Why do this?

Security and privacy, mostly.

When you use Apple, GMail or Outlook.com, the company (not you) decides what security to use and how to use your private information. This matters for several reasons.

  1. Encrypting customer email costs money. Big firms would rather not spend that money.
  2. Businesses face political and legal pressure to give governments access to your email.
  3. Free email is not free. Advertisers pay to market to you.

Advertisers don't worry me; they just annoy me. But lack of encryption means you don't know who is reading your email. :(

If you manage your own mailserver, you can avoid the advertisers *and* the snoops.

How do I set up a server?

Rent a VPS.

A VPS at a reliable service costs $10-$15/month. Add another $10.00/year for a domain name. Everything else you need is free. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Install Linux and Procmail. I prefer the CentOS version ("distro") of Linux, but any major version will work. More >>>
  2. Configure DNS. Set up a hostname and rDNS for your VPS. More >>>
  3. Secure your VPS. Add an admin user, and configure secure shell and the firewall. More >>>
  4. Configure Postfix. Tell Postfix about your hostname and domain, and configure it to deliver email to Procmail. More >>>
  5. Add mailboxes. Add user accounts, and configure individual mailboxes. More >>>

What's next?

Keep learning, and improving your skills.

It's relatively easy to learn enough about servers and the Linux operating system to set up a reasonably secure mailserver. Configuring a truly security is another matter.


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