Guide updated on 29th of February 2016

An introduction to the Debian QMR installation / Setting your expectations

Before you get into the qmail installation, it's important to know what your are getting yourself into. This page is intended to explain to you what you are about to do, what you need to know, what to expect from this guide and (more importantly) what not to expect from this guide. I sincerely hope everyone who follows the QMR install guide reads this section first. It may help you make the correct and logical decisions when the time comes.

Understanding what you are about to do

Though I really hope you know this by now, you are about to install a complete mail server solution on whatever server you have chosen. You will be replacing whatever mail server software is currently on your server with qmail and a lot of extra software to enhance qmail's functionality.

The qmail installation is NOT a special version of qmail. The version of qmail you find on this site is the exact same version available from Dan Bernstein's website (the creator of qmail) and it's the same version that is documented on Life With Qmail. The only difference is that this site details the installation of many additional software packages that enhance qmail's performance. But the core of this install is plain old qmail-1.03. Any notions that you are installing the " version of qmail" are wrong. You're not. Rather, you are simply installing qmail according to one person's advice and preferences.

What you need to know before beginning the installation

The installation and setup of a qmail based mail server, whether through this site or any other site, is not easy. I would not recommend this installation to anyone who is a newcomer to the Linux/Unix world. If you are such a person, I would STRONLY recommend that you take step back and familiarize yourself with general Linux/Unix knowledge before diving into this installation. In other words, if you are a newbie you WILL have a hard time with this installation. That's a fact.

What to expect from this installation guide

First and foremost, know this: The Debian QMR installation of qmail DOES WORK. It's been tested time and time again. But don't get me wrong, the guide is not a work of perfection. I'm sure there are a few minor mistakes or typos here and there, but the install does work as a whole and any MAJOR problems you encounter are typically going to be due to something you've done wrong or something you're system isn't doing right.

It is completely normal for most everyone to experience some problems during the install. That's life. Get used to it. While I make all efforts to make this guide easy and error free, the ease of the installation process really depends on the skill of the individual person attempting the install. As I said, most everyone experiences a problem or 2 along the way. If you are a newbie, these problems can be very difficult to overcome without help. If you are a seasoned sysadmin, you should be able to use common sense to fix most problems as they come up. It is for this reason that experieced Linux/Unix people find this guide to be excellent while newbies have a more hit or miss experience. Some love it, some get frustrated. So goes the life of the newbie. But the frustration that newbies feel at time arises out of that person's own inabilities and NOT out of some huge flaw in the guide. I've used this installtion guide myself countless times verbatim, and it DOES work. To ensure a positive experience, make sure your system is properly prepared and make sure you have the appropriate skill set.

A word to the newbie

Newbies have a habit of getting so frustrated that they start to hate qmail. This is normal newbie behavior and is not restricted to just qmail. Newbies get mad at everything because they are newbies. They are confused and freightened animals caught in the headlights of software that is over their head. However, there is hope. Be persistent and seek out the advise of more seasoned geeks. has it's own mailing list, it's own mailing list archive, a chat forum and an IRC channel. Use them. Qmail is badass and once you get past the learning curve, you'll agree. If you want some proof, just check out the current uptime from one of my first qmail servers I ever set up (and quite a busy one at that)...

9:50PM up 248 days, 13:56, 1 user, load averages: 0.05, 0.04, 0.01

Need I say more? I'm sure there are people out there with even higher uptimes, but you get the point.

What NOT to expect from this installation guide

While the QMR guide does work, you SHOULD NOT expect it to be a seamless and flawless experience. System environments and server setups vary, so portions of the installation guide may be more difficult for some users.

This guide is also NOT absolutely perfect. As I said, it DOES work for most people, but I am always finding areas for improvement, clarification and correction. If you ever find an area of the install process that you feel needs improvement, clarification or correction, by all means let me know. The install guide is written by a human, so mistakes do happen and I don't always catch them. I am constantly working to improve the guide and make it as uiniversal as possible, but there will always be somebody out there who doesn't understand a step or whose system doesn't like some part of the install process. That's normal, so don't give up.

And now, the most important piece of advice before you begin the installation:


Proceed to the debian package source list adaptation

Color Coded Qmail Installation Key
  Regular Black Text     Qmail installation notes and summaries by the author.
  Bold Black Text     Commands to be run by you, the installer.
  Bold/Regular Red Text    Vital and/or critical information.
  Regular Blue text     Denotes helpful tips and hints or hyperlinks.
  Regular Orange Text     Command line output.
  Bold/Regular green text     Denotes the contents of a file or script.