Dovecot versus Postfix

Rashkae ubuntu at
Wed Nov 14 18:11:23 UTC 2007

Jan Sneep wrote:
> Rashkae wrote:
>> To use Postfis:
>> configure a mail client to send e-mails either through smtp: localhost
> I've been assuming that either Postfix or Dovecot is an SMTP server?
> If so, there must be some setting in some file that can be looked at to
> verify what port(s) it is listening to and if it requires an SSL connection?
> If so, then there must be some setting in some file that identifies this?
> If so, then does it use the same password that each individual uses to login
> to the server? i.e. the password given to each user via Services ->
> Administration -> Users and Groups from Gnome or do you have to go someplace
> else to set a username & pswd?

Postfix is the smtp server.  By default it listens to port 25, and only 
relays e-mail from the local computer, or accepts e-mail for local 
delivery to accounts on that computer.  If you want to relay mail, (ie, 
accept e-mails from other computers on  your network and send them out 
to the Internet) you either have to configure postfix to relay for local 
networks, or configure smtp user authentication.  Be warned that smtp 
user authentication is a relatively new thing (relative to the venerable 
smtp protocol itself, which was designed to be an inherently trusting 
protocol) and getting that to work requires lots of work on your part. 
Fortunately for Ubuntu users, it's well documented here:

Note that postfix and exim4, both discussed in that link, are mutually 
exclusive.  Use one or the other.

> OK, using Synaptic Package Manager and searching on "sendmail" I see a
> number of programs, including Postfix (the check box is green indicating the
> software is installed), that show up. There is a program called "Sendmail"
> (the check box is empty) with a description of "powerful, efficient,
> scaleable Mail Transport Agent" Which is what I thouht Postfix is? So do I
> need to install Sendmail inorder for Postfix to work?

No,, as I already said in the first message, that you even quoted, 
postfix creates a symlink from sendmail to postfix for compatibility.

Sendmail was *the* smtp software of the old days.  Some die hard gurus 
still swear by it, which is why you can still install it if you like), 
but for most linux distros, is replaced by either Postfix, Qmail or 
Exim.  I think postfix is the easiest to configure, and is the preferred 
choice for many distros.  Any of those packages will install their own 
version of 'sendmail' binary, usually as a symlink, so programs (like 
the Mutt e-mail client) which expect sendmail to be there work with the 

> OK, what program is acting as the SMTP server on my LAMP server? How can I
> check what the current settings are?

postfix.  the configuration files are found in the /etc/postfix directory

>> Ok, once you've gone this far, you want to be able to see all these
>> e-mails you've been sending your local users.
>> Open your favorite test e-mail client, and add an account, type Imap,
>> server is localhost, and use Secure SSL Imap (default port of 993).
> My old Outlook 2000, account setup doesn't seem to have a place to select
> IMAP as the type of server, I'll have to see if I can install what some have
> recommended ... Thunderbird, assuming it has an IMAP capability.

Yes, it does, as well as Outlook,, unfortunately, I don't have one here 
atm to step you through adding an IMAP account.... Outlook support for 
Imap is infamously...... spotty, in any case.

> Hmmm, I don't think I have other hosts.

Hosts = computers.  Do you have any other computers in your home network?

> Yes, my LinkSys DSL router uses and I have a second one on the
> network acting as a "splitter" which is, so you think I should
> assign a static IP for the server instead of using the one that the DHCP
> assignes. The problem I have with that is that unless the DHCP assigns the
> address the device can't get out onto the Internet. I have an old Windows
> '98 box that is currently running that Microsoft Mail application that I'm
> trying to get rid of. I have it using, but when I want to
> update the anti-virus softare I have to change the configuration to grab an
> IP from the DHCP so I can do the update and then have to put it back to
>, which is a real pain. I don't need the static IP for the
> Microsoft Mail application to work, but the machine is weird, if I leave it
> as a DHCP assigned IP the machine freeses and locks up more frequently than
> if it is a static IP. I have spent hours trying to figure out why, but in
> the end decided that it was better to just leave it as a static address.

You don't need DHCP for internet access to work,, you just need to 
configure the default gateway and Domain name server as well as the 
static IP..   In your case, I think both (default router gateway and 
Domain Name server) should be set to and you should be ok.

Dovecot is the IMAP server.  You don't need to add any accounts to 
Dovecot itself.  In a simple, default configuration, it uses your unix 
user accounts.

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