Preparing the Cloud Server to be a Mail Server
Warning: Email in the Cloud (Rackspace or otherwise), even with today’s vast standards, is considered to be “best effort” without any guarantees for reliability or deliverability. Follow the steps below to have a better email sending reputation. As an additional precaution, it is helpful to research and consider using the following:
- DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
- Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) DNS records
It is vital that the Cloud Server has the basics such as the hostname and Reverse DNS correctly set before we configure any sort of mail service. This article looks at the hostname and reverse DNS (RDNS) settings on the Cloud Server.
The only assumptions made for these email articles are:
- You are running and have set up Ubuntu Hardy (The instructions may work on other distros but it has not been tested and is not guaranteed).
The first thing to look at is the Cloud Server hostname.
This is simply the name of the Cloud Server and is used in the headers of the email (the headers can be thought of as the address and sender label on the email).
Setting the hostname via the command line involves the very simple adjustment of a couple of files.
We can start by checking what the current hostname is:
On my Cloud Server, the output is:
For these basic articles I am going to use the domain mail.democloud.com - I am setting up a mail server so that makes sense.
I need to change the hostname to match the domain:
sudo nano /etc/hostname
Replace the current hostname (cloudserver1) with the one you need (in this case mail.democloud.com).
The second file to edit is:
sudo nano /etc/hosts
The default looks like this on my cloud server:
127.0.0.1 localhost localhost.localdomain 127.0.0.1 cloudserver1
Following on from what we are doing, replace ‘cloudserver1’ with mail.democloud.com.
Of course, replace mail.democloud.com with your domain.
Conduct a quick reboot:
sudo shutdown -r now
and check the hostname:
The output is now:
Configure reverse DNS
Now, we need to properly set the reverse DNS for the server.
Change reverse DNS in the Control Panel
Navigate to your Server’s DNS tab and scroll down to the Reverse DNS section. Change the relevant field to the domain name which you’d like in the rDNS record. (See DNS - Creating a Reverse DNS Record)
Check the reverse DNS
The RDNS may take a while to propagate and you really need to wait until it has done so before you can fully configure and test any mail setup.
To check the RDNS, you need to input the IP address if the Cloud Server
dig is not installed on a base Ubuntu Hardy Cloud Server:
sudo aptitude install dnsutils
So, to check the RDNS:
dig -x 22.214.171.124
In this case, the output includes the correct answer:
dig -x 126.96.36.199 ... ... ;; QUESTION SECTION: ;188.8.131.52.in-addr.arpa. IN PTR ;; ANSWER SECTION: 184.108.40.206.in-addr.arpa. 3477 IN PTR mail.democloud.com.
Preparing the Cloud Server is a vital step in any mail setup - even if only sending mail from your application to an administrator, it is very important to get the basics right.
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