System Administration Guide: Network Services

/etc/mail/aliases File

Any alias that is established in the /etc/mail/aliases file can be used by any user who knows the name of the alias and the host name of the system that contains the file. Distribution list formats in a local /etc/mail/aliases file adhere to the following format.

aliasname: value,value,value ...

aliasname is the name that the user uses when sending mail to this alias, and value is a valid email address.

If your network is not running a name service, the /etc/mail/aliases file of each system should contain entries for all mail clients. You can either edit the file on each system or edit the file on one system and copy the file to each of the other systems.

The aliases in the /etc/mail/aliases file are stored in text form. When you edit the /etc/mail/aliases file, you need to run the newaliases program. This program recompiles the database and makes the aliases available in binary form to the sendmail program. For task information, refer to How to Set Up a Local Mail Alias File in Chapter 13, Mail Services (Tasks). Otherwise, you can use the Mailing List feature in the Solaris Management Console to administer the mail aliases that are stored in the local /etc files.

You can create aliases for only local names, such as a current host name or no host name. For example, an alias entry for user ignatz who has a mailbox on the system saturn would have the following entry in the /etc/mail/aliases file.

ignatz: ignatz@saturn

You should create an administrative account for each mail server. You create such an account by assigning a mailbox on the mail server to root and by adding an entry for root to the /etc/mail/aliases file. For example, if the system saturn is a mailbox server, add the entry root: sysadmin@saturn to the /etc/mail/aliases file.

Normally, only the root user can edit this file. However, when you use the Solaris Management Console, all users in group 14, which is the sysadmin group, can change the local file. Another option is to create the following entry.

aliasname: :include:/path/aliasfile

aliasname is the name that the user uses when sending mail, and /path/aliasfile is the full path to the file that contains the alias list. The alias file should include email entries, one entry on each line, and no other notations.


You can define additional mail files in /etc/mail/aliases to keep a log or a backup copy. The following entry stores all mail that is sent to aliasname in filename.

aliasname: /home/backup/filename

You can also route the mail to another process. The following example stores a copy of the mail message in filename and prints a copy.

aliasname: "|tee -a /home/backup/filename |lp"

For a task map, refer to Administering Mail Alias Files (Task Map) in Chapter 13, Mail Services (Tasks).