Book review: Pro Open Source Mail: Building an Enterprise Mail Solution by <i>Curtis Smith</i>

Book review: Pro Open Source Mail: Building an Enterprise Mail Solution by Curtis Smith


If you want to build a realistic mail infrastructure with strengthened defenses against the highly selfish spammer, then Pro Open Source Mail: Building an Enterprise Mail Solution, written by Curtis Smith and published by Apress, provids a free software approach to get you there. Based on a Red Hat platform using well-known and reliable free software, this book offers a well-rounded recipe for success. If you want Webmail, Virus checking, mailing lists, content filtering and a host of other related services for your enterprise then this is most likely the book for you.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

My first impression of the book is that the content offers a fast track to a layered mail infrastructure resistant to spam and viruses. As I read on the impression was only reinforced further.

The book offers a fast track to a layered mail infrastructure resistant to spam and viruses

Before reading the book I had no idea that Dovecot (a POP3/IMAP server) existed, let alone how to configure it, but now I do and that made me a happy reader.

The contents

Curtis Smith has written an effective book on a subject that he has clearly shown to have a wealth of experience with. That grounded experience translates to around 410 pages of consistent and knowledgeable content. With nine topics ranging from basic installation through the sometimes painful configuration details of Sendmail and then grazing in the delicious fields of webmail, filtering email, fighting viruses, mailing lists and email security. The book is a fast track for those wishing to deploy a productive, stable and secure environment.

Personally, I found this book a pleasure to read because of the direct and obvious value of each chapter. As is my well-worn habit, I built the infrastructure mentioned within my house network as I read. Without this structurally strong book, it would have taken me more than an age to get to grips with the notoriously finicky Sendmail configuration (pages 63-105). Perhaps I would have skipped squirrel mail webmail (pages 141-185) or failed to add server side filtering with the now famous Procmail (pages 189-218).

If I was forced by the silent majority to choose my favorite topic, then part 7 fighting spam was definitely it. Although we cannot be 100% resistant, the more difficult we make it for the spammers who lower the quality of online email experience for the majority, the better.

Who’s this book for?

This book is predominantly for the doers such as system administrators that wish to build a valid mail infrastructure from scratch.

Relevance to free software

Sendmail has a mixed history. Being highly deployed and a predominant SMTP server species the software has been notably violated on at least one famous internet worm ridden occasion. Security in depth balanced with advanced services such as webmail, as promoted by Pro Open Source Mail, is a well thought out service deployment vector that can only act as a highly positive advertisement for the free software stack.

_Pro Open Source Mail_ can only act as a highly positive advertisement for the free software stack

However, to avoid the worst requires knowledge of detail. This book delivers you that, not always obvious, detail

Pros

Building a rich and secure free software mail service with all those interesting extras requires real experience. This excellent book injects the necessary content for you to achieve.

Cons

Obviously, the only motivation for not buying this book is because you are personally not interested in creating an email infrastructure or wish to buy into a non-Sendmail solution.

Title Pro Open Source Mail: Building an Enterprise Mail Solution
Author Curtis Smith
Publisher Apress
ISBN 159059598X
Year 2006
Pages 448
CD included No
FS Oriented 10
Over all score 9

In short

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Biography

Alan Berg Bsc. MSc. PGCE, has been a lead developer at the Central Computer Services at the University of Amsterdam since 1998. In his spare time, he writes articles, book reviews and has authored three books. He has a degree, two masters and a teaching qualification. In previous incarnations, he was a technical writer, an Internet/Linux course writer, and a science teacher. He likes to get his hands dirty with the building and gluing of systems. He remains agile by playing computer games with his sons who (sadly) consistently beat him physically, mentally and morally at least twice in any given day.

You may contact him at reply.to.berg At chello.nl