[NZLUG] Email Server

Steve Holdoway steve at greengecko.co.nz
Sun Jun 9 14:09:22 NZST 2013

On Sat, 2013-06-08 at 23:26 +1200, Nevyn wrote:
> Hi All,
> I'm looking to move away from gmail - I object to the way EVERYTHING
> Google is moving towards Google+ (youtube just had a whinge about
> using a name and then came up with some message about going to Google+
> to change certain settings and chat in gmail wanted to do something
> with Hangouts) and I think the Chromebook is THE perfect example of
> vendor lock in.
> The question came up around jurisdiction - the US has jurisdiction
> over a lot of services that we tend to use - on NZOSS which had me
> thinking. If I'm going to be changing my email address very soon
> anyway... why not try to kill two birds with one stone? I personally
> wouldn't mind paying for an email address. It would have to be free of
> my ISP (as I want the option of swapping ISP's without the switching
> cost of changing my email address). NZ hosted so that I only really
> have to be concerned by one set of laws (though I don't do anything
> dodgy with email anyway). Have spam filtering (though occasionally
> this is a source of entertainment - grading SPAM)...
> I don't think there are any free providers in NZ. I was wondering, is
> there an opportunity here for a community run thing? I know some guys
> in Auckland were talking about a community server (did anything ever
> come of that?). Would anyone be interested in using such a service?
> It'd probably have a small yearly fee attached (how small would
> probably be a function of the number of people paying). Or perhaps not
> even community run - perhaps we'd just need enough people to take on a
> commercial offering (less risk in terms of maintenance).

Why not DIY? As SMTP was designed in the days of unreliable
connectivity, it's normal that mail servers are set up to try to deliver
for 5 days before failing. That way you can set up whatever software
stack you wish... personally I go for the hardcore oldschool sendmail
and dovecot, with procmail for local delivery, with newer school
roundcube for web based access. Add an SSL cert for $20 or less a year,
and purchase your favourite domain name and you're away.

HOWEVER - note the caps - this is where your fun starts. You need to
protect your mail against malware, so you probably want to look at
clamav, and a few of the unofficial lists that go with that. Also, cut
down on the spam as far as possible, so spamassassin is a start, much as
I detest the concept ( and yes, I use it ). I also implement the
SpamHaus DROP list as a firewall, although it rarely gets triggered.

That should have cleaned up your incoming mail feed somewhat. Now comes
the really hard part: reliable outgoing email. Apart from setting up a
static IP address and a valid PTR record - preferably in your domain,
you need a 'reputation', so things like SPF and DKIM will factor in.

( Note to telecom users and maybe others, you may actually have to beg
to get port 25 opened up at all as the first step ).

As an open source project, getting this all up and running rates right
up there, and you may well learn far more than you'll ever want to about
email. IRL, you may want to look at the low end web hosting packages

I'll be honest here. I've set up and managed probably hundreds of email
domains over the last few years, and I recommend that - for a small
business at least - that people use gmail.  With Google, you get the
instant reputation for reliable delivery, and infinitely superiour spam

Just my $0.02,

Steve Holdoway BSc(Hons) MNZCS 
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/steveholdoway
Skype: sholdowa

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