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Hi everyone. I'm fairly new to Linux and a complete novice at networking, so bear with me.
My mom runs a business where about 10 peope need constant, reliable access to email 24/7. The company has its own domain name, and email is handled by a third-party--not our ISP, but the guys who designed and host the company's website, and who registered the domain name.
My mom wants everyone to be able to issue "out of office" replies, and wants to have a single collection source for emails, from which the mail is then spread off to whomever. So, a mail server sounded right to me, and my mom immediately awarded me the task of getting one set up for her.
Now...I'm not sure about a couple of things, and this is where I need a little help. Will I have to assign a static IP address to my mail server? Will I have to "move" the domain name so that it points my server? Can I just leave the domain name as is, and "fetch" the mail from the third-parties' server, and then use my server to distribute the mail accordingly? If I use Linux on my server, can the employees still use, say, Outlook Express to read their mail, or will they need some kind of emulator to interface with my server?
These are just basic questions I had about the initial setup. Hopefully, someone here in the Newbie section will have some basic answers to help me get started. I'm really excited about the opportunity to do something like this, but I'm going to need some hand-holding in the beginning. Once I get a clearer sense of how the whole thing should be setup, then I think I can manage it from there.
Your mail server should (not must) have a static ip address seen from the internet, and you should (again) point your mx domain (dns entries for email are called mx) to that ip. I know that what you say about keeping mail in third parties' server is possible with some windows mail servers (look for pop connectors), but never tried in linux. Finally any pop/imap client should do the job, no matter if it's windows or linux.
By the way, I'm also a linux newbie, but I think that for 24/7 availability you should go for a stable distro, like stable debian or something like that.
Finally, I would suggest qmail as the software to run. I didn't try it, but some time ago I thought of doing the same as you want to do and I read a bit to be informed and it looked like it's the best choice.
Distribution: Linux Redhat 9.0, Fedora Core 2,Debian 3.0, Win 2K, Win95, Win98, WinXp Pro
Your desire to host your own server is what this forum is all about and is a good one. This would be a good solution for your Mom's needs. To start with, it would be a VERY good idea for you to have a static Ip address for your server. This makes life much more easy. So a little research into DNS and MX records will be necessary. You should begin to manage these yourself. What it will mostly consist of is obtaining a public IP address from your ISP. Most offer this and if yours doesn't then find one that does. Once you have obtained this address, then making sure that your MX records points to this IP address is next. Most of the sites that offer DNS management offer tutorials and tech support to do this. While this is taking place, you can begin to set up your server. There are many different opinions on which distro and which MTA to use so you will have to make your own choices, but nothing is set in stone and you can change later if you need to. I personally use Fedora Core 2 and Sendmail. Before FC2 I used Redhat. I haven't had any major issues with this combination but it did take quite a bit of research when I first started. Now I host multiple sites and have no problem. It just takes some effort. Regardless of which OS and MTA that you use, some important items are that you learn how to work and manage the firewall to prevent spammers and black hats from taking over your system. The other major item is to get a GOOD anti-virus program established. I use a commercial application called Vexira and have not had any problems with it catching the bad stuff. I use a two-tiered approach. I run Vexira on my server and then Norton System works on each of the clients. This acts as a back up to each other and work in compliment to each other. There are many tutorials and books available to help with the configuration. Most of the time the default configuration works for starters and then can be modified as your learning curve improves. You can even offer web based email (Squirrel Mail) if you desire. I find this works well for those folks who are on the move quite a bit and access to their mail is as simple as finding a PC somewhere that has internet access.
As you begin down this path, this forum is a great place to gain insight and information. Google and O'Reilly books are other great sources. I hope you have great luck and enjoyment from this endeavor. It is truly fun to manage your own servers and the Linux community is the best place around for support. Now, have fun and repost when you get to a bump in the road!