Resources for “A Server (Almost) of Your Own”


Some of the code was formatted incorrectly in George Belotsky's “A Server (Almost) of Your Own” in our December 2006 issue. For the corrected version of the article, please see: /article/8337

This page contains updates to the article, as well as some important security information for running your VPS.

Thanks again to Sean Reifschneider, Evelyn Mitchell and the rest of the crew for their very helpful suggestions and for letting me use their equipment once more, to test the updates presented here.

While you can still get a VPS based on Fedora Core 3, the system used for the article, you may want something more recent. For example, CentOS 4.4, which derives from Red Hat Enterprise Linux, requires only minor deviations from the directions in the article text. The CentOS project home page is at

The following notes update the instructions from Fedora Core 3 to CentOS 4.4. offers both variants, as well as several others, including Ubuntu and Debian.

Firewall Settings

When you configure the firewall with system-config-securitylevel-tui, the text-based GUI may not render correctly in your terminal. If this makes it difficult to use the application, try running the terminal program with the UTF-8 character encoding.

For example, xterm -u8 should launch a UTF-8 xterm. In gnome-terminal, select Terminal→Set Character Encoding→Unicode (UTF-8) from the menu bar in order to enable UTF-8.

Postfix Mail Server

You will need to update the last two lines of Listing 1, as the Postfix mail server version has changed. Here is the new code.

sample_directory = /usr/share/doc/postfix-2.2.10/samples

readme_directory = /usr/share/doc/postfix-2.2.10/README_FILES

Note that the sample_directory parameter is obsolete since version 2.1 of Postfix.

When testing your mail server by telnetting to port 25, you may find it blocked by your local ISP. Many DSL and cable providers do this now.

It is quite simple to configure Postfix so it listens on a non-standard port, such as 10025, in addition to port 25. Edit the file /etc/postfix/ Note that this is not the file that you worked with in Listing 1. Near the top, you will find the following lines:

# =======================================================================
# service  type  private  unpriv  chroot  wakeup   maxproc  command + args
#                (yes)    (yes)   (yes)   (never)  (100)
# =======================================================================
      smtp   inet    n        -       n       -       -       smtpd

Add the following line, after the “smtp” line.

10025     inet  n       -       n       -       -       smtpd

Next, restart Postfix: /etc/init.d/postfix restart.

Finally, re-run the system-config-securitylevel-tui utility as described in the article. On the “Customize” screen, add 10025 to the “Other ports” text box. If there are other entries in this textbox, scroll to the last one, add a space, and make the new, additional entry. “OK” your changes and restart iptables, as discussed in the article.

From your workstation, you can now telnet to port 10025 on your VPS instead of port 25, to carry out the tests described in the article. After sending these hand-generated test messages, remember to check the Spam folder at the receiving end. Unusual formatting, such as the lack of a subject, of these e-mail messages may cause them to be flagged as junk.

While on the subject of spam, the problem is getting worse, as you probably know. Listing 1 in the article uses luser_relay to deliver mail for unknown recipients to a specific user on the system. This is very convenient, because you can just invent e-mail addresses, and they will work without any configuration changes.

Unfortunately, luser_relay may expose you to a lot more spam. If this happens, you will need to add all your legitimate addresses to /etc/aliases and comment out luser_relay. The article text describes how to work with /etc/aliases.

Dovecot for POP3 and IMAP

When setting up Dovecot to provide POP3 and IMAP service, the newer configuration file may look a little different.

In CentOS 4.4, the default configuration has the protocols line commented out. It is also changed from what appears in the article text:

#protocols = imap imaps

Do not be confused by these minor differences; just add the code as described in the article: protocols = pop3 imap in this case. Dovecot will still work correctly.