virtual - Postfix virtual alias table format
postmap -q "string" /etc/postfix/virtual
postmap -q - /etc/postfix/virtual <inputfile
The optional virtual(5) alias table rewrites recipient addresses for all local, all vir-
tual, and all remote mail destinations. This is unlike the aliases(5) table which is used
only for local(8) delivery. Virtual aliasing is recursive, and is implemented by the
Postfix cleanup(8) daemon before mail is queued.
The main applications of virtual aliasing are:
o To redirect mail for one address to one or more addresses.
o To implement virtual alias domains where all addresses are aliased to addresses in
Virtual alias domains are not to be confused with the virtual mailbox domains that
are implemented with the Postfix virtual(8) mail delivery agent. With virtual mail-
box domains, each recipient address can have its own mailbox.
Virtual aliasing is applied only to recipient envelope addresses, and does not affect mes-
sage headers. Use canonical(5) mapping to rewrite header and envelope addresses in gen-
Normally, the virtual(5) alias table is specified as a text file that serves as input to
the postmap(1) command. The result, an indexed file in dbm or db format, is used for fast
searching by the mail system. Execute the command "postmap /etc/postfix/virtual" to
rebuild an indexed file after changing the corresponding text file.
When the table is provided via other means such as NIS, LDAP or SQL, the same lookups are
done as for ordinary indexed files.
Alternatively, the table can be provided as a regular-expression map where patterns are
given as regular expressions, or lookups can be directed to TCP-based server. In those
case, the lookups are done in a slightly different way as described below under "REGULAR
EXPRESSION TABLES" or "TCP-BASED TABLES".
The search string is folded to lowercase before database lookup. As of Postfix 2.3, the
search string is not case folded with database types such as regexp: or pcre: whose lookup
fields can match both upper and lower case.
The input format for the postmap(1) command is as follows:
When pattern matches a mail address, replace it by the corresponding result.
blank lines and comments
Empty lines and whitespace-only lines are ignored, as are lines whose first non-
whitespace character is a `#'.
A logical line starts with non-whitespace text. A line that starts with whitespace
continues a logical line.
TABLE SEARCH ORDER
With lookups from indexed files such as DB or DBM, or from networked tables such as NIS,
LDAP or SQL, patterns are tried in the order as listed below:
user@domain address, address, ...
Redirect mail for user@domain to address. This form has the highest precedence.
user address, address, ...
Redirect mail for user@site to address when site is equal to $myorigin, when site
is listed in $mydestination, or when it is listed in $inet_interfaces or
This functionality overlaps with functionality of the local aliases(5) database.
The difference is that virtual(5) mapping can be applied to non-local addresses.
@domain address, address, ...
Redirect mail for other users in domain to address. This form has the lowest
Note: @domain is a wild-card. With this form, the Postfix SMTP server accepts mail
for any recipient in domain, regardless of whether that recipient exists. This may
turn your mail system into a backscatter source: Postfix first accepts mail for
non-existent recipients and then tries to return that mail as "undeliverable" to
the often forged sender address.
RESULT ADDRESS REWRITING
The lookup result is subject to address rewriting:
o When the result has the form @otherdomain, the result becomes the same user in oth-
erdomain. This works only for the first address in a multi-address lookup result.
o When "append_at_myorigin=yes", append "@$myorigin" to addresses without "@domain".
o When "append_dot_mydomain=yes", append ".$mydomain" to addresses without ".domain".
When a mail address localpart contains the optional recipient delimiter (e.g.,
user+foo@domain), the lookup order becomes: user+foo@domain, user@domain, user+foo, user,
The propagate_unmatched_extensions parameter controls whether an unmatched address exten-
sion (+foo) is propagated to the result of table lookup.
VIRTUAL ALIAS DOMAINS
Besides virtual aliases, the virtual alias table can also be used to implement virtual
alias domains. With a virtual alias domain, all recipient addresses are aliased to
addresses in other domains.
Virtual alias domains are not to be confused with the virtual mailbox domains that are
implemented with the Postfix virtual(8) mail delivery agent. With virtual mailbox domains,
each recipient address can have its own mailbox.
With a virtual alias domain, the virtual domain has its own user name space. Local (i.e.
non-virtual) usernames are not visible in a virtual alias domain. In particular, local
aliases(5) and local mailing lists are not visible as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for a virtual alias domain looks like:
virtual_alias_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/virtual
Note: some systems use dbm databases instead of hash. See the output from "postconf -m"
for available database types.
virtual-alias.domain anything (right-hand content does not matter)
email@example.com address2, address3
The virtual-alias.domain anything entry is required for a virtual alias domain. Without
this entry, mail is rejected with "relay access denied", or bounces with "mail loops back
Do not specify virtual alias domain names in the main.cf mydestination or relay_domains
With a virtual alias domain, the Postfix SMTP server accepts mail for known-user@virtual-
alias.domain, and rejects mail for firstname.lastname@example.org as undeliverable.
Instead of specifying the virtual alias domain name via the virtual_alias_maps table, you
may also specify it via the main.cf virtual_alias_domains configuration parameter. This
latter parameter uses the same syntax as the main.cf mydestination configuration parame-
REGULAR EXPRESSION TABLES
This section describes how the table lookups change when the table is given in the form of
regular expressions. For a description of regular expression lookup table syntax, see reg-
exp_table(5) or pcre_table(5).
Each pattern is a regular expression that is applied to the entire address being looked
up. Thus, user@domain mail addresses are not broken up into their user and @domain con-
stituent parts, nor is user+foo broken up into user and foo.
Patterns are applied in the order as specified in the table, until a pattern is found that
matches the search string.
Results are the same as with indexed file lookups, with the additional feature that paren-
thesized substrings from the pattern can be interpolated as $1, $2 and so on.
This section describes how the table lookups change when lookups are directed to a TCP-
based server. For a description of the TCP client/server lookup protocol, see tcp_ta-
ble(5). This feature is not available up to and including Postfix version 2.4.
Each lookup operation uses the entire address once. Thus, user@domain mail addresses are
not broken up into their user and @domain constituent parts, nor is user+foo broken up
into user and foo.
Results are the same as with indexed file lookups.
The table format does not understand quoting conventions.
The following main.cf parameters are especially relevant to this topic. See the Postfix
main.cf file for syntax details and for default values. Use the "postfix reload" command
after a configuration change.
List of virtual aliasing tables.
List of virtual alias domains. This uses the same syntax as the mydestination
A list of address rewriting or forwarding mechanisms that propagate an address
extension from the original address to the result. Specify zero or more of canoni-
cal, virtual, alias, forward, include, or generic.
Other parameters of interest:
The network interface addresses that this system receives mail on. You need to
stop and start Postfix when this parameter changes.
List of domains that this mail system considers local.
The domain that is appended to any address that does not have a domain.
Give special treatment to owner-xxx and xxx-request addresses.
Other interfaces that this machine receives mail on by way of a proxy agent or net-
work address translator.
cleanup(8), canonicalize and enqueue mail
postmap(1), Postfix lookup table manager
postconf(5), configuration parameters
canonical(5), canonical address mapping
Use "postconf readme_directory" or "postconf html_directory" to locate this information.
ADDRESS_REWRITING_README, address rewriting guide
DATABASE_README, Postfix lookup table overview
VIRTUAL_README, domain hosting guide
The Secure Mailer license must be distributed with this software.
IBM T.J. Watson Research
P.O. Box 704
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, USA