Configure Postfix, PostfixAdmin, Dovecot & SMTP-Auth SASL Using MySQL on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS


This article sets out the steps needed to support multiple domains and their users’ email accounts allowing them to recieve emails via secure IMAP and send emails via a secure SMTP server using their POP3/IMAP credentials.  This is particularly useful for mobile users (road warrior) who may not have a consistent ISP provided SMTP server.

  • Recieve emails, using IMAPS or POP3S via Dovecot
  • Configuring Postfix to receive and send emails for virtual domain, and emails accounts
  • Configure SASL to provide a method of authenticating users email users to allow them access to the Postfix SMTP in order to send emails securely.
  • Easy delegated management of virtual domain mailboxes using PostfixAdmin

This article has been put together from countless other articles so that it should provide an all inclusive set of instructions.


This setup is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS using Postfix as the Mail Transport Agent (MTA), Postfixadmin and its associated Mysql tables handling multiple virtual domain and user mailboxes.  Dovecot as the method to allow IMAP(s) POP3(s) to pick up email messages, with SASL SMTP AUTH for external authenticated users being allow to send email from other networks.

In order to get this working the following additional packages are required :

  • mysql-server
  • mysql-client
  • postfix
  • postfix-mysql
  • postfix-doc
  • dovecot-common
  • dovecot-imap
  • dovecot-pop3d
  • dovecot-mysql
  • libsasl2-2
  • libsasl2-modules
  • libsasl2-modules-sql
  • sasl2-bin
  • libpam-mysql
  • openssl
  • telnet
  • mailutils

To install the above issue the following command (you might have to prefix below with sudo to elevate priveledges if you are not root) :

apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client postfix postfix-mysql postfix-doc dovecot-common dovecot-mysql dovecot-imapd dovecot-pop3d libsasl2-2 libsasl2-modules libsasl2-modules-sql sasl2-bin libpam-mysql openssl telnet mailutils

This will install all the neccesary packages, during the mysql-server install you will be prompted to choose a root password for MySQL, please make sure you choose a complex password preferable consisting of numbers and letters.  Keep this in a safe place for future reference.

During the postfix installation, the following will be displayed, as below please select the option Internet Site and continue.

The next screen prompts you for the ‘System mail name’ this should be your fully qualified domain name (FQDN).  What is this? Well this should be the domain name of your external presence on the web.  Treat is as the parent domain name, it is the domain that your clients expect to administer their site e.g.

This completes the package installation steps.  Next, its time to set up the MySQL database to handle the virtual domains and user’s email boxes.

5 thoughts on “Configure Postfix, PostfixAdmin, Dovecot & SMTP-Auth SASL Using MySQL on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

  1. AAAaarrgh, SOOOooo close 🙂
    This whole setup was going along absolutely Bang On. Just systematic clockwork, then couldn’t connect at the testing phase.
    Great Post though. I’m really surprised no one else has posted on this tut. as it is the perfect setup in my mind.

    Question for the owner… Could you put the versions of the packages you’re using up for us? I’ll still have to work out how to install them on my system, but that would be a great help. Dovecot upgrades are proving a real hassle to a lot of us. Specially without updated tuts.

    Again, great post, hope to hear about those package versions too.


  2. Thanks for your support, I know it’s a challenge to get all these components to work. TBH I didn’t pay too much attention to the package version, just got the standard versions of the packages that come with the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Server. I have broken them down as follows hope you manage to get you installation working soon:
    ii dovecot-common 1:2.0.19-0ubuntu2 Transitional package for dovecot
    ii dovecot-imapd 1:2.0.19-0ubuntu2 secure IMAP server that supports mbox, maildir, dbox and mdbox mailboxes
    ii dovecot-mysql 1:2.0.19-0ubuntu2 MySQL support for Dovecot
    ii dovecot-pop3d 1:2.0.19-0ubuntu2 secure POP3 server that supports mbox, maildir, dbox and mdbox mailboxes
    ii libmailutils2 1:2.2+dfsg1-5 GNU Mail abstraction library
    ii libpam-mysql 0.7~RC1-4build3 PAM module allowing authentication from a MySQL server
    ii libsasl2-2 2.1.25.dfsg1-3ubuntu0.1 Cyrus SASL – authentication abstraction library
    ii libsasl2-modules 2.1.25.dfsg1-3ubuntu0.1 Cyrus SASL – pluggable authentication modules
    ii libsasl2-modules-sql 2.1.25.dfsg1-3ubuntu0.1 Cyrus SASL – pluggable authentication modules (SQL)
    ii mailutils 1:2.2+dfsg1-5 GNU mailutils utilities for handling mail
    ii mysql-client 5.5.31-0ubuntu0.12.04.1 MySQL database client (metapackage depending on the latest version)
    ii mysql-client-5.5 5.5.31-0ubuntu0.12.04.1 MySQL database client binaries
    ii mysql-client-core-5.5 5.5.31-0ubuntu0.12.04.1 MySQL database core client binaries
    ii mysql-server 5.5.31-0ubuntu0.12.04.1 MySQL database server (metapackage depending on the latest version)
    rc mysql-server-5.1 5.1.63-0ubuntu0.11.10.1 MySQL database server binaries and system database setup
    ii mysql-server-5.5 5.5.31-0ubuntu0.12.04.1 MySQL database server binaries and system database setup
    ii mysql-server-core-5.5 5.5.31-0ubuntu0.12.04.1 MySQL database server binaries
    ii openssl 1.0.1-4ubuntu5.8 Secure Socket Layer (SSL) binary and related cryptographic tools
    ii postfix 2.9.3-2~12.04.2 High-performance mail transport agent
    ii postfix-mysql 2.9.3-2~12.04.2 MySQL map support for Postfix
    ii postfix-policyd-spf-perl 2.009-1 Simple Postfix policy server for RFC 4408 SPF checking
    ii python-openssl 0.12-1ubuntu2 Python wrapper around the OpenSSL library
    ii sasl2-bin 2.1.25.dfsg1-3ubuntu0.1 Cyrus SASL – administration programs for SASL users database
    ii telnet 0.17-36build1 The telnet client

  3. You have a bug in your postconf section:

    This line breaks the authentication with an error about the mailbox. “sudo postconf -e ‘virtual_mailbox_maps = /etc/postfix/'”

    Update it to include the proxy:mysql and it works.

    sudo postconf -e ‘virtual_mailbox_maps = proxy:mysql:/etc/postfix/’

    Great document.

  4. I found this guide when trying to set up my own mail server. There are a few errors in it, however, and I’m only discovering them through encountering issues in my set up – so although I’ve noticed a couple there are maybe others.

    The first thing I’d say to people reading this is that you will need to use sudo a lot or else log in as root. If you mentioned that I didn’t notice it. When copying and pasting it is handy if you have a document ready with your usernames, passwords and the word sudo in there so you can copy/paste from this guide to a doc to your terminal.

    Next there is an issue with the line

    postconf -e ‘virtual_mailbox_maps = /etc/postfix/’

    which should be

    postconf -e ‘virtual_mailbox_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/’

    note the word “hash” above.

    Secondly you create the document

    when you should create

    Note the ‘s’, maps. Alternatively you should link to ‘map’ instead of ‘maps’ later in the guide.

    There may be others, it’s more than likely that I’ll not come back to update this post if I find more so beware, however, this guide can carry you most of the way.

    Sometimes when I am setting up a server or something I’ll take notes and think to myself that I will write a blog post about it some time. Then I come across an error, spend half the day fixing it and when I get around to writing the blog article I realise that having not taken proper notes when fixing the error my guide becomes useless to others. This is the sort of thing that’s happened here, you can tell by the way you wrote out the last page and how you start trying to debug your dovecot when it’s quite likely it was actually a postfix error that was catching you out.

  5. Thank you to all for taking time to point out any errors, I have double checked my own configuration and have found the line should read:

    postconf -e ‘virtual_mailbox_maps = proxy:mysql:/etc/postfix/’

    I not sure it should read with a hash: prefix, as its not a hash file, but contains the SQL to query the virtual mailboxes.

    Where it states create a file :/etc/postfix/ this was a typo, I have now corrected this in the article, sorry if it caused any confusion, but the article should be now correct.

    This can be a challenge setting this up, but I am really keen that if people run into problems that they leave comments so that I change and improve this article for everyone.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.