VIRTUAL(8) System Manager's Manual VIRTUAL(8)
virtual - Postfix virtual domain mail delivery agent
virtual [generic Postfix daemon options]
The virtual(8) delivery agent is designed for virtual mail hosting ser-
vices. Originally based on the Postfix local(8) delivery agent, this
agent looks up recipients with map lookups of their full recipient
address, instead of using hard-coded unix password file lookups of the
address local part only.
This delivery agent only delivers mail. Other features such as mail
forwarding, out-of-office notifications, etc., must be configured via
virtual_alias maps or via similar lookup mechanisms.
The mailbox location is controlled by the virtual_mailbox_base and vir-
tual_mailbox_maps configuration parameters (see below). The vir-
tual_mailbox_maps table is indexed by the recipient address as
described under TABLE SEARCH ORDER below.
The mailbox pathname is constructed as follows:
where recipient is the full recipient address.
UNIX MAILBOX FORMAT
When the mailbox location does not end in /, the message is delivered
in UNIX mailbox format. This format stores multiple messages in one
The virtual delivery agent prepends a "From sender time_stamp" envelope
header to each message, prepends a Delivered-To: message header with
the envelope recipient address, prepends an X-Original-To: header with
the recipient address as given to Postfix, prepends a Return-Path: mes-
sage header with the envelope sender address, prepends a >> character to
lines beginning with "From ", and appends an empty line.
The mailbox is locked for exclusive access while delivery is in
progress. In case of problems, an attempt is made to truncate the mail-
box to its original length.
QMAIL MAILDIR FORMAT
When the mailbox location ends in /, the message is delivered in qmail
maildir format. This format stores one message per file.
The virtual delivery agent daemon prepends a Delivered-To: message
header with the final envelope recipient address, prepends an X-Origi-
nal-To: header with the recipient address as given to Postfix, and
prepends a Return-Path: message header with the envelope sender
By definition, maildir format does not require application-level file
locking during mail delivery or retrieval.
Mailbox ownership is controlled by the virtual_uid_maps and vir-
tual_gid_maps lookup tables, which are indexed with the full recipient
address. Each table provides a string with the numerical user and group
The virtual_minimum_uid parameter imposes a lower bound on numerical
user ID values that may be specified in any virtual_uid_maps.
TABLE SEARCH ORDER
Normally, a lookup table is specified as a text file that serves as
input to the postmap(1) command. The result, an indexed file in dbm or
db format, is used for fast searching by the mail system.
The search order is as follows. The search stops upon the first suc-
o When the recipient has an optional address extension the
email@example.com address is looked up first.
With Postfix versions before 2.1, the optional address extension
is always ignored.
o The firstname.lastname@example.org address, without address extension, is
looked up next.
o Finally, the recipient @domain is looked up.
When the table is provided via other means such as NIS, LDAP or SQL,
the same lookups are done as for ordinary indexed files.
Alternatively, a table can be provided as a regular-expression map
where patterns are given as regular expressions. In that case, only the
full recipient address is given to the regular-expression map.
The virtual delivery agent is not security sensitive, provided that the
lookup tables with recipient user/group ID information are adequately
protected. This program is not designed to run chrooted.
RFC 822 (ARPA Internet Text Messages)
Mail bounces when the recipient has no mailbox or when the recipient is
over disk quota. In all other cases, mail for an existing recipient is
deferred and a warning is logged.
Problems and transactions are logged to syslogd(8). Corrupted message
files are marked so that the queue manager can move them to the corrupt
Depending on the setting of the notify_classes parameter, the postmas-
ter is notified of bounces and of other trouble.
This delivery agent supports address extensions in email addresses and
in lookup table keys, but does not propagate address extension informa-
tion to the result of table lookup.
Postfix should have lookup tables that can return multiple result
attributes. In order to avoid the inconvenience of maintaining three
tables, use an LDAP or MYSQL database.
Changes to main.cf are picked up automatically, as virtual(8) processes
run for only a limited amount of time. Use the command "postfix reload"
to speed up a change.
The text below provides only a parameter summary. See postconf(5) for
more details including examples.
MAILBOX DELIVERY CONTROLS
A prefix that the virtual(8) delivery agent prepends to all
pathname results from $virtual_mailbox_maps table lookups.
Optional lookup tables with all valid addresses in the domains
that match $virtual_mailbox_domains.
The minimum user ID value that the virtual(8) delivery agent
accepts as a result from $virtual_uid_maps table lookup.
Lookup tables with the per-recipient user ID that the virtual(8)
delivery agent uses while writing to the recipient's mailbox.
Lookup tables with the per-recipient group ID for virtual(8)
Available in Postfix version 2.0 and later:
The list of domains that are delivered via the $virtual_trans-
port mail delivery transport.
The default mail delivery transport for domains that match the
$virtual_mailbox_domains parameter value.
virtual_mailbox_lock (see 'postconf -d' output)
How to lock a UNIX-style virtual(8) mailbox before attempting
The maximal number of attempts to acquire an exclusive lock on a
mailbox file or bounce(8) logfile.
The time between attempts to acquire an exclusive lock on a
mailbox file or bounce(8) logfile.
The time after which a stale exclusive mailbox lockfile is
RESOURCE AND RATE CONTROLS
The maximal number of parallel deliveries to the same destina-
tion via the virtual message delivery transport.
The maximal number of recipients per delivery via the virtual
message delivery transport.
The maximal size in bytes of an individual mailbox or maildir
file, or zero (no limit).
config_directory (see 'postconf -d' output)
The default location of the Postfix main.cf and master.cf con-
How much time a Postfix daemon process may take to handle a
request before it is terminated by a built-in watchdog timer.
The time limit for sending or receiving information over an
internal communication channel.
The maximum amount of time that an idle Postfix daemon process
waits for the next service request before exiting.
The maximal number of connection requests before a Postfix dae-
mon process terminates.
The process ID of a Postfix command or daemon process.
The process name of a Postfix command or daemon process.
queue_directory (see 'postconf -d' output)
The location of the Postfix top-level queue directory.
The syslog facility of Postfix logging.
The mail system name that is prepended to the process name in
syslog records, so that "smtpd" becomes, for example, "post-
qmgr(8), queue manager
bounce(8), delivery status reports
postconf(5), configuration parameters
syslogd(8), system logging
Use "postconf readme_directory" or
"postconf html_directory" to locate this information.
VIRTUAL_README, domain hosting howto
The Secure Mailer license must be distributed with this software.
This delivery agent was originally based on the Postfix local delivery
agent. Modifications mainly consisted of removing code that either was
not applicable or that was not safe in this context: aliases,
~user/.forward files, delivery to "|command" or to /file/name.
The Delivered-To: message header appears in the qmail system by Daniel
The maildir structure appears in the qmail system by Daniel Bernstein.
IBM T.J. Watson Research
P.O. Box 704
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, USA
connect.com.au Pty. Ltd.
Level 3, 213 Miller St
North Sydney 2060, NSW, Australia