Best Way to Set up a SMTP Server in a Small Organization

Dear all,

I work in a small but growing organization, and one of the challenges I am facing these days is how to optimize our mail handling. We have several mailing lists for our members, to whom we distribute different electronic items. Unfortunately, we have no (affordable) expert to help us set up what we need.

I have started building a MySql database of all our members, which goes at a good pace, considering I am an enthusiast, but no computer scientist. Our organization has its own domain and hosting (donated by one of our members), but we rely on GMail for all email. Only recently did we learn GMail has restrictions on the number of emails we can send, and only lets us send 500 at a time, while our list is growing fast and is currently around 2000.

I thought we could set up a Linux-based SMTP server on older hardware but was discouraged by the guy who maintains our hardware. He claims our provider may not like all the SMTP traffic coming out from our account.

What I would like to accomplish however is to set up something like email groups (I’ve only seen this being done on MS Exchange servers, but it is not an option for us), say Every time we send an email to this address, I would like the server to pull out all the associated email addresses from the MySQL database and forward the email to them.

My questions is: is this possible, and how best can it be achieved? Or, are there better and wiser solutions? What hardware could we use?

I’d greatly appreciate all your tips and suggestions, and thank you in advance!

Do a search on mailman, this is a package for running mailing lists. No MySQL required.

You’ll have to sort out the issues with SMTP and your provider. If you do not have a business class connection, you may not be allowed to send mail directly from your IP address, you may have to go through the ISP’s relay and there may be limits. You have to find out.

There are probably companies you can outsource mailing lists to, if you find that your ISP connection cannot support a mail server with the traffic you will generate. Or you could rent a dedicated Linux server.

We did something like that in a SME (small business) of 50 people using mysql and postfix.

we basically created an alias that pointed at the mailing list. I don’t know if its the best way of doing it, but it worked for us just fine. I think mailman can plug in to postfix somehow, I never got around to playing with it.

Careful though that each recipient doesn’t get to see the rest of the email addresses, guaranteed to p*ss people off…

we also used postfix as our mailserver + courier-imap, spam-assassin, avg free & clamAV with thunderbird clients & squirrelmail. we used postfix-admin for managing things with - virtual domains and so forth. Worked brilliantly.


we had a business ADSL connection. To use our server as a direct-sending mailserver we had to muck around with DNS and MX records. Or you can relay everything through your providers MX server, works fine as well.
You can use fetchmail to pull emails in from a POP account, or configure your DNS so that your server gets mail directly.

Thanks for these replies! I am glad to find out we are on the right track. Next thing I will do is to sort things out with the provider. I forgot to mention we have an ADSL connection, supposedly business plan, I am not sure if they just call it that to charge us more, or if it is somehow enhanced. I will find out.

How about the hardware requirements? Can we go with older hardware?

Thanks much!

Depends on your mail volume but generally mail handling doesn’t take a lot of grunt. Even something like a 500 MHz Celeron is adequate. If you run in text mode, you could even do it in 256MB RAM.

I’d agree with that. If you’re just planning on running a simple mailserver (even with an sql backend) you can get away with pretty old hardware. If you add spam & virus checking in, you might want to think about something better (more ram helps), but nothing massive.

We ran ours on a 3ghz pentium4 from dell, it was more than we needed but then we also used it for other things as well.