Laura Arjona Reina

Self hosting a mail server?

Laura Arjona Reina at

It looks like a good idea to self host a mail server (for me, for my familiy): it's a way of communicate that I really love, supports encryption, and if the server is down, delivery will be retried for several times (even days!). It can be done in a complete free as in freedom software stack.

Email scales beautifully without anybody at the center keeping all of it. We need to make a mail server for people that costs five bucks and sits on the kitchen counter where the telephone answering machine used to be, and that s the end of it. If it breaks you throw it away. ("Snowden and the Future, Part IV: Freedom's Future" by Eben Moglen ) (edited to add a closing parenthesis so I don't go mad)

Eben Moglen says "we need to make" so that means that we are not there yet. Spam fighting, other servers mark your mails as spam, people not remembering your email address, difficult to maintain... Many fears that I would like somebody to tell me that they are only #FUD, but I'm afraid is not so easy as setting up a Wordpress (wink to Mike Linksvayer) or even a Mediagoblin (wink to Christopher Allan Webber). Some of my heroes here, jpope and sazius, host almost their everything but not their email. Many free software communities offer email alias to their full-qualified members, I wonder why an email alias and not an email account, given that it's a so basic need (even Universities offer that to their students) and the communication of the project is based on that in many cases too. Maybe legal reasons?

So, I'm going to try to read a bit about this topic, and maybe do some test installs of mail server. From this lovely pump community, what I would like is:

  • Practical experiences (for example, if you run your own mail server, hardware and other kind of needs, the software stack that you use, the good and the bad things).
  • Thoughts on that paragraph by Eben Moglen. If agree with it, and if you know projects that are working on that.
  • Any other comments that you like :)

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Yutaka Niibe, Olivier Mehani, Olivier Mehani, Mike Linksvayer shared this.

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I'm running citadel cause I can't figure out all that...postfix dovecot...whatever I gave up. If you're looking for a quick and idiotproof email solution, take it from an idiot, citadel is it (I'm using citadel-suite from the debian repos)

aether at 2013-12-10T18:51:43Z

I've translated the note to Spanish, it's here

He traducido la nota al español, está aquí

Thanks everybody for your comments! ¡Gracias a todos por los comentarios!

Laura Arjona Reina at 2013-12-10T19:56:41Z

Andrew E likes this.

@Hugo Roy: Ah, right. I forgot about sending. I just have the reverse PTR set (an issue for a home ISP server) and appropriate SPF DNS records set on my iWeb servers, but I guess the default reverse PTR records from a home ISP might cause issues with some spam filters?

Didn't think about considerations for sending directly from a home server -- even my home server just relays outgoing mail through my iWeb SMTP server now, so it's not a direct issue for me at the moment... But, home connections aside, a reverse PTR record and SPF record typically do the trick for avoiding getting caught in spam filters. (That, and keeping the server secure...)

Blaise Alleyne at 2013-12-11T17:13:53Z

ISPs submit ther dynamic IP blocks to the Spamhaus Policy Block List as a matter of course (the PBL is a list of IP addresses for which the owners have said that as a matter of network policy will never originate E-Mail)

This is a win for the ISPs (it makes the blocks useless to spambots) and, to be honest, I can't see any reason why the situation would change.

As for E-Mail: I think half of the reason why setting up an E-Mail server is so scary because it's an essential service. If E-Mail goes wrong, we drop off the net.

As for myself: I setup and mostly configured my new VPS to handle E-Mail a month ago, but haven't cut over to it yet due to the difficulty of extracting all the mail from my GMail account. Now that Google have announced Google Takeout for GMail, that should be a lot easier (And thanks, Google, for demonstrating that you do still care about data portability)

Owen Shepherd at 2013-12-13T10:57:12Z