System Administration Guide: Network Services

Mail Aliases

An alias is an alternate name. For email, you can use aliases to assign a mailbox location or to define mailing lists. For a task map, refer to Administering Mail Alias Files (Task Map) in Chapter 13, Mail Services (Tasks). Also, you can refer to Mail Alias Files in this chapter.

For large sites, the mail alias typically defines the location of a mailbox. Providing a mail alias is like providing a room number as part of the address for an individual at a large corporation that occupies multiple rooms. If you do not provide the room number, the mail is delivered to a central address. Without a room number, extra effort is required to determine where within the building the mail is to be delivered. So, the possibility of an error increases. For example, if two people who are named Kevin Smith are in the same building, only one of them might get mail. To correct the problem, each Kevin Smith should have a room number added to his address.

Use domains and location-independent addresses as much as possible when you create mailing lists. To enhance portability and flexibility of alias files, make your alias entries in mailing lists as generic and system independent as possible. For example, if you have a user who is named ignatz on system mars, in domain, create the alias ignatz@example instead of ignatz@mars. If user ignatz changes the name of his system but remains within the example domain, you do not need to update alias files to reflect the change in system name.

When you create alias entries, type one alias per line. You should have only one entry that contains the user's system name. For example, you could create the following entries for user ignatz.

ignatz: iggy.ignatz
iggyi: iggy.ignatz
iggy.ignatz: ignatz@mars

You can create an alias for local names or domains. For example, an alias entry for user fred, who has a mailbox on the system mars and is in the domain planets, could have this entry in the NIS+ aliases table.

fred: fred@planets

When you create mail lists that include users outside your domain, create the alias with the user name and the domain name. For example, if you have a user who is named smallberries on system privet, in domain, create the alias as The email address of the sender is now automatically translated to a fully qualified domain name when mail goes outside the user's domain.

The following list describes methods for creating and administering mail alias files.