Jan 23 2010

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life is too short to use horde

I own a bunch of different domains and run a mail service on all of them. In the past I have used a variety of different ways of providing mail, from simple pop/imap using dovecot and postfix, through to using the database driven mail service in egroupware.

Recently I have consolidated mail for several of my domains onto one of my VPSs. I don’t have a lot of mail users so at first I stuck with the simple approach available to all dovecot/postfix installations, i.e. – using dovecot as the local delivery mechanism and simply telling postfix to hand off incoming mail to dovecot. Dovecot then has to figure out where to deliver mail. I also used a simple password file for the dovecot password mechanism. This mechanism worked fine for a small number of users, but it rapidly becomes a pain if you have multiple users across multiple domains and you wish to allow those users to change their passwords remotely. The solution is to move user management to a MySQL backend and change the postfix and dovecot configurations to use that backend database.

Now to allow (virtual) users to change their mail passwords, most on-line documentation points to the sork password module for horde. But have you /seen/ horde? Sheesh, what a dog’s breakfast of overengineered complexity. I flatter myself that I can find may away around most sysadmin problems. but after most of a day one weekend trying to install and configure the entire horde suite just so that I could use the remote password changing facility I gave up in disgust and went searching for an easier mechanism. Sure enough I found just what I wanted in the shape of postfixadmin. This is a php application which provides a web based interface for managing mailboxes, virtual domains and aliases on a postfix mail server.

Postfixadmin is easy to install and has few dependencies (beyond the obvious php/postfix/mysql). There are even ubuntu/debian packages available for users of those distributions. I also found an excellent installation howto at rimuhosting which I can recommend.

I can now manage all my virtual domains, user mailboxes and aliases from one single point – and the users can manage their passwords and vacation messages from a simple web interface.

image of postfixadmin page

postfixadmin domain creation

Whilst I currently only provide pop3s/imaps mail access through dovecot, postfixadmin offers a squirrelmail plugin to integrate webmail should I wish to do that in future.

Simple, elegant and above all, usable. And it didn’t take all day to install either.

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