Install Postal Mail Server on Ubuntu 22.04|20.04|18.04

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Having a fully featured email solution is a basic requirement of any business, institution or company. Here we will discuss the installation of Postal Mail delivery solution on Ubuntu 22.04|20.04|18.04. Postal is a mail delivery platform for both incoming and outgoing emails. It is a complete and fully featured mail server that should satisfy all your websites & web servers email requirements.

The minimum specification for Postal is as follows:

  • At least 4GB of RAM
  • At least 2 CPU cores
  • At least 100GB of disk space

Install Postal Mail Server on Ubuntu 22.04|20.04|18.04

The installation of Postal Mail Server on Ubuntu is not as complicated as others say.  By sparing some minutes and following below few steps, you should have Postal Mail Server running on Ubuntu 22.04|20.04|18.04 server.

Step 1: Update your system

Like all other installation guides available on ComputingPost, we start the installation by ensuring our system is updated.

sudo apt update
sudo apt -y upgrade

Perform a reboot if it is required:

[ -f /var/run/reboot-required ] && sudo reboot -f

Then install git once the system is up

sudo apt -y install git jq

Step 2: Install Docker & Docker Compose

Import Docker repository GPG key:

curl -fsSL https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu/gpg | sudo gpg --dearmor -o /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/docker-archive-keyring.gpg

With GPG key imported you can add Docker repository to your Ubuntu system.

sudo add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu $(lsb_release -cs) stable"

Finally install Docker CE on Ubuntu 22.04|20.04|18.04:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install docker-ce docker-ce-cli containerd.io

Add your user account to docker group.

sudo usermod -aG docker $USER
newgrp docker

Confirm successful installation by checking Docker version

$ docker version
Client: Docker Engine - Community
 Version:           20.10.16
 API version:       1.41
 Go version:        go1.17.10
 Git commit:        aa7e414
 Built:             Thu May 12 09:18:18 2022
 OS/Arch:           linux/amd64
 Context:           default
 Experimental:      true

Server: Docker Engine - Community
 Engine:
  Version:          20.10.16
  API version:      1.41 (minimum version 1.12)
  Go version:       go1.17.10
  Git commit:       f756502
  Built:            Thu May 12 09:16:22 2022
  OS/Arch:          linux/amd64
  Experimental:     false
 containerd:
  Version:          1.6.4
  GitCommit:        212e8b6fa2f44b9c21b2798135fc6fb7c53efc16
 runc:
  Version:          1.1.1
  GitCommit:        v1.1.1-0-g52de29d
 docker-init:
  Version:          0.19.0
  GitCommit:        de40ad0

Install Docker Compose:

Step 3: Install MySQL / MariaDB database server

The other requirement of Postal Mail server is a database server.

sudo apt install mariadb-server

Also install libmysqlclient-dev

sudo apt install libmysqlclient-dev

After installation of MariaDB/MySQL database server, create a user and database for Seafile.

First login to MySQL shell as root user:

$ sudo mysql -u root -p
Enter password: 
Welcome to the MariaDB monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MariaDB connection id is 31
Server version: 10.6.7-MariaDB-2ubuntu1 Ubuntu 22.04

Copyright (c) 2000, 2018, Oracle, MariaDB Corporation Ab and others.

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.

MariaDB [(none)]>

We will create a database for each of these server components.

CREATE DATABASE postal CHARSET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci;

Create a database user and grant privileges for created databases.

CREATE USER 'postal'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'StrongPassword';
GRANT ALL ON postal.* TO 'postal'@'localhost';

Postal will handle the creation of databases for your mail servers but you need to give it access to do this. Allow postal user to manage all databases that are prefixed with postal-.

GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON `postal-%`.* to `postal`@`localhost` IDENTIFIED BY "StrongPassword";
FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
QUIT

Confirm access by Logging into the database as postal user:

$ mysql -u postal -p'StrongPassword'
Welcome to the MariaDB monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MariaDB connection id is 32
Server version: 10.6.7-MariaDB-2ubuntu1 Ubuntu 22.04

Copyright (c) 2000, 2018, Oracle, MariaDB Corporation Ab and others.

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.

MariaDB [(none)]> SHOW DATABASES;
+--------------------+
| Database           |
+--------------------+
| postal             |
+--------------------+
4 rows in set (0.001 sec)

MariaDB [(none)]> QUIT
Bye

Step 4: Install and Configure RabbitMQ

Postal uses RabbitMQ for queueing. Install RabbitMQ on Ubuntu using the link below:

You can skip the section of configuring RabbitMQ Management Dashboard and Set RabbitMQ Cluster. A single node RabbitMQ installation should be enough for small usage.

Postal requires its own RabbitMQ vhost and user to connect with. You can create these using the following commands:

sudo rabbitmqctl add_vhost postal
sudo rabbitmqctl add_user postal StrongPassword
sudo rabbitmqctl set_permissions -p postal postal ".*" ".*" ".*"

Step 5: Install and Configure Postal on Ubuntu 22.04/20.04/18.04

Cloning the Postal repository

sudo git clone https://postalserver.io/start/install /opt/postal/install

Create a symlink for Postal binary.

sudo ln -s /opt/postal/install/bin/postal /usr/bin/postal

DNS Server configurations

For DNS, you can use DnsMasq if you’re looking for a self-hosted simple DNS solution.

A records

You’ll need these records for accessing the API, management interface & SMTP server.

Hostname Type Value
postal.example.com A 192.168.20.10
SPF Record

You can configure a global SPF record for your mail server which means domains don’t need to each individually reference your server IPs. This allows you to make changes in the future.

Hostname Type Value
spf.postal.example.com TXT v=spf1 ip4:192.168.20.10 ~all
Route domain

If you wish to receive incoming e-mail by forwarding messages directly to routes in Postal, you’ll need to configure a domain for this just to point to your server using an MX record.

Hostname Type Value
routes.postal.example.com MX 10 postal.example.com
Return Path

The return path domain is the default domain that is used as the MAIL FROM for all messages sent through a mail server. You should add DNS records as below.

Hostname Type Value
rp.postal.example.com A 192.168.20.10
rp.postal.example.com TXT v=spf1 a mx include:spf.postal.example.com ~all

Example of Cloudflare DNS Configurations:

postal.example.com points to 192.168.20.10

spf.postal.example.com has a record with content v=spf1 ip4:192.168.20.10 ~all

postal.example.com handles mail for routes.postal.example.com

rp.postal.example.com points to 192.168.20.10

rp.postal.example.com has a record with content v=spf1 a mx include:spf.postal.example.com ~all.

mx.postal.example.com  points to 192.168.20.10

Run the command below and replace postal.example.com with the actual hostname you want to access your Postal web interface ate

$ sudo postal bootstrap postal.example.com
Latest version is: 2.1.1
=> Creating /opt/postal/config/postal.yml
=> Creating /opt/postal/config/Caddyfile
=> Creating signing private key

This will generate three files in /opt/postal/config.

  • postal.yml is the main postal configuration file
  • signing.key is the private key used to sign various things in Postal
  • Caddyfile is the configuration for the Caddy webserver

Open Postal configuration file.

sudo vim /opt/postal/config/postal.yml

At the minimum, have the following settings:

web:
  # The host that the management interface will be available on
  host: postal.example.com
  # The protocol that requests to the management interface should happen on
  protocol: https

main_db:
  # Specify the connection details for your MySQL database
  host: localhost
  username: postal
  password: StrongPassword
  database: postal

message_db:
  # Specify the connection details for your MySQL server that will be house the
  # message databases for mail servers.
  host: localhost
  username: postal
  password: StrongPassword
  prefix: postal

rabbitmq:
  # Specify the connection details for your RabbitMQ server.
  host: 127.0.0.1
  username: postal
  password: StrongPassword
  vhost: postal
  
dns:
  # Specifies the DNS record that you have configured. Refer to the documentation at
  # https://github.com/atech/postal/wiki/Domains-&-DNS-Configuration for further
  # information about these.
  mx_records:
    - mx.postal.example.com
  smtp_server_hostname: postal.example.com
  spf_include: spf.postal.example.com
  return_path: rp.postal.example.com
  route_domain: routes.postal.example.com
  track_domain: track.postal.example.com

smtp:
  # Specify an SMTP server that can be used to send messages from the Postal management
  # system to users. You can configure this to use a Postal mail server once the
  # your installation has been set up.
  host: 127.0.0.1
  port: 2525
  username: # Complete when Postal is running and you can
  password: # generate the credentials within the interface.
  from_name: Postal
  from_address: [email protected]

Edit the file to fit your Postal settings.

When done Initialize database by adding all the appropriate table:

$ sudo postal initialize
[+] Running 5/5
 ⠿ smtp Pulled                                                                                                                                                                                   0.5s
 ⠿ cron Pulled                                                                                                                                                                                   0.5s
 ⠿ requeuer Pulled                                                                                                                                                                               0.5s
 ⠿ worker Pulled                                                                                                                                                                                 0.5s
 ⠿ web Pulled                                                                                                                                                                                    0.5s
Initializing database
......
Create your initial admin user
$ sudo postal make-user
Postal User Creator
Enter the information required to create a new Postal user.
This tool is usually only used to create your initial admin user.

E-Mail Address      : [email protected]
First Name          : Admin
Last Name           : User
Initial Password:   : ********

User has been created with e-mail address [email protected]
Starting the application

Run the following command to start the Postal application

$ sudo postal start
[+] Running 5/5
 ⠿ Container postal-cron-1      Started                                                                                                                     0.4s
 ⠿ Container postal-web-1       Started                                                                                                                     0.2s
 ⠿ Container postal-requeuer-1  Started                                                                                                                     0.3s
 ⠿ Container postal-smtp-1      Started                                                                                                                     0.3s
 ⠿ Container postal-worker-1    Started                                                                                                                     0.3s

This will run a number of containers on your machine.

You can look at the status at any time using:

$ sudo postal status
NAME                COMMAND                  SERVICE             STATUS              PORTS
postal-cron-1       "/docker-entrypoint.…"   cron                running
postal-requeuer-1   "/docker-entrypoint.…"   requeuer            running
postal-smtp-1       "/docker-entrypoint.…"   smtp                running
postal-web-1        "/docker-entrypoint.…"   web                 running
postal-worker-1     "/docker-entrypoint.…"   worker              running

Step 6: Configuring Caddy Web Server

A web proxy is required all web traffic and SSL termination. There are many options for Proxy – Nginx, Apache, HAProxy, e.t.c. In this guide we’re going to use Caddy.

We can run Caddy web server using Docker:

docker run -d \
   --name postal-caddy \
   --restart always \
   --network host \
   -v /opt/postal/config/Caddyfile:/etc/caddy/Caddyfile \
   -v /opt/postal/caddy-data:/data \
   caddy

Check it’s running:

$ docker ps
CONTAINER ID   IMAGE                               COMMAND                  CREATED              STATUS              PORTS     NAMES
67461a34ae39   caddy                               "caddy run --config …"   20 seconds ago       Up 20 seconds                 postal-caddy
1bc1bac79c15   ghcr.io/postalserver/postal:2.1.1   "/docker-entrypoint.…"   About a minute ago   Up About a minute             postal-smtp-1
c5a04cea4211   ghcr.io/postalserver/postal:2.1.1   "/docker-entrypoint.…"   About a minute ago   Up About a minute             postal-worker-1
e188ee4c2844   ghcr.io/postalserver/postal:2.1.1   "/docker-entrypoint.…"   About a minute ago   Up About a minute             postal-requeuer-1
d7335cd48fa1   ghcr.io/postalserver/postal:2.1.1   "/docker-entrypoint.…"   About a minute ago   Up About a minute             postal-web-1
c4b1cc7a852e   ghcr.io/postalserver/postal:2.1.1   "/docker-entrypoint.…"   About a minute ago   Up About a minute             postal-cron-1

Once this has started, Caddy will issue an SSL certificate for your domain and you’ll be able to immediately access the Postal web interface and login with the user you created in one of the previous steps.

Upgrading Postal

Once you have installed Postal, you can upgrade to the latest release it by running this command;

$ sudo postal upgrade
warning: redirecting to https://github.com/postalserver/install/
From https://postalserver.io/start/install
 * branch            main       -> FETCH_HEAD
Already up to date.
No version specified, using latest available version...
Upgrading to 2.1.1
[+] Running 5/5
 ⠿ worker Pulled                                                                                                                                            1.5s
 ⠿ cron Pulled                                                                                                                                              0.5s
 ⠿ web Pulled                                                                                                                                               0.4s
 ⠿ smtp Pulled                                                                                                                                              0.5s
 ⠿ requeuer Pulled                                                                                                                                          0.5s
Migrating database
[+] Running 5/0
 ⠿ Container postal-worker-1    Running                                                                                                                     0.0s
 ⠿ Container postal-web-1       Running                                                                                                                     0.0s
 ⠿ Container postal-smtp-1      Running                                                                                                                     0.0s
 ⠿ Container postal-requeuer-1  Running                                                                                                                     0.0s
 ⠿ Container postal-cron-1      Running                                                                                                                     0.0s

Step 7: Access Postal Admin Web Dashboard

Access Postal Administration page on https://postal.example.com

install-postal-email-solution-01-1024x490

You should see Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate in place if your installation was successful. Login with admin user email created earlier.

install-postal-email-solution-02-1024x634

You’ll get a dashboard which looks like this;

install-postal-mail-server-ubuntu-18.04-default-page-1024x293

Create your first organization

postal-add-organization-1024x542

Provision mail server to start sending and receiving messages using Postal.

postal-add-mail-server-1024x325

Give your mail server a name and choose operation mode.

postal-make-live-server-live-1024x548

With the basic configurations required you can now use Postal email delivery software solution.

postal-start-using-it-1024x326

Refer to the Postal Administration guide for further configurations.

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