19.3. Mail Transport Agents

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Red Hat Enterprise Linux offers two primary MTAs: Postfix and Sendmail. Postfix is configured as the default MTA, although it is easy to switch the default MTA to Sendmail. To switch the default MTA to Sendmail, you can either uninstall Postfix or use the following command to switch to Sendmail:
~]# alternatives --config mta
You can also use a command in the following format to enable or disable the desired service:
chkconfig service_name on | off

19.3.1. Postfix

Originally developed at IBM by security expert and programmer Wietse Venema, Postfix is a Sendmail-compatible MTA that is designed to be secure, fast, and easy to configure.
To improve security, Postfix uses a modular design, where small processes with limited privileges are launched by a master daemon. The smaller, less privileged processes perform very specific tasks related to the various stages of mail delivery and run in a changed root environment to limit the effects of attacks.
Configuring Postfix to accept network connections from hosts other than the local computer takes only a few minor changes in its configuration file. Yet for those with more complex needs, Postfix provides a variety of configuration options, as well as third party add-ons that make it a very versatile and full-featured MTA.
The configuration files for Postfix are human readable and support upward of 250 directives. Unlike Sendmail, no macro processing is required for changes to take effect and the majority of the most commonly used options are described in the heavily commented files. The Default Postfix Installation

The Postfix executable is /usr/sbin/postfix. This daemon launches all related processes needed to handle mail delivery.
Postfix stores its configuration files in the /etc/postfix/ directory. The following is a list of the more commonly used files:
  • access — Used for access control, this file specifies which hosts are allowed to connect to Postfix.
  • — The global Postfix configuration file. The majority of configuration options are specified in this file.
  • — Specifies how Postfix interacts with various processes to accomplish mail delivery.
  • transport — Maps email addresses to relay hosts.
The aliases file can be found in the /etc/ directory. This file is shared between Postfix and Sendmail. It is a configurable list required by the mail protocol that describes user ID aliases.


The default /etc/postfix/ file does not allow Postfix to accept network connections from a host other than the local computer. For instructions on configuring Postfix as a server for other clients, see Section, “Basic Postfix Configuration”.
Restart the postfix service after changing any options in the configuration files under the /etc/postfix directory in order for those changes to take effect:
~]# service postfix restart Basic Postfix Configuration

By default, Postfix does not accept network connections from any host other than the local host. Perform the following steps as root to enable mail delivery for other hosts on the network:
  • Edit the /etc/postfix/ file with a text editor, such as vi.
  • Uncomment the mydomain line by removing the hash sign (#), and replace domain.tld with the domain the mail server is servicing, such as
  • Uncomment the myorigin = $mydomain line.
  • Uncomment the myhostname line, and replace host.domain.tld with the host name for the machine.
  • Uncomment the mydestination = $myhostname, localhost.$mydomain line.
  • Uncomment the mynetworks line, and replace with a valid network setting for hosts that can connect to the server.
  • Uncomment the inet_interfaces = all line.
  • Comment the inet_interfaces = localhost line.
  • Restart the postfix service.
Once these steps are complete, the host accepts outside emails for delivery.
Postfix has a large assortment of configuration options. One of the best ways to learn how to configure Postfix is to read the comments within the /etc/postfix/ configuration file. Additional resources including information about Postfix configuration, SpamAssassin integration, or detailed descriptions of the /etc/postfix/ parameters are available online at Configuring Postfix to Use Transport Layer Security
Configuring postfix to use transport layer security (TLS) is described in the Red Hat Knowledgebase solution How to configure postfix with TLS?


Due to the vulnerability described in Resolution for POODLE SSL 3.0 vulnerability (CVE-2014-3566) in Postfix and Dovecot, Red Hat recommends disabling SSL, if it is enabled, and using only TLSv1.1 or TLSv1.2. Backwards compatibility can be achieved using TLSv1.0. Many products Red Hat supports have the ability to use SSLv2 or SSLv3 protocols. However, the use of SSLv2 or SSLv3 is now strongly recommended against. Using Postfix with LDAP

Postfix can use an LDAP directory as a source for various lookup tables (e.g.: aliases, virtual, canonical, etc.). This allows LDAP to store hierarchical user information and Postfix to only be given the result of LDAP queries when needed. By not storing this information locally, administrators can easily maintain it. The /etc/aliases lookup example
The following is a basic example for using LDAP to look up the /etc/aliases file. Make sure your /etc/postfix/ file contains the following:
alias_maps = hash:/etc/aliases, ldap:/etc/postfix/
Create a /etc/postfix/ file if you do not have one already and make sure it contains the following:
server_host =
search_base = dc=example, dc=com
where, example, and com are parameters that need to be replaced with specification of an existing available LDAP server.


The /etc/postfix/ file can specify various parameters, including parameters that enable LDAP SSL and STARTTLS. For more information, see the ldap_table(5) man page.
For more information on LDAP, see Section 20.1, “OpenLDAP”.
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