The before-queue content filtering feature described in this document is suitable only for low-traffic sites. See the "Pros and Cons" section below for details.
As of version 2.1, the Postfix SMTP server can forward all incoming mail to a content filtering proxy server that inspects all mail BEFORE it is stored in the Postfix mail queue.
The before-queue content filter is meant to be used as follows:
Internet -> Postfix SMTP server -> Before queue filter -> Postfix SMTP server -> Postfix cleanup server -> Postfix queue -< smtp
The before-queue content filter is not to be confused with the approach described in the FILTER_README document, where mail is filtered AFTER it is stored in the Postfix mail queue.
This document describes the following topics:
The before-filter Postfix SMTP server receives mail from the Internet and does the usual relay access control, SASL authentication, RBL lookups, rejecting non-existent sender or recipient addresses, etc. The before-queue filter receives unfiltered mail content from Postfix and does one of the following:
Re-inject the mail back into Postfix via SMTP, perhaps after changing its content and/or destination.
Reject the mail by sending a suitable SMTP status code back to Postfix. Postfix passes the status back to the remote SMTP client. This way, Postfix does not have to send a bounce message.
The after-filter Postfix SMTP server receives mail from the content filter. From then on Postfix processes the mail as usual.
The before-queue content filter described here works just like the after-queue content filter described in the FILTER_README document. In many cases you can use the same software, within the limitations as discussed in the "Pros and Cons" section below.
Pro: Postfix can reject mail before the incoming SMTP mail transfer completes, so that Postfix does not have to send rejected mail back to the sender (which is usually forged anyway). Mail that is not accepted remains the responsibility of the remote SMTP client.
Con: The remote SMTP client expects an SMTP reply within a deadline. As the system load increases, fewer and fewer CPU cycles remain available to answer within the deadline, and eventually you either have to stop accepting mail or you have to stop filtering mail. It is for this reason that the before-queue content filter can be used only on low-traffic sites.
Con: Content filtering software can use lots of memory resources. In order to not run out of memory you have to reduce the number of before-filter SMTP server processes so that a burst of mail will not drive your system into the ground with too many content filter processes. This, in turn, means that SMTP clients have to wait for a long time before they receive service.
In the following example, the before-filter Postfix SMTP server gives mail to a content filter that listens on localhost port 10025. The after-filter Postfix SMTP server receives mail from the content filter via localhost port 10026. From then on mail is processed as usual.
The content filter itself is not described here. You can use any filter that is SMTP enabled. For non-SMTP capable content filtering software, Bennett Todd's SMTP proxy implements a nice PERL/SMTP content filtering framework. See: http://bent.latency.net/smtpprox/.
Internet -> Postfix SMTP server on port 25 -> filter on localhost port 10025 -> Postfix SMTP server on localhost port 10026 -> Postfix cleanup server -> Postfix incoming queue
This is configured by editing the master.cf file:
/etc/postfix/master.cf: # ============================================================= # service type private unpriv chroot wakeup maxproc command # (yes) (yes) (yes) (never) (100) # ============================================================= # # Before-filter SMTP server. Receive mail from the network and # pass it to the content filter on localhost port 10025. # smtp inet n - n - 20 smtpd -o smtpd_proxy_filter=127.0.0.1:10025 -o smtpd_client_connection_count_limit=10 # # After-filter SMTP server. Receive mail from the content filter # on localhost port 10026. # :10026 inet n - n - - smtpd -o smtpd_authorized_xforward_hosts=127.0.0.0/8 -o smtpd_client_restrictions= -o smtpd_helo_restrictions= -o smtpd_sender_restrictions= -o smtpd_recipient_restrictions=permit_mynetworks,reject -o smtpd_data_restrictions= -o mynetworks=127.0.0.0/8 -o receive_override_options=no_unknown_recipient_checks
Note: do not specify spaces around the "=" or "," characters.
The before-filter SMTP server entry is a modified version of the default Postfix SMTP server entry that is normally configured at the top of the master.cf file:
The number of SMTP sessions is reduced from the default 100 to only 20. This prevents a burst of mail from running your system into the ground with too many content filter processes.
The "-o smtpd_client_connection_count_limit=10" prevents one SMTP client from using up all 20 SMTP server processes. This limit is not necessary if you receive all mail from a trusted relay host.
Note: this setting is ignored by the stable Postfix 2.1 release. The feature will be available only in the experimental release until Postfix 2.2.
The "-o smtpd_proxy_filter=127.0.0.1:10025" tells the before filter SMTP server that it should give incoming mail to the content filter that listens on localhost port 10025.
The after-filter SMTP server is a new master.cf entry:
The ":10026" makes the after-filter SMTP server listen on the localhost address only, without exposing it to the network. NEVER expose the after-filter SMTP server to the Internet :-)
The "-o smtpd_authorized_xforward_hosts=127.0.0.0/8" allows the after-filter SMTP server to receive remote SMTP client information from the before filter SMTP server, so that the after-filter Postfix daemons log the remote SMTP client information instead of logging localhost[127.0.0.1].
The other after-filter SMTP server settings avoid duplication of work that is already done in the "before filter" SMTP server.
By default, the filter has 100 seconds to do its work. If it takes longer then Postfix gives up and reports an error to the remote SMTP client. You can increase this time limit (see configuration parameter section below) but doing so is pointless because you can't control when the remote SMTP client times out.
Parameters that control proxying:
smtpd_proxy_filter (syntax: host:port): The host and TCP port of the before-queue content filter. When no host or host: is specified, localhost is assumed.
smtpd_proxy_timeout (default: 100s): Timeout for connecting to the before-queue content filter and for sending and receiving commands and data. All proxy errors are logged to the maillog file. For privacy reasons, all the remote SMTP client sees is "451 Error: queue file write error". It would not be right to disclose internal details to strangers.
The before-filter Postfix SMTP server connects to the content filter, delivers one message, and disconnects. While sending mail into the content filter, Postfix speaks ESMTP but uses no command pipelining. Postfix generates its own EHLO, XFORWARD (for logging the remote client IP address instead of localhost[127.0.0.1]), DATA and QUIT commands, and forwards unmodified copies of all the MAIL FROM and RCPT TO commands that the before-filter Postfix SMTP server didn't reject itself. The SMTP proxy server should accept the same MAIL FROM and RCPT TO command syntax as the Postfix SMTP server. Postfix sends no other SMTP commands.
The content filter is expected to pass on unmodified SMTP commands from a before-filter Postfix SMTP server to an after-filter Postfix SMTP server that usually listens on a non-standard port. When the filter rejects content, it should send a negative SMTP response back to the before-filter Postfix SMTP server, and it should abort the connection with the after-filter Postfix SMTP server without completing the SMTP conversation with the after-filter Postfix SMTP server.
More detail on the postfix-to-proxy interaction is in the section titled "Transparency".
The before-filter Postfix SMTP server forwards the MAIL FROM, RCPT TO and DATA commands that it has approved, but it does not forward other commands such as TLS or SASL commands. It can therefore not be transparent.
The real-time content filter, on the other hand, has to be transparent. In order to support non-transparent real-time content filters, Postfix would have to reconcile the before-filter Postfix ESMTP feature set with the feature set that Postfix receives from the real-time content filter.
When a future Postfix version supports DSN, but the content filter does not announce DSN support in the EHLO reply, then the before-filter SMTP server would have to either 1) suppress the DSN feature in its EHLO announcement, or 2) duplicate all the work that needs to be done when delivering DSN-aware mail to a non-DSN destination.
When the content filter does not announce 8BITMIME support in the EHLO reply, then the before-filter SMTP server would have to either 1) suppress the 8BITMIME feature in its EHLO announcement, or 2) convert the content to quoted-printable before giving it to the content filter.
Performance: when Postfix has to suppress elements from the before-filter EHLO reply because they are incompatible with the real-time content filter, then Postfix has to connect to the content filter as soon as the client sends a valid EHLO command. This wastes a lot of resources when all the MAIL FROM or RCPT TO commands are rejected.
Therefore, the Postfix SMTP server cannot be transparent with respect to the before-queue content filter.