makealiases - Create an alias database
makealiases [-protocol=protocol] [-alias=filename] [-src=pathname]
[-tmp=filename] [-chk] [-dump] [module]
The Courier mail server´s /etc/courier/aliases.dat file is a unified
implementation of sendmail-style address aliasing, qmail-style virtual
domains, plus several Courier mail server-style enhancements.
The term aliasing refers to substituting one or more addresses for
another address. A one-to-one substitution results in the Courier mail
server accepting mail for one address, and delivering the mail to
another address. A one-to-many substitution results in the Courier mail
server accepting mail for one address, and delivering a separate copy
of the message to every address defined by the alias.
/etc/courier/aliases.dat is a binary database file. makealiases
creates the binary database file by reading the aliases from plain text
files, and makealiases creates /etc/courier/aliases.dat by default.
makealiases creates /etc/courier/aliases.dat from one or more source
files, which are plain text files that may be created by any text
editor. The format of those source files is defined below. By default,
makealiases obtains the source text from /etc/courier/aliases. If this
is a text file, it is used verbatim. If this is a directory (the
Courier mail server creates it as a directory by default), all the
non-hidden files in this directory are concatenated together.
Create filename, instead of /etc/courier/aliases.dat.
Try to search for bad addresses used in the aliases.dat file. This
option takes some time to complete. It does not create an
aliases.dat file, but instead tries to check every address
specified by the source text file. Why is this necessary? That´s
because non-delivery reports will not be sent to the sender for
failures in delivering mail to an aliased address. This is by
design. the Courier mail server considers aliases to be private
mailing lists. Because non-delivery notices are not sent, bad
addresses will not be immediately detected.
The -chk option is really effective for addresses which are
local, because there is no real way to determine if a remote
mail address is valid.
Do not create aliases.dat, instead display the contents of the
alias database, in plain text form. The contents will be the
combined contents of all the source files, with all addresses
converted to canonical format, with duplicates removed and
Use pathname instead of /etc/courier/aliases as the source file.
pathname can also refer to a directory. This concatenates every
non-hidden file in the directory.
Use filename as a temporary file, instead of
/etc/courier/aliases.tmp. makealiases requires a temporary file
for its own purposes, which is automatically removed when done.
This temporary file MUST reside on the same filesystem as
aliases.dat. If the -alias option specifies a file on a different
filesystem, use this option to specify where to temporary place a
file in the same filesystem. Because makealiases always uses the
same name for a temporary file you cannot run more than one
makealiases process at the same time.
Use an alias list that´s private to messages coming from protocol.
The optional module specifies the module whose rewriting rules are used
to convert E-mail addresses into a canonical form. If not specified,
the local module´s address rewriting rules will be used.
Addresses in /etc/courier/aliases.dat will be checked in every message.
Use the -protocol option to create aliases that will be checked only
for message that are received via a specific protocol, such as ESMTP,
UUCP, or locally-generated mail. This allows you, for example, to
create an alias such as "everyone", which is only avaliable to locally
generated mail, and does not work for mail received via ESMTP. The
argument to the -protocol option is one of: esmtp, uucp, or local.
Protocol-specific alias files are /etc/courier/aliases-protocol.dat,
where "protocol" is the specific protocol, such as "local", "esmtp", or
"uucp", and the source file read by makealiases would be
/etc/courier/aliases-protocol. If the -protocol option is specified,
makealiases will access these files instead of /etc/courier/aliases.dat
The sources file used to create the binary aliases.dat database are
plain text files that may be created using any editor.
Each alias specification takes the following form:
alias: address1, address2, ...
Mail received by the Courier mail server addressed to alias will be
delivered to the list of addresses specified. The list of addresses may
be split across multiple lines, if the second and subsequent line
starts with a space character.
Lines starting with the # character are ignored, they are comments.
alias is not restricted to be a local address. It may be any valid RFC
2822 address. All addresses do not necessary have to be in a
This notation reads the list of addresses from another file,
/absolute/pathname. This file should contain one address per line
(comma separated addresses on the same line will also work).
If alias refers to a local, existing, account, this account will
never get any mail. Any mail with the account listed as recipient
will be redirected to all the addresses specified for that alias.
To have a copy of the mail delivered to the account, define it as
one of the addresses in the alias itself. For example:
larry: larry, moe, curly, shemp
Larry will still receive his mail, but copies will will also be
sent to Moe, Curly, and Shemp. If Larry wasn´t specified in the
alias, he would never get any mail, it will all be forwarded to
Moe, Curly, and Shemp.
Alias definitions may refer to other alias definitions, and makealiases
automatically incorporates addresses from other aliases. If the same
address is listed in multiple aliases, and two or more of them are
specified as recipients of the same message, only one copy of the
message will be delivered to the address.
The following special syntax implements a virtual domain. A virtual
domain redirects all mail for an entire domain to one user:
This special entry results in any recipient address of the form
foo@domain to be rewritten as user-foo@me, where me is the hostname of
the machine, which we expect to be a local domain.
The following examples use the alias entry "@example.com: john", and
"domain.com" is in the control/me file. The address
"firstname.lastname@example.org" becomes "email@example.com", and
"firstname.lastname@example.org" becomes "email@example.com".
The intended behavior is to use an actual account named john. As a
result of the virtual domain address rewriting, delivery instructions
for firstname.lastname@example.org can now be specified by john´s
$HOME/.courier-postmaster file, and delivery instructions for
email@example.com may be specified by $HOME/.courier-sales-info.
john´s $HOME/.courier-default may be used to specify delivery
instructions for any other address in the example.com domain, which
does not have an explicit .courier file.
If the alias entry was "@example.com: john-example", the corresponding
files in john´s $HOME directory are .courier-example-postmaster,
.courier-example-sales-info, and .courier-example-default. See dot-
courier(5) for more information on .courier files.
Virtual domain rewriting is NOT recursive, unlike regular aliases.
You should explicitly expand the alias out:
PROGRAM OR MAILBOX ALIASES
The following notation associates an address directly with a mailbox,
or with a program:
Messages addressed to "info" will be delivered to the mailbox or
maildir /var/shared/info. A full pathname must be specified.
info: | /usr/local/shared/info
Mail addressed to "info" will be delivered to the indicated program.
The program receives each message on standard input.
Program/mailbox delivery notation is primarily used to support legacy
sendmail aliases entries. This is considered to be a legacy feature,
and new installations should create a dot-courier(5) file with the
necessary delivery instructions. In fact, aliases for programs or
mailboxes is not directly supported by the Courier mail server´s
aliasing mechanisms. It´s implemented by having the makealiases script
automatically create a .courier file, and point the alias address to
See dot-courier(5) for more information.
Unlike sendmail, the Courier mail server delivers as user "daemon"
(group daemon) when delivering to programs or mailboxes.
UUCP VIRTUAL DOMAINS
The following notation allows mail addressed to a certain domain to be
forwarded via uucp:
The trailing ! tells the Courier mail server not to append a dash, so
user@domain gets rewritten as uucp!bang!path!user, and not
uucp!bang!path-user, which is probably not what you want.
DELIVERY STATUS NOTIFICATIONS
An alias with only one address does not affect delivery status
notification attributes of an E-mail message.
An alias with multiple addresses is treated like a private mailing
list, as defined by RFC 1894. If the message requests a successful
delivery notification, the Courier mail server generates a delivery
status notification for the successful delivery to the aliased address,
and each alias recipient address will have DSNs set to NEVER.
This has nothing to do with the Courier mail server´s support for a
Qmail-style alias account.
owner-foo feature of sendmail´s aliasing is not supported.
the Courier mail server normally tries to eliminate duplicate addresses
listed as recipients for the same message. Some mail servers are not
capable of delivering messages with multiple recipients, and will
transmit a separate copy of the same message addressed to each
recipient. The Courier mail server can´t do anything in this case. Each
copy of the same original text is considered an individual, separate,
Duplicate elimination can fail in certain rare circumstances, involving
exotic features of RFC 2822 concerning case sensitivity.
"@example.com: jack, jill" is allowed, but strongly discouraged under
the penalty of law.
Because multiple-recipient aliases are treated like private mailing
lists, failure DSNs are turned off, and a bad recipient address is
hardly noticed by anyone.
The makealiases command may execute while the Courier mail server is
running, and any changes take effect immediately. However, only one
instance of makealiases is permitted to run at the same time.
1. RFC 2822
3. RFC 1894