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This is a very simple mail server based on Docker with these features:

  • Multiple mail accounts
  • Multiple virtual e-mail addresses per account
  • SMTP via OpenSMTPD
  • IMAP via Dovecot
  • DKIM signatures via dkimproxy

Mail-o-Rama is useful for smaller personal e-mail setups. I wrote thise because the existing alternatives are just not my taste:

  • does not play well when you have an existing Let's Encrypt setup.
  • mailcow uses too many containers and has "too many features" for my taste.

There are many other solutions out there, but this one is mine. It does not feature the following:

  • NO spam filter (though this might change at some point)
  • NO virus scanner
  • NO webmailer
  • NO management UI
  • NO SQL databases


For running the Docker container, you need a couple of text files.


This file should contain a list of your accounts, one per line. For each account, you have to spcify a name, a user ID and a password hash. This is very similar to regular UNIX user information and in fact, this is (also) used to setup system accounts within the container.

al    1000 $6$OxCmLiR/Ynm....
peggy 1001 $6$OxCmLiR/Ynm....
kelly 1002 $6$OxCmLiR/Ynm....

Make sure to never rename or re-number the accounts without also taking care of the existing mail data.


This file contains a list of all the domains you want to handle e-mail for, for example

You can add or remove domains at any point, this should not affect existing e-mails.


This is the "meat" of your configuration: the list of all existing e-mail addresses. Each line contains a mapping of e-mail address to one or more user accounts or external addresses. Separate targets by comma:       al     al     al    peggy   al,peggy,

You can manage this file as you like, it should not affect existing mail data.


This file defines aliases for system accounts. You will probably rarely get mails from within your container, but this file is used when you relay mails from the Docker host system into your container (see below).


Running the container

See the docker-compose.yml file for usage instructions.

Local System Mail

The goal is to get rid of as much e-mail infrastructure on the host system as possible. But this leaves the question as to how mails from your cron daemon reaches your inbox. You have basically two options:

SMTP-based using an MTA

You can install a classic MTA like sendmail, postfix or exim on your Docker host and configure it to relay mail to the Docker container via SMTP. This has the drawback that you need to map your host usernames to e-mail addresses (because you cannot send an e-mail just to "root"), but at the same time is the only viable solution when you have other Docker containers that also should send e-mail.

An easy solution is to use msmtp. In many cases (like for Archlinux and Debian) there's an addtional package, msmtp-mta, that provides a /usr/sbin/sendmail program. A sample configuration could look like this:

# Set default values for all following accounts.
aliases   /etc/aliases.msmtp

# Mail-o-Rama
account   mailorama
host      localhost
port      25

# Set a default account
account default : mailorama

You also want to have an aliases file that maps your user accounts to an e-mail address. The regular /etc/aliases does not work if it contains mappings for non-existing users, so it's probably a good idea to use a dedicated aliases file that looks like this:


It should be very easy to install an MTA like this into your other Docker containers to have them also properly deliver their mail to you.

Use docker exec and sendmail

Instead of sending e-mail via SMTP to the container, you can also use the sendmail aliases that's provided by OpenSMTPD. For this, you need something on your host that runs docker exec -i <your container> sendmail ... for each new mail. In this case, usernames are mappened to mail accounts using the /etc/aliases file inside the container.

The /usr/sbin/sendmail program cannot be a shellscript, because programs like cron run it via popen(). To work around this, I wrote a very simple Go program that can be used as your local sendmail program. See the sendmail/ directory for the source and some precompiled binaries. Simply place the binary at /usr/sbin/sendmail (or symlink it) and make sure to configure the container name

  • either by setting a system-wide environment variable MAILORAMA_CONTAINER=<full docker container name here>
  • or by creating an INI file in /etc/mail-o-rama/sendmail.ini with only one setting: container = <full docker container name here>


As e-mail data is stored in Maildirs, creating a backup can be as simple as taring up each mail account. To make things simpler, there is a tiny script included in the image which is meant to be called once per day via

docker-compose exec mail-o-rama /

The script will create tar.gz files (named as YYYY-MM-DD.tar.gz) in each mail account directory. If you set the BACKUP_RETENTION_DAYS environment variable to a non-empty value, the script will also cleanup old backups automatically.


Super simple mail server in Docker




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