Chef cookbook example to install and configure a mail server using Postfix, Dovecot, PostfixAdmin and SpamAssassin.
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Postfix Dovecot Cookbook

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Installs and configures a mail server using Postfix, Dovecot, PostfixAdmin and SpamAssassin, including Amazon SES support.


Supported Platforms

This cookbook has been tested on the following platforms:

  • Amazon Linux
  • CentOS >= 6.0
  • Debian >= 7.0
  • Fedora >= 17.0
  • Ubuntu >= 12.04

Please, let us know if you use it successfully on any other platform.

Required Cookbooks

Required Applications

  • Dovecot >= 2: requires this version of dovecot to be available by the distribution's package manager
  • Chef 12.5 or higher.
  • Ruby 2.2 or higher.


Attribute Default Description
node['postfix-dovecot']['postmaster_address'] '' Postmaster mail address.
node['postfix-dovecot']['hostname'] node['fqdn'] Hostname.
node['postfix-dovecot']['rbls'] [] Mail RBLs array.
node['postfix-dovecot']['database']['type'] 'mysql' Database type. Possible values are: 'mysql', 'postgresql' (Please, see below).
node['postfix-dovecot']['sieve']['enabled'] true Whether to enable sieve.
node['postfix-dovecot']['sieve']['global_path'] "#{default['dovecot']['conf_path']}/sieve/default.sieve" Sieve global path.
node['postfix-dovecot']['spamc']['enabled'] true Whether to enable SpamAssassin.
node['postfix-dovecot']['spamc']['recipe'] 'onddo-spamassassin' Spamc recipe name to use.
node['postfix-dovecot']['vmail']['user'] 'vmail' Virtual mail system user name.
node['postfix-dovecot']['vmail']['group'] node['postfix-dovecot']['vmail']['user'] Virtual mail system group name.
node['postfix-dovecot']['vmail']['uid'] 5000 Virtual mail system user id.
node['postfix-dovecot']['vmail']['gid'] node['postfix-dovecot']['vmail']['uid'] Virtual mail system group id.
node['postfix-dovecot']['vmail']['home'] '/var/vmail' Virtual mail user home path.

Amazon SES Attributes

You can use node['postfix-dovecot']['ses']['enabled'] to enable SES for sending emails.

Attribute Default Description
node['postfix-dovecot']['ses']['enabled'] false Whether to enable Amazon SES.
node['postfix-dovecot']['ses']['source'] 'attributes' Where to read the credentials from. Possible values: 'attributes', 'chef-vault'.
node['postfix-dovecot']['ses']['vault'] 'amazon' Chef Vault bag to read SES credentials from.
node['postfix-dovecot']['ses']['item'] 'ses' Chef Vault item.
node['postfix-dovecot']['ses']['region'] 'us-east-1' Amazon AWS region, used to calculate the servers.
node['postfix-dovecot']['ses']['servers'] calculated Amazon SES SMTP servers array.
node['postfix-dovecot']['ses']['username'] 'USERNAME' SES SMTP username. See Obtaining Your Amazon SES SMTP Credentials documentation.
node['postfix-dovecot']['ses']['password'] 'PASSWORD' Amazon SES SMTP password.

When Chef Vault is disabled in node['postfix-dovecot']['ses']['source'], this is the default behavior, the credentials are read from ['username'] and ['password'] attributes.

When credentials should be read using chef-vault, the Chef Vault bag must have the following structure:

  "username": "AMAZON_USERNAME",
  "password": "AMAZON_PASSWORD"

See the Chef-Vault documentation to learn how to create chef-vault bags.

The SSL Certificate

This cookbook uses the ssl_certificate cookbook to create the SSL certificate. The namespace used is node['postfix-dovecot']. For example:

node.default['postfix-dovecot']['common_name'] = ''
include_recipe 'postfix-dovecot'

This certificate is used for Postfix and Dovecot. For PostfixAdmin, you should use the node['postfixadmin'] namespace.

You can also tweak the supported SSL ciphers setting the node['ssl_certificate']['service']['compatibility'] attribute:

node.default['ssl_certificate']['service']['compatibility'] = :modern

include_recipe 'postfix-dovecot'

See the ssl_certificate namespace documentation for more information.



Installs and configures everything.


Creates vmail user.


Installs and configures SpamAssassin.


Installs and configures Postfix.


Installs Postfix package with MySQL support. Used by the postfix-dovecot::postfix recipe.


Installs Postfix package with PostgreSQL support. Used by the postfix-dovecot::postfix recipe.


Installs and configures PostfixAdmin.


Installs and configures Dovecot 2.

Usage Examples

Including in a Cookbook Recipe

Running it from a recipe:

node['postfix-dovecot']['postmaster_address'] = ''
node['postfix-dovecot']['hostname'] = ''

include_recipe 'postfix-dovecot::default'

postfixadmin_admin '' do
  password 'sup3r-s3cr3t-p4ss'
  action :create

postfixadmin_domain '' do
  login_username ''
  login_password 'sup3r-s3cr3t-p4ss'

postfixadmin_mailbox '' do
  password 'alice'
  login_username ''
  login_password 'sup3r-s3cr3t-p4ss'

postfixadmin_alias '' do
  goto ''
  login_username ''
  login_password 'sup3r-s3cr3t-p4ss'

Don't forget to include the postfix-dovecot cookbook as a dependency in the metadata.

# metadata.rb
# [...]

depends 'postfix-dovecot'

Including in the Run List

Another alternative is to include the default recipe in your Run List.

  "name": "",
  "[...]": "[...]",
  "run_list": [

Enabling Some RBLs

You can enable some RBLs to avoid spam:

node.default['postfix-dovecot']['rbls'] = %w(
include_recipe 'postfix-dovecot::default'

PostgreSQL Support

PostgreSQL support should be considered experimental at the moment. Use at your own risk.

Any feedback you can provide regarding the PostgreSQL support will be greatly appreciated.

PostgreSQL Support on CentOS and Fedora

The latest CentOS and Fedora versions come without PostgreSQL support in their Postfix package. So we need to recompile it using the SRPM, enabling the PostgreSQL support.

The postfix-dovecot::postfix_postgresql recipe takes care of it transparently. This recipe has been tested using test-kitchen, but it may not work for all cases. This code has been tested in the following platforms:

  • CentOS 6.5 and 7.0
  • Fedora 19 and 20.

Please, let us know if you use PostgreSQL support successfully on any other platform.

PostgreSQL Support on Amazon Linux

Support for PostgreSQL on Amazon Linux is still not finished because of the need to patch the provided SRPM. Its implementation would require a little monkey-patching.

Please, open an issue if you need the support of PostgreSQL on Amazon Linux.

PostgreSQL Versions < 9.3

If you are using PostgreSQL version < 9.3, you may need to adjust the shmmax and shmall kernel parameters to configure the shared memory. You can see the example used for the integration tests.

PostgreSQL Support Related Attributes

Some cookbook attributes are used internally to add PostgreSQL support. They can make your journey smoother if you need to improve PostgreSQL support.

Attribute Default Description
node['postfix-dovecot']['yum'] calculated A list of yum repositories to add to include the source SRPMs.
node['postfix-dovecot']['postfix']['srpm']['packages'] calculated Packages required for compiling Postfix from sources.
node['postfix-dovecot']['postfix']['srpm']['rpm_regexp'] calculated An array with two values, a pattern and a replacement. This Regexp is used to get the final Postfix RPM name from the SRPM name.
node['postfix-dovecot']['postfix']['srpm']['rpm_build_args'] calculated A string with the arguments to pass to rpmbuild application. Normally contains the required option to enable PostgreSQL in the Postfix SRPM.

See the attributes/postfix_postgresql.rb file for default examples.

Please do not hesitate to make a PR if you improve the PostgreSQL support ;-)




Please do not hesitate to open an issue with any questions or problems.




License and Author

Author: Xabier de Zuazo (
Contributor: Uwe Stuehler
Copyright: Copyright (c) 2015, Xabier de Zuazo
Copyright: Copyright (c) 2014-2015, Onddo Labs, SL.
License: Apache License, Version 2.0
Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License");
you may not use this file except in compliance with the License.
You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS,
See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
limitations under the License.