I'm running debian and in the past I used google apps free edition. That is no longer available so I won't be able to use it for my new domain on my new box. In the past when I tried to setup a smtp server I could not send emails to my gmail account. I believe the problem was I didn't have SSL

How do I setup a fairly straightforward SMTP server? I need 1 or 2 outgoing email address and I'll want a catchall that forwards a copy to my main email address. I don't know what words to do a search for.

Also is it possible to send emails to gmail without a SSL certificate? Perhaps using an IP address instead of a domain? IE [email protected] to [email protected]?

  • 1
    Could you maybe clarify a bit on what exactly it is you are trying to do? Normally, any mail server can send emails to any gmail account - I'm using postfix for my domains and have no problems with forwarding mails to my gmail account. So if it doesn't work for you, there must be something missing in the description of the problem.
    – Jenny D
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 14:59

1 Answer 1


Gmail can apparently be accessed by POP3 or IMAP. So you need a mail server that does SMTP, POP3, IMAP, and can use SSL. I would assume most of the common ones do; my only experience is with Courier MTA, which does (contra some older online material, courier does support SSL; that's the only way I use it).

The courier documentation is good; I have no notes on it indicating I've had no problems. It is primarily man pages, however, so first you will want to go through the "Install" link up top.

Also is it possible to send emails to gmail without a SSL certificate?

This brings us to a bit of a catch. You mention the need for "1 or 2 outgoing email address". If these are just gmail addresses, then you don't need a mail server at all, you just need a mail client. I am sure you can configure any normal mail client to retrieve from, and send through, gmail if that's what you really want.

If you meant you want to set up email addresses of your own, you'll probably need a real domain name to put after the @. Technically, you can use things like me@[123.456.789], but I am not sure how accepting of this other mail server are. In any case, if you want to use SSL, you absolutely will need a certificate for the server which requires a registered domain name. Note that this is a separate issue than a client connecting to gmail, which does not require this.

As per Faheem's comment, if you want the server so you can send mail directly but have the replies go through gmail (meaning, no custom domains), you should not need a certificate to use SSL since the server is acting as a client of the server the mail is being delivered to.

  • Having a mail server is nice because you have logs of what messages were sent and when, and if they got handed off correctly. And typically a basic mail server setup is not much effort/overhead. Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 15:09
  • @FaheemMitha I think I get your point and added a last paragraph about this.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 15:36
  • Hmm my use is so I can have the server email me messages from cronjobs. Now that you mention it I could sign up to a gmail account and use that as SMTP. I always had issues with servers ignoring messages and I pretty much assumed I just configured my software wrong. I'll try courier mta.
    – user4069
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 23:49

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