This section describes the installation of the web interface (a Django project).

Prepare the system

First of all, we recommend the following context:

  • A dedicated system user
  • A virtual environment to install the application because it will isolate it (and its dependencies) from the rest of your system

The following example illustrates how to realize this on Debian-based distributions using virtualenv:

# apt-get install virtualenv python3-pip
# useradd modoboa  # create a dedicated user
# su -l modoboa    # log in as the newly created user
$ virtualenv --python python3 ./env  # create the virtual environment
$ source ./env/bin/activate          # activate the virtual environment

Modoboa depends on external tools and some of them require compilation so you need a compiler and a few C libraries. Make sure to install the following system packages according to your distribution:

Debian / Ubuntu
build-essential python3-dev libxml2-dev libxslt-dev libjpeg-dev librrd-dev rrdtool libffi-dev libssl-dev
gcc gcc-c++ python3-devel libxml2-devel libxslt-devel libjpeg-turbo-devel rrdtool-devel rrdtool libffi-devel


Alternatively, you could rely on your distribution packages for the Modoboa dependencies which require compilation - e.g. rrdtool - if the version is compatible. In this case, you have to create your virtual environment with the --system-site-packages option, and the required system packages will be:

python3-wheel python3-rrdtool rrdtool

Then, install Modoboa by running:

(env)$ pip install modoboa



This documentation does not cover the installation of a database server but only the setup of a functional database that Modoboa will use.

Thanks to Django, Modoboa is compatible with the following databases:

  • PostgreSQL
  • MySQL / MariaDB
  • SQLite

Since the last one does not require particular actions, only the first two ones are described. You should also read the notes for those database backends on the official Django documentation.


Install the corresponding Python binding:

(env)$ pip install psycopg2


Alternatively, you can install the python3-psycopg2 package instead on Debian-based distributions if your virtual environment was created with --system-site-packages option.

Then, create a user and a database. For example, to create the modoboa database owned by a modoboa user, run the following commands on your PostgreSQL server:

# sudo -l -u postgres createuser --no-createdb modoboa
# sudo -l -u postgres createdb --owner=modoboa modoboa

MySQL / MariaDB

Install the corresponding Python binding:

(env)$ pip install mysqlclient


Alternatively, you can install the python3-mysqldb package instead on Debian-based distributions if your virtual environment was created with --system-site-packages option.


MariaDB 10.2 (and newer) require mysqlclient 1.3.11 (or newer).

Then, create a user and a database. For example, to create the modoboa database owned by a modoboa user, run the following SQL commands:

CREATE USER 'modoboa'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'my-strong-password-here';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON modoboa.* TO 'modoboa'@'localhost';

Deploy an instance is a command line tool that lets you deploy a ready-to-use Modoboa site. To create a new instance into ./instance, you just have to run the following command:

(env)$ deploy instance --collectstatic \
         --domain <hostname of your server> --dburl default:<database url>


You can install additional extensions during the deploy process. To do so, use the --extensions option which accepts a list of names as argument (--extensions ext1 ext2 ...). If you want to install all extensions, just use the all keyword like this --extensions all.

If you choose to install extensions one at a time, you will have to add their names in to MODOBOA_APPS. Also ensure that you have the line from modoboa_amavis.settings import * at the end of this file.

The list of available extensions can be found on the index page. Instructions to install them are available on each extensions page.


You can specify more than one database connection using the --dburl option. Multiple connections are differentiated by a prefix.

The primary connection must use the default: prefix (as shown in the example above). For the amavis extension, use the amavis: prefix. For example: --dburl default:<database url> amavis:<database url>.

A database url should meet the following syntax <mysql|postgres>://[user:pass@][host:port]/dbname OR sqlite:////full/path/to/your/database/file.sqlite.

Fox example, if you were using postgres, you could setup your command like this: deploy instance_name --collectstatic --domain --dburl default:postgres://user:pass@[localhost]/modoboa

The command will ask you a few questions, answer them and you’re done.

If you need a silent installation (e.g. if you’re using Salt-Stack, Ansible or whatever), it’s possible to supply the database credentials as command line arguments.

You can consult the complete option list by running the following command:

(env)$ help deploy

Cron jobs

A few recurring jobs must be configured to make Modoboa works as expected.

Create a new file, for example /etc/cron.d/modoboa and put the following content inside:

# Modoboa specific cron jobs
PYTHON=<path to Python binary inside the virtual environment>
INSTANCE=<path to Modoboa instance>

# Operations on mailboxes
*     *  *  *  *  vmail    $PYTHON $INSTANCE/ handle_mailbox_operations

# Generate DKIM keys (they will belong to the user running this job)
*     *  *  *  *  root     umask 077 && $PYTHON $INSTANCE/ modo manage_dkim_keys

# Sessions table cleanup
0     0  *  *  *  modoboa  $PYTHON $INSTANCE/ clearsessions
# Logs table cleanup
0     0  *  *  *  modoboa  $PYTHON $INSTANCE/ cleanlogs
# Logs parsing
*/15  *  *  *  *  root     $PYTHON $INSTANCE/ logparser &> /dev/null
0     *  *  *  *  modoboa  $PYTHON $INSTANCE/ update_statistics
# DNSBL checks
*/30  *  *  *  *  modoboa  $PYTHON $INSTANCE/ modo check_mx
# Public API communication
0     *  *  *  *  modoboa  $PYTHON $INSTANCE/ communicate_with_public_api


🥵 potential high load configuration

Please note that above crontab might not be ideal on high load systems. If you receive a fairly high amount of emails per day, you may want to run modoboas logparser tasks once per night.

This has the down side that the statistic graph and message log within the UI are updated once per day only.

Policy daemon

Modoboa comes with a built-in Policy Daemon for Postfix. Current features are:

  • Define daily sending limits for domains and/or accounts

A redis server is required to run this new daemon.

You can launch it manually using the following command:

(env)> python policy_daemon

But we recommend an automatic start using systemd or supervisor. Here is a configuration example for supervisor:

command=/srv/modoboa/env/bin/python /srv/modoboa/instance/ policy_daemon

It will listen by default on and port 9999. The policy daemon won’t do anything unless you tell postfix to use it.

Now you can continue to the Web server section.