Gmail seems to be everyone’s favorite web frontend for email. Until recently, it has also had the option to allow sending from custom domains, so the recipient would see “from: yourname@yourdomain.com” for example instead of the not-so-professional name@gmail.com. These days however Google is promoting their G-suite set of products, which make this modification a bit harder if your domain is purchased from an external vendor. Here’s a brief article explaining how to set up your own domain as the default “from” domain in Gmail.

First of all, to avoid reinventing the wheel, I first googled (heh) for existing approaches and found many cases where an external MTA performs authenticated submission to gmail.smtp.com. This is sort of weird, but apparently that’s how Google is fighting spam and email address spoofing. I tried that approach only to find out that in addition to the mandatory authentication (MTA to MTA with passwords?), Google also modifies the header’s “from” field in incoming messages, stamping in the gmail account and moving the previous address to a new header line called “X-Google-Original-From”. As you can imagine, it makes things difficult to manage. In addition to that, Gmail would re-deliver these messages back at where the MX records point, despite their desired configuration was in place, so I had to create a black hole rule to prevent SMTP flooding (discard directive).

For that reason I tried a different approach. Here’s a brief explanation how to set this up using Exim as the MTA (but any other SMTP server would do). In this example, the MX records should point to the external server running the MTA (don’t forget the dot at the end). For outbound mail, Gmail will act as a client (MUA), using Exim as the MTA to authenticate over TLS and send mail out. The Gmail configuration doesn’t change and is explained here. For this to work, authentication data need to be created on the MTA and one more thing: header rewriting at SMTP time, if the domain you’re configuring now isn’t the same as the primary FQDN of the MTA (or, if you allow clients to send with multiple domains from the same server/container). Therefore, to have mail go out with the right FQDN, a rewrite rule like this is required:


begin rewrite
\N^my_name@my_fqdn.com$\N my_name@newdomain.com Sh

As for incoming mail, the task is fairly easy. Instead of authenticating to gmail, I redirect/forward the messages to the original gmail account after accepting them as local. This can be achieved by creating an exception for the default redirect route (which normally reads /etc/aliases for redirection paths), by adding a condition to match the new domain in question. Here’s an example:


begin routers

my_new_redirect:
driver = redirect
domains = newdomain.com
data = ${lookup{$local_part}lsearch{/etc/aliases}}
file_transport = address_file
pipe_transport = address_pipe

Any file could be used instead of /etc/aliases, just make sure the UID/GID with which your MTA runs can read it. The format would be, following this example: “my_name: gmail_name@gmail.com”. And that’s all – it’s SPF-friendly and IMHO cleaner and simpler than the authenticated approach. You might get cursed for rewriting headers by SMTP purists but well, Google does it too.

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