over 8 years ago

I was running a Django server on Ubuntu 12.04 and saw a lot of errors logged in gunicorn's error log file:

error: [Errno 111] Connection refused

One line of the error messages caught my eye, send_mail. Gunicorn is trying to send my the error message via the send_mail() function but failed. I realized that I didn't setup the email settings in settings.py.

I searched online for a solution and found two:

  1. send email via Gmail's smtp
  2. setup your mail server

Option 1 seems like a quick and dirty way to get things done, but it has a few drawbacks:

  1. Sending email via Gmail's smtp means the FROM field will be your Gmail address rather than your company or whatever email address you want it to be.
  2. To access Gmail, you need to provide your username and password. This means you have to store your gmail password either in the settings.py file or to be more discreet in an environment variable.
  3. You have to allow less secured app to access your gmail. This is a setting in your gmail's account.

I decided to setup my own mail server because I don't want to use my personal email for contacting clients. To do that, I googled and found that there are two mail servers that I can use:

  • postfix
  • sendmail

Since postfix is newer and easier to config, I decided to use it.

  1. Install postfix and Find main.cf

Note: main.cf is the config for postfix mail server

sudo apt-get install postfix
postfix is already the newest version.
postfix set to manually installed.

Great, it is already installed. Then, I went to /etc/postfix/ to find main.cf and it is not there! Weird, so I tried to reinstall postfix:

sudo apt-get install --reinstall postfix

After installation, I saw a message:

Postfix was not set up.  Start with
  cp /usr/share/postfix/main.cf.debian /etc/postfix/main.cf
.  If you need to make changes, edit
/etc/postfix/main.cf (and others) as needed.  To view Postfix configuration
values, see postconf(1).

After modifying main.cf, be sure to run '/etc/init.d/postfix reload'.

I see. So, I followed the instruction and copied the main.cf file to /etc/postfix/:

cp /usr/share/postfix/main.cf.debian /etc/postfix/main.cf

Add the following lines to main.cf:

mynetworks = [::ffff:]/104 [::1]/128
mydestination = localhost

Then, reload this config file:

/etc/init.d/postfix reload

Now, let's test to see if we can send an email to our mailbox via telnet:

telnet localhost 25

Once connected, enter the following line by line:

mail from: whatever@whatever.com
rcpt to: your_real_email_addr@blah.com
data (press enter)
type whatever content you feel like to type
. (put an extra period on the last line and then press enter again)

If everything works out, you sould see a comfirmation message resemables this:

250 2.0.0 Ok: queued as CC732427AE

It is guaranteed that this email will end up in the spam box if you use Gmail. So take a look at your spam inbox to see if you received the test mail (it may take a minute to show up).

If you recevied the test email, then it means postfix is working properly. Now, let's config Django to send email via postfix.

First, I added the following line to my settings.py file:

EMAIL_BACKEND = 'django.core.mail.backends.smtp.EmailBackend'
EMAIL_HOST = 'localhost'
DEFAULT_FROM_EMAIL = 'Server <server@whatever.com>'

Then, I opened up Django shell to test it:

./manage.py shell

>>> from django.core.mail import send_mail
>>> send_mail('Subject here', 'Here is the message.', 'from@example.com',
    ['to@example.com'], fail_silently=False)

Again, check your spam inbox. If you received this mail, then it means Django can send email via postfix, DONE!


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