Linux as a Backup E-mail Server

Implementing a fall-back e-mail server is easy to do by setting the proper entries in the DNS server and running sendmail on a Debian Linux system.

Setting up a fall-back e-mail server using a Linux system running on older hardware is an excellent tool to preserve incoming e-mail in the event of a disaster on your primary server. While I am backing up a Microsoft Exchange server, the same technique can be used to back up an SMTP server from any vendor. Setting up the fall-back server costs nearly nothing other than the time required for configuration. Having a very stable system completely independent of the rest of our network has also proven useful. Since I first configured bartleby, I have set up a collection of relatively simple scripts to watch other services on our network and page me in the event of an irregularity.

A fall-back e-mail system is a good way to sneak Linux into a low profile but “mission-critical” application in your organization. Once you've proven Linux is a “real” operating system to any skeptical decision maker, you can begin to utilize it in higher-profile roles.

John Blair currently works as a software engineer at Cobalt Microserver. When he's not hacking Cobalt's cute blue Qube, he's hanging out with his wife Rachel and newborn son Ethan. John is also the author of Samba: Integrating UNIX and Windows, published by SSC. Feel free to contact him at