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Possible cases:

1) I plan to do Debian packaging (this case is the motivation since postfix gets installed as a dependency of some development packages, so it means that in such a case might be necessary).

2) I plan to use Evolution and a Internet provider mail account.

3) I plan to use gmail.

Surely if I read Postfix documentation I may find the answer, but its huge and couldn't find it. In any case how (or where) should I find the answer to a question like that by myself? (I really tried)

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I don't understand what you're getting at. Do you ask if installing the package is harmful? Or are you looking for possible use cases? (Why would that question be particularly interesting?) –  loevborg Jan 13 '11 at 13:51
    
Not harmful necessarily but useful. So I'm mostly looking for use cases. For me it's interesting because I'm in case 1) and I was asked to configure it by apt-get. –  Gonzalo Jan 13 '11 at 15:53
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Postfix is a Mail Transfer Agent, so broadly it can accept mail to send to other people, and it can deliver mail locally.

Installing Postfix on a desktop/laptop/netbook end-user machine is something people normally do when they want to be able to queue up mail on the local machine when it's disconnected, for later transmission to another server. For instance, if you want cron scripts to be able to send mail off your desktop to your "real" address, this would be a good reason to install Postfix. (And this is the reason it's pulled in by things like mdadm and devscripts.) You can find descriptions of how for instance to get Postfix to relay your mail through Gmail. This is case #1 in your list.

Secondarily Postfix is useful when you want to deliver mail to local mailboxes. It is fairly rare these days to do this onto your desktop, but certainly still valid.

In case #2 Evolution will take care of spooling and transmitting messages itself.

In case #3 with Gmail, normally you'll use its web interface. If you want to use a mail client like say mutt with it, or you want to be able to send mail from the command line to gmail, postfix would be a good addition.

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Thank you very much for your great answer. It is always much better if I can find the answer quickly by myself without having to ask other people (and take his time). How or where should I have looked for the answer by myself? –  Gonzalo Jan 13 '11 at 16:09
    
I'm not sure where you'd find this. Just asking people is not a bad thing. An introductory book on Ubuntu or Unix could be good. –  poolie Jan 13 '11 at 17:14
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@Gonzalo: Wikipedia can actually be a pretty good resource for figuring out what the role of a piece of software is. The article on postfix, although not as concise or directed as this response, does provide some information along these lines, with convenient links to further details (e.g. the article on MTAs). –  intuited Mar 4 '11 at 15:41
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I like using Postfix as a smarthost. (The Postfix mail server on the workstation routes outbound mail to my "real" SMTP server.) Then I configure multiple POP accounts with fetchmail, which forwards all of the POP'd mail to the local Postfix server for delivery. In this way, everything feels seamless and command-line mail still works (mailx).

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