I'm trying to get the PHP mail() function to work. But it fails to send emails. I run Ubuntu 11.04. I installed sendmail.

I opened the php.ini and set

; For Unix only. You may supply arguments as well (default: "sendmail -t -i").
; http://php.net/sendmail-path
sendmail_path = /usr/sbin/sendmail -t
sendmail_from = [email protected]

Then I restarted apache.

Then created a simple PHP script to test it but no luck.

When I try to run sendmail it gives me a permissions error, so I have to run 'sudo sendmail'. Does my mail system failure have anything to do with permissions? Is there further configuration I need to do with sendmail?


EDIT: The error is this:

user@server:~$ sendmail
Command 'sendmail' is available in '/usr/sbin/sendmail'
The command could not be located because '/usr/sbin/' is not included in the PATH
environment variable. This is most likely caused by the lack of administrative
privileges associated with your user account.
sendmail: command not found
user@server:~$ sudo sendmail
sendmail: No recipients supplied - mail will not be sent
  • Depends on the permission problems. Which errors do you get?
    – cweiske
    Jul 19, 2011 at 9:26
  • As I mentioned in my answer - if your needs are limited, use ssmtp and also in that case postfix is a huge overkill. But if you wish to learn about mailservers, go on. I have not been so brave, yet :)
    – Reinis
    Jul 19, 2011 at 15:37
  • @Jesse Please post your solution as an answer - this isn't a forum, don't edit your question with the solution. Jul 19, 2011 at 15:53
  • No problem. I have to wait 13 hours now.
    – Jesse
    Jul 20, 2011 at 13:42

2 Answers 2


Try adding your user to mail group like this:

sudo adduser yourusername mail

And if you are using PHP with HTTP server (such as Apache), you'll need to do this to:

sudo adduser www-data mail

Apart from the actual question - if your mailing needs are limited to personal/local development - I highly recommend ssmtp.

  • So 'www-data' is the apache web user? That's good to know.
    – Jesse
    Jul 19, 2011 at 15:29
  • Yes it is on Ubuntu. In other distributions it can be different. For example in Fedora 14 it's user apache.
    – Reinis
    Jul 19, 2011 at 15:45
  • Are you certain www-data is the user for Apache2 by default? I just installed Apache2 and it runs as root (which is irrelevant because the webserver isnt internet facing), but I don't think www-data is the user group by default that Apache runs as.
    – Thomas Ward
    Jul 20, 2011 at 13:54
  • I am pretty sure. For example you need the served files to be owned by www-data group. If they are owned by root, you get 403 in browser. Also, files created by PHP/Apache belong to www-data. At least on my Ubuntu 11.04 :)
    – Reinis
    Jul 20, 2011 at 19:21

I did this

sudo apt-get install postfix

And now everything is running perfectly. Sendmail apparently isn't the answer. Postfix is.

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