Using postfix to send email via

It is quite easy to make your email agent (mutt in my case) send directly to, but this can result in inconvenient delays when you have a low-bandwidth Internet connection, and, worse yet, abject failure when you have no Internet connection at all. (Yes, I was born before the turn of the millennium. Why do you ask?)

One way to avoid these problems is to set up an email server on your laptop. This email server will queue your email when Internet is slow or completely inaccessible, and will automatically transmit your email as appropriate. There are several email servers to choose from, but I chose postfix.

First, you need to install postfix, for example, sudo apt install postfix. I have generally selected the satellite option when it asks, but there seems to be a number of different opinions expressed at different web sites.

You need to tell postfix to talk to in your /etc/postfix/ file:

relayhost = []:587

I followed linode's advice on setting up encryption, passwords, and so on, by tacking the following onto the end of my /etc/postfix/ file:

# enable SASL authentication smtp_sasl_auth_enable = yes # disallow methods that allow anonymous authentication. smtp_sasl_security_options = noanonymous # where to find sasl_passwd smtp_sasl_password_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/sasl_password # Enable STARTTLS encryption smtp_use_tls = yes # where to find CA certificates smtp_tls_CAfile = /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt

But this requires setting up /etc/postfix/sasl_password with a single line:

[]:587 paulmck:fake-password

You will need to replace my email and password with yours, obviously. Then you need to create the /etc/postfix/sasl_password.db file:

sudo postmap /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

There was some difference of opinion across Internet as to what the ownership and permisssions of /etc/postfix/sasl_password and /etc/postfix/sasl_password.db should be, with some people arguing for maximum security via user and group both being set to root and permissions set to 0600. In my case, this was indeed secure, so much so that postfix failed to transmit any of my email, making some lame complaint about being unable to read /etc/postfix/sasl_password.db. Despite the compelling security benefits of this approach, I eventually elected to use user and group of postfix and permissions of 0640 for /etc/postfix/sasl_password.db, intentionally giving up a bit of security in favor of email actually being transmitted. :–)

I left /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd with user and group of root and mode of 0600. Somewhat pointlessly, given that its information can be easily extracted from etc/postfix/sasl_password.db by anyone with permission to read that file.

And anytime you change any postfix configuration, you need to tell postfix about it, for example:

sudo postfix reload

You might well need to make other adjustments to your postfix configuration. To that end, I strongly suggest testing your setup by sending a test email or three! ;–)

The mailq command will list queued email along with the reason why it has not yet been transmitted.

The sudo postfix flush command gives postfix a hint that now would be an excellent time for it to attempt to transmit queued email, for example, when you have an Internet connection only for a short time.