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What is the Mail::Toaster?

The mail toaster is a collection of open-source software which provides a full-featured mail server running on FreeBSD and MacOS X. The system is built around the qmail mail transport agent, with many additions and modifications. Matt Simerson is the primary author and maintainer of the toaster. There is an active and friendly community of toaster owners which supports the toaster on a mailing list and web forum.

The toaster is built around qmail, a robust mail transfer agent by Daniel J. Bernstein, and vpopmail, a virtual domain manager by Inter7 systems. Matt keeps up with releases of the core software, evaluates them, decides when they are stable, and then integrates them into the toaster. Matt has also added several patches which add functionality to these core programs.

A complete set of instructions for building a mail toaster are on the toaster install page. There is a substantial amount of documentation available for the Mail::Toaster. Much of it is readable via "perldoc Mail::Toaster", and all the subsequent pages. Don't forget to read the Install, Configure, and FAQ pages on the web site. If you still have questions, there is a Web Forum and mailing list. Both are browseable and searchable for your convenience.

What makes the Mail::Toaster unique?

COST: It's free. All you need is a computer to run it on. If you don't need spam and virus filtering, a PII will do just fine. More importantly, it's inexpensive to scale. The original mail toaster cost less than 1/10 of the Total Cost of Ownership of the systems it replaced. It also delivered far greater performance.

FEATURES: was written as a way to build clustered servers in a consistent manner. It also greatly simplified the setup process for users new to Unix and qmail. In 2003 a blacklist went down, listing the entire planet. From that, was born. Our SMTP server now detects and only uses functioning RBLs. A portal page was added to make accessing the many mail related URL's easy. The configuration file was added to store the many options available to all the software packages. Upgrading is now VERY easy without storing pages of notes.

VALUES: We think you should be able to drive a car without knowing how to assemble it. It's our goal to get your mail server up and running with as little effort as possible. But, because we use our mail servers in (hostile) production environments, we prize stability and security above all else.

CHOICE: If you want to be the mechanic, you can learn what each of the installed parts does and how it affects your system. If you'd rather run your business and never learn more than how to put air in the tires, that is your perogative. If the horse puckey hits the rotating oscillator, we're here to help.

SCALABILITY: The Mail::Toaster project was born in a data center. It started out on 4 load balanced client facing servers and a file server. The design point was 1 million mail accounts and the system grew to include several file servers, a score of load balanced customer facing servers, a cluster of load balanced SQL servers, and supported hundreds of thousands of email accounts spread over many thousands of domains. It works equally well at home on my mail server with 47 mail accounts.

HISTORY: The mail toaster project began when I invested a lot of time getting the many open source mail applications bundled together into a cohesive mail system running on FreeBSD. I then published a "here's how I did it" document which attracted a fair bit of attention and spawned a number of similar projects for Linux.

why is it called Mail::Toaster?
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Last modified on 4/5/05.