Forum OpenACS Development: RedHat Postfix or QMail for OpenAcs 5.x

We are about to deploy a new customized public
installation of OpenACS. Currently this java/tomcat
site is using QMail and my experience on old
OpenAcs 3x is Qmail.

We are hosting this at they say:

"By default RHEL4 (RedHat) comes with both
postfix and sendmail setup and ready to operate...
Installing Qmail on your server would not fall under our
standard covered service, and would be billable at
$75/half hour It would take approximately 2 hours to
complete this install as well."

It appears that OpenACS can use Postfix but it
never got documented after this long discussion:

from March 2004.

Our CURRENT email needs are...

OUTGOING: alerts for blogs, forums and private
web based messaging, broadcasts to
forum members and broadcasts to various
member groups.

INCOMING: We do NOT offer email addys for Members
AND use email forwards for select "Admin" team users.
We also use forwarding to one or more addys for
addresses like help@ info@ billing@ etc.
A web interface to Add/Remove Email Forwards
is desired so that our CS users can make
the changes. I have used Qmailadmin for this.


Ability to Send emails TO OpenACS/Aolserver
AND have it decodeded for:
* Forum replies.
* Direct picture uploads from email attachments
* Unsubscribes via email reply.
* Other yet to be created uses where email
can be automatically received and decoded etc.

I would appreciate your comments as I am now
leaning / toward postfix.

from past history I'm leaning \ away from sendmail.
and away \ from qmail because it is not standard


Posted by Joe Cooper on
Hey Bob,

I'm using Postfix on our server, and outgoing works just fine. I have had no issues beyond the initial setup (which wasn't bad, and I can probably help if you run into problems).

However, I've never gotten incoming to work at all. We're using Maildir delivery, which is theoretically just like qmail. OpenACS is checking the mail and it is disappearing from the $MAILDIR/new directory, but it's never ending up getting to where it is supposed to go. Now that I've had more time to deal with OpenACS, I suspect OACS of being broken in this regard rather than my configuration being wrong. I like OACS a lot, but it's got a lot of broken pieces, and I believe this is one of them. Now that I've got a lot more experience with OACS, I plan to tackle the problem again with fresh eyes (and much better OACS debugging skills, though still sorely lacking in most regards).

And, as for staying away from qmail, there's a lot of good reasons it isn't in standard Red Hat and there's a lot of good reasons to stay away from it regardless of whether it is provided by Red Hat or not. Someone involved in OACS/ACS early on was a big ol' DJB fanboy, and this preference for DJB tools makes the documentation way more complicated than it needs to be for most Linux system users. I mean, really, daemontools and qmail? Wholly unnecssary dependencies that are orthogonal to the real problem that OACS is trying to address. There's already a pretty big stack of odd-ball tools to be installed, and it's just sadistic to specifically recommend even more outsider tools. But now I'm straying into random bashing. I'll stop.

Good luck with Postfix. Let me know if you figure out the incoming problem. 😉

Posted by Malte Sussdorff on
Incoming works. You just have to do a lot of configuration to get it to work.

To the specifics:

- Forum replies. Though (I think) the replies end up correctly with the forum it is still an issue how to deal with out of office replies and things like that.

- Direct picture upload. First of all you have to have tcllib installed. Then you need to make sure the mime types work correctly and preferably delete all the stuff that is currently in OpenACS 5.2. Then you need to write your own incoming mail procedures for photo album and use the latest switch to upload files as content items. Serious suggestion: Don't touch it until 5.3 is out (file upload using mail is just to flacky and I only succeeded in special occasions)

- This should be easy, if you write the according callback

- Again, these need their own callbacks and an entry in the prefix mapping table so acs-mail-lite knows which callback to call. Beware, this is still fairly untested code due to lack of demand and therefore resources.

Either way, use postfix, works like a charm (and all new documentation does assume postfix).

Posted by Caroline Meeks on
Direct Picture Upload -

These people seem to be doing it fine. Any idea who they are or if they are of a mind to give thier code back?

Posted by Nick Carroll on

I wrote a guide on how to configure Postfix for openacs a while ago. You can check it out at

Let me know if it still works. It will be the first thing that goes into the new openacs wiki when it gets created.


Posted by MaineBob OConnor on
Thanks Nick that will be great for the Wik

Does anyone have a recommendation for
a web interface for setting forwards?
The Postfix site has a list of addons:

And we want something simple that
we can set up for our cust service
for Email Forwards to one or more addys.
as in this example.
forwards to:,



Posted by Adam Aggeusz Jaworski on

the best web-interface I have seen (and I'm using) is written by Joe:


Posted by Joe Cooper on
Hey guys,

I wish I could take the credit for Webmin. I'm not unknown in the Webmin community and I've been working on it and with it for many years, but Jamie Cameron is the head honcho and, by far, the fellow deserving of credit for Webmin. I did write the book, though. 😉

But, I agree that Webmin is super-cool, and it does provide a GUI for .forward files and every other possible administration task you would ever need to do on a UNIX/Linux system--there are literally hundreds of modules for Webmin. In fact, whenever I see a question that begins, "I need a web-based tool for..." I know the answer is gonna be Webmin. And, because it includes extensive and really flexible ACLs, you can easily pull out everything that you don't want, if you find that the whole of Webmin is overkill.

Usermin might be ideal for Bob, since it allows users to edit their own forward files without having to create Webmin accounts for them. Because it only provides user-level access, one can safely let users have at it, without having to lock anything down with ACLs--it is targeted towards providing webmail, forwarding and auto-replies, spam filter configuration, database editing, procmail filters, file upload/download, etc. Any of the modules can be disabled, if even Usermin is too powerful or complex. Of course, one needs Webmin to be able to configure Usermin. Like OpenACS, the vast size of Webmin and its siblings can be intimidating. My book probably doesn't cover everything you'd ever want to do, but it's a nice survey course. If you run into problems there are good sources for help, as well. There are forums about Webmin, Usermin and Virtualmin over at (which is my OpenACS site, and the reason I'm here), and there is a friendly and active mailing list at .