
        Viola! We have outgoinjg mail. With that fixed I had a primary mail server for that domain and setup/tested for use as a secondary mail server for four other domains I service MS Exchange Server for. GREAT setup – thanks again!

  5. TS says:

    Hi SK. Thanks for posting your tutorial. I’m very appreciative and have gotten further due to your tutorials since I’m a newbie. I followed all steps and now I’m getting the same result as Todd Tolson. I did look at the thread you referenced and the parameters posted did not resolve the issue. Do you have any more insight to share? Thanks in advance.

    • Todd Tolson says:

      [SOLVED] A review of my logfiles revealed the “relay access denied” referrenced an IPv6 address. So, in the /etc/postfix/ file I changed line 116 to read: inet_interfaces = ipv4
      Viola! We have outgoinjg mail.

      • Todd Tolson says:

        Also, assuming you have a static external IP address, once you can send yourself mail to an external address you’ll need to contact your ISP so they cant create a PTR at their DNS servers so reverse DNS points to your mail server. Many exchanges check reverse DNS to validate your mail server is legitimate and if the banner doesn’t match they reject your mail.

      • SK says:

        Great find Todd!! Glad it worked for you.

  6. Saravanan says:

    This is very usful tutorial for me. And one more thing can u please say how to send from this mail server to other domain for Ex: my mailserver to other mail server like gmail or yahoo.can u please say the configuration details for me

  7. Saravanan says:

    i have 2 static ip address am using a airtel lease line they have proved me two external static ip address. now what i want to know is how to configure this process in my mail server.

    • Todd Tolson says:

      Assumption: You followed SK’s two tutorial’s exactly modifying only your domain information.

      First, can you send mail internally using SquirellMail? (eg. If yes, when you use SquirllMail to send mail to an external domain (gmail, yahoo) what error(s) do you get?

      Have you gone to your host provider and setup the DNS MX recorder to reflect your external address?

      Have you contacted your ISP to create a PTR record to resolve reverse DNS for your external IP to your MX domain?

    • SK says:

      @Saravanan follow Mr.Todd Tolson advice. His mail server is now up and running. All you need to do is contact your ISP provider and ask them to add a MX record of your mail server in their DNS servers. Then you will be able to send/receive mails to external domains. Good luck.

  8. Fernando says:

    great tutorial mate! thank’s!

  9. Sarge says:

    Nothing about spam protection. Maybe you could modify the tutorial to include something about that. Thanks alot for the great tutorial.

  10. Jose says:

    I am so grateful for that tutorial. But what i want to know is that is it a must for me to have a DNS server configured on my LAN for the mail server to work, Do i also need to configure iptables on my mail server and if yes what commands must i configure.

  11. Taylor says:

    Thanks a lot for the tutorial it helped me out a lot! I have configured everything on the Ubuntu server, and have setup a client Ubuntu system all within virtualbox. Now i am a rather confused as to what network settings the server and client machine should have (either NAT or Internal ?) because at the moment with both using NAT they cannot see/connect to one another. Also to note the Ubuntu server is set to dhcp instead of static within /etc/network/interfaces . Thanks a lot for the replies

  12. SK says:


    Use SMTP. It should work.

  13. shekh sohil says:

    Thanks sir

  14. Baskar says:

    Hi Sir,
    Thanks for tutorial. and pls share many tips for Linux Configuration.

  15. Sumith says:

    Hello Sk really great doc… thanks a lot friend

  16. Lee says:

    Great tutorial! Thanks!

  17. Ronald says:

    Great guide good sir. It worked!

  18. Vincent Yang says:

    Excellent tutorial!

    I am interesting how to run two mail domain on one linux instance. Is there any way to do this?

  19. Rick says:

    Excellent tutorial!

  20. raj says:

    This tutorial is very excellent.

  21. Ratha Heng says:

    I would like to ask how to create group mail and add user to that group mail.
    I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.
    Thanks in advance!

  22. Nomi Nouman says:

    i follow your tutorial after i configure i have a problem “Transaction failed
    554 5.7.1 : Relay access denied” how can i fix this issue kindly help thanks

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