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Postal vs Postfix: What are the differences?


In the world of email delivery, two popular open-source mail transfer agents (MTAs) are Postal and Postfix. MTAs are responsible for routing, delivering, and storing emails. While both Postal and Postfix serve the same purpose, there are key differences between them that set them apart. This Markdown code provides an overview of these differences in a concise and specific manner.

  1. Integration with Web Application Frameworks: Postal offers seamless integration with web application frameworks like Ruby on Rails. It provides a Rails engine that can be easily utilized within the application codebase. On the other hand, Postfix does not have direct integration with web application frameworks. It operates at the system level and requires configuration through its own set of files.

  2. Ease of Configuration: Postal simplifies configuration by providing a web-based graphical user interface (GUI), making it easier for administrators to manage various settings and parameters. In contrast, Postfix relies on manual configuration through modifying text-based configuration files. This requires a deeper understanding of the system and its intricacies.

  3. Queue Management: Postal operates using an internal message queue, ensuring seamless delivery and handling of emails. It efficiently manages the queue and takes care of retrying failed deliveries automatically. Postfix, on the other hand, relies on an external message queue manager called the Sendmail Milter. This introduces an additional layer of complexity and potential performance impact.

  4. Security Features: Postal offers robust security features, including integrated support for DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Sender Policy Framework (SPF). It provides a secure environment for sending authenticated emails, reducing the chances of them being marked as spam. Postfix also supports DKIM and SPF, but requires manual configuration to enable these features.

  5. Built-in Analytics and Reporting: Postal comes bundled with built-in analytics and reporting capabilities, allowing administrators to monitor email delivery metrics and gain insights into their email infrastructure's performance. Postfix, being a more barebones MTA, does not provide this out-of-the-box functionality. Administrators may need to rely on external tools or plugins to gather and analyze email delivery data.

  6. Community and Support: Postal has a relatively smaller but active and responsive community. It offers timely support through its GitHub repository and Slack channel. Postfix, being one of the oldest and widely adopted MTAs, has a larger community and plenty of online resources available. Support for Postfix can be found through various forums, mailing lists, and dedicated websites.

In Summary, Postal offers seamless integration with web application frameworks, a user-friendly GUI for configuration, efficient internal queue management, robust security features, built-in analytics and reporting, and an active community. Postfix, on the other hand, operates at the system level, requires manual configuration via text files, utilizes an external message queue manager, offers similar security features with additional manual configuration, lacks built-in analytics and reporting, and benefits from a larger community.

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What is Postal?

Postal is a complete and fully featured mail server for use by websites & web servers. Think Sendgrid, Mailgun or Postmark but open source and ready for you to run on your own servers. Postal was developed by aTech Media to serve its own mail processing requirements and we have since decided that it should be released as an open source project for the community.

What is Postfix?

It is a free and open-source mail transfer agent that routes and delivers electronic mail. It is Wietse Venema's mail server that started life at IBM research as an alternative to the widely-used Sendmail program. Now at Google, Wietse continues to support it.

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What are some alternatives to Postal and Postfix?
Twilio SendGrid
Twilio SendGrid's cloud-based email infrastructure relieves businesses of the cost and complexity of maintaining custom email systems. Twilio SendGrid provides reliable delivery, scalability & real-time analytics along with flexible API's.
Amazon SES
Amazon SES eliminates the complexity and expense of building an in-house email solution or licensing, installing, and operating a third-party email service. The service integrates with other AWS services, making it easy to send emails from applications being hosted on services such as Amazon EC2.
Mailgun is a set of powerful APIs that allow you to send, receive, track and store email effortlessly.
Mandrill is a new way for apps to send transactional email. It runs on the delivery infrastructure that powers MailChimp.
Postmark removes the headaches of delivering and parsing email for webapps with minimal setup time and zero maintenance.
See all alternatives