I've been setting up the new Xeriom Networks MX service and decided that I'd document what I've done for your perusal. If you think something should be done in a different way, please do leave comments!


The requirements for the MX service are pretty simple. We don't need to do spam filtering, Greylisting, logging or virus scanning. We're going to build a very simple service that provides reliable email delivery to hosts within our network and let our clients decide their own email policy. We will do a little blacklist checking however.

Installing the software

I'll use Postfix because I'm pretty familiar with it. This is going to be pretty simple since we don't do any filtering; the basic Postfix install matches the requirements above.

sudo apt-get install postfix --yes

Stop Postfix here since it starts automatically after install.

sudo /etc/init.d/postfix stop

Configuring Postfix

Make /etc/postfix/main.cf specify the following values.

# Don't reveal the OS in the banner.
smtpd_banner = $myhostname ESMTP $mail_name
biff = no

# appending .domain is the MUA's job.
append_dot_mydomain = no

# Send "delivery delayed" emails after 4 hours.
delay_warning_time = 4h

readme_directory = no

smtpd_tls_session_cache_database = btree:${data_directory}/smtpd_scache
smtp_tls_session_cache_database = btree:${data_directory}/smtp_scache

# This is mx1.xeriom.net. Change for mx2, mx3, etc.
myhostname = mx1.xeriom.net
myorigin = mx1.xeriom.net

# Map root, abuse and postmaster to real email addresses.
virtual_alias_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/virtual

alias_maps = hash:/etc/aliases
alias_database = hash:/etc/aliases
mydestination = 
relayhost = 
mynetworks =
mailbox_size_limit = 0
recipient_delimiter = +
inet_interfaces = all
local_transport = error:No local mail delivery
local_recipient_maps = 
smtpd_helo_required = yes

# Only allow the service to be used for hosts with final
# destinations within our VM network.
permit_mx_backup_networks =

# Only accept mail from nice people.
# Read and understand these blacklists policies before you
# use them or you risk losing mail!
smtpd_client_restrictions = reject_rbl_client zen.spamhaus.org,
  reject_rbl_client cbl.abuseat.org,
  reject_rbl_client dul.dnsbl.sorbs.net

# Only relay mail for which this machine is a listed MX backup.
smtpd_recipient_restrictions = permit_mx_backup, reject

Create the aliases database and redirect abuse, root and postmaster mail to a real email address

echo 'postmaster postmaster@xeriom.net' >> /etc/postfix/virtual
echo 'abuse abuse@xeriom.net' >> /etc/postfix/virtual
echo 'root root@xeriom.net' >> /etc/postfix/virtual
postmap /etc/postfix/virtual

Restart Postfix so the changes take effect.

sudo /etc/init.d/postfix restart

After installing, configuring and restarting the mail server we'll need to punch a hole in the firewall to allow traffic on the SMTP port. If you don't have a firewall set up, you should - set it up now.

sudo iptables -I INPUT 4 -p tcp --dport smtp -j ACCEPT
sudo sh -c "iptables-save -c > /etc/iptables.rules"

Testing the setup

First, check that the new MX is listed in the zone and that the final MX is within the networks specified in permit_mx_backup_network. If they're not then edit the zone or the Postfix configuration. The domain that I'm testing this service with is emailmyfeeds.com.

dig MX emailmyfeeds.com +short
0 emailmyfeeds.com.
10 mx1.xeriom.net.
10 mx2.xeriom.net.

dig emailmyfeeds.com +short

After doing that use telnet to send a trial email through the new MX box. Below is the entire SMTP conversation for a successful send.

telnet mx1.xeriom.net smtp
Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.
220 mx1.xeriom.net ESMTP Postfix
EHLO my-computer
250-SIZE 10240000
250 DSN
MAIL FROM: craig@xeriom.net
250 2.1.0 Ok
RCPT TO: craig@emailmyfeeds.com
250 2.1.5 Ok
354 End data with <CR><LF>.<CR><LF>

250 2.0.0 Ok: queued as A6EED440BB

If, after you type the RCPT TO line you get an error something like 554 5.7.1 <test@foo.com>: Recipient address rejected: Access denied then the domain either doesn't have the MX currently listed in the zone file (or the change hasn't propagated through the DNS yet), or the final destination for the email doesn't fall within the ranges allowed by permit_mx_backup_networks.

You should also always, always check your MX's using an open relay checker - if you don't then you're helping spam distribution and I will hunt you down and hurt you.

Using the Xeriom MX service

If you're lucky enough to have a VM here at Xeriom Networks you'll be able to use this service from 2008-06-24 by following the instructions at http://wiki.xeriom.net/w/XeriomMXService.

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