Though there are several mailing solution for self hosted mail server, but installation and configuration can be headache some times. MailCow is fully feature loaded mailing script based on Dovecot, Postfix, SoGo and other open source software. It’s not easy to install, but also provides a modern web user interface for user and server administration.

MailCow is open source project which means you don’t have to spend a penny from your pocket for the software. To learn more about MailCow you can read their official documentation.

Requirement for MailCow Server

I will using Contabo for demonstration as they do not ban port 25. I have prepared list of VPS provider which gives you open port 25.

  • Recommended OS: Ubuntu 20.04

Initial DNS Setup

First of all you need to create few DNS records in order to start. They are as follows

TypeHostValue
AmailYour IP address
CNAMEautodiscovermail.yourdomain.com
CNAMEautoconfigmail.yourdomain.com
MX@mail.yourdomain.com 10

Installation of MailCow

Before, you can actually install mailcow, you need to install docker and docker compose needed by mailcow.

Installation of Docker

I already have discussed installation of Docker on Ubuntu. All, you need is to follow that article to install docker and docker-compose, which is will also help you understand docker.

Install MailCow

First of all set the hostname

[email protected]:~# hostnamectl set-hostname mail.yourdomain.com

Then install git , just in case it’s not installed. Then change working directory to opt directory and pull MailCow files from github.

[email protected]:~# apt install git -y
[email protected]:~# cd /opt
[email protected]:/opt# git clone https://github.com/mailcow/mailcow-dockerized

Now again change working directory.

[email protected]:/opt# cd mailcow-dockerized

Finally execute the bin file and answer the question

[email protected]:/opt/mailcow-dockerized# ./generate_config.sh

Press enter to confirm the detected value '[value]' where applicable or enter a custom value.
Mail server hostname (FQDN) - this is not your mail domain, but your mail servers hostname: mail.ingu.pw
Timezone [Etc/UTC]:
Generating snake-oil certificate...
Generating a RSA private key
...................................................................++++
...............................................................................................................................................................................................++++
writing new private key to 'data/assets/ssl-example/key.pem'
-----
Copying snake-oil certificate...

You can also make changes in configuration of you like

[email protected]:/opt/mailcow-dockerized# nano mailcow.conf

Next, pull MailCow docker image

[email protected]:/opt/mailcow-dockerized# docker-compose pull

Pulling unbound-mailcow   ... done
Pulling mysql-mailcow     ... done
Pulling redis-mailcow     ... done
Pulling clamd-mailcow     ... done
Pulling php-fpm-mailcow   ... done
Pulling sogo-mailcow      ... done
Pulling dovecot-mailcow   ... done
Pulling rspamd-mailcow    ... done
Pulling postfix-mailcow   ... done
Pulling memcached-mailcow ... done
Pulling nginx-mailcow     ... done
Pulling acme-mailcow      ... done
Pulling netfilter-mailcow ... done
Pulling watchdog-mailcow  ... done
Pulling dockerapi-mailcow ... done
Pulling solr-mailcow      ... done
Pulling olefy-mailcow     ... done
Pulling ejabberd-mailcow  ... done
Pulling ofelia-mailcow    ... done
Pulling ipv6nat-mailcow   ... done

Finally, run the compose.

[email protected]:/opt/mailcow-dockerized# docker-compose up -d

Creating network "mailcowdockerized_mailcow-network" with driver "bridge"
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_vmail-vol-1" with default driver
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_vmail-index-vol-1" with default driver
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_mysql-vol-1" with default driver
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_mysql-socket-vol-1" with default driver
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_redis-vol-1" with default driver
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_rspamd-vol-1" with default driver
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_solr-vol-1" with default driver
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_postfix-vol-1" with default driver
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_crypt-vol-1" with default driver
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_sogo-web-vol-1" with default driver
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_sogo-userdata-backup-vol-1" with default driver
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_xmpp-vol-1" with default driver
Creating volume "mailcowdockerized_xmpp-upload-vol-1" with default driver
Creating mailcowdockerized_sogo-mailcow_1      ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_olefy-mailcow_1     ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_memcached-mailcow_1 ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_clamd-mailcow_1     ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_unbound-mailcow_1   ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_watchdog-mailcow_1  ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_dockerapi-mailcow_1 ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_solr-mailcow_1      ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_ejabberd-mailcow_1  ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_redis-mailcow_1     ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_mysql-mailcow_1     ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_php-fpm-mailcow_1   ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_postfix-mailcow_1   ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_dovecot-mailcow_1   ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_nginx-mailcow_1     ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_ofelia-mailcow_1    ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_netfilter-mailcow_1 ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_rspamd-mailcow_1    ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_acme-mailcow_1      ... done
Creating mailcowdockerized_ipv6nat-mailcow_1   ... done

You might have to open port if firewall is running on your server. Run the following commands

[email protected]:~# sudo ufw allow 25,80,443,110,143,465,587,993,995/tcp

Now go to browser and open https://mail.yourdomain.com with the default credentials admin + password moohoo.

mailcow-admin-login-window

Inside admin dashboard make sure to change the password.

mailcow-admin-dashboard

To add domain and user go to configuration in the top menu

mailcow-add-domain-mail-window

To access mailbox go to https://mail.yourdomain.com/sogo and enter username and password.

mailcow-webmail-login

Next screen will be something like this.

mailcow-webmail-dashboard

Final DNS Configuration

You also need to setup DKIM, DMARC and SPF record to finish the installation.

TypeHostValue
TXT@“v=spf1 mx a -all”
TXT_dmarc“v=DMARC1; p=reject; rua=mailto:[email protected]
TXTdkim._domainkey“v=DKIM1; k=rsa; t=s; s=email; p=…”

To get the DKIM go to configuration>>domain>>edit as follows

add-dkim-mailcow

At the bottom of next page, you should find DKIM key. Copy it and paste it in DKIM TXT record.

dkim-key-mailcow-location

Conclusion

Installation of MailCow mail server is simple and with proper guidance any one can install it. In this tutorial, I have demonstrated all the steps and commands required to install MailCow.

1 reply
  1. Eros
    Eros says:

    Hello,
    First congratulation for your tutorial.
    I have installed a mail server (mailcow app) on ubuntu and I am confused about reverse dns (PTR record). I’ll tell you the facts:
    We will take king-kong.com as an example
    Main domain name -> king-kong.com
    subdomain: mail.king-kong.com
    mailcow app -> sogo -> domain: trace.king-kong.com
    So users use [email protected] as their email address.
    Namecheap.com setup:
    A Record: mail
    CNAME Record: mail.king-kong.com
    TXT Record: … p = reject; rua = mailto: [email protected]

    What I would like to know is what domain name I should use for the PTR record? mail.king-kong.com or trace.king-kong.com

    Reply

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