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Simple postfix relay host ("postfix null client") for your Docker containers. Based on Alpine Linux.

Table of contents


This image allows you to run POSTFIX internally inside your docker cloud/swarm installation to centralise outgoing email sending. The embedded postfix enables you to either send messages directly or relay them to your company's main server.

This is a server side POSTFIX image, geared towards emails that need to be sent from your applications. That's why this postfix configuration does not support username / password login or similar client-side security features.

IF YOU WANT TO SET UP AND MANAGE A POSTFIX INSTALLATION FOR END USERS, THIS IMAGE IS NOT FOR YOU. If you need it to manage your application's outgoing queue, read on.


To run the container, do the following:

docker run --rm --name postfix -e "" -p 1587:587 boky/postfix


helm repo add bokysan
helm upgrade --install --set persistence.enabled=false --set config.general.ALLOW_EMPTY_SENDER_DOMAINS=1 mail bokysan/mail

You can also find this image at ArtifactHub.

You can now send emails by using localhost:1587 (on Docker) as your SMTP server address. Note that if you haven't configured your domain to allow sending from this IP/server/nameblock, your emails will most likely be regarded as spam.

All standard caveats of configuring the SMTP server apply:

    • Most ISPs block outgoing connections to port 25 and several companies (e.g. NoIP, Dynu) offer workarounds.
    • Hosting centers also tend to block port 25, which can be unblocked per request, see below for AWS hosting.
  • You'll most likely need to at least set up SPF records (see also openspf) and/or DKIM.
  • If using DKIM (below), make sure to add DKIM keys to your domain's DNS entries.
  • You'll most likely need to set up PTR records as well to prevent your mails going to spam.

If you don't know what any of the above means, get some help. Google is your friend. It's also worth noting that it's pretty difficult to host a SMTP server on a dynamic IP address.

Please note that the image uses the submission (587) port by default. Port 25 is not exposed on purpose, as it's regularly blocked by ISPs, already occupied by other services, and in general should only be used for server-to-server communication.



There's a potentially breaking change introduced now in v3.0.0: Oracle has changed the license of BerkleyDB to AGPL-3.0, making it unsuitable to link to packages with GPL-incompatible licenses. As a result Alpine (on which this image is based) has deprecated BerkleyDB throughout the image:

Support for Postfix hash and btree databases has been removed. lmdb is the recommended replacement. Before upgrading, all tables in /etc/postfix/ using hash and btree must be changed to a supported alternative. See the Postfix lookup table documentation for more information.

While this should not affect most of the users (/etc/postfix/ is managed by this image), there might be use cases where people have their own configuration which relies on hash and btree databases. To avoid braking live systems, the version of this image has been updated to v3.0.0..


Available for all your favourite architectures. Run in your server cluster. Run it on your Raspberry Pi 4. Run it on your acient Pentium or an old Beaglebone. The following architectures are supported: linux/386, linux/amd64, linux/arm/v6, linux/arm/v7, linux/arm64 and linux/ppc64le.

Configuration options

General options

  • TZ = The timezone for the image, e.g. Europe/Amsterdam
  • FORCE_COLOR = Set to 1 to force color output (otherwise auto-detected)
  • INBOUND_DEBUGGING = Set to 1 to enable detailed debugging in the logs
  • ALLOWED_SENDER_DOMAINS = domains which are allowed to send email via this server
  • ALLOW_EMPTY_SENDER_DOMAINS = if value is set (i.e: true), ALLOWED_SENDER_DOMAINS can be unset
  • LOG_FORMAT = Set your log format (JSON or plain)

Inbound debugging

Enable additional debugging for any connection coming from POSTFIX_mynetworks. Set to a non-empty string (usually 1 or yes) to enable debugging.


Due to in-built spam protection in Postfix you will need to specify sender domains -- the domains you are using to send your emails from, otherwise Postfix will refuse to start.


docker run --rm --name postfix -e "" -p 1587:587 boky/postfix

If you want to set the restrictions on the recipient and not on the sender (anyone can send mails but just to a single domain for instance), set ALLOW_EMPTY_SENDER_DOMAINS to a non-empty value (e.g. true) and ALLOWED_SENDER_DOMAINS to an empty string. Then extend this image through custom scripts to configure Postfix further.

Log format

The image will by default output logs in human-readable (plain) format. If you are deploying the image to Kubernetes, it might be worth chaging the output format to json as it's more easily parsable by tools such as Prometheus.

To change the log format, set the (unsurprisingly named) variable LOG_FORMAT=json.

Postfix-specific options

  • RELAYHOST = Host that relays your messages
  • SASL_RELAYHOST = (optional) Relay Host referenced in the sasl_passwd file. Defaults to the value of RELAYHOST
  • RELAYHOST_USERNAME = An (optional) username for the relay server
  • RELAYHOST_PASSWORD = An (optional) login password for the relay server
  • RELAYHOST_PASSWORD_FILE = An (optional) file containing the login password for the relay server. Mutually exclusive with the previous option.
  • POSTFIX_smtp_tls_security_level = Relay host TLS connection level
  • XOAUTH2_CLIENT_ID = OAuth2 client id used when configured as a relayhost.
  • XOAUTH2_SECRET = OAuth2 secret used when configured as a relayhost.
  • XOAUTH2_INITIAL_ACCESS_TOKEN = Initial OAuth2 access token.
  • XOAUTH2_INITIAL_REFRESH_TOKEN = Initial OAuth2 refresh token.
  • MASQUERADED_DOMAINS = domains where you want to masquerade internal hosts
  • SMTP_HEADER_CHECKS= Set to 1 to enable header checks of to a location of the file for header checks
  • POSTFIX_myhostname = Set the name of this postfix server
  • POSTFIX_mynetworks = Allow sending mails only from specific networks ( default,,, )
  • POSTFIX_message_size_limit = The maximum size of the messsage, in bytes, by default it's unlimited
  • POSTFIX_<any_postfix_setting> = provide any additional postfix setting


Postfix will try to deliver emails directly to the target server. If you are behind a firewall, or inside a corporation you will most likely have a dedicated outgoing mail server. By setting this option, you will instruct postfix to relay (hence the name) all incoming emails to the target server for actual delivery.


docker run --rm --name postfix -e RELAYHOST= -p 1587:587 boky/postfix

You may optionally specifiy a relay port, e.g.:

docker run --rm --name postfix -e RELAYHOST= -p 1587:587 boky/postfix

Or an IPv6 address, e.g.:

docker run --rm --name postfix -e 'RELAYHOST=[2001:db8::1]:587' -p 1587:587 boky/postfix

If your end server requires you to authenticate with username/password, add them also:

docker run --rm --name postfix -e -e [email protected] -e RELAYHOST_PASSWORD=world -p 1587:587 boky/postfix


Define relay host TLS connection level. See smtp_tls_security_level for details. By default, the permissive level ("may") is used, which basically means "use TLS if available" and should be a sane default in most cases.

This level defines how the postfix will connect to your upstream server.


Note: These parameters are used when RELAYHOST and RELAYHOST_USERNAME are provided.

These parameters allow you to configure a relayhost that requires (or recommends) the XOAuth2 authentication method (e.g. GMail).


docker run --rm --name pruebas-postfix \
    -e RELAYHOST="[]:587" \
    -e RELAYHOST_USERNAME="<put.your.account>" \
    -e POSTFIX_smtp_tls_security_level="encrypt" \
    -e XOAUTH2_CLIENT_ID="<put_your_oauth2_client_id>" \
    -e XOAUTH2_SECRET="<put_your_oauth2_secret>" \
    -e XOAUTH2_INITIAL_ACCESS_TOKEN="<put_your_acess_token>" \
    -e XOAUTH2_INITIAL_REFRESH_TOKEN="<put_your_refresh_token>" \

Next sections describe how to obtain these values.

OAuth2 Client Credentials (GMail)

Visit the Google API Console to obtain OAuth 2 credentials (a client ID and client secret) for an "Installed application" application type.

Save the client ID and secret and use them to initialize XOAUTH2_CLIENT_ID and XOAUTH2_SECRET respectively.

We'll also need these credentials in the next step.

Obtain Initial Access Token (GMail)

Use the Gmail OAuth2 developer tools to obtain an OAuth token by following the Creating and Authorizing an OAuth Token instructions.

Save the resulting tokens and use them to initialize XOAUTH2_INITIAL_ACCESS_TOKEN and XOAUTH2_INITIAL_REFRESH_TOKEN.

Debug XOAuth2 issues

If you have XOAuth2 authentication issues you can enable XOAuth2 debug message setting XOAUTH2_SYSLOG_ON_FAILURE to "yes" (default: "no"). If you need a more detailed log trace about XOAuth2 you can set XOAUTH2_FULL_TRACE to "yes" (default: "no").


If you don't want outbound mails to expose hostnames, you can use this variable to enable Postfix's address masquerading. This can be used to do things like rewrite [email protected] to [email protected].


docker run --rm --name postfix -e "" -e "" -p 1587:587 boky/postfix


This image allows you to execute Postfix header checks. Header checks allow you to execute a certain action when a certain MIME header is found. For example, header checks can be used prevent attaching executable files to emails.

Header checks work by comparing each message header line to a pre-configured list of patterns. When a match is found the corresponding action is executed. The default patterns that come with this image can be found in the smtp_header_checks file. Feel free to override this file in any derived images or, alternately, provide your own in another directory.

Set SMTP_HEADER_CHECKS to type and location of the file to enable this feature. The sample file is uploaded into /etc/postfix/smtp_header_checks in the image. As a convenience, setting SMTP_HEADER_CHECKS=1 will set this to regexp:/etc/postfix/smtp_header_checks.


docker run --rm --name postfix -e "SMTP_HEADER_CHECKS="regexp:/etc/postfix/smtp_header_checks" -e "" -p 1587:587 boky/postfix


You may configure a specific hostname that the SMTP server will use to identify itself. If you don't do it, the default Docker host name will be used. A lot of times, this will be just the container id (e.g. f73792d540a5) which may make it difficult to track your emails in the log files. If you care about tracking at all, I suggest you set this variable, e.g.:

docker run --rm --name postfix -e "POSTFIX_myhostname=postfix-docker" -p 1587:587 boky/postfix


This implementation is meant for private installations -- so that when you configure your services using docker compose you can just plug it in. Precisely because of this reason and the prevent any issues with this postfix being inadvertently exposed on the internet and then used for sending spam, the default networks are reserved for private IPv4 IPs only.

Most likely you won't need to change this. However, if you need to support IPv6 or strenghten the access further, you can override this setting.


docker run --rm --name postfix -e "POSTFIX_mynetworks=" -p 1587:587 boky/postfix


Define the maximum size of the message, in bytes. See more in Postfix documentation.

By default, this limit is set to 0 (zero), which means unlimited. Why would you want to set this? Well, this is especially useful in relation with RELAYHOST setting. If your relay host has a message limit (and usually it does), set it also here. This will help you "fail fast" -- your message will be rejected at the time of sending instead having it stuck in the outbound queue indefinitely.

Overriding specific postfix settings

Any Postfix configuration option can be overriden using POSTFIX_<name> environment variables, e.g. POSTFIX_allow_mail_to_commands=alias,forward,include. Specifying no content (empty variable) will remove that variable from postfix config.


Anonymize email in Postfix logs. It mask the email content by putting * in the middle of the name and the domain. For example: from=<a*****************[email protected]***********.com>

Syntax: <masker-name>[?option=value&option=value&....]

NOTICE: Options are URL-encoded.

The following filters are provided with this implementation:

The default (smart) filter

Enable the filter by setting ANONYMIZE_EMAILS=smart.

The filter has no options and is enabled by setting the value to on, true, 1, default or smart. The filter masker will take an educated guess at how to best mask the emails, specifically:

  • It will leave the first and the last letter of the local part (if it's oly one letter, it will get repated)
  • If the local part is in quotes, it will remove the quotes (Warning: if the email starts with a space, this might look weird in logs)
  • It will replace all the letters inbetween with ONE asterisk, even if there are none
  • It will replace everything but a TLD with a star
  • Address-style domains will see the number replaced with stars


Configure the symbol by providing the optional parameter, e.g.: ANONYMIZE_EMAILS=smart?mask_symbol=#

The paranoid filter

The paranoid filter works similar to smart filter but will:

  • Replace the local part with ONE asterisk
  • Replace the domain part (sans TLD) with **ONE asterisk


The noop filter

This filter doesn't do anything. It's used for testing purposes only.

The hash filter

This filter will replace the email with the salted (HMAC) hash.


Filter will not work without configuration. You will need to provide (at least) the salt, e.g.:


Property Default value Required Description
salt none yes HMAC key (salt) used for calculating the checksum
prefix < no Prefix of emails in the log (for easier grepping)
suffix > no Suffix of emails in the log (for easier grepping)
split false no Set to 1, t or true to hash separately the local and the domain part
short_sha false no Set to 1, t or true to return just the first 8 characters of the hash
case_sensitive true no Set to 0, f or false to convert email to lowercase before hashing
Writting your own filters

It's easy enough to write your own filters. The simplest way would be to take the filte in this image, write your own and then attach it to the container image under /scripts. If you're feeling adentorous, you can also install your own Python package -- the script will automatically pick up the class name.

DKIM / DomainKeys

This image is equipped with support for DKIM. If you want to use DKIM you will need to generate DKIM keys. These can be either generated automatically, or you can supply them yourself.

The DKIM supports the following options:

  • DKIM_SELECTOR = Override the default DKIM selector (by default "mail").
  • DKIM_AUTOGENERATE = Set to non-empty value (e.g. true or 1) to have the server auto-generate domain keys.
  • OPENDKIM_<any_dkim_setting> = Provide any additional OpenDKIM setting.

Supplying your own DKIM keys

If you want to use your own DKIM keys, you'll need to create a folder for every domain you want to send through. You will need to generate they key(s) with the opendkim-genkey command, e.g.

mkdir -p /host/keys; cd /host/keys

for DOMAIN in; do
    # Generate a key with selector "mail"
    opendkim-genkey -b 2048 -h rsa-sha256 -r -v --subdomains -s mail -d $DOMAIN
    # Fixes
    sed -i 's/h=rsa-sha256/h=sha256/' mail.txt
    # Move to proper file
    mv mail.private $DOMAIN.private
    mv mail.txt $DOMAIN.txt

opendkim-genkey is usually in your favourite distribution provided by installing opendkim-tools or opendkim-utils.

Add the created <domain>.txt files to your DNS records. Afterwards, just mount /etc/opendkim/keys into your image and DKIM will be used automatically, e.g.:

docker run --rm --name postfix -e "" -v /host/keys:/etc/opendkim/keys -p 1587:587 boky/postfix

Auto-generating the DKIM selectors through the image

If you set the environment variable DKIM_AUTOGENERATE to a non-empty value (e.g. true or 1) the image will automatically generate the keys.

Be careful when using this option. If you don't bind /etc/opendkim/keys to a persistent volume, you will get new keys every single time. You will need to take the generated public part of the key (the one in the .txt file) and copy it over to your DNS server manually.

Changing the DKIM selector

mail is the default DKIM selector and should be sufficient for most usages. If you wish to override the selector, set the environment variable DKIM_SELECTOR, e.g. ... -e DKIM_SELECTOR=postfix. Note that the same DKIM selector will be applied to all found domains. To override a selector for a specific domain use the syntax [<domain>=<selector>,...], e.g.:


This means:

  • use postfix for domain
  • use blah for domain
  • use foo if no domain matches

Overriding specific OpenDKIM settings

Any OpenDKIM configuration option can be overriden using OPENDKIM_<name> environment variables, e.g. OPENDKIM_RequireSafeKeys=yes. Specifying no content (empty variable) will remove that variable from OpenDKIM config.

Verifying your DKIM setup

I strongly suggest using a service such as dkimvalidator to make sure your keys are set up properly and your DNS server is serving them with the correct records.

Docker Secrets / Kubernetes secrets

As an alternative to passing sensitive information via environment variables, _FILE may be appended to some environment variables (see below), causing the initialization script to load the values for those variables from files present in the container. In particular, this can be used to load passwords from Docker secrets stored in /run/secrets/<secret_name> files. For example:

docker run --rm --name pruebas-postfix \
    -e RELAYHOST="[]:587" \
    -e RELAYHOST_USERNAME="<put.your.account>" \
    -e POSTFIX_smtp_tls_security_level="encrypt" \
    -e XOAUTH2_CLIENT_ID_FILE="/run/secrets/xoauth2-client-id" \
    -e XOAUTH2_SECRET_FILE="/run/secrets/xoauth2-secret" \
    -e XOAUTH2_INITIAL_ACCESS_TOKEN_FILE="/run/secrets/xoauth2-access-token" \
    -e XOAUTH2_INITIAL_REFRESH_TOKEN_FILE="/run/secrets/xoauth2-refresh-token" \


Helm chart

This image comes with its own helm chart. The chart versions are aligned with the releases of the image. Charts are hosted through this repository.

To install the image, simply do the following:

helm repo add bokysan
helm upgrade --install --set persistence.enabled=false --set mail bokysan/mail

Chart configuration is as follows:

Property Default value Description
replicaCount 1 How many replicas to start
image.repository boky/postfix This docker image repository
image.tag empty Docker image tag, by default uses Chart's AppVersion
image.pullPolicy IfNotPresent Pull policy for the image
imagePullSecrets [] Pull secrets, if neccessary
nameOverride "" Override the helm chart name
fullnameOverride "" Override the helm full deployment name
serviceAccount.create true Specifies whether a service account should be created
serviceAccount.annotations {} Annotations to add to the service account "" The name of the service account to use. If not set and create is true, a name is generated using the fullname template
service.type ClusterIP How is the server exposed
service.port 587 SMTP submission port
service.labels {} Additional service labels
service.annotations {} Additional service annotations
service.spec {} Additional service specifications
service.nodePort empty Use a specific nodePort
service.nodeIP empty Use a specific nodeIP
resources {} Pod resources
autoscaling.enabled false Set to true to enable Horisontal Pod Autoscaler
autoscaling.minReplicas 1 Minimum number of replicas
autoscaling.maxReplicas 100 Maximum number of replicas
autoscaling.targetCPUUtilizationPercentage 80 When to scale up
autoscaling.targetMemoryUtilizationPercentage "" When to scale up
autoscaling.labels {} Additional HPA labels
autoscaling.annotations {} Additional HPA annotations
nodeSelector {} Standard Kubernetes stuff
tolerations [] Standard Kubernetes stuff
affinity {} Standard Kubernetes stuff
certs.create {} Auto generate TLS certificates for Postfix
extraVolumes [] Append any extra volumes to the pod
extraVolumeMounts [] Append any extra volume mounts to the postfix container
extraInitContainers [] Execute any extra init containers on startup
extraEnv [] Add any extra environment variables to the container
extraContainers [] Add extra containers
deployment.labels {} Additional labels for the statefulset
deployment.annotations {} Additional annotations for the statefulset
pod.securityContext {} Pods's security context
pod.labels {} Additional labels for the pod
pod.annotations {} Additional annotations for the pod
container.postfixsecurityContext {} Containers's security context
config.general {} Key-value list of general configuration options, e.g. TZ: "Europe/London"
config.postfix {} Key-value list of general postfix options, e.g. myhostname: "demo"
config.opendkim {} Key-value list of general OpenDKIM options, e.g. RequireSafeKeys: "yes"
secret {} Key-value list of environment variables to be shared with Postfix / OpenDKIM as secrets
existingSecret "" A reference to an existing opaque secret. Secret is mounted and exposed as environment variables in the pod
mountSecret.enabled false Create a folder with contents of the secret in the pod's container
mountSecret.path /var/lib/secret Where to mount secret data {} Key-value list of files to be mount into the container
persistence.enabled true Persist Postfix's queue on disk
persistence.accessModes [ 'ReadWriteOnce' ] Access mode
persistence.existingClaim "" Provide an existing PersistentVolumeClaim, the value is evaluated as a template.
persistence.size 1Gi Storage size
persistence.storageClass "" Storage class
recreateOnRedeploy true Restart Pods on every helm deployment, to prevent issues with stale configuration(s).

Extending the image

Using custom init scripts

If you need to add custom configuration to postfix or have it do something outside of the scope of this configuration, simply add your scripts to /docker-init.db/: All files with the .sh extension will be executed automatically at the end of the startup script.

E.g.: create a custom Dockerfile like this:

FROM boky/postfix
LABEL maintainer="Jack Sparrow <[email protected]>"
ADD Dockerfiles/ /docker-init.db/

Build it with docker, and your script will be automatically executed before Postfix starts.

Or -- alternately -- bind this folder in your docker config and put your scripts there. Useful if you need to add a config to your postfix server or override configs created by the script.

For example, your script could contain something like this:

postconf -e "address_verify_negative_cache=yes"


Postfix will run the master proces as root, because that's how it's designed. Subprocesses will run under the postfix account which will use UID:GID of 100:101. opendkim will run under account 102:103.

Quick how-tos

Relaying messages through your Gmail account

Please note that Gmail does not support using your password with non-OAuth2 clients. You will need to either enable Less secure apps in your account and assign an "app password", or configure postfix support for XOAuth2 authentication. You'll also need to use (only) your email as the sender address.

If you follow the less than secure route, your configuration would be as follows:
[email protected]

There's no need to configure DKIM or SPF, as Gmail will add these headers automatically.

Relaying messages through Google Apps account

Google Apps allows third-party services to use Google's SMTP servers without much hassle. If you have a static IP, you can configure Gmail to accept your messages. You can then send email from any address within your domain.

You need to enable the SMTP relay service:

  • Go to Google Admin /Apps / G Suite / Gmail /Advanced settings.
  • Find the Routing / SMTP relay service
  • Click Add another button that pops up when you hover over the line
  • Enter the name and your server's external IP as shown in the picture below:
    • Allowed senders: Only registered Apps users in my domains
    • Select Only accept mail from specified IP Addresses
    • Click Add IP RANGE and add your external IP
    • Make sure Require SMTP Authentication is NOT selected
    • You may select Require TLS encryption

Add setting SMTP relay service

Your configuration would be as follows:

There's no need to configure DKIM or SPF, as Gmail will add these headers automatically.

Relaying messages through Amazon's SES

If your application runs in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), you can use Amazon SES to send up to 62,000 emails every month at no additional charge. You'll need an AWS account and SMTP credentials. The SMTP settings are available on the SES page. For example, for eu-central-1:

Make sure you write the user credentials down, as you will only see them once.

By default, messages that you send through Amazon SES use a subdomain of as the MAIL FROM domain. See Amazon's documentation on how the domain can be configured.

Your configuration would be as follows (example data):

You will need to configure DKIM and SPF for your domain as well.

Sending messages directly

If you're sending messages directly, you'll need to:

  • have a fixed IP address;
  • configure a reverse PTR record;
  • configure SPF and/or DKIM as explained in this document;
  • it's also highly advisable to have your own IP block.

Your configuration would be as follows:



Getting all of this to work properly is not a small feat:

  • Hosting providers will regularly block outgoing connections to port 25. On AWS, for example you can fill out a form and request for port 25 to be unblocked.
  • You'll most likely need to at least set up SPF records or DKIM.
  • You'll need to set up PTR records to prevent your emails going to spam.
  • Microsoft is especially notorious for trashing emails from new IPs directly into spam. If you're having trouble delivering emails to domains, you will need to enroll in their Smart Network Data Service programme. And to do this you will need to be the owner of the netblock you're sending the emails from.

Similar projects

There are may other project offering similar functionality. The aim of this project, however, is:

  • to make it as simple as possible to run the relay, without going too much into postfix configuration details
  • to make the image as small as possible (hence basing on Alpine linux)
  • to make the image and the corresponding code testable

The other projects are, in completely random order:

License check

FOSSA Status

Docker Postfix

Simple SMTP server / postfix null relay host for your Docker and Kubernetes containers. Based on Alpine Linux.

Docker Postfix Info

⭐ Stars244
🔗 Source
🕒 Last Update10 months ago
🕒 Created7 years ago
🐞 Open Issues6
➗ Star-Issue Ratio41
😎 Authorbokysan