Saturday, May 17, 2008

Adventures in Ubuntu 8.04 Server

The Story so far:

The Mediagods mail server gave up the ghost a couple days ago.
After filtering millions of spam messages, the old guy had a the sendmail file get corrupted. It was a RedHat3 installation with all the RPM stuff pulled years ago, so this is a terminal condition. I bought a new machine to replace in... eek 2001.
I have yet a newer machine mostly unused, so that will become the new host.

Grabbing the installer CD was as easy as downloading it in my browser from

Initial installation was a breeze. As expected from Ubuntu installs.
At the end, I had a nice clean linux server with mySQL, PHP, Apache, ftp, and mail services ready to roll.

That was easy....

The manual states the ebox is the official gui management tool.

apt-get got it installed and configured.
I must say, I find this particular tool quite lacking.

firewall module
The firewall tool operates on "services." Unfortunately, it does not come preloaded with the names of any services beyond those it's using. I had to manually create service for everything including http and email.
Repetitive tasks are annoying, you have to start at the top of the menu tree each time.
It took a very long time to:
  • create each service (give it a name)
  • create a configuration for each service (seems silly to be a separate, painful step)
  • create a rule for that service in the LAN ruleset
  • create a rule for that service in the WAN ruleset

Nice things about the firewall: uses separate rulesets for LAN and WAN traffic. (Which is also annoying: I couldn't scp files from the old box until I set up an ssh rule in the WAN rules.)

user/group management module
The user management module is misleading in that is doesn't manage linux users: it manages LDAP users.

Configuring email:
I went through all the steps on the Postfix page in the manual.
Normally, I run sendmail, so this was new to me.
The instructions in the Basic Configurating section caused some problems, because they give you the answers to the questions - not the questions themselves. Which were different in my case.

I skipped Mailman, since I don't offer mailing list services.

On to my users:
  1. It's not working, but for safety's sake, I stopped the sendmail daemon on the old box.
  2. I wanted to re-create the user structure from the RH3/linuxconf box, so I created a "popusers" group for unprivileged mail users with groupadd and groupmod.
  3. I gave them a home in /home/popusers.
  4. Added the users with "useradd -g popusers -d /home/popusers/{popusername}/ -m {popusername}"
  5. Set passwords for the popusers
  6. Used scp to copy the spool files over from the old box.
  7. Pointed the MX records to the new box and wait... DNS hasn't changed on these machines in 7 years so I had a super-long TTL.

I will post again in a few hours after the dns catches up.


  1. Follow up: I'm seeing email in the spool, so it seems to be working. Will post again when I get to my POP client.

    Mail filtering (?) is creating a BOGUS.username file which contains many non-spam messages.

    I'll install the packages recommended on

  2. Got hung up installing the spam filters. The install described installed Domain Keys, but does not configure this package.

    Still researching how to make it work.

  3. I have not been able to find clear documentation on dkim-filter, so I passing on that. Hopefully mail will still work.


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