Configuring Sendmail SMTP server on CentOS & Scientific Linux

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Sendmail is the default SMTP (Simple mail transfer protocol) server installed on CentOS and although it can be slightly more complicated for beginners to learn than similar alternatives such as Postfix, it can be quite powerful and useful to learn. Sendmail by itself as the name suggests is a MTA (Mail transfer agent) which is useful for sending emails from your server to other servers. However in order to create a proper mail server you will also need a few other pieces of

software such as a MUA (Mail user agent) to connect to the MTA and a POP3/IMAP (Post office protocol / Internet message access protocol) server to listen for incoming emails. These will all be covered in later tutorials, but in this tutorial we will just cover some of the basics of Sendmail to help you become familiar with email servers.

1- Terms

This all might be a bit confusing to understand at first, but it’s actually quite straight forward once you get to know all of the terms. I have included some more information below which will help you to remember some of the terms and their role in a mail server.

MTA – Mail Transfer Agent – Sendmail, Postfix

MDA – Mail Delivery Agent – Procmail

MUA – Mail User Agent – Outlook, Thunderbird

SMTP – Simple Mail Transfer Protocol – Sendmail, Postfix

POP3 – Post Office Protocol 3 – Dovecot

IMAP – Internet Message Access Protocol – Dovecot



Sendmail can also be used exclusively for the use of scripts and programs that do not require an email back. One example of this is PHP, many web applications require Sendmail to be installed in order to send out Administrator emails containing password information.

I will begin by presuming that you have a domain name and that you know how to modify the DNS records for your domain name.

To check what version of Sendmail is installed you can enter the following command

 rpm –qa sendmail

 If you are not using the latest version of Sendmail you can update Sendmail by using yum

 yum update sendmail

 Next you should make sure that the sendmail service is running and that it loads on startup

 service sendmail restart

chkconfig sendmail on


Next we will need to open up and modify the Sendmail config file located in /etc/mail/ and remove the line which limits Sendmail to work only from the local IP.

 DAEMON_OPTIONS(`Port=smtp, Addr= Name=MTA’)dnl


DAEMON_OPTIONS(`Port=smtp, Name=MTA’)dnl

 Once you have saved the configurations restart Sendmail again.

service sendmail restart

 You will also need to make sure that if you are using a firewall that you allow incoming and outgoing connections to port 25.


2-DNS Records

 Next you will need to modify your DNS records so that you can use your domain name as an email address. First you will need to create a sub-domain under your domain name, for example then you will need to forward the MX records of to point to the IP address of your server. Modifying the records of your DNS server particularly if you are using an external hosting company may take 24 to 48 hours to propagate, so make sure that your settings are correct before you modify them.

3- Accepting incoming mail

You will also need to specify on your server which domains you would like to accept mail from. You can do this by editing the /etc/mail/local-host-names file and adding the domain names as well as the sub-domains that you wish to accept.

 For example you can add the following lines to the file.


4- Testing Sendmail

 Finally you can test out if Sendmail is working by either using the mail command or Sendmail itself. Sending emails from mail is much easier as it formats the email for you, but Sendmail will allow you to pipe a file into the email.


 cat email.txt | sendmail


5- Using your domain name

 When you check your email the first thing you will notice is that your email came from your hostname not your domain name. If you want a quick fix to change this you can simply change your hostname to become your domain name either through the /etc/hosts file or by entering the following command.


 You can also masquerade as another domain name through the file. Adding the following lines to your file will allow all your emails to appear as though they are coming from the domain name






6- Forwarding emails

Sendmail also has the ability to forward emails to multiple addresses; you can do this by editing the alias file located at /etc/aliases. The aliases file allows you to forward emails to local accounts or other emails. This is especially useful for people who want to create a simple mailing list or create email groups.

 For example if you have a set of users to answer support emails you could add the following line to /etc/aliases to allow them all to receive supports emails.

 support: bob, henry, john,


7- Setting relay access

 By default only the localhost is setup to be able to relay emails to other servers. You can give relay access to users by specifying the servers you’d like them to connect to or the IP that they are connecting from.

 To modify the relay access open the /etc/mail/access file

 You can relay or reject domain names by adding the lines below RELAY REJECT

 You can also specify IP addresses of hosts you would like to relay or reject

 Connect: RELAY

Connect: REJECT

That is all.

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