Setting up Procmail and Postfix with maildir for mobile usage

When I’m on the road, I can check my private and business e-mail using my very handy Nokia e61i smartphone (which I like a lot, apart from its rather unstable web browser). However, as I’ve never been far away from a computer for a long time so far, I’ve only used to check mail that was delivered to my inbox, and not to any of its about 200 subfolders (I once tried to subscribe to all folders – the mail client of the e61i simply crashed ;). Now, I figured I’d need to do something about this in order to not miss any of the mails that are automatically moved to a subfolder by the server-side procmail mail filter.

The solution: Simply create a new procmail rule that copies (that’s what the c stands for) any incoming message to a special folder (I named it “mobile”; note that my postfix uses the maildir format to store messages):

:0 c

Preferably, this rule should be placed after the spam filtering rules (you don’t want to pay for spam on your mobile, do you? ;) and before the normal procmail mail filter rules (which move every incoming mail to the appropriate subfolder). You can also use a dedicated rules file for every group of similar rules. For example, I include the files spam.rc, mobile.rc, lists.rc (with their according rules) in the main .procmailrc config file.

Now every mail that wasn’t filtered by the spam filter gets copied to the “mobile” subfolder of your inbox prior to getting moved to the appropriate subfolder (by the rules in lists.rc).

On my e61i, I hence only need to subscribe to the “mobile” subfolder in order to catch all incoming messages. As you can’t unsubscribe from the inbox subfolder itself, you should set the maximum number of caught new inbox mails to 1 (which is the minimum) in order to avoid fetching things twice. You can further configure that only headers are fetched to minimize the amount of data[1] that is automatically downloaded with every mail check (also: switch off polling if you don’t need it).

Note that another advantage of this solution is that you won’t tamper with any of the original messages (that are either in your inbox or in any of its subfolders). Some might call this a disadvantage though.

That’s it, have fun! :)

[1] I pay 0.10 CHF per 20 KB, i.e. 5 CHF (5 USD) per MB (which is incredibly expensive as I currently don’t have any flat rate data plan -> please don’t send me a mail bomb just for fun, else I’ll have to write a more sophisticated procmail rule that only copies messages < 100 KB to the mobile folder)

Setting up postfix for virtual mail hosts

After setting up name-based virtual web hosting for Apache, I’ve just set up virtual mail hosting for my new company, Printscreen GmbH, using postfix – and it was amazingly simple! :) For some basic virtual mail hosting using normal UNIX/Linux user accounts, all you need is a plain-text file (‘/etc/postfix/virtual’) that maps virtual mail addresses to the actual user accounts and two additional lines in

/etc/postfix/virtual: postmaster
# Uncomment entry below to implement a catch-all address
# jim

virtual_alias_domains =
virtual_alias_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/virtual

Then just execute

# postmap /etc/postfix/virtual && /etc/init.d/postfix reload


The nice postfix readme file for this and some more complicated virtual mail hosting configurations:

Another, possibly helpful howto (search):

For setups using a MySQL database as a backend for storing the mappings, see Google. I currently don’t need this and hence don’t like to introduce any unnecessary MySQL dependency to my postfix server – remember the KISS principle ;)