NOTE: a more readable HTML version of this INSTALL document can be found in courier/doc/install.html.


Read this document in its entirety before entering a single command. Installing Courier for the first time will take a while. If possible, consider looking around for anyone who has already packaged Courier for your operating system, and save yourself the hassle.

Fortunately, it gets easier with each subsequent installation. Courier is a complicated piece of software. Most problems people will have are likely to be with the configuring and installing it correctly. Designing complex software that compiles and installs on a wide variety of POSIX systems is not a trivial task.

Courier's configuration and installation scripts are very flexible in setting up installation directories for each logical set of files - configuration files, binaries, scripts, the mail queue, and more. If you begin by installing someone else's package, instead of installing everything yourself, you should take careful notes where things are installed. If you later decide to roll your own package, you will either need to use a COMPLETELY IDENTICAL configuration, or take care to back up your old configuration, and then restore it after the upgrade. The following documentation refers to the default location of various configuration files (and other files as well). If you choose to install some files in a non-default location (either by yourself, or by using someone else's package), you will need to take this into account while reading the following documentation.

This cannot be emphasized enough: the configuration defaults are very generic; the goal is to have the default configuration settings work for almost everyone. In every case using at least a couple of non-default parameters will make Courier work better on your system. You should anticipate going through several trial-and-error installs, tweaking the options to see what works better for you. Even my own pre-configured RPM package uses a number of non-default parameters.

NOTE: older versions of the linuxconf configuration tool are hardwired for sendmail. They like to change the permission of the sendmail wrapper to match the permissions they think the real sendmail should have. Older versions of linuxconf also have a tendency to create the /var/spool/mqueue directory, even if sendmail is not installed.

Table Of Contents

The following table of contents might look intimidating at first, but some sections are marked "optional". These sections are not required for a basic installation as a simple ESMTP server.

Upgrading an existing installation

Upgrading from Courier 0.34.1 or earlier.

Version 0.35 introduced the ability to update system passwords from the webmail server. If you are using the authuserdb authentication module, rerun the makeuserdb script after upgrading to 0.35 or later.

Prior to 0.35, the default configuration of the webmail server maintained a separate webmail password file. The webmail server did not have the logic to update system login passwords, the approach was to copy system login passwords into a webmail password file. Changing the webmail password involved simply updating the webmail password file, and life was good.

In 0.35, logic was added to update the real system password file, and the eliminate the webmail password file. After upgrading in 0.35, it will probably be necessary to reset all mail account passwords on existing accounts, since the webmail password file is not being used any more, and most people have probably changed their webmail passwords.

As the result of the password change, the default configuration script will now always build the authdaemond authentication module by default. Previously, authdaemond was built by default only if LDAP or MySQL support was necessary.

Upgrading from Courier 0.29.1 or earlier.

Version 0.30 changed the format of most configuration files. The new configuration file format allows configuration files to be automatically upgraded. The automatic upgrade feature requires that both the old and the new installation have preformatted configuration files. Therefore, when upgrading from version 0.29.1 or earlier, use the following procedure to upgrade the existing configuration files.

All configuration files are installed in the same directory, "sysconfdir". sysconfdir is a configurable parameter, it's usually /usr/lib/courier/etc. sysconfdir is /etc/courier in the RPM version of Courier.

Back up your existing sysconfdir

Make a backup copy of your current sysconfdir, then delete the old version of Courier. "rm -rf /usr/lib/courier" will do nicely. All the possible configurable settings are in sysconfdir, everything else can simply go.

Install the new version

Follow the installation procedure in the next section (including the make install-configure). The following configuration files are now preformatted for automatic installation:


NOTE: depending upon your configuration, you may not actually have every one of these files installed, so just disregard the ones that are not present. Manually edit filename, and retype any custom modifications from the backup copy of the configuration file. This is a hassle, but it only needs to be done once. Future upgrades will be 99% automatic.

Any custom configuration changes are generally confined to these configuration files only. Very rarely are any configuration changes made to the remaining configuration files. If necessary, they can simply be restored from the backup copy made in the previous step. Something to keep in mind is that future versions may add additional complexity to other configuration files, resulting in additional configuration files being reformatted for automatic upgrading.


You will need the following software in order to compile and install Courier:

  1. A C++ compiler

    Courier is primarily developed and built with gcc. Other C++ compiler may or may not work. Solaris's C++ compiler is reported to work without any problems. There are some issues with AIX's xlC compiler, which mostly has to do with the C++ libraries and header files. IBM has released a GNU/Linux development toolkit for AIX, which may help in getting Courier to compile.

  2. GNU make

    On the BSD platform family GNU make is usually installed as gmake. Simply replace 'make' with 'gmake' in the following instructions. GNU make is REQUIRED. Use anything else at your own risk.

  3. Perl 5

    A recent version of Perl needs to be installed.

  4. expect

    The expect utility is used by the webmail server to control the passwd command in order to change mail login passwords. expect is a part of most operating systems. If you do not have it, you can download it from You do not need it if you will not be using the webmail server, or if you will be creating virtual (non-system) mail accounts.

  5. GDBM or Berkeley DB library

    Either library must be installed.

  6. FAM, the File Alteration Monitor ( is optional. If FAM is installed, it is used for an enhanced IMAP IDLE implementation that provides real-time folder status updates to concurrent IMAP clients that have the same folder opened.

  7. OpenSSL

    Support for SSL/TLS requires OpenSSL. If OpenSSL is not installed, SSL/TLS features are disabled.

  8. OpenLDAP

    Support for LDAP directory services requires OpenLDAP client libraries to be installed. If OpenLDAP is not installed LDAP directory features are disabled. Sometimes there's some confusion when commercial LDAP servers are used, which come with their own development toolkits, which use a different API than OpenLDAP. Even if a commercial LDAP server is used to provide LDAP services, OpenLDAP is still required to enable LDAP services in Courier. Also, note that you need OpenLDAP development libraries and files. On most systems, the development files are packaged separately, in addition to the runtime OpenLDAP libraries. Make sure that you have not just the runtime OpenLDAP libraries installed, but the development libraries as well.

  9. MySQL/PostgreSQL

    Support for MySQL and PostgreSQL-based authentication requires, obviously, MySQL/PostgreSQL development libraries. Note - MySQL/PostgreSQL runtime support files is not sufficient to build Courier - you must also install MySQL/PostgreSQL development files and libraries (which may not be installed by default).

  10. mgetty+sendfax, groff or troff (not tested), ghostscript, and NetPBM

    This optional software is required to send E-mail messages via fax. Courier will compile and install without this software, but you will not be able to send faxes. All packages must be installed prior to installing Courier, and binaries from all packages must be installed in the default PATH before running Courier's configure script.

    mgetty+sendfax, ghostscript, and groff, are required for basic fax support, which supports faxing of plain text, Postscript, and PDF-formatted content. It's probably possible to use the original UNIX troff instead of groff, but this has not been tested. Installing NetPBM adds the ability to fax GIF, JPEG, and PNG images.

The typical sequence of commands to install Courier is as follows. Read the following section before running these commands:

   ./configure [options]
   make check       # Optional -- see below
   make install
   make install-configure

These commands are described in greater detail in the following sections.

If you're using gmake (the make on GNU/Linux, and gmake everywhere else), and you are compiling Courier on a workstation with multiple CPUs and plenty of memory, set the following environment variable:

   MAKEFLAGS="-j 4"; export MAKEFLAGS         # Bourne or Korn shell
   setenv MAKEFLAGS="-j 4"                    # The C shell

This must be done before running the configure script. This works only with gmake.

Courier will not work on a Linux kernel that's been patched with the Openwall security patch in its default configuration. The current version of the Openwall patch has a non-default option that turns off the portion of the Openwall patch which prevents Courier from running.

NOTE: Linux-Mandrake includes the Openwall patch in the alternative "secure" kernel package. Courier will not run on Linux-Mandrake under the alternative "secure" kernel. This package must be removed and the standard kernel package must be installed.

Preparing for installation

The first step consists of gathering some information about your existing mail system. Before proceeding, you will need to identify and resolve the following issues:

Courier can be used as a simple mail relay -- which does not store any mail locally but is merely a gateway between internal and external mail systems. Courier can also be used as a traditional mail server, accepting and storing messages in individual mailboxes that are accessible via POP3, IMAP, or webmail.

Courier defaults to storing mail in maildirs, not traditional flat file mailbox files. Maildirs require less I/O and CPU resources; they do not use locking; and multiple clients can read and write from maildirs simultaneously. Maildirs scale very well to servers with multiple CPUs. Some benchmark numbers on maildirs are available from

Additionally, Courier's integrated POP3, IMAP, and HTTP/webmail servers support maildir mailboxes only. They do not support mailbox files.

If you have an existing mail server in service, chances are that your current mail server delivers mail to mailbox files. You should consider migrating and converting to maildirs, but this will require that you also upgrade your POP3 server, your IMAP server, and all your other mail clients to software that supports maildirs. Fortunately, Courier already includes a fully integrated POP3 and IMAP server.

Still, if circumstances absolutely require for you to stick with mailbox files, Courier has limited compatibility support for delivering mail to mailbox files, but you have more homework to do:

If you decide to stick with mailbox files, you must know - of course - where your mailboxes are located, and what locking mechanism is being used by your mail software. Mailbox files require some form of locking, because only one application can access the mailbox file at the same time. Unfortunately, different operating systems use different locking methods. There are several possible locking strategies that can be used: so-called "dot-locks", or one of three possible kinds of file locking calls. You will need to consult the documentation for your existing mail software to determine what locking mechanisms you should use.

In most cases, mailbox files are located in a separate partition, usually the directory /var/spool/mail. In some instances, mailbox files may be kept in the home directory of each individual account, and the mail is delivered to either $HOME/Mailbox, or $HOME/INBOX. Again, you will have to figure this out by yourself.

Courier can deliver mail to mailbox files only if the default mailbox file is in the home directory of each individual account, and if you use file locking. Courier does not support dot-locks, and Courier does not support a separate mail directory for mailbox files. Mailbox files must be located in the home directory of each individual account.

Courier can use a recipient database (userdb) that can specify a non-default location for a recipient's mailbox. In theory, it is possible to point each account to its individual mailbox in /var/spool/mail, or somewhere else. However, that's a tedious task that must be done manually for each account, and is likely to be a major maintenance issue.

A better solution is to use a separate local mail delivery agent. Your existing mail system is very likely to include a separate local mail delivery agent. If you already use a mail delivery agent such as procmail, you probably already have it set to use the correct locking mechanism for mailbox files, and it already knows where the mailbox files are. Courier will be happy to hand off all local mail to procmail, or anything else for the actual delivery.

Courier source distribution includes the maildrop mail delivery agent which has some additional file locking options, however you'll have less problems if you stick with procmail in the beginning, and switch to maildrop after you've gained some experience configuring and installing Courier.

You should create a new userid and groupid named "courier". That's optional, but highly recommended. If this is not done, Courier will install as user/group daemon (or some other suitable user/group id). Only two of Courier's daemon processes run as a superuser (and one of them is perpetually waiting for a non-superuser daemon process to terminate, in order to restart it). Everything else runs as a non-superuser process. Ideally, you should reserve a separate user and group ID for Courier's use only, so a compromised mail system cannot be used to compromise the rest of the system. If push comes to shove, you can set up Courier to use a well-defined existing user and group ID, such as daemon.

Courier, by default, installs in /usr/lib/courier. Everything goes in there: binaries, scripts, configuration files, and manual pages. You will have to configure your man command to look for manual pages in /usr/lib/courier/man by adding this directory to the MANPATH environment variable. You will also need to add /usr/lib/courier/bin and /usr/lib/courier/sbin (for the root user only) to the default PATH. The Courier RPM package installs a script that automatically implements that.

Note that this installation layout is nothing more than a basic default, chosen because this simple arrangement works for everyone. The installation layout can be easily changed. For example, binaries can go to /usr/local/bin, and configuration files to /usr/local/etc. But keep in mind that Courier consists of several hundred individual files (at the last count), so if you install Courier somewhere else it might be very cumbersome to keep track of where everything went, and it will lead to almost guaranteed problems later, when you upgrade.

You should try to use some kind of a packaging system in order to keep track of your Courier installation. Once you choose a packaging system, you should stick to it. If you switch to a different packaging system you should take extreme care to remove your previous package, and install your new package. Extreme configuration flexibility means that different packages will install in different places, and even have different file ownerships!

For example, Courier's source code tarball can be built by RPM version 3.0.3 or higher, into a binary RPM package. The binary RPM package installs configuration files in /etc/courier, the mail queue in /var/spool/courier, and everything else in /usr/lib/courier. If you install my package, and later decide to either create your own package or use someone else's, you will have to make sure to use the same settings, or remove my package completely, before installing your new package. I mean it when I say "remove my package completely". That includes the mail queue containing any unsent messages. Courier will not function if you reinstall it using a different user/group ID, or if you use a different value for any other option.

Once these issues are squared away, you are ready to configure and install Courier.

Run configure

After you are squared away with the preliminaries, run the configure script:

./configure [ options ]


You MUST run the configure script as normal user, not root. Did you extract the tarball as root? It won't work. Delete everything you have just extracted, as root. Log in as a normal user. Extract the source code as a normal user, then run configure. You will do everything as a normal user, except for the final step of installing the compiled software. When you're ready to do a make install, later, su yourself to root, and run make install.

The configure script can take a while to complete. There will be more then thirty separate configuration scripts that will be executed by this command. To an untrained eye it may seem that the same configuration script is stuck in a loop; that's because all these configuration scripts share a lot of code. It may take as much as 15-20 minutes for configure to finish on a slow machine - even more.

You must have the uux command in your default search path if you intend to use Courier to relay mail via UUCP. You may need to modify your PATH environment variable to include the directory containing uux.

gcc/egcs is officially blessed for building Courier. In most cases there's no need to tweak any compiler-specific settings. Note that there currently may be some unresolved issues with gcc 2.96. gcc 2.91 has been tested and known to work. Occasionally some of your system libraries may be stuck in some oddball directory that is not searched by default. Non-standard options for the compiler or linker can be set by putting them into environment variables. This must be done before running the configurescript:

The complete reference to all configure script options is provided below. The most important options are:

configure reference

Here's a comprehensive list of options for the configure script. They are presented in no particular order. In almost all cases, the configure script will automatically figure out the correct values, but sometimes it is necessary to specify them explicitly. If you ever have a need to manually specify any configuration option, try to determine whether you need it because of a particular unique case that involves your server only, or whether it affects any server running your hardware, or system. In the later case, try to investigate if it's possible for configure to be a bit smarter and make the right decision.

Authentication modules

Authentication modules serve two purposes: identify the location of the mailbox for a local mail account; validate the password provided by IMAP, POP3, or Webmail to access the mailbox.

There are several authentication modules available. Each authentication module implements a separate way of authenticating logins, and not all authentication modules can be used on every system. Some authentication modules can be used only on systems that have certain libraries or software installed.

The configure script checks the system configuration and automatically prepares a default set of authentication modules which will be used. The option --without-module, where "module" represents the name of the module, can be used to selectively disable the module. However, there's usually no reason to do that. Modules can be easily disabled at runtime, by removing them from the authmodulelist configuration file, or from the authdaemonrc file if the authdaemon module is going to be installed.

Here's a brief list of the available authentication modules:

Most of these authentication modules have a corresponding configuration file that define various parameters (server location, field names, etc). After installation you will need to open their configuration files, and follow the instructions in the configuration file.

The list of authentication modules, and their respective order, is read from the authmodulelist configuration file, and unwanted authentication modules can be disabled simply by removing them from this file. When authdaemon is installed the list of modules is found in the authdaemonrc file instead. When authdaemon is installed, Courier does not issue authentication requests directly, instead they are forwarded to the authdaemond process. This is a small persistent process that runs in the background and opens persistent database connections. This is much faster than opening and closing a connection to the database for each individual authentication request.

Starting with Courier 0.35, the authdaemon module will always be installed, unless explicitly disabled by the configure script. This greatly simplifies these installation instructions. Additionally, authdaemon is required in order to be able to change passwords in the webmail server. If authdaemon is not installed, webmail may not be able to change the account password, because that procedure usually requires elevated privileges (and webmail drops root privileges right away, while authdaemon retains them, in the background).


This module should be used on systems that have the PAM library. With this module, Courier will use whatever PAM modules are defined for authenticating the "webmail", "imap", "pop3", or "esmtp" PAM service services. Essentially, authpam allows any PAM module to be used for authenticating mail account logins. NOTE: in addition to including this module, you will have to take additional, site-specific, steps in order to configure your PAM library for the "webmail" PAM service. The specific details regarding your PAM configuration differs from system to system, and you should consult your own documentation. It might be tempting to throw in a towel and use authshadow or authpwd if you cannot figure out how to install PAM support, however that is not advisable. It is highly recommended to use authpam wherever the PAM library is available.

Although the exact procedure to configure PAM authentication differs from system to system, if you have the directory /etc/pam.d try creating the file /etc/pam.d/webmail, containing the following text:

auth    required  /lib/security/ shadow nullok
account required  /lib/security/

Repeat the same for imap, pop3, and esmtp files. Your system may use the module instead of, and your modules may be located in a different directory.

If instead of /etc/pam.d you have a global file named /etc/pam.conf, try appending the following lines to the end of this file:

webmail auth    required shadow nullok
webmail account required shadow nullok

Repeat the same lines with "imap", "pop3", and "esmtp" entries to set up authentication for those services as well. Again, you may have to use or specify the full pathname to the PAM module.

HINT: try to look at how other PAM services are set up, and duplicate their configuration for the webmail service. A good example to follow would be the ppp service, if it exists.

NOTE: If optional webmail calendaring is enabled in groupware mode, PAM must be configured to authenticate the "calendar" service in addition to "webmail". In most cases, creating a soft link from /etc/pam.d/calendar to /etc/pam.d/webmail does the trick.


These modules use GDBM or DB database files, usually /etc/userdb.dat and /etc/userdbshadow.dat to look up userids and passwords. These files are GDBM or DB database files that are loosely equivalent in function to /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow. authuserdb handles the traditional userid/password logins, and authcram handles CRAM authentication. The database files are maintained indirectly by several Perl scripts (which are included with Courier), which build these database files from a plain text file, usually called /etc/userdb that can be modified using any text editor, or via command line with the aid of these Perl scripts. /etc/userdb may also be a subdirectory with multiple text files of the same format, which are concatenated. This allows creating virtual mail accounts that do not have a corresponding login account -- virtual mail accounts that can share the same, reserved, system userid. /etc/userdb can also be used to completely supercede /etc/passwd. With many accounts it can be quite a drain to have to continuously linearly scan /etc/passwd in order to look up an account. Instead, a fast database lookup can retrieve the same information from the database file. Read the included manual pages, starting with userdb(8) for more information.


Edit the authmysqlrc configuration file to configure this module. For more information, see the file authlib/README.authmysql.html.


Edit the authpgsqlrc configuration file to configure this module. PostgreSQL configuration is nearly identical to MySQL information, see authlib/README.authpostgres.html for more information.


After running make install, edit your system's startup script and have it run authdaemond start at system boot.

The authdaemond start is actually a script. Depending on your system configuration, there may be one or more different authdaemond binaries installed, and here's why.

authdaemond.plain will include all available authentication modules except for certain "heavy" authentication modules. The current list of "heavy" authentication modules is authldap and authmysql.

If support for a "heavy" authentication module is selected, there will be an additional binary installed, such as authdaemond.mysql or authdaemond.ldap. The authdaemond start script checks if any "heavy" authentication daemon is installed, and, if so, runs that. Otherwise, the default authdaemond.plain binary goes in.

This allows an easy way to create binary Courier distributions with and without LDAP or MySQL support. The distributor would simply build Courier on a machine that contains both LDAP and MySQL development libraries, then take everything but authdaemond.mysql and authdaemond.ldap and roll it into the base Courier package. authdaemond.mysql and authdaemond.ldap are rolled into separate sub-packages. Loading a base package installs basic system authentication services. Adding LDAP or MySQL support is as simple as loading the corresponding sub-package.

Confirming selected authentication options

You can find out what authentication modules were actually used, but after running the configure script you must also at least run make, and have it succesfully complete. Running make, compiles the authinfo program in the authlib subdirectory. Run this program to tell you what authentication modules were compiled in.

To change the list of enabled authentication modules, simply rerun the configurescript.


IPv6 support in Courier means basically the following:

IPv6 implementations are required to accept IPv4 connections on IPv6 sockets, so IPv6 sockets should be able to receive both IPv4 and IPv6 connections. In the event that your IPv6 implementation is not stable, or is partially incomplete, IPv6 support in Courier should be disabled.

The configuration script will attempt to detect whether IPv6 structures and functions are available, and automatically enable IPv6 support if they are found. The --without-ipv6 option disables IPv6 support, which may be desired for the following reasons:

IPv6 support is still a bit spotty in some places. If the configuration checks fail, IPv6 support will be quietly suppressed. If you expect IPv6 support to be present, the --with-ipv6 flag can be used to abort configuration if IPv6 support was not detected.

Compile and run make check

    make check

If the configure script ran without errors, run make to build Courier. If make completes succesfully, run make check. make check runs some simple internal tests. It is not feasible to run a complete check of Courier's behavior, but make check does automatically run some tests on several modules.

If make check fails, you need to do some detective work. Investigate the source of the failure. It is possible that the issue can be resolved by specifying different options to the configure script, in which case you have to go back and rerun the configure script again.


su yourself to root, if you want to do a live install, then run make install or make install-strip to install Courier. If you use the GNU version of make, and you would like to see which files Courier installs and where, don't su yourself to root, but set the make variable named DESTDIR. For example:

make install DESTDIR=/var/tmp/courier-inst

The contents of DESTDIR are prepended to the name of every file installed, so if --prefix was set to /usr/lib/courier, the files will be installed in /var/tmp/courier-inst/usr/lib/courier. This only works if you use GNU make.

NOTE: you must make sure that your umask is 022 before you run make install.

If executed by root, make install automatically sets the correct ownership on the installed files. Non-root make installs do not set the ownership, but still set correct permissions. This feature is mainly for use by people who are rolling Courier into a prebuilt package, since this allows them to build the package as a normal user, not root. In this situation the command make install-perms will be very useful. This command creates a file called permissions.dat. This file contains a complete listing of everything that will be installed, and what the correct permissions are on every file.

make install installs Courier binaries with debugging data, which is probably a good idea to do while Courier is in development. Use makeinstall-strip to install binaries without debugging data. Some systems have a broken install utility, so make install-strip may fail.

Install configuration files

The following command creates and updates configuration files. It must be executed after running make install:

make install-configure

This command copies each configuration file "filename.dist" to "filename". The existing filename is backed up as filename.bak. If upgrading from Courier 0.30 or later, the previous configuration settings in filename.bak will be automatically copied to filename, provided that they are still valid. If a configuration setting may no longer be valid, it will be reset to its default value. The output of make install-configure will indicate the status of each configuration setting, therefore it is advistable to save the output to a file, and examine it:

make install-configure >upgrade.log

Versions prior to 0.30 cannot have their configuration settings automatically preserved, and must be restored manually from filename.bak. Do not simply copy filename.bak to filename, this will lose all the formatting codes that allow automatic upgrades.

PAM configuration

If you use PAM library for authentication, you may need to set up PAM for authenticating POP3 logins, IMAP logins, webmail logins, and/or ESMTP authentication. In most cases, all you have to do is install /usr/lib/courier/etc/pop3d.authpam as /etc/pam.d/pop3, /usr/lib/courier/etc/imapd.authpam as /etc/pam.d/imap, /usr/lib/courier/etc/webmail.authpam as /etc/pam.d/webmail, and /usr/lib/courier/etc/esmtp.authpam as /etc/pam.d/esmtp. However you will have to consult your PAM documentation, and the manual pages for authpam, in order to make sure.

Some versions of the PAM library, do not use the /etc/pam.d directory. Instead they use a single configuration file /etc/pam.conf. Here's an example of what needs to be added to /etc/pam.conf on FreeBSD 4.0. NOTE: other platforms may need something similar:

imap  auth    required      try_first_pass
imap  account required
imap  session required
pop3  auth    required      try_first_pass
pop3  account required
pop3  session required
esmtp auth    required      try_first_pass
esmtp account required
esmtp session required

Building RPM packages

NOTE: If you build an RPM package directly from the source tarball, the resulting RPMs may not install if you have an existing IMAP or an existing POP3 server installed. The RPM packages will contain these PAM configuration files, and they will conflict with any PAM configuration files installed by another IMAP or POP3 server. If you manually installed an IMAP or a POP3 server without packaging them up into an RPM, the Courier RPM package will install and the old configuration files will be silently removed, since they were not installed using RPM.

Courier includes integrated POP3, IMAP, and webmail servers, however they only work with maildirs. Decide if you want to keep using your current server, or switch to Courier's IMAP/POP3/webmail servers. If you want to keep your existing servers, back up the contents of your /etc/pam.d directory before installing the RPM, install it, then restore the overwritten files. If you want to switch to Courier, blow away your current server before running make install.

Adjust system paranoia level

There are six setuid binaries in Courier that are owned by root: sendmail, maildrop, webmail, webadmin, authdaemon.passwd and authstart.

/usr/lib/courier/bin/maildrop is the mail filter. If you do not need mail filtering, you can remove it. The setuid root privilege is only needed to implement mail filtering "on the wire", when receiving mail from an external mail relay (see localmailfilter(7) for more information). Removing the setuid root bit still allows traditional mail filtering to be used, after the message is received and delivered to the mailbox.

/usr/lib/courier/libexec/courier/webmail/webmail is the webmail CGI. It is executed by the web server, and needs to change its userid/groupid, in order to enter the maildir. If you do not need webmail access, you can remove it. An alternative is to implement virtual mailboxes, owned by a non-privileged userid, and change the ownership of the webmail CGI to the non-privileged user (you will also need to use the --with-cacheowner option to the configure script since the webmail process must have write access to the webmail login cache directory).

/usr/lib/courier/libexec/authlib/changepwd/authdaemon.passwd is used by the webmail server to update mail account passwords. The password authentication module, authdaemon is a persistent background process that receives authentication requests from a privileged filesystem socket. authdaemon.passwd receives a request to change the mail account password: the old userid, the old password, and the new password, then opens the privileged socket and sends the request to the authentication module. This binary can be deleted if the webmail server is not going to be used.

/usr/lib/courier/libexec/courier/webmail/webadmin is the wrapper for the web-based administration tool. See below for more information.

/usr/lib/courier/bin/sendmail is the command line mail sender. Its first order of business is to set its group id to Courier's group id, and restore the original userid, dropping root. The reason that it needs root setuid is to set its real group id, because setting the setgid bit on the executable is not enough. The setgid bit sets only the effective group id, and the root setuid bit is required to set both effective and real group ids. Both real and effective group IDs are needed in order to be able to implement maildrop mail filtering.

/usr/lib/courier/libexec/courier/modules/esmtp/authstart is used by the ESMTP server to implement authenticated ESMTP. The ESMTP server runs as a non-privileged user. Authenticating a userid and password requires root privileges, since only root can typically access system passwords. authstart is installed without any world read or execute permissions, and can be executed only by the courier system group id. If you do not need to implement authenticated ESMTP you can remove authstart. Permissions on authstart will be tightened up a bit in a future release.

Post-installation setup

A first-time Courier installation may not require the system startup scripts to be modified to start Courier at system boot. Until the system's functionality is verified, the system will probably continue to use the existing mail server. Still, most Courier configurations will require two things to be started before any part of the system is put to use:

  1. The authdaemond process must be started in order for authentication to work. The default configuration uses a background process to authenticate local mail accounts. Run "/usr/lib/courier/libexec/authlib/authdaemond start" to start the background process. Before starting authdaemond, review the contents of the /usr/lib/courier/etc/authdaemonrc configuration file, to select the authentication modules to be used. Some authentication modules will require additional configuration files to be initialized (such as authmysqlrc, authpgsql and authldaprc) before authdaemond is started.

  2. An hourly cron job needs to be created to run the script, which purges expired webmail login cache records. Logging in to the mail account via the web creates a file in a temporary directory that caches the login session identity. The output of make install includes the command that needs to be set up as a cron job by root. The cron job runs su to change to the userid that owns the login cache directory, then runs the purge script. The su command on some system uses a slightly different syntax than what's shown by make install. It may be necessary to consult the su man page before setting up the cron job. Run the su command as root, to make sure that its syntax is correct, before setting up the cron job. The cron job can be omitted if webmail is not going to be used.

Post-installation checks

The following tests should be run to verify that your installation works properly. These tests are not really comprehensive tests, they only make sure that the basic functionality is there, and they definitely must be done the first time you install a version of Courier on your system. If you later reinstall the same version on the same platform, using the same configuration, you don't need to run these installation checks (but you better be sure that the reinstallation is COMPLETELY identical to the original install). You might also wish to rerun these installation checks after upgrading your base operating system.

The following documentation assumes that Courier is installed in /usr/lib/courier.

Verify module installation

Run the showmodules utility after all files have been installed, but before you attempt to start Courier. The showmodules utility attempts to load and initialize transport modules that have been configured, without actually starting up Courier. Running showmodules should result in something that looks like this:

   showmodules[5060]: Loading STATIC transport module libraries.
   showmodules[5060]: Installing i586-gnu-linux [0/0]
   showmodules[5060]: Installing local
   showmodules[5060]: Installed local
   showmodules[5060]: Installing esmtp
   showmodules[5060]: Installed esmtp
   showmodules[5060]: Installing dsn
   showmodules[5060]: Installed dsn
   showmodules[5060]: Initializing local
   showmodules[5060]: Initializing esmtp
   showmodules[5060]: Initializing dsn

Test child process termination

In this test, you will start Courier, then attempt to rapidly pump through as many messages as fast as possible, to verify that asynchronous child process termination handling works. For this test (and the following tests) you need to use a test account.

Log on to the test account and run maildirmake to create two maildirs: maildirmake $HOME/test, and maildirmake $HOME/bounces.

Create $HOME/.courier-test-default, containing one line: ./test. Create $HOME/.courier, containing one line: ./bounces. If you previously selected .qmail compatibility, you will need to use .qmail-test-default and .qmail, of course. Keep that in mind as you work through the remaining tests.

Configure Courier for local account authentication. If you intend to use LDAP or MySQL authentication, there are some configuration files that must be edited to configure authentication. See the authlib(8) manual page for more information.

Start Courier as root:

/usr/lib/courier/sbin/courier start

Check your system log files for any error messages. Run the ps command, and check that you only have the following processes running: courierd (two processes), courierdsn, courieruucp, courieresmtp, and courierlocal. You will also have a couple of "logger" processes hanging around, that's ok too.

One of the two courierd processes will be running as root. The courierlocal process will also be running as root. All other processes will be running as the courier (or daemon, or mail) user. courieruucp may be running as uucp.

If your configuration includes the authdaemon authentication module (see "configure reference" above) you need to start the authdaemond process too:

/usr/lib/courier/libexec/authlib/authdaemond start

Run the perftest1 script, which can be found in the directory containing Courier's source code:

sh perftest1 1000 "user-test-1 user-test-2 user-test-3 user-test-4 user-test-5"

Run this script while logged on to the test account. Replace "user" with the name of your test account. This will send 1000 messages with five recipients per message. You should end up with exactly 5000 messages in $HOME/test/new. Count them.

Monitor the system logs. There will be a lot of activity. On my test system, the system logger usually backs up. Courier generates log messages faster than the logger can record them. When all the activity stops, count how many files you have in $HOME/test/new. For extra credit, total up the Delivered-To: headers in all the messages, there should be 1000 headers for each one of the five addresses.

If you did not get 5000 messages, and mailq comes up empty, check $HOME/bounces/new. If you're lucky, the rest bounced. That's still a problem, but the bounces will help you to investigate things further.

If you did not get 5000 messages, and mailq shows some messages remaining in the queue, and ps shows some dead zombie processes that are not being reaped, this means that asynchronous process termination is not working. You will need to examine your configuration to see whether configure selected the wait or the wait3 function. Unpack the source code again and rerun configure. This time use the --with-waitfunc option to choose the other wait function, manually. Recompile, reinstall, and rerun this test.

If you did get all the messages, go through your syslog for extra-extra credit. grep it for the word "defer" to see if any messages required multiple delivery attempts. This shouldn't happen either.

If your hardware has enough juice to pump through 5000 messages in a short period of time, rerun this test with a larger number of messages. Before doing that, wipe the Maildirs clean, in order to confirm the message count, later. The test must run for at least 3-4 minutes in order to get meaningful results.

User/group ID check

For this test you will need to use or create a regular user test account, which will be referred to as user. You can use the same test account you used in the last test, but erase all .courier (or .qmail) files.

In user's home directory, create .courier which contains the following text:

| /usr/bin/id >ID
| /usr/bin/env >ENV

Make sure that your id and env commands are in /usr/bin. If not, use the correct path.

Send a single message to user:

echo "To: user" | /usr/lib/courier/bin/sendmail

Thie message will disappear into the never-never land, so don't waste time looking for it. Just examine, very closely, the contents of the ID and the ENV files in user's home directory. Double check what user and the group ids recorded in ID match user's. Pay close attention to any auxiliary group IDs, make sure that they haven't "leaked" from the root user who started Courier.

Also, examine the environment, in ENV. Check the manual page for dot-courier, ENV should contain only the documented environment variables, and any environment variables that are defined in the /usr/lib/courier/etc/courierd file.

OPTIONAL: Configure webadmin

This is a web-based administration tool. webadmin is a web CGI application. It is necessary to have a local web server installed in order to use webadmin. Apache will do, but so will any other server with a complete CGI implementation (PHP is not required). Installing webadmin is a three step process:

  1. Move /usr/lib/courier/libexec/courier/webmail/webadmin to your web server's SSL cgi-bin directory. Take care to preserve the binary's ownership and permissions.

  2. Execute "make install-webadmin-password". This prompts for a password, which is saved in the file /usr/lib/courier/etc/webadmin/password.

  3. The web server SHOULD be configured to run webadmin from the cgi-bin directory using SSL only. webadmin's authentication is rather simple: the password is saved in a cookie. Unless SSL is used, the webadmin password can be intercepted in transit. If SSL is not available, an acceptable level of security can be achieved by setting up a firewall that allows web access only from trusted IP addresses, then use a dedicated webadmin password. This is not perfect, but is generally adequate. A firewall is a good idea even if SSL is used. This is not Fort Knox, and webadmin is not going to be publicly accessible, so the only needed security is to keep everyone out except for authorized IP addresses.

    Note that webadmin, by default, will enforce this restriction: either SSL, or access from a local IP address. Create the file /usr/lib/courier/etc/webadmin/unsecureok to allow non-SSL webadmin connections from remote IP addresses.

webadmin is designed to be self-explanatory. Configuration options are divided into logical sections. Changes made to configuration options do not take effect immediately. To apply configuration changes, select "Install new configuration" from the main menu. To cancel all changes made, select "Cancel new configuration". Selecting "Install new configuration" will apply all the changes to the configuration files, and restart any Courier modules that must be restarted in order for the changes to take effect.

If you decide to use webadmin, most of the remaining steps in this INSTALL document can be done using webadmin's equivalent screens.

Create system aliases

You must now specify which account gets postmaster mail. Courier does NOT deliver any mail to root. You must use a non-privileged for postmaster mail. You will also need to specify where your postmaster account is. In the following example the same account is used for both, but you can easily use separate mailboxes.

Let's say that you want postmaster mail to be delivered to the user "admin".

Create /usr/lib/courier/etc/aliases/system using any text editor. An example aliases/system file is created by make install, and you can simply edit what you have there. The default contents of this file are as follows:

root: postmaster

mailer-daemon: postmaster

MAILER-DAEMON: postmaster

uucp: postmaster

You need to append the following line:

postmaster: admin

These aliases cause all mail addressed to root, postmaster, or mailer-daemon, to be delivered to admin's account. If you want root's mail delivered somewhere else, you can replace "root: postmaster", with something else.

Run the following command as root:


This command creates /usr/lib/courier/etc/aliases.dat, a database that contains your new aliases.

Send a test message:

echo "To: postmaster" | /usr/lib/courier/bin/sendmail

Check admin's mailbox, the message should be there.

Let's do it again:

echo "To: postmaster" | /usr/lib/courier/bin/sendmail -Nsuccess

This time, in addition to the blank message, the sending account should receive a return receipt.

Additional aliases can be either added to this file, or placed in any other text file in the /usr/lib/courier/etc/aliases directory.

Create smtp access list

You need to define which IP addresses are allowed to relay SMTP mail through the server. The installation script creates /usr/lib/courier/etc/smtpaccess/default containing an example of how to enable relaying for IP address, and several reserved netblocks. You can either append additional entries to this file, or put your additional entries in any other file in the /usr/lib/courier/etc/smtpaccess subdirectory. Afterwars, run the following as root:


This command creates the /usr/lib/courier/etc/smtpaccess.dat database that couriertcpd uses to initialize the environment for courieresmtpd.

You will need to rerun makesmtpaccess in order to rebuild smtpaccess.dat after any changes in the smtpaccess subdirectory.

The default Courier configuration applies smtpaccess.dat to both the regular ESMTP server (port 25), and the message submission server (port 587). It is possible to set up different access files for both ports. To do that, edit /usr/lib/courier/etc/esmtpd-msa, and explicitly set ACCESSFILE to a different file, create that file, and use the makesmtpaccess-msa command to compile the dedicated port 587 access database.

Miscellaneous configuration

Review/edit contents of various configuration files in /usr/lib/courier/etc:

Qmail compatibility mode.

echo "qmail" >/usr/lib/courier/etc/dotextension

Run this command if you are installing Courier on a system that's currently running the Qmail mail server. Courier will now read .qmail files for delivery instructions, instead of .courier files. Courier's .courier files are mostly compatible with Qmail's .qmail files, but there are some minor differences. Still, most of your .qmail files should work without too many problems.

Define local domains

The configuration file /usr/lib/courier/etc/locals is a list of all the domains that are considered local. Mail to any address in any local domain is handled as a local delivery. If this file does not exist Courier will use the contents of the me configuration file, or it will obtain its machine name from the operating system.

This file contains a list of domains, one per line. In most cases you need to initialize this file to contain every hostname that has a DNS A, or AAAA, record pointing to any IP address assigned to this machine, including "localhost". You will also need to include any domain that lists this machine as its primary MX relay.

You may also include domain wildcards in locals by prefixing the domain with a period. For example: "" will treat any domain underneath - like, - as a local domain. Note that this does not include itself, so you may need to list it explicitly as well!

NOTE: The makealiases command must be entered after making any changes to this file.

Create a list of domains to accept mail for

If you would like your server to function as a backup mail relay for other domains, create /usr/lib/courier/etc/esmtpacceptmailfor. This is a plain text file, containing a list of domains, one per line. This file lists all domains your server will accept mail for. NOTE: if you create this file, you MUST include all your local domains. Usually you can simply append what you have in /usr/lib/courier/etc/locals. If /usr/lib/courier/etc/esmtpacceptmailfor does not exist, Courier will accept mail only for the machine name listed in /usr/lib/courier/etc/me, (or the system machine name).

Like /usr/lib/courier/etc/locals, prepending a period to a domain name in esmtpacceptmailfor will cause Courier to accept mail for all subdomains of this domain.


Courier is capable of sending and receiving mail via UUCP. Courier does not implement UUCP directly, but instead uses your existing UUCP software to send and receive mail.

Courier's UUCP functionality has been tested with Taylor UUCP 1.06. It's likely that some minor tweaking will be necessary to get Courier working with other UUCP builds. Give it a shot, and keep an eye out for problems.


This configuration file must be initialized to list the UUCP node name that this machine is known as. Currently Courier does not support multiple UUCP node aliases for the same machine.


This configuration file contains a list of all the nodes that your machine talks to via UUCP. Obviously this information will be a duplicate of the corresponding data in your existing UUCP configuration files, and some maintenance will be necessary to keep both lists in sync. That is, unfortunately, unavoidable. The makeuucpneighbors commands turns this plain text file into a database, which is what Courier uses directly. The format of the uucpneighbors configuration file is described in the makeuucpneighbors(8) manual page.


Courier automatically rewrites message envelope addresses from ESMTP to UUCP format. If this file exists, the addresses in the headers of messages sent to/from UUCP addresses will also be rewritten.

Configure UUCP domain aliases

Courier can accept mail addressed to <>, and then forward it to uucp!bang!path!user, via UUCP. This is done by adding a UUCP virtual domain alias to your aliases file, see "Create system aliases". Append the following entry to your /etc/aliases, then run the makealiases command: uucp!bang!path!

See the makealiases(8) manual page for more information.

OPTIONAL: Configure LDAP aliasing

In addition to using LDAP for authentication and for managing accounts, Courier can use an LDAP directory for routing, or "aliasing" mail.

The term "aliasing" refers to substituting one or more addresses for another address. A one-to-one substitution results in Courier accepting mail for one address, and delivering the mail to another address. A one-to-many substitution results in Courier accepting mail for one address, and delivering a separate copy of the message to every address defined by the alias.

Courier supports a basic form of aliasing using a GDBM or DB-based database. The makealiases(8) command reads a plain text file containing the aliasing rules, the creates a GDBM or a DB database. Each recipient address is looked up in the database, and if an alias is defined for the recipient address, it is used in place of the original address. Aliasing can be used against individual addresses, one by one. An extended form of aliasing maps an entire domain to a single local address, using dot-courier(5) delivery instruction files.

Courier can use an LDAP directory instead of a GDBM or a DB database, to perform essentially the same function. If OpenLDAP is available at time of installation, the installation script installs the courierldapaliasd(8) program and a ldapaliasrc configuration file. It will be necessary to enter appropriate information into ldapaliasrc, and arrange to run "courierldapaliasd start" at system boot time (it is a background daemon process that opens persistent connections to the LDAP server).

Additional instructions for setting up LDAP-based aliasing are found in the courierldapaliasd(8) manual page.

OPTIONAL: Configure mail filtering

Courier includes several options for selectively filtering mail. In general, Courier provides only the plug-in interfaces by which arbitrary external mail filters can be used to selectively accept or reject messages. Courier comes only with some sample code that demonstrates how to write a mail filter. An actual mail filter must be written and installed separately. Please note that running mail filters can have a non-trivial impact on mail system performance and throughput.

Courier provides two mail filtering interfaces:

See courierfilter(8) for more information on global mail filters.

See maildropfilter(7) for more information on local mail filters.

Miscellaneous UUCP configuration

Courier sends UUCP mail by running rmail via uux. The configuration script searches for the uux command in the default search path. If your uux command is not in a directory that's in your search path you will have to modify PATH before running configure.

Courier receives UUCP mail by expecting your UUCP software to run the rmail command, which is installed in /usr/lib/courier/bin. (It's actually a soft link to sendmail, but we'll talk about it later). Your UUCP software probably does not run commands from this directory by default, so you will have to make the necessary adjustments. You can always create another soft link in a directory that UUCP searches by default.

Starting and stopping Courier

To start Courier, run the command /usr/lib/courier/sbin/courier start. To stop Courier, run the command /usr/lib/courier/sbin/courier stop. See the courier(8) manual page for more information.

You should add these commands to your system startup and shutdown scripts.

Note that this command starts and stops Courier's core processes only. It does not start any additional daemon processes that you may need, such as the mail filtering daemon, the ESMTP server daemon, the POP3 server daemon, or the IMAP server daemon.

The commands courierfilter start, courierfilter stop, esmtpd start, esmtpd stop, esmtpd-msa start, esmtpd-msa stop, pop3d start, pop3d stop, imapd start, and imapd stop (all commands are installed in the sbin directory) are used to start or stop their respective daemons, and they should be added to your system startup and shutdown scripts, where required. As described in the relevant manual pages, courierfilter should be the first daemon process to start, and the last one to terminate. The remaining daemons may be started in any order.

When the authdaemon authentication module is used, the authdaemond start and authdaemond stop commands must also be added to your system scripts. No mail will be processed without authdaemond running.

Run Courier in parallel to your mail server

You now have several options for migrating from your existing mail server to Courier:

OPTIONAL: Configure ESMTP authentication and SSL

Courier supports authenticated ESMTP in order to grant ESMTP relaying privileges to remote users. The following steps set up authenticated ESMTP:


Courier also supports ESMTP over TLS/SSL, by using the ESMTP STARTTLS extension:

Courier will also use TLS/SSL when sending ESMTP mail, automatically. If the remote mail server support STARTTLS, Courier will use it automatically.

SSL/TLS settings for the ESMTP client can be adjusted in the /usr/lib/courier/etc/courierd configuration file. When sending mail using SSL, Courier can optionally verify the remote server's X.509 certificate. This is done by setting ESMTP_TLS_VERIFY_DOMAIN to 1, in /usr/lib/courier/etc/courierd. Also, TLS_PEERCERTDIR must be set to a directory that contains PEM files of X.509 certificates of trusted root certificate authorities. The PEM files must be hashed by OpenSSL's c_rehash script. When this is done, the remote server's X.509 certificate must signed by trusted root CA, else Courier will bounce the recipient.

Starting with version 0.34, Courier installs a default set of trusted public certificate authorities, and the default configuration will require the remote server to present an X.509 certificate that's signed by any trusted certificate authority. To disable certificate validation, set ESMTP_TLS_VERIFY_DOMAIN to 0 in /usr/lib/courier/etc/courierd. Alternatively, custom certificates may be installed instead. The TLS_TRUSTCERTS setting in /usr/lib/courier/etc/courierd specifies the location of trusted certificate authorities.

OPTIONAL: Configure the SECURITY ESMTP extension

Courier includes an experimental extension to ESMTP that can be used to set up secure E-mail delivery between trusted mail relays over an untrusted network. This is implemented by an experimental ESMTP extension in Courier. Therefore, at present time both the sending and the receiving mail relay must be running Courier that's configured to support this extension. The specification for this ESMTP extension is publicly available. This is a very small extension of the existing, draft-standard STARTTLS ESMTP extension. The SECURITY extension should only require minor changes to existing mail servers and clients that already implement STARTTLS.


The first necessary step is to read the formal definition of the SECURITY extension, which can be found on Although the following instructions do not use any information directly from this document, it is important to understandi how this mechanism works. This will be very useful in troubleshooting. This is not called an "experimental" extension just for the hell of it.

The SECURITY extension builds on top of several existing, proven, technologies in order to deliver mail with the highest level of security that can possibly be implemented using the existing technology. The several steps in implementing the SECURITY extension:

  1. Install and configure the STARTTLS ESMTP extension. This extension uses TLS/SSL encryption for sending mail.

  2. Create a private, controlled, X.509 Certificate Authority.

  3. Use the private CA to sign X.509 certificates of all mail nodes in the trusted mail network. This CA's certificate is also installed in every trusted mail node.

The SECURITY extension is an optional tag that's attached to an E-mail message. Courier requires STARTTLS to forward SECURITY-tagged messages, and the receiving mail nodes must present an X.509 certificate, signed by the private Certificate Authority, before Courier will send the message. Courier will refuse to send the message to a mail node that does not support STARTTLS, or doesn't present a suitable X.509 certificate.

Therefore, in an ideal world, mail clients will simply tag messages with the SECURITY extension. Obviously, this means that mail clients must be updated to implement this feature. Until this happens, Courier will provide a workaround that automatically tags all messages for selected domains with the SECURITY extension. This is not a perfect solution, and it has some minor limitations, which will be mentioned later.

Install and configure the STARTTLS ESMTP extension

The first step is to implement ESMTP STARTTLS. Use the instructions elsewhere in this document to activate ESMTP STARTTLS support. The following instructions use the scripts from OpenSSL 0.9.6, but should also work with OpenSSL 0.9.5a.

Create a private X.509 Certificate Authority

Create an empty subdirectory:

    mkdir /etc/myca
    cd /etc/myca

There's a convenient OpenSSL script called that you want to copy to the current directory:

    cp /usr/share/ssl/misc/ .

Your OpenSSL package may have installed someplace else. Find it, and copy it to /etc/myca. The needs to be slightly modified before it can be used. Find the following commands in, and change them as follows:


      system ("$REQ -new -keyout newreq.pem -out newreq.pem $DAYS");

replace with:

      system ("$REQ -new -nodes -keyout newreq.pem -out newreq.pem $DAYS");

Also replace:

      system ("$REQ -new -x509 -keyout " .
          "${CATOP}/private/$CAKEY -out ${CATOP}/$CACERT $DAYS");

replace with:

      system ("$REQ -new -nodes -x509 -keyout " .
          "${CATOP}/private/$CAKEY -out ${CATOP}/$CACERT $DAYS");

The script creates password-protected certificate keys by default. Password protected certificates currently do not work with Courier. Adding the -nodes parameter turns off password protection. This means that it is vital to make sure that the trusted mail relays are properly secured. All the encryption in the world will not be of much use if the mail relays are running a rootable FTP server (for example). Anyway, run to create a new certificate authority:

    ./ -newca prompts for a basic description of the new CA, then creates the certificate and the certificate key. The CA's root certificate is saved in /etc/myca/demoCA/cacert.pem.

Use the private CA to sign X.509 certificates of all trusted mail nodes

This step must be performed to create the X.509 certificates for every mail node in the trusted secure network. First, a certificate request is created:

    ./ -newreq prompts for a basic description of the new certificate. Special care must be paid to the "commonName" setting. "commonName" MUST be set to the hostname of the trusted mail node, NOT its mail domain. For example, given the following DNS setup for  MX 10  MX 20 A A

This domain will need two certificates, one with "commonName" set to "", and one with "commonName" set to

Running ./ produces a certificate request in the file newreq.pem. Run the following command to sign it:

    ./ -signreq

This step creates the file newcert.pem that contains a new signed certificate. The private key from the original certificate request must be appended to this file, before the certificate can be used. Simply take the newreq.pem file from the previous step, and append the private key in that file to newcert.pem. The resulting certificate file should look something like this:

   [ description of the certificate ]


   [ binary goo ]


   [ binary goo ]


The OpenSSL documentation contains instructions on how to perform the equivalent procedure with Diffie-Hellman instead of RSA.

Configure trusted mail nodes

Two files must be installed on every trusted mail node.

Edit the /usr/lib/courier/etc/esmtpd configuration file. Set TLS_CERTFILE to /etc/mycert.pem. Courier will use TLS_CERTFILE to authenticate itself to other trusted mail nodes.

Edit the /usr/lib/courier/etc/courierd configuration file. Set TLS_TRUSTSECURITYCERTS to /etc/cacert.pem. Courier will not send ESMTP mail tagged with the SECURITY extension to other mail relays unless they produce a certificate that's signed by TLS_TRUSTSECURITYCERTS.


The following simple steps can be carried out to verify that everything is working correctly. These examples use two mail nodes called and The test messages are sent from, and are addressed to Courier must be restarted on both send and receive, after reconfiguring the machines for each test. It is not strictly necessary to do this every time, actually, but it's simply easier to do make it a part of the routine. It is necessary to restart both the main Courier daemon processes as well as the separate ESMTP daemon process (on receive):

    courier stop
    courier start
    esmtpd stop
    esmtpd start
  1. Temporary get rid of /usr/lib/courier/bin/couriertls wrapper on Rename it to STARTTLS is automatically disabled if couriertls is missing,
  2. Run the following command on
        echo "To: postmaster" | /usr/lib/courier/bin/sendmail \
                  -S STARTTLS

    This message should bounce back since receive has STARTTLS disabled.

  3. Restore couriertls on, but then rename it on The situation is now reversed, and the test message should still bounce.
  4. Restore couriertls on Edit receive's /usr/lib/courier/etc/esmtpd file. Comment out the current TLS_CERTFILE setting (which points to the private CA certificate). Reset TLS_CERTFILE to /usr/lib/courier/share/esmtpd.pem, which is the self-signed test certificate created by the mkesmtpdcert script, when STARTTLS support in Courier was first set up.

    Send a test message WITHOUT the "-S STARTTLS" option. This message should go through, assuming all the other setting in all configuration files are the initial defaults. The regular ESMTP STARTTLS extension, without authentication, will be used the deliver this message. Verify this by checking the headers in the received message on

    Send a test message WITH the "-S STARTTLS" option. It should bounce, even though supports STARTTLS. That's because it is using an X.509 certificate that's not signed by the private CA authority.

  5. Restore TLS_CERTFILE on receive, and send a test message with the -S STARTTLS option, which should now go through.

Force SECURITY for selected domains

As demonstrated by the test messages, messages must be tagged with the SECURITY extension in order for them to be securely transmitted. This must be done by the sending mail client. Until mail clients support SECURITY Courier can automatically add the SECURITY tag to every message addressed to a domain. This is done by entering the domain in the esmtproutes configuration file using the following syntax:  /SECURITY=STARTTLS

Repeat the tests in the previous section, but this time add and delete this entry in /usr/lib/courier/etc/esmtproutes instead of using the -S STARTTLS option. The test messages must still bounce or not bounce in the same way.

Consult the courier(8) manual page for more information on the esmtproutes configuration file.


This setup makes it virtually impossible to intercept mail traffic between trusted mail nodes. Even if the DNS cache is poisoned to intercept mail to a hostile mail node, mail will not go through since the attacker will not have a signed X.509 cert. However, all is lost if the mail nodes themselves are compromised directly. After securing the compromised node, everything must be rebuilt. A new CA must be created, and all mail nodes must now receive new certificates. Once support for certificate revocation lists is improved, this situation will get somewhat better.

Another possible way to mitigate that possibility is to use a different certificate authority for every trusted mail node. TLS_TRUSTSECURITYCERTS can point to a directory, instead of a file. This directory can contain multiple certificate authorities (hashed by OpenSSL's c_rehash script). Then, only the compromised mail node's authority certificate needs to be tossed out, regenerated, and redistributed.

TODO: it may be possible to avoid generating individual certificates, and distribute self-signed certificate authority certs only, with a properly-initialized commonName field. This needs to be researched.

There are some minor differences between using -S STARTTLS versus putting the domain into esmtproutes. If the sending mail node forward mail to this domain via UUCP, -S STARTTLS will bounce. Since esmtproutes does not apply to UUCP, putting this domain in esmtproutes will have no effect whatsoever.

OPTIONAL: Configure the IMAP server

Courier includes an integrated IMAP server. The following steps set it up:

NOTE: if you have previously installed the stand-alone version of the Courier-IMAP server, you will need to remove it prior to using the directly integrated version. They use the same base source code, but have a slightly different configuration.

NOTE: this IMAP server supports maildirs only. It does not support mbox file mailboxes.

Foreign character set sorting/searching

The IMAP server can sort and search messages using other than the default us-ascii/iso-8859-1 character set. You can find the list of available character sets in the file unicode/charsetlist.txt.

The default configuration includes only the ISO-8859-1/US-ASCII character set. Use the --enable-unicode option to include all character sets.

If the configure scripts finds that GnuPG 1.0.5 is installed, the configure script will also add the utf-8 character set to the default setting.

It is also possible to include translation tables only for selected character sets. Example:


Technically, IMAP servers must support the UTF-8 character set, however few IMAP clients (I've yet to see one, actually) care about UTF-8, so the UTF-8 character set is optional in Courier-IMAP. The only required character set - which is always included, explicitly or implicitly - is ISO-8859-1/US-ASCII.

The utf-8 character set MUST be included if GnuPG 1.0.5 is installed (see "Configure encryption for the webmail server" for more information).

Note that character set translation tables take up additional memory. This should not be a problem in most cases. Most compilers place the read-only character set tables into a shared text segment, which is shared by all running server instances. Using --enable-unicode should not really be much of a burden for most modern operating systems.

Attentive individuals will observe that all character set tables are compiled even without the --enable-unicode option. That is normal -- only the explicitly selected character set tables will actually make it into the final executable.

OPTIONAL: Configure IMAP over SSL

To implement IMAP over SSL you will need to separately obtain and install OpenSSL. Download OpenSSL from Follow the instructions in the OpenSSL package to install it and configure it. IMAP over SSL has been tested with OpenSSL 0.9.5a.

The /usr/lib/courier/etc/imapd-ssl configuration file sets some additional options for OpenSSL, which you may need to adjust. Consult that configuration file for additional information. Then, you also have to run the /usr/lib/courier/sbin/imapd-ssl script from your system startup and shutdown scripts, just like the /usr/lib/courier/sbin/imapd script. You may accept both SSL and non-SSL connections by running both scripts.

Note that SSL requires a valid, signed, X.509 certificate to be installed where Courier expects to find it. The default location for the X.509 certificate, in PEM format, is /usr/lib/courier/share/imapd.pem. The X.509 certificate must be signed by a certificate authority that is known to the IMAP client. You can generate your own self-signed certificate by running the script /usr/lib/courier/share/mkimapdcert which will work too, except that IMAP clients using SSL will display a warning message the first time they connect to the server. To get rid of the warning message you'll have to pay for a signed X.509 certificate. The gory details of setting up SSL is beyond the scope of this document, and you should consult the OpenSSL documentation for more information.

The mkimapdcert script will not overwrite an existing imapd.pem certificate, in order to allow precompiled packages to simply call mkimapdcert after installation, without worry.

The IMAP server also supports the IMAP STARTTLS extension as an alternative or a complement to IMAP over SSL. The /usr/lib/courier/etc/imapd-ssl configuration file is also used to enable or disable IMAP STARTTLS, which has all the same requirements and prerequisites as IMAP over SSL.

OPTIONAL: Sending mail via an imap connection

This server allows using the IMAP connection to send E-mail. Normally, the IMAP protocol provides only access to mail in an existing mail account, and mail clients must use SMTP in order to send mail. The Courier-IMAP server has an optional setting to enable mail to be send via an IMAP connection in a manner that should work with all existing IMAP mail clients. This can be useful when an account is logged in from a shared access pool which normally blocks most access to the SMTP port.

This is implemented by enabling a setting in the imapd configuration file that designates a folder as a special "Outbox" folder. The default setting is a folder called "Outbox" (IMAP path INBOX.Outbox), but the name can be changed to anything. This folder, for the most part, is no different than any other folder. If a folder by that name doesn't exist, it needs to be created, just like any other IMAP folder. It looks and acts like any other folder, except that each message added to the folder, via IMAP's APPEND or COPY command, will also be mailed out by the Courier-IMAP server to the addresses listed in the To:, Cc:, and Bcc: headers.

It should be possible to use this to send mail from any IMAP client by:

  1. Composing a draft message, telling the IMAP client to save the draft message in its drafts folder on the IMAP server.

  2. Opening the drafts folder, and moving or copying the message to the Outbox folder.

  3. The act of copying the message into the Outbox folder will send the mail. There won't be any explicit notification to the fact that the message was sent, so it's a good idea to include your own E-mail address on the Cc: list.

NOTE: it is tempting to configure the IMAP mail client to use Outbox as its default folder for saving drafts. Resist the temptation. If you forget, you'll save a partially completed draft, which will be then obediently mailed out.

NOTE: the message, in addition to being sent, will be saved in the folder in the normal fashion. After saving the message, reopen the Outbox folder and delete the sent message, or move it someplace else.

NOTE: when enabled, the Courier-IMAP server will advertize a private XCOURIEROUTBOX IMAP capability. It is theoretically possible to code an IMAP mail client that reads this capability and automatically configures itself accordingly -- when this IMAP capability is present -- to send E-mail in the normal way but using the IMAP connection. At this time, I'm not aware of any actual mail clients that know how to do this.

NOTE: many mail clients save some additional internal information in headers of draft messages. The internal information is normally removed before the mail client sends the message. Make sure that none of this extra information is something that should not be mailed out.

OPTIONAL: Configure IMAP realtime folder status updates

If the FAM, the File Alteration Monitor ( is installed it will be possible to allow multiple clients to open the same folder, and have all clients to be simultaneously notified of any changes to the folder contents.

After installing the server see the imapd(8) manual page for more information.

OPTIONAL: Configure the POP3 server

Courier includes an integrated POP3 server. The following steps will set it up:

NOTE: this POP3 server supports maildirs only. It does not support mbox file mailboxes.

OPTIONAL: Configure POP3 over SSL

Implementing POP3 over SSL is very similar to implementing IMAP over SSL. The only differences are that the startup/shutdown command is "/usr/lib/courier/sbin/pop3d start" and "/usr/lib/courier/sbin/pop3d stop", the configuration file is /usr/lib/courier/etc/pop3d, the name of the required SSL certificate is /usr/lib/courier/share/pop3d.pem, and the command to generate a test SSL certificate is mkpop3dcert.

OPTIONAL: Configure the webmail server

The integrated webmail server is installed, by default, in /usr/lib/courier/libexec/courier/webmail. It's a single, executable, CGI binary that uses the authentication modules listed in /usr/lib/courier/etc/authmodulelist (or /usr/lib/courier/etc/authdaemonrc if the authentication daemon is used). You can simply copy the webmail executable to your web server's cgi-bin directory, or create a link from the cgi-bin directory to this executable.

Note that the webmail server is used to access mail in existing accounts only. There is no provision to create accounts through the webmail interface (nor there should be).

Your web server also needs to be configured to use HTTP/1.0 when talking to any MSIE browser. The MSIE browser has a number of bugs in its HTTP/1.1 implementation, at least as of MSIE 4.x and 5.x. You must configure your web server to use HTTP/1.0 when talking to any MSIE browser (at least until MSIE gets fixed). The problem has to do with downloading attachments. Apparently, MSIE forgets how MIME works, when it uses HTTP/1.1. For the Apache server, insert the following directive in httpd.conf:

BrowserMatch "MSIE" nokeepalive downgrade-1.0 force-response-1.0

Recent versions of Apache already have a similar directive for a specific version of MSIE, MSIE 4.0b2. Just replace it with a browsermatch for any MSIE version.

Modified UTF-7 encoding and unicode support

Most IMAP clients use a Unicode-based encoding method called "modified UTF7" in order to represent names of folders that contain 8-bit characters. If there will not be any IMAP access to the mail accounts in question, there's no need to include all this baggage. The option --disable-utf7-folder-encoding to the configure script will turn this off.

There are a few IMAP clients that do not use modified UTF7 to encode folder names. The option --disable-utf7-folder-encoding can be used if that is the case. It is currently not possible to support both UTF7 and non-UTF7 clients at the same time.

By default, the configure script works like this. It takes the character set used for the HTML templates, and loads the Unicode mappings just for that character set. By default, Courier's webmail server is distributed with a default set of HTML templates that use the iso-8859-1 character set. If you are installing a modified derivative that includes additional templates, the configure script will pick up any additional character sets used by those templates.

Sometimes it is useful to include additional unicode tables. The list of available unicode tables can be found in unicode/charsetlist.txt. This is useful when there are alternative encodings for the same base character set, like KOI8-R and IBM866. The option "--enable-unicode=koi8-r,ibm866", when used with koi8-r HTML templates, will allow the webmail server to display ibm866-encoded E-mail using the koi8-r character set (and vice versa). Note, for this to work you will need to install a set of KOI8-R HTML templates. In a pinch, you can simply edit webmail/html/en/CHARSET.

Spell checking

The webmail server can use either the ispell or the aspell package for spell checking. Install ispell or aspell before installing Courier.

NOTE: Courier assumes that the spell checking dictionary is called "english". Some systems use a different name for the default spell checking dictionary. To change the name of the spell checking dictionary used by the webmail server, put the name of the dictionary into the file /usr/lib/courier/share/sqwebmail/html/en-us/ISPELLDICT.


It is also necessary to install the static icon images used by the webmail server. The installation script copies the static images to the /usr/lib/courier/share/sqwebmail/images directory. By default, the webmail server uses the URL "/webmail/" to specify the location of the static images, for example: /webmail/folders.gif. This means that you must create a subdirectory called "webmail" in your web server's document root - typically /usr/local/etc/apache/htdocs/webmail, or /usr/local/www/htdocs/webmail, or something similar. You will need to determine the actual location of your web root directory, which varies from system to system. Then, create a subdirectory named "webmail", and copy all the icons to that directory.

Another possibility is to install a soft link, instead of creating the webmail sub directory, and point the soft link to /usr/lib/courier/share/sqwebmail/images (you also must make sure that the web server is configured to follow symlinks).

There is a configuration option, --enable-imageurl, that can be used to use something other than /webmail/ as the URL prefix for images.

Alternative timezones

The file /usr/lib/courier/share/sqwebmail/html/en-us/TIMEZONELIST contains a list of alternative timezones. By default all dates and times are shown in the server's default timezone, and the dropdown list on the login screen can be used to select an alternative timezone. The default alternative timezone list that lists only a small number of timezones. Additional timezones can be entered into this file to be shown on the login web page.

LDAP address book import

The webmail server can import E-mail addresses from public LDAP address books into an individual address book. A default systemwide list of accessible LDAP address books is defined for everyone, and individuals can configure additional LDAP address books for themselves.

OpenLDAP runtime libraries and tools are required to be installed in order to search LDAP address books. It is not necessary to have OpenLDAP development libraries installed. The webmail server simply runs the ldapsearch tool to query LDAP address books, and parses the results.

The default list of systemwide-accessible LDAP address book is defined in the ldapaddressbook configuration file. See courier(8) for more information.

The webmail server runs /usr/lib/courier/share/sqwebmail/ldapsearch to search an external LDAP address book. This is a wrapper shell script that calls OpenLDAP's ldapsearch tool. The configuration script attempts to find the location of where OpenLDAP tools are installed. The path to ldapsearch in this shell script should be verified and fixed, if necessary. The default shell script adds some additional options to ldapsearch to limit the search time to sixty seconds, and to return a maximum of twenty entries from the address book.

OPTIONAL: Configure webmail calendaring

Optional calendaring services can be enabled in the webmail server. Right now, the current implementation provides basic calendaring services. For more information on calendaring, see the file pcp/README.html.

OPTIONAL: Configure mail filtering for the webmail server

This is an optional feature where the webmail server is used to automatically set up mail filtering rules to forward or deliver incoming mail to folders. This feature requires maildrop to be used as the local mail delivery agent.

Edit the courierd configuration file, and follow the instructions in that file to install maildrop as the local mail delivery agent. Then, follow the instruction below to create the maildirfilter configuration file, which may be installed either in the global configuration file directory (/usr/lib/courier/etc by default), or in each individual Maildir (which overrides the global default).

Implementing mail filtering requires a couple of dominos to fall in the right order. This is not difficult to do, but is a bit tricky. Here's how it works, in general. Specifics follow.

Some people would probably have a difficult time setting it up. That's to be expected. The implementation allows only selected accounts to be set up for mail filtering, so the suggested way is to attempt to set up mail filtering for one account only, test it to make sure it works, then roll it out globally.

The big picture

The maildrop mail filter is used to do the actual mail filtering. maildrop must be installed as your local mail delivery agent. The next thing to do is to actually learn how maildrop works, and learn its filtering language. Although the mail filter will be automaticaly generated here, you still need to become familiar with the filtering language in order to troubleshoot any installation problems. maildrop comes with manual pages documenting the filtering language, as well as some examples. Read them.

The little picture

Here's what's going to happen. The webmail server will automatically generate a maildrop filtering recipe. maildrop reads the recipe, and does its thing. Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, it's not. There are a few little details that need to be resolved.

For starters, the default maildrop filtering recipe is $HOME/.mailfilter. That's how things usually work physical system accounts are used. When virtual mailboxes are installed, things are less murky. There are several ways to set up virtual mailboxes, described elsewhere in this INSTALL file, so the actual implementation varies from system to system. Somehow, the virtual mailboxes share the same physical account, and have the same $HOME. In that case the usual approach is for each virtual mailbox to have the corresponding mail filtering recipe manually specified to maildrop as an extra command line argument. Review the maildrop documentation for more information.

Now, on the other hand, the webmail server doesn't really know anything about physical and virtual accounts. The mapping between a login ID and the maildir is completely encapsulated in the black box-type authentication layer. The login ID and password are validated by the authentication layer, which obtains the maildir corresponding to the login ID, and the webmail server is started for that maildir. Whether or not a login ID corresponds to an actual system account or to virtual account, that's something the webmail server doesn't really know, or care. All it cares about is the maildir where all the mail is, and that's the end of the story. (The IMAP and POP3 servers work the same way).

So, the issue is that the webmail server needs to find the corresponding maildrop filtering recipe, so it knows where to write the mail delivery instructions. That's the deal

In order for mail filtering to be enabled, it is necessary to initialize the file named maildirfilterconfig in the maildir itself. This is where the webmail server runs, so it simply reads this file. The contents of this file should be as follows:


pathtomailfilter specifies the location of the maildrop filtering recipe for this maildir, relative to the maildir itself. Set the current directory to the maildir directory. Now ask yourself, where's my maildrop filtering recipe?

In most cases, where virtual mailboxes are not used, everyone's maildir is $HOME/Maildir, and maildrop uses $HOME/.mailfilter by default. In this case, pathtomailfilter must be set to ../.mailfilter.

When virtual mail accounts are used, this will obviously be something else. The only requirement is that the maildrop filtering recipe and the maildir must be on the same filesystem or partition.

pathtomaildir is the other half of the story. When maildrop gets a message to deliver, maildrop needs to know where the mailboxes and folders are. Maildrop begins running in what it considers to be the recipient's home directory, reading either .mailfilter, by default, or the file specified on the command line.

The webmail server needs to generate filtering instruction that deliver messages to its maildir. By default, the maildir for non-virtual accounts is $HOME/Maildir, so pathtomaildir needs to be set to ./Maildir.

Summary for virtual accounts

Basically, 99% of the time MAILDIRFILTER will be ../.mailfilter and MAILDIR will be ./Maildir. When virtual mail accounts are used, maildrop still must be used as a mail delivery agent. Somehow, the correct maildir that corresponds to the recipient's mail account must be specified as the argument to maildrop. Usually all or most virtual accounts are set up inside a single physical account. In that case it is necessary to set up a different maildrop filtering recipe file for each virtual mail account (since everyone's $HOME/.mailfilter will be the same file), and in each maildir specify the relative path to its corresponding filtering recipe, and the relative path to the maildir from the default home directory. Then, for each virtual mail account, the mail server must run maildrop to do the actual mail delivery, explicitly specifying the filtering recipe to be used.

The global maildirfilterconfig file

In most cases where virtual mail accounts are not used, every maildir's maildirfilterconfig should be the same. As an alternative to installing the same maildirfilterconfig in each maildir, it is possible to install a single maildirfilterconfig systemwide.

Install the global maildirfilterconfig in Courier's configuration directory (/usr/lib/courier/etc by default).

The global maildirfilterconfig will be used unless maildirfilterconfig exists in the maildir directory. Therefore, the global maildirfilterconfig can be used to provide a default for the majority of the mail accounts, and any exceptions are handled by installing maildirfilterconfig in the maildir directory, whose contents will override the global file.

Happy filtering.

If everything is set up correctly, the webmail menu will present a new link to a screen where mail filtering rules are defined and installed. A mail filter consists of a condition, and an action. A condition is usually based on the contents of some header, or the message body. Regular expressions are allowed. Which means that certain special characters must be quoted. For example, to search for the string "[announce]" verbatim in the subject header, it must be entered as "\[announce\]". Pattern matching, for now, is case-insensitive. The regular expression syntax uses pretty much the same syntax as Perl. See the maildropfilter manual page for more information.

Multiple mail filtering rules can be installed. Their relative order can be rearranged by selecting a filtering rule, then selecting either the "Up" or the "Down" button. It is necessary to select "Save all changes" for any changes to the filtering rules to take effect. Leaving that page in any other way will throw away all changes made.

OPTIONAL: Changing mail account passwords using the webmail server

After installing the webmail server be sure to test that the login password can be changed through the webmail server (ignore this if --disable-changepass was specified). Be sure to change the password a couple of times, logging out and back in each time.

For the virtual domain modules (authldap, authmysql, and friends) changing the login is a no-brainer. The tricky situation is when the webmail server uses system passwords to log in (the authpwd, authshadow, or authpam authentication module). Different systems use different ways to keep login passwords. Many systems use the traditional /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow files. Other systems use a binary database; other systems use NIS. And on some systems the password file lookup library is a wrapper that goes against an external LDAP directory, or a database. For maximum compatibility, the webmail server changes login passwords by running the passwd command. This is the traditinal *nix command that changes login passwords. passwd is an interactive command. It's normally run from a terminal. the webmail server uses an expect script - as mentioned in Overview - to answer interactive prompts from passwd. The expect script expects to get a plain, garden-variety, passwd command, which acts something like this:

     # passwd
     Changing password for luser
     (current) UNIX password:         (old password typed here)
     New UNIX password:               (new password typed here)
     Retype new UNIX password:        (new password retyped here)
     passwd: all authentication tokens updated successfully

Systems that use a passwd command with very different prompts may find that the default expect script will fail. In which case it will be necessary to tweak the expect script to match the prompts from the system's passwd command.

Modern systems use a passwd command that rejects "bad" passwords - passwords that are based on dictionary words, are too short, or are obvious for other reasons. When testing the webmail server's ability to change system passwords be sure to use randomly-generated gibberish for the test passwords. Otherwise, the default expect script will actually be working, but you won't be the wiser. For security reasons, the actual messages passwd will not be shown by the webmail server.

OPTIONAL: Configure autoreplies for the webmail server

Enabling mail filtering, according to the instructions in the previous section, automatically enables MIME autoreply capability. The webmail interface can be used to configure simple autoresponders. By default there is no limit on the number of the size of created autoreplies, therefore it is recommended that a quota be set up on the autoreplies.

An global autoreply quota is set up by initializing the /usr/lib/courier/etc/autoresponsesquota configuration file. This file sets the autoreply quota globally. An autoresponsesquota file in the Maildir will override the global quota setting for that maildir only. See the courier(8) manual page for the description of the autoresponsesquota file.

Autoreplies can include any valid MIME content (MIME content other than plain text can be uploaded). The following special procedure needs to be used to prepare multipart autoreply content, such as text and html alternatives of the same message:

Assign a filename extension to the message/rfc822 MIME content. For example, edit your mime.types file, find the message/rfc822 MIME type (append one if it's not in mime.types), and make sure that it has at least one filename extension, such as "msg".

Prepare the multipart MIME autoreply. The most convenient way is to prepare a normal E-mail message using a conventional E-mail client. Save the RFC822-formatted message in a file with a ".msg" extension, and upload it on the autoreply screen.

Webmail handles uploaded message/rfc822 content by removing all headers except the MIME headers, leaving the MIME content type header, and the actual MIME content.

Normally there is no limit on the number or the total size of autoreplies configured via the webmail server. A quota can be installed by initializing the autoresponsesquota configuration file. See courier(8) for more information.

OPTIONAL: Configure encryption for the webmail server

This is an optional feature in the webmail server that uses GnuPG to send and receive encrypted/signed E-mail. There is no encryption code in the webmail server, it uses GnuPG to do encryption and decryption. For more information on setting up and using encryption, read the file gpglib/README.html in the source distribution.

OPTIONAL: Quota support

There are two ways to implement a quota on the size of a mail account: filesystem quotas and maildir quotas:

Filesystem quotas

The maximum disk space quota is implemented within the operating system's filesystem support code. Here, the operating system enforces the maximum disk space that can be used by each account. This is the only reliable quota implementation if individual accounts have login access to the mail account. Maildir quotas (see below) are implemented entirely within the maildir support code, and can easily be superceeded by anyone with login access to the mail account. Additionally, mail accounts must all be system accounts. Virtual accounts -- that share the same physical system userid -- cannot usually be support by filesystem-based quotas, because all mail accounts have the same userid and groupid.

The webmail server cannot be used with filesystem quotas. The webmail server creates and maintains, all by itself, a number of database files that are used to quickly index and access messages. If an account exceeds its disk quota, the webmail server will not be able to create and update those database file, which results in a rather spectacular crash. If login access is available, it is possible to log in and manually delete some files to reclaim some disk space. If login access is not available, the administrator will have to manually fix the account -- the webmail server will not even be able to open an existing folder and delete messages in order to free up disk space. There is some good news, though: the IMAP and the POP3 server can still be used to access and delete messages from the mail account. Due to the way that out-of-quota condition is handled by the IMAP server, some IMAP clients may mark any existing messages in the account as unread, but that is a minor glitch that does no harm.

Maildir quotas

Courier can manually enforce a quota for mail accounts that use maildirs. This quota enforcement is implemented entirely in software, and is available only when maildirs are used. This quota implementation will also work with virtual accounts. Maildir quota support is available only with userdb, LDAP, MySQL and PostgreSQL authentication back-ends. Maildir quotas are supported by IMAP, POP3, and the webmail server. To add a maildir quota with userdb, run the following commands, for example:

userdb account set quota=quota

Here, account identifies the account to which the quota applies, and quota is the quota specification, as described in the maildirquota(7) manual page.

To implement a quota with an LDAP, MySQL, or a PostgreSQL back end, simply follow the instructions given in the corresponding configuration file.

OPTIONAL: Configure outbound faxing

Fax sending is disabled by default and must be explicitly enabled, according to the following instructions. After fax sending is enabled, addressing an E-mail message to <5552000@fax> will have this message faxed.

Of course, the necessary hardware and software must be available. The requisite hardware is a class 2 faxmodem attached to a serial port. Additional software, separate from Courier, must also be installed. Courier does not handle the actual job of faxing. Courier only reformats E-mail messages as fax images, and runs mgetty+sendfax to send the fax. Courier also needs additional software to convert E-mail messages to faxes. All additional software must be separately installed, configured, and tested before enabling faxing in Courier. Most systems already include the following software as part of the base operating system, so in most cases adding fax support will not actually require any additional software to be installed, only minor reconfiguration of existing software:


mgetty+sendfax works with most Class 2 faxmodems. Courier does not use the spooling scripts found in the mgetty+sendfax package. Courier uses its own mail spool. A fax message is handled no differently than any other E-mail message. The only difference is that the E-mail message is addressed to <phonenumber@fax>.

mgetty+sendfax should be configured with its default settings, EXCEPT as follows:

groff or troff, ghostscript, NetPBM

Conversion of E-mail messages to faxes uses ghostscript, and groff. It should be possible to use the original UNIX troff instead of groff, but this has not been tested. Courier generates the fax cover page from the contents of the E-mail message's headers. The initial text portion of the E-mail message will appear as fax cover page comments. Note that the initial text portion of the E-mail message must be in plain text, not HTML. E-mail attachments will be converted and attached as additional fax pages. E-mail attachments may contain plain text, Postscript or PDF documents. Other attachments will result in the E-mail message being returned as undeliverable.

Install the NetPBM library is installed, to add the ability to fax GIF, JPEG, and PNG images. Each image will be converted to a single fax page. Images in excess of 1500x1500 pixels (approximately) will be truncated, and color images will be dithered to black-and-white.

Enabling faxing

The configuration file /usr/lib/courier/etc/faxrc must be edited in order to enable faxing. This file sets up the dialing parameters, and the default file disables faxing by rejecting all phone numbers. The configuration file has extensive comments that explain how dialing parameters are set.

Using webadmin to set up fax sending is highly recommended. A proper faxrc will automatically hide all the local daling conventions. Webadmin knows how to generate the dialing configuration for the North American dialing plan, with a configurable area code. Faxes should be addressed to a fixed ten digit area code+phone number address, <nnnxxxxxxx@fax>, which will be converted for dialing from the local area code appropriately. Webadmin can also optionally enable faxing to international 011 phone numbers. Webadmin can also fall back to a bare configuration where all phone numbers are dialed as-is, for locations outside of North America.

Sending faxes

E-mail messages may contain attachments. Courier combines all attachments in the message into a single fax transmission. Attachment types may be freely mixed. A single message may contain one plain text, and one PDF attachment, for example. It is possible to select certain options, as follows:

These options can be combined: <phonenumber>@fax-lowres-ignore>.

Cover pages

/usr/lib/courier/etc/ is the troff source for the FAX cover page, which includes the first plain text section of the E-mail message. Do not attempt to play with without a clear understanding of troff. It is safe to make trivial changes (such as replacing the "FACSIMILE COVER PAGE" text).


The /usr/lib/courier/etc/faxrc configuration file provides rudimentary phone number rewriting logic (stuff like dialing "9," to get outside line from a PBX). The default faxrc configuration file specifies a typical dialing configuration for the North American numbering plan, with seven digit local phone numbers, and 1+ten digit long distance phone numbers. The area code in the default faxrc configuration file is set to "999", you will need to change it to your area code (there are two places in faxrc where the area code needs to be set).

In general, messages should be addressed to the full ten-digit phone numbers. The local area code will be stripped automatically, and "1" will be dialed before all other area codes. If this is done in practice, local area code changes will only require an update to faxrc, without any need to update the address book.

Comments in the faxrc configuration file explain the format of the phone number rewriting rules, in the event that local phone system customization is required (for example, dialing 9 to get an outside line). Several places in North America now use ten digit local phone number overlays, with 1+ten digit long distance dialing. TODO: Use webadmin if you are not sure how to set this up.


The default faxrc configuration file allows only locally-generated faxes. faxrc must be modified in order to accept faxes via ESMTP.

Additionally, faxes are accepted via ESMTP only if the FAXRELAYCLIENT variable is set. See the makesmtpaccess(8) man page for additional information.

OPTIONAL: Configure inbound faxing

mgetty has an option that runs a script called "new_fax" after it receives a fax. The default location for this script is either /usr/local/lib/etc/mgetty+sendfax/new_fax or /etc/mgetty+sendfax/new_fax. Consult your mgetty documentation to determine if the new_fax option is enabled, and the exact script location.

Courier provides a script - /usr/lib/courier/share/faxmail/new_fax - that can be used as mgetty's new_fax script. This script converts incoming faxes to PNG images, and delivers it to a local mailbox. Simply copy this script to mgetty's etc directory (or install a soft link there), to automatically drop incoming faxes to a local mailboxes.

The /usr/lib/courier/etc/faxnotifyrc configuration file specifies the mailbox that receives incoming faxes, and several other related options.

Decommission your existing mail server

This steps consists of flushing the mail queue of your existing mail server and removing it from the system.

If you're using sendmail, edit your startup script, and start sendmail with the option '-q30m' only. Remove the -bd option. This causes sendmail to stop listening on port 25, and stay as a daemon process only for the purpose of running the queue every 30 minutes.

If you're using Qmail, remove tcpserver from your system startup script.

Wait for all existing mail to flush itself out, then permanently remove your existing server.

Depending on your system, you may need to create a bunch of soft links, such as /usr/bin/sendmail, /usr/sbin/sendmail, /lib/sendmail, or /etc/sendmail that point to /usr/lib/courier/bin/sendmail. If you want to receive mail via UUCP you will also need to make sure that UUCP knows to find rmail in /usr/lib/courier/bin as well.

Sample init script

You're now ready to configure your system to start Courier at system boot time (and shut it down at system shutdown). If your system uses system-V init scripts, here's a sample script that you can install in your /etc/rc?.ddirectories. This is a slightly modified version of the init script that's used in my RPM package (courier.sysvinit file in the source code tarball).

NOTE: the following script may take a long time to finish, the very first time it runs. That's because the script automatically creates test SSL certificates the first time the script runs (provided that SSL support is available). This can take as much as 5-6 minutes on a slow machine. Subsequent starts should take only a few seconds.

#! /bin/sh
# chkconfig: 2345 35 65
# description: Courier - SMTP server
# NOTE: The 'restart' here does a "hard" stop, and a start.  Be gentle, use
# "courierd restart" for a kindler, gentler, restart.


case "$1" in
        cd /
        # Start daemons.
        touch /var/lock/subsys/courier

        echo -n "Starting Courier mail server:"

        # First time after install create aliases.dat and makesmtpaccess.dat

        test -f ${sysconfdir}/aliases.dat || ${sbindir}/makealiases


        . ${sysconfdir}/esmtpd
        case x$ESMTPDSTART in

        test -f ${sysconfdir}/${ACCESSFILE}.dat || ${sbindir}/makesmtpaccess

        . ${sysconfdir}/esmtpd-msa
        case x$ESMTPDSTART in

        test -f ${sysconfdir}/${ACCESSFILE}.dat || ${sbindir}/makesmtpaccess-msa

        ${sbindir}/courierfilter start
        echo -n " courierfilter"

        if test -x ${libexecdir}/authlib/authdaemond
                ${libexecdir}/authlib/authdaemond start
                echo -n " authdaemond"

        if test -x ${sbindir}/courierldapaliasd
                ${sbindir}/courierldapaliasd start
                echo -n " courierldapaliasd"

        case "`cat ${sysconfdir}/calendarmode 2>/dev/null`" in
                if test -x ${libexecdir}/courier/pcpd
                        ${libexecdir}/courier/pcpd start
                echo -n " pcpd"

        ${sbindir}/courier start
        echo -n " courierd"

        if test "$esmtpdcert" = 1
# If we do not have a certificate, make one up.

                if test ! -f ${datadir}/esmtpd.pem
                        if test -x $COURIERTLS
                                echo -n " generating-ESMTP-SSL-certificate..."
                                ${sbindir}/mkesmtpdcert >/dev/null 2>&1

        . ${sysconfdir}/esmtpd
        case x$ESMTPDSTART in

                ${sbindir}/esmtpd start
                echo -n " esmtpd"

        . ${sysconfdir}/esmtpd-msa
        case x$ESMTPDSTART in

                ${sbindir}/esmtpd-msa start
                echo -n " esmtpd-msa"
        if test -x ${sbindir}/pop3d

                if test -f ${sysconfdir}/pop3d
                        . ${sysconfdir}/pop3d
                case x$POP3DSTART in
                        ${sbindir}/pop3d start
                        echo -n " pop3d"
                if test -f ${sysconfdir}/pop3d-ssl
                        . ${sysconfdir}/pop3d-ssl
                case x$POP3DSSLSTART in
                        if test -x $COURIERTLS
# If we do not have a certificate, make one up.

                                if test ! -f ${datadir}/pop3d.pem
                                        echo -n " generating-POP3-SSL-certificate..."

                                        ${sbindir}/mkpop3dcert >/dev/null 2>&1

                                ${sbindir}/pop3d-ssl start && \
                                        echo -n " pop3d-ssl"

        if test -x ${sbindir}/imapd
                . ${sysconfdir}/imapd
                case x$IMAPDSTART in
                        ${sbindir}/imapd start
                        echo -n " imapd"
                . ${sysconfdir}/imapd-ssl
                case x$IMAPDSSLSTART in
                        if test -x $COURIERTLS
# If we do not have a certificate, make one up.

                                if test ! -f ${datadir}/imapd.pem
                                        echo -n " generating-IMAP-SSL-certificate..."

                                        ${sbindir}/mkimapdcert >/dev/null 2>&1

                                ${sbindir}/imapd-ssl start && \
                                        echo -n " imapd-ssl"

        echo ""
        echo -n "Stopping Courier mail server:"

        if test -x ${sbindir}/imapd
                ${sbindir}/imapd stop
                echo -n " imapd"

        if test -x ${sbindir}/imapd-ssl
                ${sbindir}/imapd-ssl stop
                echo -n " imapd-ssl"

        ${sbindir}/esmtpd-msa stop
        echo -n " esmtpd-msa"

        ${sbindir}/esmtpd stop
        echo -n " esmtpd"

        if test -x ${sbindir}/pop3d
                ${sbindir}/pop3d stop
                echo -n " pop3d"

        if test -x ${sbindir}/pop3d-ssl
                ${sbindir}/pop3d-ssl stop
                echo -n " pop3d-ssl"

        ${sbindir}/courier stop
        echo -n " courierd"

        if test -x ${sbindir}/courierldapaliasd
                ${sbindir}/courierldapaliasd stop
                echo -n " courierldapaliasd"

        if test -x ${libexecdir}/courier/pcpd stop
                ${libexecdir}/courier/pcpd stop
                echo -n " pcpd"

        if test -x ${libexecdir}/authlib/authdaemond
                ${libexecdir}/authlib/authdaemond stop
                echo -n " authdaemond"
        ${sbindir}/courierfilter stop
        echo " courierfilter"
        $0 stop
        $0 start
exit 0

The reason I test for the existence of the POP3 and IMAP server binaries is because I build the POP3 and IMAP servers as separate sub-packages, that do not have to be installed. These tests avoid the need for each sub-package to install its own startup script.

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