Guidelines for Package Builders


Purpose of this document

This document has hints and tips for those who manage their own Postfix binary distribution for internal use, and for those who maintain Postfix binary distributions for general use.

General distributions: please provide a small default main.cf file

The installed main.cf file must be small. PLEASE resist the temptation to list all parameters in the main.cf file. Postfix is supposed to be easy to configure. Listing all parameters in main.cf defeats the purpose. It is an invitation for hobbyists to make random changes without understanding what they do, and gets them into endless trouble.

General distributions: please include README or HTML files

Please provide the applicable README or HTML files. They are referenced by the Postfix manual pages and by other files. Without README or HTML files, Postfix will be difficult if not impossible to configure.

Postfix Installation parameters

Postfix installation is controlled by a dozen installation parameters. See the postfix-install and post-install files for details. Most parameters have system-dependent default settings that are configurable at compile time, as described in the INSTALL file.

Preparing a pre-built package for distribution to other systems

You can build a Postfix package on a machine that does not have Postfix installed on it. All you need is Postfix source code and a compilation environment that is compatible with the target system.

You can build a pre-built Postfix package as an unprivileged user.

First compile Postfix. After successful compilation, execute:

 % make package 

With Postfix versions before 2.2 you must invoke the post-install script directly (% sh post-install).

You will be prompted for installation parameters. Specify an install_root directory other than /. The mail_owner and setgid_group installation parameter settings will be recorded in the main.cf file, but they won't take effect until the package is unpacked and installed on the destination machine.

If you want to fully automate this process, specify all the non-default installation parameters on the command line:

 % make non-interactive-package install_root=/some/where...  

With Postfix versions before 2.2 you must invoke the post-install script directly (% sh post-install -non-interactive install_root...).

With Postfix 2.12 and later, the command "make package name=value ..." will replace the string MAIL_VERSION in a configuration parameter value with the Postfix release version. Do not try to specify something like $mail_version on this command line. This produces inconsistent results with different versions of the make(1) command.

Begin Security Alert

When building an archive for distribution, be sure to archive only files and symbolic links, not their parent directories. Otherwise, unpacking a pre-built Postfix package may mess up permission and/or ownership of system directories such as / /etc /usr /usr/bin /var /var/spool and so on. This is especially an issue if you executed postfix-install (see above) as an unprivileged user.

End Security Alert

Thus, to tar up the pre-built package, take the following steps:

% cd INSTALL_ROOT
% rm -f SOMEWHERE/outputfile
% find . \! -type d -print | xargs tar rf SOMEWHERE/outputfile
% gzip SOMEWHERE/outputfile 

This way you will not include any directories that might cause trouble upon extraction.

Installing a pre-built Postfix package