Dovecot versus Postfix

Jan Sneep jan at
Tue Nov 13 23:51:09 UTC 2007

> so you've probably already read /usr/share/doc/postfix

This folder contains five files; changelog.Debian.gz, changelog.gz,
copyright, NEWS.Debian.gz and Readme.Debian

None of which seem to contain any useful information, well at least nane
relevate to actually using the server. Except that warning in the Readme
"There are some significant differences between the Debian Postfix packages,
and the source from upstream"

> and
> man postfix

When run that command I get the following;


       postfix - Postfix control program

       postfix [-Dv] [-c config_dir] command

       This  command  is  reserved  for the superuser. To submit mail, use
       Postfix sendmail(1) command.

       The postfix(1) command controls the operation of the Postfix mail
       tem:  start  or stop the master(8) daemon, do a health check, and

       The postfix(1) command sets up a standardized environment and runs
       postfix-script shell script to do the actual work.

       The following commands are implemented:

       check  Warn about bad directory/file ownership or permissions, and
              ate missing directories.

Which isn't very useful for how to use the server.

> and read the notes in the config files in
> /etc/postfix/

None of the files here have any notes in them that describe how to use the
server. There are two script files, but they look like they are used for
setup, not for describing how to use the server.

> and presumably you also read any relevant information on the
> screen when you ran
> sudo dpkg-reconfigure postfix

NEVER ran the install from packages as far as I know, seemed to be part of
the LAMP server install.

> (note that similar docs exist for dovecot in similar locations)

in /usr/share/doc there are three dovecot folders, dovecot-imapd,
dovecot-pop3d and dovecot.common. In the imapd and pop3d folders I have four
out of the same five files that are in the postfix folder;
changelog.Debian.gz, changelog.gz, copyright, and Readme.Debian. Again none
of which seem to contain information on how to use the servers. The common
folder has a whole lot of files, at the top of the read me it says
" contains the most up-to-date documentation. Most
of the files in doc/ are currently out of date." So I gues I'd better not
rely on what I find in the folders, but I'll go and checkout the website. My
concern there is that like the Debian warning, what is the correct Ubuntu
way to do this. I tried unsuccessfully for 3 months to get Open Exchange to
work on a Debian server and failed in the end because the instructions were
for a "generic" Linux server, not a Debian one. So I'm a little gun shy of
trying to apply "generic" info that may or MAY NOT apply.

In the dovecot-common folder there is a wiki folder with 130 files in it.
How do you get it to work? or do you have to read each file individually?

> I hope you know that postfix delivers mail, and dovecot serves
> messages to mail clients via IMAP. Their functions don't overlap --
> dovecot provides an IMAP service to Mail User Agents and postfix is a
> Mail Transfer Agent.

Well, I was hoping that whoever setup the defaut configurations for Postfix
and Dovecot knew that and that they set it up properly. Again I assuming
that they have set it up so that mail Postfix receives it sends to Dovecot
and that Dovecot is an SMTP server? But, then why are the Cron messages
still in the Postfix mailboxes? Shouldn't they have been transfered to
Dovecot if the server was setup properly? Where would I check where the
Postfix is supposed to send messages on to?

AGAIN, both of these seem to be working, just can't figure out how to
actually USE them.

> > Both the Postfix and Dovecot servers are up and running
> based on all the
> > tests I have read about and done. Installed themselves when
> I loaded the
> > LAMP server software.
> >
> > But how do you send mail to either one?
> since postfix delivers mail, it either has to be the DESTINATION for
> another MTA (mail transfer agent) OR you have to tell it what MTA it
> should retrieve its mail from.
> Could you be confusing postfix with something else? Maybe you were
> looking for fetchmail by Eric Raymond?

I don't really care what application I use, I just need something really
really simple to replace my really really simple and easy to use Microsoft
Mail application.

> > Up until I started to play around with the settings for
> Postfix and Dovecot
> > there were no messages in anybodies mail box, however I now have 123
> > messages in my "jan" mailbox. Webmin tells me they are in
> /var/mail/jan and
> > when I look at them they are all from Cron Daemon. when I
> open one of them
> > it is addressed from root at ubuntu.localdomain (Cron Daemon)
> addressed to
> > root at ubuntu.localdomain. With a subject of "Cron
> <root at ubuntu> cd / &&
> > run-parts -- report /etc/cron.hourly" and the following
> message "run-parts:
> > run-parts: component /etc/cron.hourly/spamrunner is a
> broken symbolic link"
> you can look to see if spamrunner was partly removed and remove it
> completely, reinstall it, or you could just delete the link and the
> messages will stop.

How would I do that?

> > Of course if I try to address any mail from my Win XP
> machine to either
> > jan at ubuntu.localdomain or root at ubuntu.localdomain it fails
> because of course
> > my default email account attempts to use my ISP's SMTP
> server to send the
> > mail and it is looking for an Internet domain name called
> ubuntu.localdomain
> > and DNS can't find that one on the public servers ... :O)
> it doesn't have to be on a PUBLIC server, but you need a name server
> on your network that knows where everything on your LAN is. On my
> network, my router is running linux so I activated a name server on
> it. Handy, because it also assigns addresses using DCHP.

My LinkSys DSL router has a built in DHCP that hands out the local
The Apache server is running and works. I can point my browser to
http://ubuntu/egroupware and the server pulls up the appropriate files. It
seems to know that ubuntu is a device on the LAN and not out on the

> HOWEVER, I don't mess with routing mail -- I let the experts do that
> for me. When I have used dovecot, I point to it directly from a mail
> client like Thunderbird, and copy the messages to and from its message
> stores. Those stores COULD be the same ones that postfix is managing
> on your LAN.

How do you point directly to it with an email client? For the POP3 server I
would just give it the IP address of ?

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