The Perfect SpamSnake - Ubuntu 8.04 LTS

Postfix w/Bayesian Filtering and Anti-Backscatter (Relay Recipients), Apache, Mysql, Bind, MailScanner (Spamassassin, ClamAV, Pyzor, Razor, DCC-Client), MailWatch, SPF Checks, FuzzyOcr, PDF/XLS/Phishing Sanesecurity Signatures, Postfix-GLD (Greylisting Optional), Logwatch Statistical Reporting (Optional), Outgoing Disclaimer with alterMIME (Optional), FireHOL (Iptables Firewall)

Version 2.0
Author: Mohammed Alli

This tutorial shows how to set up an Ubuntu Hardy Heron (8.04 LTS) based server as a spamfilter in Gateway mode. In the end, you will have a SpamSnake Gateway which will relay clean emails to your MTA. You will also be able to view your incoming queue, train your SpamSnake and carry out a few more advanced operations via MailWatch.

I cannot offer any guarantees that this will work for you, the same way it’s working for me.

I will use the following software:

  • Web Server: Apache 2.2 with PHP 5.2.4 and Ruby
  • Database Server: MySQL 5.0
  • Mail Server: Postfix
  • DNS Server: BIND9
  • PHP: PHP5
  • MailScanner: MailScanner v4.68.8
  • MailWatch: MailWatch v1.0.4

Credit goes to the guys at HowToForge and the developers of MailScanner and MailWatch.


1 Requirements

To install such a system you will need the following:


1.1 Preliminary Note

In this tutorial I use the hostname with the IP address and the gateway These settings might differ for you, so you have to replace them where appropriate.


1.2 The Base System

1. Insert your Ubuntu install CD into your system and boot from it. Select your language:

2. Select Install to the hard disk:

3. The installation starts, choose your language again:

4. Then select your location:

Choose a keyboard layout (you will be asked to press a few keys, and the installer will try to detect your keyboard layout based on the keys you pressed):

5. The installer checks the installation CD, your hardware, and configures the network with DHCP if there is a DHCP server in the network:

Enter the hostname. In this example, my system is called, so I enter server1:

6. Now you have to partition your hard disk. For simplicity's sake I will create one big partition (with the mount point /) and a little swap partition so I select Guided - use entire disk (of course, the partitioning is totally up to you - if you like, you can create more than just one big partition, and you can also use LVM):

Select the disk that you want to partition:

When you're finished, hit Yes when you're asked Write the changes to disks?:

Afterwards, your new partitions are being created and formatted.

7. Create a user, for example the user Administrator with the user name administrator (don't use the user name admin as it is a reserved name on Ubuntu 8.04):

8. The only item I select here is OpenSSH server so that I can immediately connect to the system with an SSH client such as PuTTY after the installation has finished:

9. The GRUB boot loader gets installed:

10. The base system installation is now finished. Remove the installation CD from the CD drive and hit Continue to reboot the system:

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From: at: 2008-09-17 15:07:59

Can I implement this solution on a machine running as a firewall with 2 network interfaces? One for the Internet and one for the internal network?


From: Anonymous at: 2008-10-06 18:12:18

In theory I don't see why not, but it probably isn't a good idea.  Doing that way makes the spamsnake a bridge between the two networks that isn't protected by the firewall.  The only way to make it secure is to have the firewall accept mail on the external interface, with the appropriate firewall blocking, pass it to the spamsnake on the internal interface for processing and then forward it to a mail server for distribution.  If the spamsnake accepts mail on the external interface directly, it will bypass the firewall.

The more secure option is to have the spamsnake be a separate external machine, accept and process all mail there and only pass the legitimate mail to the internal network via the external interface of the firewall.  The other benefit of this method is it reduces the load on the firewall since all the spam, and the associated connections, has been dumped before it reaches the firewall.

From: at: 2008-05-10 13:27:38

I've been using file based Greylisting for more than an year and I would say it is faster than the DB based ones. I am using tumgreyspf.

From: at: 2008-05-13 12:35:22

When it comes to the addons, it's really your choice which one you want to use.  I've been quite lucky with the db setup so that's why I use it. 

Thanks for your recommendation though.  If I have any problems with my current setup, I would be more than happy to give your recommendation a shot.

From: at: 2008-08-05 11:00:51

Hello ! Any specific reason for using MailScanner and not AMaViS ? Just out of curiosity. Regards, Sebastian M Juergse

From: at: 2008-10-14 16:04:23

I tried this setup with Amavis but thought MailScanner was a bit faster.

From: ctrl at: 2010-01-09 09:30:03

Large a thank you for your tutorial! I have used SpamSnake for 6 months and I am magic.

This morning, SpamSnake informs me of a very high number of message containing the Virus (Exploit.PDF-9669). Information taken, it acts of a bug in Clamav which I decide to update by a “apt-get install clamav clamav-demon clamav-fresclam” then I launch “freshclam” to recover the update of the database.

However, and in a more total way, I wishes knowledge if I could, without risk for the configuration of SpamSnake, throw a “apt-get upgrade”.

Better greetings,

From: Rob at: 2010-01-21 11:42:03

I installed this. Tested it and now it is running for all our domains and it works perfect! thanks :)

From: Haas at: 2008-11-16 16:01:24

Unarj: it seems, that unarj was removed from the Debian/Ubuntu archives

From: Anonymous at: 2008-11-25 18:57:52

Any news on how to install unarj now that it is no longer in the debian or ubuntu repos? I am trying to configure a spam snake following the tutorial but unarj is no longer available. Plese help.


From: Anonymous at: 2008-11-27 19:00:40

I've googled for 'linux arj options' and found that the options are the same as for 'arj'.

So I think that 'arj' already does the job of 'unarj'. If not, you can test if (as root or sudo) 'ln -s /usr/bin/arj /usr/bin/unarj' works...


From: Anonymous at: 2009-01-05 12:16:05

I downloaded the file from another mirror, saved it in my web folder and ointed linux to it ]

worked great

but can not get web admin working


From: Philip Jones at: 2009-02-23 15:09:11


 I found that if you change unarg... for arg_3.10.22-2_i386.deb at the end of the wget command it works fine, to check which files are available open the link (without the wget or filename) in your browser.

Great How-To


From: Gagandeep at: 2009-03-21 20:20:56

I downloaded it from here

From: Hurup at: 2008-11-11 18:04:26


After changed the Bind folder directories i get following error:

Nov 11 18:56:32 localservername named[20763]: starting BIND 9.4.2-P2 -u bind -t /var/lib/named
Nov 11 18:56:32 localservername named[20763]: found 1 CPU, using 1 worker thread
Nov 11 18:56:32 localservername named[20763]: loading configuration from '/etc/bind/named.conf'
Nov 11 18:56:32 localservername named[20763]: none:0: open: /etc/bind/named.conf: permission denied
Nov 11 18:56:32 localservername named[20763]: loading configuration: permission denied
Nov 11 18:56:32 localservername named[20763]: exiting (due to fatal error)
Nov 11 18:56:32 localservername kernel: [178236.619792] audit(1226426192.264:7): type=1503 operation="inode_permission" requested_mask="r::" denied_mask="r::" name="/var/lib/named/etc/bind/named.conf" pid=20764 profile="/usr/sbin/named" namespace="default"

The permissions are :

 # ls -la /etc/bind/
total 52
drwxr-sr-x 2 bind bind 4096 2008-11-11 18:38 .
drwxr-xr-x 3 root root 4096 2008-11-11 18:41 ..
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind  237 2008-10-10 18:53 db.0
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind  271 2008-10-10 18:53 db.127
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind  237 2008-10-10 18:53 db.255
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind  353 2008-10-10 18:53 db.empty
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind  270 2008-10-10 18:53 db.local
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind 2878 2008-10-10 18:53 db.root
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind  907 2008-10-10 18:53 named.conf
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind  165 2008-10-10 18:53 named.conf.local
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind  695 2008-10-10 18:53 named.conf.options
-rw-r----- 1 bind bind   77 2008-11-11 18:38 rndc.key
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind 1317 2008-10-10 18:53 zones.rfc1918


From: at: 2008-12-02 13:25:01


Please make sure apparmor is disabled.


From: Steve at: 2008-12-30 22:57:21

As an FYI, it would appear that installing bind9 re-enables apparmour

From: at: 2009-06-03 14:44:16



You have to redo the Remove Apparmour steps from Page 2 again following the bind9 install

From: José Manuel Avalos García at: 2009-12-02 07:17:31

 one to keep active Apparmour, add to /etc/apparmor.d/usr.sbin.named the next lines

  #CHROOT /var/lib/named/
  /var/lib/named/dev/random r,
  /var/lib/named/etc/bind/** r,
  /var/lib/named/var/cache/bind/** rw,
  /var/lib/named/var/cache/bind/ rw,
  /var/lib/named/var/run/bind/run/ w,
  /var/lib/named/var/run/bind/named.options r,
( before the last "}" ) 
and run
 /etc/init.d/apparmor restart
 /etc/init.d/bind9 start

From: Jamie Strandboge at: 2009-12-28 16:09:04

There is no reason to chroot bind9 if using AppArmor. Chrooting bind is the traditional way to limit file access for bind9, and it works fine, but does not confine bind9 as much as an AppArmor profile can. AppArmor also limits file access, networking and capabilities for bind9, and the Ubuntu developers have created a default bind9 installation that does not require any additional configuration for securing bind9. This way all users of bind9 can benefit from it.

Additionally, this tutorial recommends to disable all of AppArmor. Unless you have a very specific need to do so, this is not recommended. If you opt to chroot bind9 instead of use AppArmor, then please disable the profile, and leave the other profiles that are not causing problems to do their jobs. See my blog entry at for details.

From: Jake at: 2009-10-22 09:50:19

I would like to know the issues if any to leave bind9 alone and let apparmor deal with the security? I see that the author would like you to chroot bind9 but I wonder if it is out of habit or necessity.

From: Mastech Miami at: 2011-09-02 14:09:49

It is a problem installing "pecl install imagick". it returns

Cannot find config.m4.
Make sure that you run '/Applications/MAMP/bin/php5/bin/phpize' in the top level source directory of the module

to work around:

cd /usr


 php go-pear.phar

 pecl install imagick



From: at: 2008-05-17 02:23:27

For those in the 64-bit world:

dpkg -i dcc-common_1.3.42-5_amd64.deb
dpkg -i dcc-server_1.3.42-5_amd64.deb

From: Patrick at: 2009-03-26 10:30:37

Use mailscanner_4.74.16-1_all.deb in stead.

From: Klaus Hochlehnert at: 2008-12-28 22:23:36

Hi, couldn't get mailscanner from the mentioned location.
But I found it in the Intrepid archive:


Regards, Klaus

From: PieterJ at: 2008-09-25 14:04:57

You have to change this line in db_clean also:





From: Eric at: 2008-12-18 02:06:23

9.24.2 Filename and Filetype Release:
allow   .*      -       -

allow   .*      -       -

Remember to separate fields with tab characters

From: Mircsicz at: 2008-10-27 14:02:12

9.11 Fix to allow MailWatch to work with Postfix Inbound/Outbound Queue

the URL changed to:

From: Eric at: 2008-12-18 02:08:14

9.24.2 Filename and Filetype Release: /etc/MailScanner


allow .* - -


allow .* - -

Remember to separate fields with tab characters

From: Anonymous at: 2009-06-11 12:59:08 is to be found within


hope that I'm not the only one that dident find this file :P

From: Steve Baker at: 2009-10-14 07:24:59


Newer versions of Ubuntu enable an apparmor profile on /usr/sbin/clamd, this prohibits clam from seeing the Mailscanner spool folders and thus it cannot scan for viruses.  This issue is shown in the clamav logs as a 'permission denied' or 'access denied' error or similar, even if the permissions/groups on those folders is set correctly.

You need to edit the file /etc/apparmor.d/usr.sbin.clamd and add the following line:

 /var/spool/MailScanner/incoming/** r,


From: Walmiro Muzzi at: 2009-08-27 12:04:51

I'm having this warning when run spamassassin -D -p /etc/MailScanner/spam.assassin.prefs.conf --lint:

[6154] warn: lint: 2 issues detected, please rerun with debug enabled for more information

Please, how I fix it?


Thanks in advance.

From: Patrick at: 2009-03-29 00:20:31

Could you be a bit more specific on which howto this would be?

From: linch_y at: 2009-02-13 21:13:42

If someone finds it useful:

Instead of importing the users you may use live lookups against the AD. There is a howto in the howtoforge forums.

Good luck. 

From: hattmardy at: 2009-01-31 20:15:30

nevermind, i just realized i had simply forgot to uncomment out

open VALID, ">$VALID" or die "CANNOT OPEN $VALID $!";

and this was printing to this file ... doh!

From: hattmardy at: 2009-01-31 20:10:21

I had to modify the print VALID $mail line from:

print VALID $mail." OK\n";

 print "VALID = ", $mail ," OK!\n";

for some reason, the perl print string wasn't formed properly by default.

I was getting lots of  error messages:

print() on unopened filehandle VALID at /usr/bin/ line 86, <DATA> line 656

From: Anonymous at: 2009-08-21 16:44:13

I get this error email from cronjob : need help to resolve this issue.

 /opt/MailScanner/bin/MailScanner .... 

Starting MailScanner...Can't locate Filesys/ in @INC (@INC contains: /opt/MailScanner/lib /etc/perl /usr/local/share/perl/5.8.8 /usr/lib/perl5 /usr/share/perl5 /usr/share/perl/5.8 /usr/local/lib/site_perl /opt/MailScanner/lib /usr/local/lib/perl/5.8.8 /usr/lib/perl/5.8) at /opt/MailScanner/bin/MailScanner line 91.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /opt/MailScanner/bin/MailScanner line 91.

 Please help ...

From: Patrick at: 2009-03-30 08:36:35

So, 13.1 should be apt-get install curl rsync

From: Patrick at: 2009-03-30 08:18:31
From: Richard at: 2009-05-26 20:17:34

Fix not necessary with Jaunty.

From: Tom at: 2009-07-01 18:24:16

The cron job set up to clean up the greylist table every night is too squeaky clean for me. It has the effect of wiping out the entire table every night. the greylist table uses column 'n' as a counter of how many times the entry has been hit. On the initial attempt this value is set to 1, when the remote MTA resends a valid email this value is set to 2 and incremented from there. This means that the minimum 'n' value for a valid entry is 2.

 I prefer to have my valid entries kept indefinitely, that way there isn't an ongoing delay for communication between valid business contacts. I set my crontab entry like so:

 55 23 * * * /usr/bin/mysql -ugld_user -pgld_pass -e 'USE gld_db; DELETE FROM greylist WHERE n < 2;' &> /dev/null

From: at: 2009-11-13 16:41:44

I will be sure to update the guide reflecting your correction. T