Success stories

I would appreciate if you leave a comment here telling others if your mail server is running. Perhaps even a word about the purpose of the mail server and the number of users you have. That allows others to see that their time is well-spent and indeed leads to a working mail server. Thanks for your feedback.

19 thoughts on “Success stories”

  1. I have been using the ISPMAIL tutorials for many years and still do it every time I upgrade my mailserver. It is a neat and straightforward approach and saves me a lot of time I otherwise would have to spend reading manuals, finding new packages and trying things out. Everything is on the point and I get the information I need, that’s perfect. Thank you very much for you great work.

  2. Thank you for this guide! I used it (with a slight modification) to build an internal-only email service for a smart home. Instead of using a Let’s Encrypt cert, it’s using a cert signed by a private root CA which is already trusted by all the browsers in the house (and now by mail clients too). All the “smart” devices that want to send email can finally alert their owners with everything staying behind the firewall.

  3. Works for me! I’ve been using this guide since 2018 or so, and just today nuked my server and re-did the config from scratch. Test mails to GMail go through just fine. Note that I used postgresql and nginx instead of mysql/apache.

  4. Works like a charm ! Many thanks for sharing your knowledge with pedagogy and explanations.
    For people who deals with self hosting, maybe you could said few words about smtp-relay-host in postfix config file (in my case, i had to change setting on my FAI customer admin page, or set the relay in postfix).

  5. I just finished setting up my ~fifth ispmail server (squeeze, 2x stretch, now bullseye) and this time I didn’t even bother to do the recommended checks after each step because I knew that after following (and unterstanding) your tutorial, the server would go like a Swiss watch. I wasn’t disappointed. Everything works and again I learned a lot. Thank you for putting that much effort into the tutorials!

  6. Yannis Charitakis

    Just wanted to say thanks for your amazing work. Not only proved up to date and accurate technically, but it is also presented in a very educational way. It really is high-quality learning material.

    Personally, I was in need of a mail server to transfer some family and -really- small businesses domains from the free version of G-Suite to something we own. We used G-suite only for emails and blogger for some really simple websites, and since google starts to charge (totally fair, they offer a ton of staff, I should thank them too…), I started looking around of what to do. I have a small vps server running on hetzner already, so I thought to make better use of it.

    And that was when I got lucky and reached your blog! Thanks to you, I have a much better and solid understanding of what’s going on under the hood. More than that, I have a mail server hosting more than four virtual domains!!! Everything is working great! I still have to setup backups, but for the moment, just paid hetzner a bit more to keep some backups for me!

    Again, sincerely thanks again.

  7. ezerotszaz

    I’m finally done setting up two of these mail servers – for myself and also for a friend – on Debian 11.

    I struggled a lot when I was doing it for the first time, but after days of work it is done, it is working properly, I can send(and receive..) from four different addresses and I could not be happier!

    I skipped the web mail part entirely though, I feel like that it is unnecessary for me, and the mail server works just fine without it.

    Thank you so much for the insane amount of work that you put into this awesome guide.

  8. I have used this guide twice (mainly for practice, testing, and understanding) since I found out in January that G**gle is discontinuing the free g-suite. In total I probably spent over 100 hours on these pages. Was it worth it?

    First, the complex and ‘high risk’ world of email hosting is now so clear, and so much better understood. I have been wanting to move away from G**gle for a long time, but never could find the real motivation and was always afraid of making the move. Second, I didn’t want a prefab email server that I would not be able to fix because I lacked a basic understanding of how email works.

    Third, this guide has helped me not only to save a lot of expense (I have over ~45GB of emails), but also to have a true understanding of how the various parts of email systems work together. I implemented integration with NextCloud (on my own) & encryption-at-rest (using your guest article). When I re-did this from scratch the second time I went with RoundCube and have happily gone down even more ‘rabbit holes’ of email knowledge that never seems to cease.

    Was it worth it? Of course, by all of the above I say 100%, YES! But it wasn’t just the technical help. There is a true sense of pride and accomplishment in getting spf and dkim check to pass, and really understanding how email happens. Thank you for that, for saving my email, and for the knowledge you have extended to the world.

    PS Now I just need to figure out how to move 45GB over to my server…mbox to Maildir…ugh 🙂

  9. It had been a long time since I had installed a mail server and the few tutorials I could find were not explicit.
    But your guide is very well done. Complete and very detailed. With even some technical information as a bonus for the curious.

    Thank you very much for the time it must have taken you. If my motivation allows it, I think of doing a French translation.

    Thanks again.

  10. Thanks for this guide. I’ve upgraded my home mail server (with three domains) from Qmail to Postfix. It took me about 6 months to get to a working server but I’m very impressed with the result.

  11. I really like this guide. I was able to learn some new stuff and setup a nice configured server. I now have a server running 2 domains and several user accounts. It took me a few evenings of my spare time and i think it was worth it. Now that i have an idea about this setup i will look deeper into the configuration possibilities fine tuning it and make me understand it better. The basics are easy to understand but all the rspamd stuff is very complicated and i am not sure if i will try to understand it fully. Thank you very much for your guidance!

  12. Michael Fischer

    Great guide! Thanks! Very structured and clear! It took me about 2 hours to have a fully funktional email server including ISPmail on a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Rev 1.2 with Raspbian GNU/Linux 11. The only change I made: Installing the snap version of certbot, as I know from experience that letsencrypt does not support the distribution version of certbot for more than three years.

    1. Michael Fischer

      Unfortunately your Hetzner referral seems quite useless, as they block outgoing traffic via port 25.
      I am trying to fix it now, if not, my installation efforts are worthless.

      1. Christoph Haas

        That’s true. Although they “just” block port 25 for one month. Apparently that’s their measure to avoid hosting for spammers. I’ll update that.

  13. Roger Anton

    First of all thank you for yet another iteration of this great guide! Have been using parts of it to build my rather small mailserver setups over the last years. There’s one thing I haven’t been too happy with in the guides and that’s a thing you already pointed out: Managing users and aliases in web based database administration tools. I reviewed some of the web based mail admin tools but they also did not suit my needs very well.

    I don’t have a large user count but work with aliases intensively. I don’t require web based management and SQLite instead of an SQL database server provides all I need for my setup. So I adapted your guides to SQLite and wrote a rather basic Python script to manage domains, users and aliases that also allows me to enable and disable aliases. It’s not for everyone but has served me well for many years now.

    Maybe someone reading this shares similar requirements and can make use of this setup and my script. I published it on GitHub along with database schema and SQL queries for Postfix and Dovecot:

  14. Thank you so very much Christoph. I now have a successful mail server running on Linode, and it has all the pieces you have detailed here. It works very well. Best of all, I understand how the pieces hang together.

    For what it is worth, I had previously had The Helm personal email appliance (which I was very happy with); but, the company is calling it quits. They were nice and warned us customers 60 days in advance that we were going to need to do something else for email. Although I’ve run a Postfix server at work; it was only a relay. I’ve never touched Dovecot before.

    It’s been quite a journey. Not only did the previous appliance do SMTP; it was also a NextCloud Files server. I have a WordPress site on a different machine, and I’d like to put everything on one (well backed up) box. I got the idea that I’d like to do a wildcard Let’s Encrypt certificate for several domains, so that was a journey too.

    But all (email) is now well, with nine days before the deadline. Thank you for this excellent set of instructions with the reasons behind your choices.

  15. thank you cris for this amazing guide
    just finished setting my own first ever mail server up. it took 3 days.
    it was one hell of an experience.
    i searched for a while on how to setup a proper mail server, but no result came close to this guide.
    i got to learn a lot, and got my own mail server. i feel so good at the end.
    now, running it on a vps from oracle with 4 cores arm CPU, 24GB of RAM, all for free.
    OS is Ubuntu 22.04.
    i followed the guide with slite modifications of my own.
    for anyone who don’t have access to port 25, they can setup postfix to relay mails to services like
    its not hard just search on how to do it you can find guides easily for that.
    i wish that info is also added to this guide.
    now, i have to go sett up a backup script, the ispmailadmin, and i will be reddy to go.
    o and continue improving it and learning a lot on the way.

  16. This guide is pure gold.
    As a professional developer with some sysadmin skills I was able to set up my first email server in a week.

    I learn a lot about how emails works and I can now take control on my privacy.

    Thanks \o/

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