Debian exim/dovecot email server with Saltstack – SSL Certificates

I’m going to install a couple of services – SMTP (exim) and IMAP (dovecot) – and I want to share the SSL key and certificate between them. Having separate certificates for each is additional hassle when it comes to updating them.

Thus I’ve got a sslcerts.sls file to manage the certificate installation which I can share between exim.sls and dovecot.sls.

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Debian exim/dovecot email server with Saltstack – Dovecot IMAP

I use Dovecot as my IMAP/IMAPS server – it has always worked very reliably for me.


First, this file needs to include sslcerts.sls to make sure that the certificates are installed. Dovecot starts as root so it doesn’t need any special groups to get access to the key.

Once the packages are installed there is a bit of configuration to set up:

  • Configure the system to use Maildir format;
  • Get rid of any configuration to use mbox format;
  • Ensure that SSL is turned on and that the ssl_cert and ssl_key values are set correctly;
  • Ensure that SSL isn’t turned off.
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Debian exim/dovecot email server with Saltstack – Exim


This YAML file is responsible for installing and configuring exim. First thing is to install SASL to handle authentication – exim needs access to the passwords and SASL is one of the standard ways to do this.

As discussed previously I’ve chosen to install the SSL certificates centrally in /etc/ssl; I’ve set up a group ssl-cert to allow access to these. Exim also needs to run under the sasl group to get access to the authentication daemon.

Debian uses a complex configuration system for exim. This makes it easy to configure with Saltstack – we can just add our configuration to the default and Debian will put it all together for us. However it must be noted that there appears to be a bug in Saltstack at present – it should be able to tell Debian to update the configuration when a file changes but at present I’m getting infinite recursion so that bit is commented out for now.

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