back to article The last post: Building your own mail server, part 1

Email is one of those internet services that, like it or not, we all have to use. Yet the underlying protocols have been around since before the invention of spam (the electronic sort, of course), and have little in the way of protection. No junk mail. Pic: gajman, Flickr Internet email is far from perfect, but unless you …

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  1. Novex

    Nice to See an Article About This

    I'm glad to see an article tackling this subject, as I agree it's not that hard to set up an email server, and as long as you have a sufficient broadband connection with reasonable upload as well as download speeds, it's worth doing.

    Although it's offline for an annoying reason at the moment (not related to the PC or software), a couple of years ago I set up my own email server based on an Acer Revo 3700 (and a couple of gateways and a mail server were on such PCs as well) using ClearOS 6. It was connected to a Plusnet Fibre connection with a static IP, and once I'd solved installing the SOGo groupware on it, worked like a dream with Thunderbird. I couldn't get the Outlook Connector side of things to work, but that was down to ClearOS 6 being based on a version of RedHat that was too old for some of the components that SOGo's Outlook Connector needed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice to See an Article About This

      I suppose some people think that running a server is rocket science.

      It isn't.

      I've been doing it since 2001/2002, and most of it with hand-me-down second-hand equipment. First mail server was a Dual Pentium PRO with 3 2GB SCSI HDDs running Slackware and using sendmail. Later we had an IBM Netfinity rackmount server with a PIII 550MHz CPU and 5 SCSI HDDs between 18GB and 72GB.

      In 2010 that was retired for a little Intel Atom box that's been running my site ever since. Mail stack these days is Postfix and Dovecot on Gentoo Linux.

      The important bit: make sure your server doesn't unwittingly relay spam. Dealing with the rest is not complex or expensive, and until only last week, the only on-going costs needed were for an Internet connection and power, I've only recently bought a domain to replace the freebie one I was using from yi.org.

      Set it up right, and it's as hands-off experience as you'd be used to from the likes of Gmail and Yahoo. Better in fact, since you're in control of your own destiny.

    2. Youngone Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Nice to See an Article About This

      @ Novex

      I've been using ClearOS for donkey's years, (also the previous incarnation Clark Connect). It's a fantastic way to teach yourself an awful lot of different networking and sysadmin tools.

      I'm a bit sick of waiting for the latest update which seems to be taking forever to happen, but in the meantime my server just keeps chugging along working fine.

    3. Shoot Them Later

      Re: Nice to See an Article About This

      I agree a very welcome article. Been doing this myself with a FreeBSD/Exim/Dovecot setup since before spam was really a problem (and I've since added SA-Exim to the mix for spamassassin integration). Talking of spam, I find that the DNS blocklists reject a lot of this, and it is also particularly nice that this technique rejects the message before delivery is accepted - meaning that you don't generate backscatter spam bounce messages for rejected traffic.

      I would like to see some discussion about use of cloud though. My server lives at home, has a static IP and listens to the Internet on port 25. However, I also use an AWS-based server as backup MX (and also primary DNS) because there are occasions that I turn my home machine off for a while. My own issue though is reading email while away. I don't make my IMAP server available via the Internet, so if I am on the move, I generally have to VPN in to my network to read email (although I do also have Gmail for when I am mobile). I'm still not decided on whether to stick with this, open up a port for my local Dovecot to the Internet, or move the whole shebang to an AWS hosted image. It's an area where I'm always interested in what other people are doing and how well it works out for them.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Nice to See an Article About This

        Personally, I do have IMAP over SSL available from everywhere, and also authenticated submission on port 587.

        Generally, that doesn't seem to have caused any problems; looking at the number of failed SASL attempts in the logs, most days there are fewer than ten; a busy day still comes up with fewer than 50.

        I have the remote submission port because I have SPF set up fairly strictly on some of my domains, and I still want to be able to send messages from anywhere, so my phone (using Maildroid) sends everything that way.

        I could use a VPN instead, and I do have one of the other systems on the network set up to allow access that way, but it's fiddly to have to use all the time, and of course some networks I might connect to block VPNs.

        I wouldn't say I've ever noticed any significant attempts to connect to the IMAP server over the years; certainly, you get nowhere near the hammering on your hardware that you do when you have a SIP server!

      2. Vic

        Re: Nice to See an Article About This

        I also use an AWS-based server as backup MX

        I dislike the use of a backup MX except in large-scale operations. For those of is with a tolerable level of traffic, they tend to become a weakpoint in your spam defences - unless you rigorously control your user list on the backup to mirror the primary, you can end up in the situation of accidentally accepting mail for non-existent users. You've then got to deal with that...

        Far beter, IMO, to leave mail in the outbound MTA's queue, to be delivered to your primary MX when it's back on line.

        My own issue though is reading email while away. I don't make my IMAP server available via the Internet

        I use port-forwarding over SSH to create the IMAP ports on whatever device I'm using. As long as you use ports >1024, you don't even need to root your phone for that. But frankly, the single most useful access system I've found has been SquirrelMail.

        Vic.

        1. Shoot Them Later

          Re: Nice to See an Article About This

          @Nigel - for me the decision between local/cloud is not really security, but getting a balance of performance & availability. Mail local to my home has best performance and availability for when I am at home, but considerably less so for when I am mobile. If I have my IMAP on AWS or similar, I have better availability and performance when I am mobile (I hope) but worse than when at home. Ideally I'd want a solution with two way replication of IMAP content, but on the other hand I want a solution that is simple and reliable. I think those might be mutually exclusive :)

          @Vic - I agree with youur point about backup MX. In my case, my backup server is also Exim with the same spam configuration, and I use rsync to push whitelists and virtual domain lists to it from my main server. It works fairly well, although sometimes I get issues where the backup server has accepted mail that my main server later rejects, but this is handled relatively gracefully by Exim. I go for the backup MX route because I may from time to time turn off my whole home server for an extended period and I want to continue to accept mail. I have on occasion read the raw emails sitting in the mailqueue on my backup box while travelling. It's far from perfect, but works, in a clunky way, within my slightly odd parameters.

  2. Christian Berger Silver badge

    It's nice to see someone normal for a change

    I mean usually Reg-authors spend their time installing Exchange and Outlook and then boast about their new tools which enable them to do essential and trivial things.

    E-Mail also has the great advantage that it's error resilient. If your mail server goes down, you won't loose any mail as the other mailservers will retry for a week. This makes a great learning ground.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: It's nice to see someone normal for a change

      The basic error is to believe Exchange is a simple mail server and Outlook a simple mail client. Both are designed to do much more than simply email sending/receiving. If you're Exchange/Outlook just for simple email management, you're wasting (a lot of) your money.

      If someone needs a simple, open source mail server for Windows, give a look to HMailServer.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: It's nice to see someone normal for a change

        Well first of all, why in the world should I install a mailserver on Windows? And why should it be something rather obscure like HMailServer when I can probably just get postfix or something to run on Windows?

        BTW there's also a lot of "groupware" solutions out there replacing Exchange and or Outlook.

        1. steamrunner

          Re: It's nice to see someone normal for a change

          Actually (and I can't believe I'm actually saying this) but there are reasons or scenarios for installing a mail server on Windows, especially for home users.

          Firstly, in some instances, the installation and running/maintenance of the software can be a bit easier, depending on your chosen package (Postfix - why? There are easier, free options out there). Or, at worst, it can be a little less scary and a little more more manageable if something goes wrong (if you're not too familiar with Linux for example).

          Secondly, mail servers take up surprisingly little resources. For one person or a family, it's basically sod all. If someone has a half-decent desktop PC that's 'on' all the time then running their mail server on that in the background would cost precisely £0 extra in hardware outlay. With the right software and restricting port access to just those needed (and also from *where* needed, i.e. your MXs), and *not* *ever* *under* *no* *circumstances* having your home server as your domain MX, all but the most paranoid should be good to go.

          A loooong time ago I used to run CommuniGate Pro on a Windows server — which, to add to the list, is free for up to five users so ideal for home experimentation (just a happy user) — and it was basically an indestructible tank... it would have run unaided for decades if I'd let it!

          (OK, to be fair, these days I run server stuff mostly on Linux on virtual and cloud platforms, because I can, so I do... ;-)

          S.

          1. Nigel Whitfield.

            Re: It's nice to see someone normal for a change

            For a small home setup, you could also consider using your NAS; there are package for things like Synology that will add a mail server, though I've not used them in anger. That will give you more or less point and click configuration.

            And certainly, for some people that's all they need. But this is The Register, and if I walked people through a setup with a friendly point and click wizard, I'm pretty sure a lot of you would feel we could have done much more.

      2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: It's nice to see someone normal for a change

        HMailServer recently started to become more active, I use it for basic mail routing tasks on a spare windows machine

        @Christian - Its easy to setup the community is active, add-ons to extend functionality and can use a selection of backend databases.

  3. Barely registers
    Windows

    Fixed IP?

    Does any of this solution require a fixed IP address from your broadband supplier? If not, how does the rest of the web know how to reach your physical server?

    Asking for me, not a friend, out of total ignorance of how Internet routing works.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Fixed IP?

      There ways to have the system update your mx records every time your IP address changes, and no doubt a commentard will come along and explain how to do it.

      Life will be much easier however if you do have a static IP.

    2. PVecchi

      Re: Fixed IP?

      It's easier to configure things if you have a static IP but is not a must.

      You can search for dynamic DNS on your preferred search engine and you'll find a few that are free or others that cost anyway very little.

      The other option is to buy a domain from a hosting provider which generally provides a basic mail server for a tenner a year and "fetchmail" you emails from there with your local server.

    3. slooth

      Re: Fixed IP?

      You could use the no-ip client (no-ip.com). You could even get a domain name from them.

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: Fixed IP?

        Our consumer Comcast Arris router has a built-in No-IP client. For what that's worth as it already has one vulnerability that I'm certain of here.

    4. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Fixed IP?

      No-ip offer a free domain name and a client that keeps the dns in sync when it changes...

      If your really tight and don't want to pay for the paid no-ip service that allows you to use your own domain name you can do it with a cname record that points back to the free NO-IP address.

      Although a static IP would be easier - ive found quite a few anti spam systems will block email that has come from a home broadband IP.

      1. moiety

        Re: Fixed IP?

        ...or these guys (also free):

        http://www.dnsdynamic.org/

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fixed IP?

        Although a static IP would be easier - ive found quite a few anti spam systems will block email that has come from a home broadband IP.

        The workaround for that is to tell your server to relay through your ISPs server.

    5. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Fixed IP?

      For preference, a fixed IP is going to be best, so that messages can be delivered over the internet directly to your mail server.

      However, if your concern is more about, for example, having your own IMAP store so you can find any messages you want, then you could add Fetchmail to the mix, which will grab messages from external mail accounts and feed them into your server. You'd then simply ensure the server has a fixed IP on your local network, which your own clients would connect to (and perhaps use a dynamic DNS system if you want remote access). Outgoing mail would, in that scenario, probably be routed via your ISPs mail server.

      A fixed IP will certainly give you much more flexibility, and that's what I have - in fact, I have a routed network on my ADSL.

      I don't generally have problems with messages being rejected, because the IP range is allocated to me; ok, it costs a little more than a bog standard domestic broadband, but I work at home and figure it's worth it.

      For ISPs that will make this easier, I suggest you check out the article (and the comments) that I did earlier this year about "Boutique ISPs".

      1. Vic

        Re: Fixed IP?

        However, if your concern is more about, for example, having your own IMAP store so you can find any messages you want, then you could add Fetchmail to the mix, which will grab messages from external mail accounts and feed them into your server.

        This causes difficulty for spam processing; if your Internet-facing MTA doesn't do the spam processing you want - and if you don't own it, it probably doesn't - then you have a real problem, because the mail has already been accepted.

        At that point, you can either take it on the chin, or try to do some sort of local-processing, redirecting spammy-looking mails into a spam area. But that's actually the worst of all worlds, because there is a good chane of you missing a mail if you get a flaso positive, and you still have to trawl through that spam...

        For my money, there should only ever be one port of call for inbound mail. It's trivial to sort that with dynamic DNS clients. You can smarthost on the outbound mail[1], but inbound should have as few hops as possible.

        Vic.

        [1] Smarthosting loses quite a lot of the traceability of your email, so debugging a problem can be tricky. But if you've got a rDNS entry that looks like a residential account, you're bot going to have much choice.

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Re: Fixed IP?

          @Vic

          Yes, I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing that, unless you really have a compelling reason to. The best way to do this is to have the fixed IP, rDNS and so forth that you'll get from a friendly and wise ISP.

          Of course, while that's effectively what I'll be describing, hopefully there'll be plenty of info for anyone who wants to do the same sort of thing, but with their mail setup elsewhere, whether that be a small office, or a dedicated server that you'd prefer to set up yourself, not least because unlike using, say, Plesk, it won't all suddenly fall apart and sulk just because you looked at it wrong.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Check for blacklists

    You should mention how to check the intended IP of your mailserver isn't on a load of internet blacklists that mean trying to send mail to anyone at gmail, hotmail etc. will be permanently rejected until you 'fix your spam problem'.

    Trying to run a mail server from a consumer IP block, even if fixed, is a recipe in frustration otherwise.

    And it's probably a good idea to do this before you buy the hardware, and start configuring Dovecot and Postfix.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Check for blacklists

      The other option is to buy an SMTP relay service and route outbound mail via that. You can usually get it from the same company you get your domain names from. Alternatively, your ISP may offer such a service.

      1. moiety

        Re: Check for blacklists

        Consumer IPs are routinely blackholed - that's why I gave up with a home mailserver in the end.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: Check for blacklists

          Also, some ISP could block port 25, in an attempt to block some spammer, or spam botnets. I had little issues as long as I was self-employed and could buy a "business" ADSL and fixed IP (just, it required a VAT number), when I moved to another job as an employee, and had to switch to a "consumer" ADSL, my server could no longer work and I had to move it to a rented VM - I still can manage my own server, but of course data are stored on someone's else - you can encrypt and whatever, still less control. On the bright side, it has a far faster connectivity to the Internet, my ADSL is limited at 1Mb upload (another issue with "consumer" ones), and sending large mails is not fast at all.

          Other factors to take into account it's you need your own domain name, and a DNS configured with the proper MX record(s). If you're going to use DKIM or the like, you need also to be able to set them up in the DNS records. Some mail server could perform reverse DNS lookups, and reject connections that doesn't match.

          To use SSL/TLS properly, you need certificates - buy them, or you can easily generate them yourself. I would suggest to avoid simple self-signed ones (MITM could be too easy) - generate your own CA(s), trust it on your devices, and then generate certificates from that.

          To block spam I would suggest to use DSNBL services (i.e. Spamhaus, etc.) at the connection level, because they can reject an incoming connection before the actual mail is sent, reducing the server load (Spamassassin may be a bit heavy if it has to process everything).

          As soon as a server is accessible from outside behind your router/firewall, you have also to ensure it doesn't become an entry door inside your LAN, not it can be used for spam. You need to know how to properly harden everything.

          1. choleric

            Re: Check for blacklists

            @LDS: If you are using a VPS to get a static IP address then you can simply set it up as a firewall and tunnel your mailserver's connections to it. That way you get to use an IP address that isn't identified as DSL and but you also retain control of the hardware your mailserver runs on. Win win!

            Of course unencrypted mail can be read, though it could be already, but TLS encrypted channels remain secure.

            1. LDS Silver badge

              Re: Check for blacklists

              You can also setup an SMTP server to relay or forward mails ("open relays" are evil, not any properly secured relay), which is often done to avoid to store emails on a internet facing machines (it also helps to separate the local from remote traffic, but it's not within the scope of this article).

              It may be safer than a tunnel (you can't contact the destination server directly), there are no addresses translations - which may still be an issue due to what ends to be written in mail headers (a relay can rewrite headers), and also you can process spam/malware at this layer. If the VPS server offers good reliability, it's also a way to ensure it.

              However, it's a store-and-forward technique, thereby some data may still be readable from the VPS server.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Check for blacklists

                Alternative to a tunnel, is to relay the email via UUCP. It gets stored on the VPS, then your machine periodically "dials in" using UUCP over SSH to fetch it.

        2. linicks

          Re: Check for blacklists

          You could try SPF - but of course you need a decent no-messing-ISP to start with.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sender_Policy_Framework

        3. Lyndon Hills 1

          Re: Check for blacklists

          While some organisations block dynamic ips, not all do. Sendmail (what I use, so I know this works) allows you to change the routing based on the email address you're sending to. So most mail goes direct, and where the recipient domain is blocking a dynamic ip address, the mail gets sent via another mail server. Could be your ISP, although I use the server for another domain I have which includes mail hosting. The return address is still set to my own domain so (Hotmail is one example, IIRC) mail to Hotmail goes via<other domain server> and replies come directly back to my server.

          Every now and then I get another email blocked, so I add the domain to the routing list. I think I have about a dozen or so in the table now, after getting on for 20 years of running my own server.

          I've never looked at PostFix, so I'll be following this series with interest. Dovecot, Spamassassin and fetchmail I know.

        4. steamrunner

          Re: Check for blacklists

          Which is why you don't ever send emails out directly via DNS (MX lookup) on a home line - you relay the messages to your ISPs (or someone else's) server for onward delivery. And the reverse inbound, i.e. your home box is never your Domain MX and only accepts inbound mail from the servers that are. Simple.

          1. Vic

            Re: Check for blacklists

            Which is why you don't ever send emails out directly via DNS (MX lookup) on a home line

            I do. Have done for years.

            One ISP got a bit shirty with me - so I took my business elsewhere...

            Vic.

        5. Kevin 6

          Re: @ moiety Check for blacklists

          Ditto

          Years ago I used to run my own mail server on a 800mhz atom board(was also my personal web, and fileserver) when I had a static IP with my old ISP. When they went bust I ended up on a dynamic IP ISP, and found I could no longer send e-mails from my server as they would all get rejected.

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Check for blacklists

      Good point; see my earlier answer about "Boutique ISPs", where you're probably less likely to have this problem.

      And also, there are services that automatically check against RBLs for you. The one that I use is RBL Tracker, and their free tier will check a single IP address every 48 hours for you. You can get a notification via Twitter DM (and other means) if your server's found on a blacklist.

      Again, for a small home or home office, 48 hours is probably sufficiently frequent, but I would definitely recommend some sort of monitoring like that.

    3. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Check for blacklists

      I was going to ask:

      Isn't running your own mail server something best done from a rented server in a data center somewhere?

      I always thought that running such a thing on a residential connection is a recipe for unavailability and untold frustration especially with regards the blacklistings.

      1. Vic

        Re: Check for blacklists

        Isn't running your own mail server something best done from a rented server in a data center somewhere?

        No.

        In the event of my connection going down, I want my email in the place I'm most likely to be...

        I always thought that running such a thing on a residential connection is a recipe for unavailability and untold frustration especially with regards the blacklistings.

        There's never a problem for inbound mail. Outbound mail *might* have to be smarthosted through your ISP (or other), depending on the sort of connection you have (and the reputation of the previous owner[1]).

        Vic.

        [1] I once had a very interesting email problem. A user was trying to send mail through BT (his ISP), but everything was being bounced. It turned out that BT was using spam filtering on its MSA port, and the IP address he had had been blacklisted as spammy. He was on a dynamic IP; it was the previous user that was the problem.

  5. PVecchi
    Linux

    Knowing what you are doing

    Setting up an email server in Linux is generally quite easy, for those that have the skills, but then we've got to take in consideration that not everyone know how to deal correctly with firewall rules, filtering, certificates, etc...

    An easier route would be to use Webmin and the fantastic Authentic theme (https://github.com/qooob/authentic-theme) to reduce the risk of misconfiguring something and open your server to attack.

    For those that want an even easier life a product like Collax with 5 users and Zarafa Community could provide a free but business grade all-in-one platform that provides MS Exchange like features ready to be used in about 15 minutes without having to learn a single command (http://www.collax.com/en/products/collax-business-server/overview/).

    It's good to "decentralise" the Internet but make sure your servers are configured properly and don't become spam bots or nodes for the next DDoS attack.

    1. Vic

      Re: Knowing what you are doing

      An easier route would be to use Webmin

      You need to be very careful using Webmin if you're running sendmail.

      sendmail has a mahine-readable config file called sendmail.cf. It's generally a bad idea to try to configure it with that; it's a very terse format. Instead, most of us humans use the easily-readable sendmail.mc file, and then build the sendmail.cf from that (using the m4 macro processor).

      But Webmin edits sendmail.cf directly; this means that, if later you do something to sendmail.mc, you end up throwing away all your changes. That can be a little embarassing...

      Vic.

      1. Jan 0

        Re: Knowing what you are doing

        @Vic

        >if later you do something to sendmail.mc, you end up throwing away all your changes. That can be a little embarassing...

        Errm, where's your backup of sendmail.cf.prev?

        1. Vic

          Re: Knowing what you are doing

          Errm, where's your backup of sendmail.cf.prev?

          That's kinda irrelevant; if you have a change that *has* to be made, you either have to continue editing sendmail.cf, or you have to reverse-engineer everything in there so that it can be rebuilt from sendmail.mc. Both of these situations involves understanding sendmail.cf, which is not the easiest thing I've had to do lately...

          Vic.

  6. Mike Pellatt

    MTA

    Exim.

    That is all.

    Seriously, though, I jumped that way a few years ago when the only sensible options were Exim or Postfix. Far too many people were still using Sendmail. Or maybe it was so log ago (Exim 3, that's for sure) that Postfix wasn't as mature. If I started again, I think I might go the other way - simply because it's more popular.

    Or is that not a good basis on which to make a decision ??

    (I find Exim's teergrubing facility particularly satisfying)

    (Oh, and this was on RedHat - before I discovered Debian and that Exim was the default MTA there)

    1. linicks

      Re: MTA -> sendmail

      I remember setting up sendmail years again - about the most complicated thing I have done on a GNU/linux box. Then I found Postfix, and although a bit complicated, it is logical.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably worth mentioning ..

    .. that this is NOT the thing to do if your name is Hillary Clinton. Just in case :).

  8. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Port blocking?

    You'll need an internet connection that does not block common ports (25, 80 etc) or else work around them - HTTP is often blocked but HTTPS is usually allowed. Plus, if you have a firewall, don't forget to either put the mail server in front of the firewall or else open the required ports through the firewall to your sever.

    I assume this subject is going to be covered later.

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Port blocking?

      You don't need *any* ports open in your firewall or a static IP.

      Use fetchmail or getmail (getmail is better because it doesn't have fetchmail's bugs) to retrieve your mail from your ISP's smartmail host via a POP3 link. No open ports needed in your firewall because getmail opens a connection to the smartmail host.

      Your MTA (Postfix in my case) is set up to send outgoing mail via your ISP's smartmail host, so once again no open ports because your MTA opens the connection. Doing this avoids getting your mail blacklisted because it has come from a user's IP address: blacklisting user IPs is quite common, especially if they are dynamically assigned addresses.

      The rest? My copy of getmail passes mail directly to Spamassassin. What comes back marked as spam gets quarantined and the rest is passed to Postfix for delivery via Dovecot.

      I wrote my own mail archive, based on PostgreSQL. Feeding that is automatic: all incoming and outgoing mail goes through Postfix, which BCCs a copy to the archive. The archive is fast because its a database: it can find any message in 10 secs and optionally deliver it to my mailreader. That's certainly faster than I can ferret through a large mailbox regardless of whether its an IMAP store or not. Details at www.libelle-systems.com if you're interested.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Port blocking?

        Having mails going through your ISP mail server, or any other mail server but the recipient's one, defeats one of the main reasons to setup your own mail server...

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Re: Port blocking?

          Yes, it defeats some of them, but not all - for some people, simply aggregating all their accounts in one place, or having a searchable archive, is the main reason.

          Generally, though, yes unless you're using Fetchmail or equivalent, you will need to have at least port 25 open, and that will depend on your ISP.

          That need to have some ports exposed to the net is one of the reasons I'm using OpenBSD for this project - there's not going to be anything installed and listening, unless you've set it up to do that.

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