Setup DKIM with Postfix on Ubuntu Server

This post will walk you through setting up DKIM with Postfix on your Ubuntu 18.04 or 20.04 Server.

Setting up DKIM

First, install OpenDKIM which is an open-source implementation of the DKIM sender authentication system.

sudo apt install opendkim opendkim-tools

Then add postfix user to opendkim group.

sudo gpasswd -a postfix opendkim

Edit OpenDKIM main configuration file.

sudo nano /etc/opendkim.conf

Uncomment the following lines. Replace simple with relaxed/simple.

Canonicalization   simple
Mode               sv
SubDomains         no

Then add the following lines below #ADSPAction continue line. If your file doesn’t have #ADSPAction continue line, then just add them below SubDomains no.

AutoRestart         yes
AutoRestartRate     10/1M
Background          yes
DNSTimeout          5
SignatureAlgorithm  rsa-sha256

Add the following lines at the end of this file.

# Map domains in From addresses to keys used to sign messages
KeyTable           refile:/etc/opendkim/key.table
SigningTable       refile:/etc/opendkim/signing.table

# Hosts to ignore when verifying signatures
ExternalIgnoreList  /etc/opendkim/trusted.hosts

# A set of internal hosts whose mail should be signed
InternalHosts       /etc/opendkim/trusted.hosts

Save and close the file.

Create Signing Table, Key Table and Trusted Hosts File

Create a directory structure for OpenDKIM

sudo mkdir /etc/opendkim

sudo mkdir /etc/opendkim/keys

Change the owner from root to opendkim and make sure only opendkim user can read and write to the keys directory.

sudo chown -R opendkim:opendkim /etc/opendkim

sudo chmod go-rw /etc/opendkim/keys

Create the signing table.

sudo nano /etc/opendkim/signing.table

Add this line to the file. This tells OpenDKIM that if a sender on your server is using a address, then it should be signed with the private key identified by


Save and close the file. Then create the key table.

sudo nano /etc/opendkim/key.table

Add the following line, which tells the location of the private key.

Save and close the file. Next, create the trusted hosts file.

sudo nano /etc/opendkim/trusted.hosts

Add the following lines to the newly created file. This tells OpenDKIM that if an email is coming from localhost or from the same domain, then OpenDKIM should not perform DKIM verification on the email.


Save and close the file.

Generate Private/Public Keypair

Since DKIM is used to sign outgoing messages and verify incoming messages, we need to generate a private key for signing and a public key for remote verifier. Public key will be published in DNS.

Create a separate folder for the domain

sudo mkdir /etc/opendkim/keys/

Generate keys using opendkim-genkey tool.

sudo opendkim-genkey -b 2048 -d -D /etc/opendkim/keys/ -s default -v

The above command will create 2048 bits keys. -d (domain) specifies the domain. -D (directory) specifies the directory where the keys will be stored and we use default as the selector (-s), also known as the name. Once the command is executed, the private key will be written to default.private file and the public key will be written to default.txt file.

Make opendkim as the owner of the private key.

sudo chown opendkim:opendkim /etc/opendkim/keys/

And change the permission, so only the opendkim user has read and write access to the file.

sudo chmod 600 /etc/opendkim/keys/

Publish Your Public Key in DNS Records

Display the public key

sudo cat /etc/opendkim/keys/

The string after the p parameter is the public key.

In your DNS manager, create a TXT record, enter default._domainkey in the name field. Then go back to the terminal window, copy everything in the parentheses and paste it into the value field of the DNS record. You need to delete all double quotes and white spaces in the value field. If you don’t delete them, then the key test in the next step will probably fail.

Test DKIM Key

Enter the following command on Ubuntu server to test your key.

sudo opendkim-testkey -d -s default -vvv

If everything is OK, you will see Key OK in the command output.

opendkim-testkey: using default configfile /etc/opendkim.conf
opendkim-testkey: checking key ''
opendkim-testkey: key secure
opendkim-testkey: key OK

Note that your DKIM record may need sometime to propagate to the Internet. Depending on the domain registrar you use, your DNS record might be propagated instantly, or it might take up to 24 hours to propagate. You can go to, enter default as the selector and enter your domain name to check DKIM record propagation.

If you see Key not secure in the command output, don’t panic. This is because DNSSEC isn’t enabled on your domain name. DNSSEC is a security standard for secure DNS query. Most domain names haven’t enabled DNSSEC. There’s absolutely no need to worry about Key not secure. You can continue to follow this guide.

If you see the query timed out error, you need to comment out the following line in /etc/opendkim.conf file and restart opendkim.service.

TrustAnchorFile       /usr/share/dns/root.key

Connect Postfix to OpenDKIM

Postfix can talk to OpenDKIM via a Unix socket file. The default socket file used by OpenDKIM is /var/run/opendkim/opendkim.sock, as shown in /etc/opendkim.conf file. But the postfix SMTP daemon shipped with Ubuntu runs in a chroot jail, which means the SMTP daemon resolves all filenames relative to the Postfix queue directory (/var/spool/postfix). So we need to change the OpenDKIM Unix socket file.

Create a directory to hold the OpenDKIM socket file and allow only opendkim user and postfix group to access it.

sudo mkdir /var/spool/postfix/opendkim

sudo chown opendkim:postfix /var/spool/postfix/opendkim

Then edit the OpenDKIM main configuration file.

sudo nano /etc/opendkim.conf

Find the following line (Ubuntu 18.04)

Socket    local:/var/run/opendkim/opendkim.sock

or (Ubuntu 20.04)

Socket    local:/run/opendkim/opendkim.sock

Replace it with the following line. (If you can’t find the above line, then add the following line.)

Socket    local:/var/spool/postfix/opendkim/opendkim.sock

Save and close the file.

If you can find the following line in /etc/default/opendkim file.




Change it to


Save and close the file

Next, we need to edit the Postfix main configuration file.

sudo nano /etc/postfix/

Add the following lines at the end of this file, so Postfix will be able to call OpenDKIM via the milter protocol.

# Milter configuration
milter_default_action = accept
milter_protocol = 6
smtpd_milters = local:opendkim/opendkim.sock
non_smtpd_milters = $smtpd_milters

Save and close the file. Then restart opendkim and postfix service.

sudo systemctl restart opendkim postfix

SPF and DKIM Check

You can now send a test email from your mail server to your Gmail account to see if SPF and DKIM checks are passed. On the right side of an opened email message in Gmail, if you click the show original button from the drop-down menu, you can see the authentication results.

f your message is not signed and DKIM check failed, you may want to check postfix log (/var/log/mail.log) to see what’s wrong with your configuration. If you see the following message in the mail log,

warning: connect to Milter service local:opendkim/opendkim.sock: No such file or directory

You may want to check if the opendkim systemd service is actually running.

systemctl status opendkim

If opendkim is running and you still see the above error, you might need to edit the /etc/postfix/ file, change

smtpd_milters = local:opendkim/opendkim.sock


smtpd_milters = local:/opendkim/opendkim.sock

Then restart Postfix.

Your email server will also perform SPF and DKIM checks on the sender’s domain. You can see the results in the email headers. The following is SPF and DKIM check on a sender using Gmail.


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