Setting Up SpamAssassin and ClamAV with Sendmail on FreeBSD

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This document covers setting up a mail server on FreeBSD 5.4 RELEASE using Sendmail 8.13.3, SpamAssassin 3.1.0 and ClamAV 0.87. Combining these altogether results in a mail server with strong protection against spam and virus-infected mails.

Below are the procedures to setup the MTA (Mailer Transfer Agent) Sendmail. Configuration for other MTAs will be different so please be aware of this.

NB: All the following operations are performed as the root user.

Install FreeBSD

Fetch and burn the FreeBSD ISO images available at: (just disc1 should be sufficient)

Don't install the ports collection from the CD as it's an old version. Download the latest from:

and untar it in /usr after the OS has installed such that /usr/ports/* will be created.

After installation is done, run the sysinstall command and goto Configure (Do post-install configuration of FreeBSD ) -> Networking (Configure additional network services) -> Mail (This machine wants to run a Mail Transfer Agent) and select Sendmail (Use sendmail). See the following picture:

The line sendmail_enable="YES" will be automatically added to /etc/rc.conf so Sendmail will be run at boottime. If the line doesn't get added just add it yourself using your favourite editor.

Now would be a good time for you to update your system to the latest release of FreeBSD. Instructions for these procedures are out of the scope of this document but check here for info on how to do so. Use cvsup.

Get The Latest Perl 5.8

The default version of Perl in FreeBSD 5.4 is 5.8.6 but version 5.8.7 was the latest at the time of writing this article and I often found that having only 5.8.6 installed prevented various ports from installing properly so we'll upgrade Perl:
cd /usr/ports/lang/perl5.8
make deinstall
make install
It's necessary to upgrade Perl before going ahead and doing the SpamAssassin and ClamAV installs as the locations of libraries and such change.

Install SpamAssassin

Compile and install SpamAssassin:
cd /usr/ports/mail/p5-Mail-SpamAssassin
make install
The following dialogue will appear (this will not appear again after the first installation):

From experience here on RBL.JP we know DOMAINKEYS and RAZOR are worthwhile having so leave them selected. I chose SPF_QUERY because it's becoming more and more popular. I'm not sure exactly what TOOLS and RELAY_COUNTRY are but I included them anyway :-)

At this point there should be the following startup script:
# ls -l /usr/local/etc/rc.d
total 2
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  696 Sep  2 18:01

Install spamassassin-milter

spamassassin-milter is the software that bridges SpamAssassin and Sendmail.
cd /usr/ports/mail/spamass-milter
make install
Now there should be the following two startup scripts:
# ls -l /usr/local/etc/rc.d
total 4
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   696 Sep  2 18:01
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  1013 Sep  2 18:04

Install ClamAV ClamAV is free anti-virus software which can scan mails for virii.
cd /usr/ports/mail/p5-Mail-ClamAV
make install

After a while the above dialog screen will appear. Check MILTER.

A permission error saying clamd.log cannot be read/write accessed when executing clamav-milter can be solved by creating an empty file in advance:
touch /var/log/clamav/clamd.log
chown clamav /var/log/clamav/clamd.log
Now you should have all the following startup scripts:
# ls -l /usr/local/etc/rc.d
total 10
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   687 Sep  2 18:17
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   722 Sep  2 18:17
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  1066 Sep  2 18:17
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   696 Sep  2 18:01
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  1013 Sep  2 18:04

Configure Sendmail

Sendmail is software for handling mail delivery (MTA). When installing FreeBSD the other two MTAs you can choose from are PostFix and Exim but I chose Sendmail as that's the one I'm most familiar with. The following procedures can only be used for Sendmail.

In order to use SpamAssassin and ClamAV with Sendmail there are various mechanisms which need to be defined in (the configuration file). Also, definitions must be added to use RBLs (Real-time Black Lists - lists of hostnames, domains, mail addresses etc. found to be used by spammers that can be used to reject spam from these spammers).

Usually you do not directly modify but rather modify the macro file (m4's .mc file format) which when parsed by m4 will generate

When you configure Sendmail on FreeBSD as described below, a macro file with its name as the server's hostname will be automatically created. Do the following:
cd /etc/mail
then, for example, if your machine is called then a file called will be created in that directory. From here on I will use to refer to the macro file as we add various configurations below, eventually leading up to the creation of the final Sendmail configuration file,

Once has been created it'll not be overwritten if you run make again so when you want to add/modify some configuration, edit the file directly.

0) Basic configuration

First we define what kind of e-mail address formats your mail server will receive.

The e-mail address formats will receive are:
We create a file called /etc/mail/local-host-names and add the following: is optional because it has the same domain as the first entry ( Please make sure that there are no inconsistencies between this file and the DNS MX settings for Regardless of which e-mail address format is used, all mail will be delivered to

Next, create /etc/mail/relay-domains and add the following to define who is allowed to send mail from this server:
The second line allows any machines on the local network (assuming the mail server has global and local network interfaces) to relay e-mail through this server. Change this value according to your local network.

With the above configuration basic mail delivery can now be performed.

1) Add SpamAssassin and ClamAV settings
cd /etc/mail
and add the following:
INPUT_MAIL_FILTER(`spamassassin',`S=local:/var/run/spamass-milter.sock, F=, T=C:15m;S:4m;R:4m;E:10m')dnl
INPUT_MAIL_FILTER(`clmilter', `S=local:/var/run/clamav/clmilter.sock, F=, T=S:4m;R:4m')dnl
define(`confINPUT_MAIL_FILTERS', `clmilter,spamassassin')dnl

2) Settings related to reverse DNS lookups

Here we configure Sendmail to reject mail sent from hosts with no reverse DNS lookup. By doing this we're able to avoid most spam from Chinese and Korean servers which don't have reverse DNS lookup entries.

A side effect of this setting though is that mail from legit hosts maybe rejected due to bad server configuration. There are some people who are against setting their SMTP to use this mechanism. Do some research on Google yourself first before deciding if you want to set this on your mail server.

Add these settings to if you want to ONLY reject hosts with no reverse DNS lookup.

OR if you want to reject both the above and hosts whose reverse DNS lookup and normal DNS lookup do not match then add these settings.

The tab characters must be preserved so be careful when copy/pasting.

If you want to be able to receive mail from hosts which do not have a reverse DNS lookup entry then you must not use these settings. Likewise, if you're likely to receive lots of legit mail from China and/or Korea (which have many such mail servers) you should avoid using these settings.

3) Setting up Sendmail RBLs

If an incoming mail is marked as spam by SpamAssassin the mail will still be delivered (and left for something else to filter it) but if you enable the RBL features in Sendmail, as we do below, then mail from a host that is rejected because of some RBL policy will not be delivered. Please keep this in mind when deciding whether to use the following.

There are various RBLs out there, we chose to use the following 4. Add this to
Make sure the above lines come before MAILER(smtp) and MAILER(local) lines in

There are many stories in Japanese mailing lists that too many legit addresses get registered in so if you are thinking on the safe side it would be okay to leave this line out.

The following 3 RBLs have not so good reputations , we don't recommend to use them.


Sendmail's requests to the RBLs are done in the order listed in the configuration file. Even if all RBLs had exactly the same data, a culprit host would be rejected by the first RBL and the rejection would stop there. So only the rejection from the first RBL would be recorded in the Sendmail log file.

Just because you have a high number of RBLs configured it does not mean your server will be effective in avoiding spam. Unnecessary amounts of traffic and server load will be generated if you have too many RBLs defined so please choose an amount suitable for your mail server's purpose and intended use. Once all your configuration is done, run your server for a while, look at the mail log and see if there are one or more configured RBLs which don't appear much (or at all). This would indicate that they're not doing much in the way of contributing to rejecting hosts, most probably because they've got data in their databases similar (or the same) as one of the RBLs you've configured higher up in the list which do the rejecting first. Determine which one(s) are so and delete them.

So far, the updates we've added to are here. The tab characters must be preserved so make sure your browser doesn't break them if you copy/paste.

MAILER(local) and MAILER(smtp) were already in before we started changing it. It's important that the RBL definitions (FEATURE(...) etc) come before the MAILER(...) definitions. The order is critical. The stuff below LOCAL_RULESETS are the definitions to only reject mail from hosts which don't have a reverse DNS lookup and not when the normal and reverse DNS entries do not match.

4) Generating

After the above configuration steps have been completed:
cd /etc/mail
and a file called will be made. This will now become our new Sendmail configuration file. Copy the file as follows:

Configure Autoboot

Add the following to /etc/rc.conf:
There we have it, Sendmail with SpamAssassin and ClamAV support running on FreeBSD configured to use some RBLs. However, please also install the packages below to make your mail server even more efficient in stamping out spam. Look at Running and Checking below for executing everything.

Other Software to Install

1) procmail
cd /usr/ports/mail/procmail
make install
Procmail is installed by default on Linux but on FreeBSD you need to install it manually.

Procmail allows you to manipulate mails marked as spam, for example placing them in a different folder, making them unreadable etc. As is out of the scope of this document, please Google to find more info on how to use it.

2) portupgrade
cd /usr/ports/sysutils/portupgrade
make install
portupgrade will make updating your installed ports to the newest versions easy. So, seeing as we installed SpamAssassin and ClamAV from ports we can use the following commands to update them to their latest versions.

Remember, you must download and untar the latest version of ports.tar.gz into /usr/ports yourself beforehand.
portupgrade -vr p5-Mail-ClamAV

portupgrade -vr p5-Mail-SpamAssassin
portupgrade -vr clamav


If you decide to upgrade ClamAV without using portupgrade do it the following way:
cd /usr/ports/security/clamav
make WITH_MILTER=yes
make deinstall
make WITH_MILTER=yes install
If you've updated SpamAssassin and/or ClamAV and it's not the first time (ie. the programs are already running) then you need to restart them:
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/ restart
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/ restart
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/ restart
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/ restart

Beefing up SpamAssassin

Add RBL.JP settings to SpamAssassin

By default, SpamAssassin is not configured to use RBL.JP so please look here to see how and what to add to SpamAssassin's configuration file (/usr/local/etc/mail/spamassassin/ If this is a fresh install of SpamAssassin then you'll need to copy to RBL.JP is an RBL with a focus on spam written in Japanese and offers excellent protection against fighting Japanese spam but also against English spam.

Below are the basic settings you'll need to add to in order to use RBL.JP but please read the link above beforehand to get an understanding of how it all works.
urirhssub URLBL_RBLJP      A   2
body      URLBL_RBLJP  eval:check_uridnsbl('URLBL_RBLJP')
describe  URLBL_RBLJP  Has URI in
tflags    URLBL_RBLJP  net
score URLBL_RBLJP    2.0

uridnsbl        URLBL_IP_RBLJP       TXT
body            URLBL_IP_RBLJP    eval:check_uridnsbl('URLBL_IP_RBLJP')
describe        URLBL_IP_RBLJP    Has IP URL in
tflags          URLBL_IP_RBLJP    net
score           URLBL_IP_RBLJP    2.0

header  RCVD_IN_ALL_RBL_JP   eval:check_rbl_txt('', '')
describe RCVD_IN_ALL_RBL_JP Received via a relay in
tflags RCVD_IN_ALL_RBL_JP   net
score RCVD_IN_ALL_RBL_JP 1.5

Running and Checking

Reboot the server and check by making sure the following processes are running:
# ps -axw | grep -e clam -e spam
  480  ??  Is     0:09.97 /usr/local/sbin/clamd
  487  ??  Is     0:00.13 /usr/local/bin/freshclam --daemon
  494  ??  Ss     2:57.21 /usr/local/sbin/clamav-milter --pidfile /var/run/clamav/ --postmaster-only --local --pos
  522  ??  Ss     0:45.65 /usr/local/sbin/spamass-milter -f -p /var/run/spamass-milter.sock
 5314  ??  Is     0:03.04 /usr/local/bin/spamd -c -d -r /var/run/spamd/ (perl5.8.7)
28621  ??  I      2:44.87 spamd child (perl5.8.7)
28632  ??  I      2:43.92 spamd child (perl5.8.7)

After confirming this, try sending a mail to yourself on the server and look at the header, checking for the word SpamAssassin on the X-Spam-Checker-Version line and ClamAV on the X-Virus-Scanned line.

Post-config Changes

  • If you make any updates to SpamAssassin's
    /usr/local/etc/rc.d/ restart
    will restart spamd (the SpamAssassin daemon). Then check the following processes are running:
    # ps -ax | grep spam
      522  ??  Ss     0:46.57 /usr/local/sbin/spamass-milter -f -p /var/run/spamass
    46349  ??  Ss     0:02.89 /usr/local/bin/spamd -c -d -r /var/run/spamd/spamd.pi
    46356  ??  S      0:00.71 spamd child (perl5.8.7)
    46360  ??  S      0:00.01 spamd child (perl5.8.7)
    The following might or might not be running:
    46347  ??  S      0:00.03 /usr/local/bin/spamc
    depending on whether SpamAssassin is processing anything at that time.
  • If you make any updates to
    cd /etc/mail
    make restart
    will restart Sendmail. Then check the following processes are running:
    # ps -ax | grep sendmail
    16383  ??  Is     0:01.10 sendmail: Queue runner@00:30:00 for /var/spool/client
    16385  ??  Ss     1:57.27 sendmail: accepting connections (sendmail)

    Having a Local Reject List

    Using /etc/mail/access it is possible for you to have your own reject list. In this file you can specify e-mail address, domain names, hostnames and/or IP addresses.

    Edit the file:
    cd /etc/mail
    vi access
    and create your list based on the following format. The format is simply the address, hostname or IP followed by a TAB or space character and then the word REJECT. You may have as many lines as you like with one address per line but you must not have repeated lines.      REJECT	REJECT  REJECT
    72.26.220 REJECT	REJECT
  • The first line rejects any incoming mail from this address.
  • The second line rejects any incoming mail from a server with that hostname and also any mail with that hostname in the From: field.
  • The third line rejects any incoming mail from the machine with that IP address.
  • The fourth line rejects any incoming mail from any host on the 72.26.220 subnet, ie from any machine with an IP address that is in the range
  • The fifth line rejects any incoming mail from any machine whose reverse DNS belongs to this domain and also any mail with this domain in the From: field.

    In the case of all the lines above, mails will also not be able to be sent to the corresponding hostname/domain/IP/address. Usually if you're rejecting from you won't have the need to send to the same place, but in case you do, to enable only rejection from but allow sending to add "From: " at the beginning of the line, for example:	   REJECT
    to reject all mails from but still allow sending to this domain.

    When you've finished making the reject list:
    cd /etc/mail
    and then the changes will become immediately effective. There is no need to restart Sendmail.


  • If you have a syntax error in SpamAssassin's then all configuration after that syntax error will not be read properly. Check the syntax by running:
    spamassassin --lint
    to find out where the problem is that needs fixing. There will be no output if there are no errors.

  • If a process (or processes) is not running as expected, check /var/log/maillog and /var/log/messages for any relevant messages. There will probably be something in one or both of these log files explaining the problem.

  • In the case a process is not running you can try starting it manually by running its bootup script in /usr/local/etc/rc.d, for example:
    /usr/local/etc/rc.d/ start
    will manually start SpamAssassin. Other valid arguments are usually stop and restart. If something's wrong a message will likely be displayed after running the script (if not also in the log files mentioned above).

  • If you edit a configuration file on Windows be careful with the carriage return character (CR) as Windows uses CR LF (carriage return line feed) but Unix (FreeBSD et al) only uses LF. When you upload the configuration file from Windows to your FreeBSD server make sure only the LF exists on the end of each line and that there is no CR in sight otherwise you'll get unexpected errors on the FreeBSD box because the configuration file.


    The FreeBSD OS and ports packages are constantly evolving. If the packages being used are old there is a chance the virus definition data etc will be unusable. Please make sure you keep your server updated with the most recent versions.

    There are a ton of possible configurations in Sendmail's We've only covered some of them in this document. Check the Spam Rejection Diary Hart Computer often updates with tips and tricks to further beef up SpamAssassin, you can find it here (sorry but it's only available in Japanese).

    Disclaimer: We take no responsibility for whatever happens as a result of you following the instructions in this document. It's your choice, thus the consequences are your responsibility. Be warned! Also, we're busy with work so we won't reply to any e-mails. This document comes with no support.