Richard's picture


I notice there isn't a mail server appliance.

Looking at deploying iRedmail, Mail-in-a-box or Modoboa but notice iRedmail's free version is crippled. Wondered if anyone had some advice?

Looking to use a TKL Core container.


Richard's picture

Looks like mailcow is another option but appears to use a lot of docker containers for each service, so could be a pain?

Jeremy Davis's picture

Much of the spam we get from custom domains is comes from mail-in-a-box instances. So I figure that must be at least quick and easy to set up!?!

When you say iRedMail is a crippled, what do you mean? I've never used it but was under the impression that it was a complete free, open source solution. After all, from what I've seen, most of the ones you've mentioned are really just something of a meta-installer (that uses common open source components such as postfix and dovecot - with a UI on top).

Whilst it might be a bit of a learning curve, so long as you aren't scared of the CLI, I imagine that setting up the basis of a mailserver wouldn't be too hard (e.g. using postfix & dovecot - and TurnKey already includes postfix pre-configured already...). Once you have that bit set up, then you probably want/need a UI. RoundCube is a pretty sexy one IMO (I've never used it, but I have a mate that uses it with his third party off-the-shelf mail server he bought - he reckons it's great).

In fairness, I've never actually done the complete set up of a mailserver from scratch, but I've come across plenty of tutorials online and it doesn't seem too hard (at least the basic software setup). In my experience (with our mailserver), the hardest part is reliably delivering mail (getting it "just work"). It's probably not a completely fair comparison (we probably send much more mail than you ever will) but it's a constant struggle to ensure that our server isn't blacklisted. And even when it's not, we still occasionally get blocked by some hosts for no apparent reason. Bouncing mail is a pain, but at least you know what is going on and usually can contact the host and get unblocked. The worst are the hosts that accept the mail, but then silently drop it (so on our end it sent successfully, but the recipient never gets it). As you could imagine, that is super hard to diagnose and incredibly frustrating...

Having said all that, I imagine that if you're just managing personal mail, have a static IP and set up all the appropriate DNS stuff - inc SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) & DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) - then I'm sure you'd be fine.

Richard's picture

MIAB github

Really I was trying to avoid doing mail server config from scratch. I have done simple outgoing SMTP setups in the past but I don't find it fun. I've done all the SPF, DKIM and DMARC stuff before.

So I was hoping for a solution that just gave me a secure setup "out of the box".

The rationale being that Google is ending their legacy free Google Apps domain based email, so I was going to use MIAB to receive email for a couple of domains and then use POP/IMAP with a free gmail account. I've been using Gmail for ages and can't really believe Roundcube can be as good (though it does look v. sexy)

iRedMail has a "Pro" paid version and if you look at the features the free version does very little in comparison, which is fairly typical of some softwares like Odoo, Frepple, etc.. Entice you by selling all the features and saying it's open-source, only to find after installing that you missed the paid version and what you have basically does nothing particularly useful.

Jeremy Davis's picture

I'm in the same situation as you re google. Your solution sounds pretty good to me! I think I might do that too!

Thanks for your insights re iRedMail. Sounds like it's "freemium" software (aka "crippleware" - depending on how useful/useless the free version is).

If you go with MAIB, please do share how you find it.

Richard's picture

Hi Jeremy,

Yes I would highly recommend Mail-in-a-box. It was exactly what I was hoping for. Simple yet comprehensive.

I have needed to push a couple of PRs to David's fork but now have it working on a standard Debian 11 template LXC container. If you look at my repo I have a mymain branch which has both PRs in. Hoping they will be merged but maybe not before the 27th Gmail deadline.

PRs are:

  • Support LXC containers
  • Tool for migrating Gmail to Gmail keeping mail labels!


Jeremy Davis's picture

Fantastic! When I get a chance sometime, I may have a look myself.

I love too that you've been a good open source citizen and gone above and beyond to contribute back to them, improving their code and support. Nice work! :)

FYI, Google have now backtracked and "personal" accounts can now stay on "GSuite legacy free". You still need to manually choose to "migrate", but you can tick a box (stating that it is for personal use) and nothing changes. I've done it myself and it all went really smoothly.

Richard's picture

I think I would have preferred not to know the last bit having spent a fair amount of time migrating and implementing a mail server. But ho hum, needed to do it for my business account anyway..

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