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Postfix: The Definitive Guide [Paperback]

Kyle D. Dent
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 28 2003 0596002122 978-0596002121 1

Postfix is a Mail Transfer Agent (MTA): software that mail servers use to route email. Postfix is highly respected by experts for its secure design and tremendous reliability. And new users like it because it's so simple to configure. In fact, Postfix has been adopted as the default MTA on Mac OS X. It is also compatible with sendmail, so that existing scripts and programs continue to work seamlesslyafter it is installed.Postfix was written by well-known security expert Wietse Venema, who reviewed this book intensively during its entire development. Author Kyle Dent covers a wide range of Postfix tasks, from virtual hosting to controls for unsolicited commercial email.While basic configuration of Postfix is easy, every site has unique needs that call for a certain amount of study. This book, with careful background explanations and generous examples, eases readers from the basic configuration to the full power of Postfix. It discusses the Postfix interfaces to various tools that round out a fully scalable and highly secure email system. These tools include POP, IMAP, LDAP, MySQL, Simple Authentication and Security Layer (SASL), and Transport Layer Security (TLS, an upgrade of SSL). A reference section for Postfix configuration parameters and an installation guide are included.Topics include:

  • Basic installation and configuration
  • DNS configuration for email
  • Working with POP/IMAP servers
  • Hosting multiple domains (virtual hosting)
  • Mailing lists
  • Handling unsolicited email (spam blocking)
  • Security through SASL and TLS
From compiling and installing Postfix to troubleshooting, Postfix: The Definitive Guide offers system administrators and anyone who deals with Postfix an all-in-one, comprehensive tutorial and reference to this MTA.

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Review

"Excellent book." Information Security Bulletin, September 2004

About the Author

Kyle D. Dent works as an independent consultant and software developer in the New York metropolitan area. He has designed and implemented various security, network, and web-based applications for technology and financial firms. He has been working with Postfix in various settings since it was released by IBM in 1998. Kyle grew up with computers in an IBM family, but originally started working in publishing and as a teacher of English as a Second Language. He is an avid supporter of public libraries serving as a trustee at his local library and on his regional library system board. He has recently started to learn the classical guitar.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Postfix: The not very definitive guide July 12 2004
Format:Paperback
Postfix: The Definitive Guide by Kyle D. Dent would be much better titled as Postfix: Cliffnotes. It is written hastily and many sections are left incomplete.
In many cases throughout the book I was left searching the web for answers to my questions on the web. The configuration file reference is nothing short of being deficient. I would estimate 50%-60% of the directives are left out completely, while existing directives contain less of a description than the comments in the configuration file.
If this book was not under the veil of "The Definitive Guide" series I might have been happier. Definitive is defined as "serving to provide a final solution or to end a situation", which is nothing less than I have obtained in prior books I have read in this series.
This book is well suited, and I recommend it, for the person who already has some Postfix or Sendmail experience. If you don't have this experience, plan to use this book as a complement to Google and the Postfix site.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Only Serious Contender to Sendmail Jan. 19 2004
Format:Paperback
Over 20 years ago, Eric Allman wrote sendmail to handle the then tricky problems of email on BSD and SystemV unix machines. Since then, email has become all pervasive to educated persons. En route, sendmail also grew vastly in complexity to handle this. So much so that just manipulating its configuration files became convoluted. Worse yet was the actual debugging of its source code.
Despite all this, sendmail is still the most powerful Message Transfer Agent on unix/linux. But Venema recently tried a totally different approach. From the onset, he used a modular design and a set of 5 queues in which to process messages. In essence, we have a finite state machine, where the state of a message is the queue that it is in. Dent here shows how Postfix is fundamentally a queue management system. Analogous to how any operating system is basically a file management system.
The hope is that Postfix will be easier to maintain and debug. Certainly, from a sysadmin's viewpoint, the configuration files seem simpler than sendmail's. But perhaps this is partly because Postfix does not yet have the full capability of sendmail?
As a sign of the times we live in, Dent devotes 2 chapters to antispam measures possible in Postfix. This is equivalent functionality to sendmail's Milter API. Likewise, the current Postfix antispam implementations are no more effective than Milter's. Which leaves room for you to try your hand at improving this state of affairs!
As Dent describes, Postfix is now open source and easily available. Still not as widely installed as sendmail. But you now have a credible alternative to it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Definitive Jan. 14 2004
Format:Paperback
I remember folk on the Postfix mailing list complaining about how long it was taking for this book to be written. Well, I've been writing a computer book for the past year and all I can say is 'I feel your pain Kyle'. Anyway, the wait has been well worthwhile, and possibly a benefit because the book deals with several new features only recently added to Postfix.
You know that an O'Reilly book is at least going to be half-decent, and possibly excellent. In this case Mr. Dent's work has hit the mark spot on, and to my mind earns an excellent rating. Why ? Well, first of all his writing style is clear, concise and easy to read. Secondly he's covered everything you'd want to know about Postfix, rather than an easy feature subset. And third, he's avoided the common pitfall with software guide books where the writer simply presents a jazzed-up version of a reference guide---lists of configuration parameters and their explaination making up the bulk of the book.
Kyle takes the time, and it's much appreciated by the way, to explain how Postfix features work, why they exist (very important), and when they should be used (or not used). I was particularly overjoyed to see that he has covered the configuration of the server to support both SASL and TLS. I'm sure that those chapters will save me _days_ of hair pulling in crypto-hell.
In summary: If you already run Postfix, and you're not Wietse Venema (well, I'm sure he has a complimentary copy already), then RUN out and buy this book. If you don't run Postfix, but were thinking of changing to a better MTA, then consider your options again because now that this book exists, Postfix is a more attractive choice for many admins. Even if you don't ever plan to run Postfix, this book is a pretty good read for those who are just plain interested in e-mail technology.
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