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Old 05-05-2006, 10:05 PM   #1
Registered: Aug 2003
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 53

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Understainding linux mail (Debian + exim4)


Im struggeling with the initial learning curve, I visited #debian irc channel, but wern't so helpful. Most of what I find on google is too complicated.

I have installed debian 3.1 in a virtual machine.

The server has a private IP address on my local network with internet access. I have a domain name with my isp and my adsl connection resolves to a subdomain of that.

I am trying to understand DNS and Mail setup.

So far I understand I should set up exim4 using the 'dpkg-reconfigure exim4-config' command.

Running through that, I don't know how I should answer the following questions:

I selected "Mail sent by smarthost; no local mail"
Is this a good choice?

What should the System mail name be set to?

Where will your users read their mail?
Visable domain for local users:

I really want to understand how it works and why the choices are made, but lots of the documentation is overwhelming

Sorry this isn't a very specific post, but I'm not sure where to start.

Old 05-06-2006, 01:43 AM   #2
Senior Member
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: New York City
Distribution: Debian Sid 2.6.32
Posts: 2,100

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You left out some very important information. First and foremost, what domain name do you want to use for email? The fact that your adsl connection is listed as has no relation to your domain name. Your ISP can call you, and you can call yourself or, and there is no problem with that.

Again just because you are called doesn't mean you can necessarily send/receive mail with that name. That would be handled by the server that runs mail (look at the MX record through DNS) for

What you probaly want to do (though I can't be certain) is to register or at least use your own domain, and configure this server to be the mail host for that domain. If you register a domain (, then I would call this server, and point the DNS to the IP address of your ADSL connection. Since you stated the server has a local addresss on your LAN, you'll need to use the router/firewall to forward all traffic for port 25 (SMTP) on the WAN IP address through to your internal. If you want people to access the email from outside the office, you'll need to forward 110 for POP3 access, and/or 143 for IMAP.

Mail sent by smarthost no local mail is not at all what you want for a mail server. I feel that if you want to have a functional mail server, the easiest newbie mail server setup instructions can be found at

If you want to stick with exim that is ok, but I suggest getting a better understanding of how email/dns works before trying to configure a server. You can google for those explainations.

Old 05-06-2006, 08:22 AM   #3
Registered: Aug 2003
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 53

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
Thanks, I'll have a good look into that now

I don't want to set up a dedicated mail server, though I do wan't to understand how linux handles sending mail localy or passing it off to a smarthost(smtp server at my isp), and how the local mail works.
Old 05-06-2006, 10:18 PM   #4
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Registered: Feb 2003
Location: CT
Distribution: Debian 6+, CentOS 5+
Posts: 1,315

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select local if you don't want a net email server and have the mail sent to your normal username


debian, exim, mail

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