Installing and configuring Spamassassin

December 27, 2022 Roberto Puzzanghera 28 comments

SpamAssassin is a mature, widely-deployed open source project that serves as a mail filter to identify Spam. SpamAssassin uses a variety of mechanisms including header and text analysis, Bayesian filtering, DNS blocklists, and collaborative filtering databases. SpamAssassin runs on a server, and filters spam before it reaches your mailbox.


  • Dec 27, 2022
    - SA upgraded to v. 4.0.0
  • Jul 14, 2021
    - added DCC setup (next page)
    - moved the configuration of Razor, Pyzor and Spamcop to a separate page

Upgrading spamassassin to version 4.0.x

You have detailed info in a separated page here.


Create the spamd user and group, prepare config and log dirs:

mkdir -p /etc/mail/spamassassin /home/spamd /var/log/spamassassin

groupadd spamd
useradd -g spamd -d /home/spamd spamd
chown -R spamd:spamd /home/spamd

Finally install spamassassin via cpan

perl -MCPAN -e shell
o conf commit prerequisites_policy ask
install Mail::SpamAssassin

Installation notes for Slackware users

  • REQUIRED module missing: HTML::Parser
  • REQUIRED module missing: Net::DNS
  • REQUIRED module missing: NetAddr::IP
  • REQUIRED module missing: BSD::Resource
  • optional module missing: Digest::SHA1
  • optional module missing: Mail::SPF
  • optional module missing: Razor2
  • optional module missing: IO::Socket::INET6
  • optional module missing: IO::Socket::SSL
  • optional module missing: Mail::DKIM
  • optional module missing: LWP::UserAgent
  • optional module missing: HTTP::Date
  • optional module missing: Encode::Detect
  • optional module missing: Geo::IP
  • optional module missing: IO::Socket::IP
  • optional module missing: Net::Patricia

These modules are missing and must be installed from CPAN. Some of them have dependencies as well...

At the end this is how I have installed everything. Reply yes if dependencies are found, install in this order and force install when needed.

perl -MCPAN -e shell
o conf prerequisites_policy ask

force notest install Socket6 IO::Socket IO::Socket::INET6 LWP MD5 CPAN::DistnameInfo Mail::DKIM

Installed prerequisites of Net::DNS:

force notest install Test::More MIME::Base64 Digest::MD5 Digest::HMAC_MD5 Net::IP

Continue installing these modules (always from CPAN):

force notest install Net::Ping Net::DNS Time::HiRes Digest::SHA1 Getopt::Long Digest::Nilsimsa URI::Escape HTML::Parser HTTP::Date IO::Zlib Archive::Tar  Mail::SPF
force notest install Mail::SPF::Query Net::Ident IO::Socket::SSL Mail::DomainKeys Mail::DKIM LWP::UserAgent HTTP::Date Encode::Detect BSD::Resource
force notest install Storable DB_File Net::SMTP BerkeleyDB
force notest install Geo::IP IO::Socket::IP Net::Patricia
force notest install Mail::DMARC::PurePerl DBD::SQLite

Finally, if everything is ok install spamassassin and Razor  via CPAN

force notest install  Mail::SpamAssassin Mail::SpamAssassin::Plugin::Razor2

I had to skip the tests because of many errors... anyway it works.

We have installed the Razor2 perl package that we will see in the next page.


You can find the config files into /etc/mail/spamassassin

> cd /etc/mail/spamassassin
> ls
init.pre  v310.pre  v312.pre  v320.pre  v330.pre v340.pre  v341.pre  v342.pre  v343.pre  v400.pre

# Add *****SPAM***** to the Subject header of spam e-mails
# rewrite_header Subject *****SPAM*****
# put here your subnet
trusted_networks 10.0.0.
# Set the threshold at which a message is considered spam (default: 5.0)
required_score 5.0

###################### extracttext 
ifplugin Mail::SpamAssassin::Plugin::ExtractText 
extracttext_use       pdftotext  .pdf application/pdf 
extracttext_use       docx2txt   .docx application/docx 
extracttext_use       antiword   .doc application/(?:vnd\.?)?ms-?word.* 
extracttext_use       unrtf      .doc .rtf application/rtf text/rtf 
extracttext_use       odt2txt    .odt .ott application/.*?opendocument.*text 
extracttext_use       odt2txt    .sdw .stw application/(?:x-)?soffice application/(?:x-)?starwriter 
extracttext_use       tesseract  .jpg .png .bmp .tif .tiff image/(?:jpeg|png|x-ms-bmp|tiff) 

add_header   all          ExtractText-Flags _EXTRACTTEXTFLAGS_ 
header       PDF_NO_TEXT  X-ExtractText-Flags =~ /\bpdftotext_NoText\b/ 
describe     PDF_NO_TEXT  PDF without text 
score        PDF_NO_TEXT  0.001 

header       DOC_NO_TEXT  X-ExtractText-Flags =~ /\b(?:antiword|openxml|unrtf|odt2txt)_NoText\b/ 
describe     DOC_NO_TEXT  Document without text 
score        DOC_NO_TEXT  0.001 

header       EXTRACTTEXT  exists:X-ExtractText-Flags 
describe     EXTRACTTEXT  Email processed by extracttext plugin 
score        EXTRACTTEXT  0.001 


# RelayCountry - add metadata for Bayes learning, marking the countries
# a message was relayed through
# Note: This requires the IP::Country::Fast Perl module
loadplugin Mail::SpamAssassin::Plugin::RelayCountry

# URIDNSBL - look up URLs found in the message against several DNS
# blocklists.
loadplugin Mail::SpamAssassin::Plugin::URIDNSBL

# Hashcash - perform hashcash verification.
loadplugin Mail::SpamAssassin::Plugin::Hashcash

# SPF - perform SPF verification.
loadplugin Mail::SpamAssassin::Plugin::SPF


Load all new plugin which come with SA v.4

loadplugin Mail::SpamAssassin::Plugin::ExtractText 
loadplugin Mail::SpamAssassin::Plugin::DecodeShortURLs 
loadplugin Mail::SpamAssassin::Plugin::DMARC


sa-update updates the rules (it requires gpg 1.4). Before running spamassassin for the first time download the rules:


Add to your crontab this line to update the rules once a day

# spamassassin update
30 3 * * * /usr/local/bin/sa-update --nogpg -v &

The -v option will produce an email notification to postmaster.


Run this debug command. If you get no error you are ready to run the daemon.

sudo -u spamd -H spamassassin -D --lint

Do not quit spamd with ctrl+C, because the next test with spamc will have to connect to it.

Open another terminal and check if the headers are inserted:

echo -e "From:\\nSubject: test\n\n" | spamc

Received: from localhost by
 with SpamAssassin (version 3.3.1);
 Tue, 30 Nov 2010 23:18:37 +0100
Subject: test
X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 3.3.1 (2010-04-18) on
X-Spam-Flag: YES
X-Spam-Level: *****
X-Spam-Status: Yes, score=5.4 required=5.0 tests=BAYES_99,FREEMAIL_FROM,
 T_TO_NO_BRKTS_FREEMAIL autolearn=no version=3.3.1

Running spamassassin

Download the startup script

cd /usr/local/bin
chmod +x spamdctl

You have to replace the IP of your firewall and check that the path where you daemon has been installed (/usr/local/bin/spamd or /usr/local/bin/spamd) matches the one in the run script.

NB: in what follows <external-IP/firewall-IP> is the IP address of your mail server, as seen from the internet.

# Spamd init script
# August, 2th 2003
# Martin Ostlund, nomicon
# Modified slightly by Troy Belding for Qmailrocks - February 23, 2004
# Modified by Roberto Puzzanghera - September 02, 2014
# November 17, 2020: moved log file to /var/log/spamassassin/spamd.log

DESC="SpamAssassin Mail Filter Daemon"

DOPTIONS="-x -u spamd -A,::1,${IP} -s $LOGFILE -H /home/spamd -d --pidfile=$PIDFILE"

# Defaults - don''t touch, edit /etc/mail/spamassassin/

set -e

case "$1" in
echo -n "Starting $DESC: "

echo "$NAME."
echo -n "Stopping $DESC: "
$KILL -9 `cat $PIDFILE`
/bin/rm $PIDFILE
echo "$NAME."
echo -n "Restarting $DESC: "
$0 stop
$0 start

echo "$NAME."
echo "Usage: $ME {start|stop|restart|force-reload}" >&2
exit 1

exit 0

Now check that spamd is running:

> spamdctl start
> ps axfu
root      1859  0.1  3.4 139360 61044 ?        Ss   19:00   0:01 /usr/bin/spamd -x -u spamd -A,<external-IP> -H /home/spamd -d --pidfile=/var/run/
spamd     1860  0.0  3.2 139360 58984 ?        S    19:00   0:00  \_ spamd child
spamd     1861  0.0  3.2 139360 58984 ?        S    19:00   0:00  \_ spamd child

Type spamd -c to learn how to use spamd. See also

Starting spamassassin at boot time

To start spamassassin at boot time put your startup script in your rc.local:

/usr/local/bin/spamdctl start &


Create a file /etc/logrotate.d/spamd like this (slackware) to rotate daily your spamd logs:

cat > /etc/logrotate.d/spamd << __EOF__
/var/log/spamassassin/spamd.log /var/log/spamassassin/razor-agent.log {
su root apache
rotate 5
   [ -f '/var/run/' ] && (kill -HUP `cat /var/run/`) || exit 0

Be aware that we have already setup the logrotate for the log file or Razor, which we'll see in the next page.


Update to spamdctl script

Hi Roberto,

After upgrading our OS here to the latest version, spamd stopped working. Upon further inspection, I found this in the log file:

Tue Aug 24 18:54:43 2021 [9957] warn: spamd: unauthorized connection from ::1 [::1]:59928 to port 783, fd 5 at /usr/local/bin/spamd line 1627.

This meant that spamd was listening on but not at ::1 (IPv6 version of Therefore, I replaced IP= with:


and the problem was gone.

Just a small note for you to upgrade the script to support both and ::1.


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Update to spamdctl script

Thank you.

Probably you have to adjust for ipv6 dovecot as well...

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GEOIP Perl Module

For anyone still having issues with GEOIP or GEOIP2, I had to manually patch the file with the help of some freenode people.

Here's the link to the patch:

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Create .spamassassin/ dir

Here I had to manually create /etc/mail/spamassassin/.spamassassin/ and chown spamd:spamd otherwise I would see error messages in the log files saying that the tx-reputation file couldn't be created.

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SA scans only from external emails how to scan local emails?


Spamassassin is installed correctly and is working fine for years and still is. While spamassassin scans incoming email from external sources, it does not scan emails that is being send locally, (from local to local or local to external domains). Is there a way to make it scan local emails as well? I tried modifying tcp rules to include simscan for local IP addresses but it still does not work.


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How to get SA scan local emails?

Try to recompile simscan adding 


to your configure. This should "turn on spam scanning for authenticated users (default no)."

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got error

installed everithing, but got this error (slackware current)

Util.c: loadable library and perl binaries are mismatched (got handshake key 0xdb00080, needed 0xde00080),

anybody knows where to grab..

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got error

Let me understand... you upgraded perl and then your installed modules stopped to work?

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Being a long time qmail user  I recently wanted to switch to full SSL. Unfortunately I cannot succeed having both SSL and AUTH working at same time.

When using stunnel, it just creates an openrelay : any login/pass is considered as OK (all vars are the same as for normal smtp)

/usr/local/bin/tcpserver -v -R -l -x /etc/tcp.smtp.cdb -c 50 -u 1008 -g 1003 0 465 /usr/local/bin/stunnel /var/qmail/control/stunnel_smtpd.conf

and stunnel_smtpd.conf

foreground = yes
cert = /var/qmail/control/servercert.pem
exec = /var/qmail/bin/qmail-smtpd
execargs = /var/www/vpopmail/bin/vchkpw /bin/true

When using sslserver, I've no openrelay, but I don't get AUTH on prompt (I've well exported the SMTPAUTH var)

sslserver -e -vR -l myserverfqdn -c 30 -u 508 -g 503 -x /etc/tcp.ssmtp.cdb 465 qmail-smtpd myserverfqdn /var/www/vpopmail/bin/vchkpw /bin/true

Has anybody succeeded having SSL and AUTH at same time ?

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I think I did manage to have

I think I did manage to have SSL on 465 with AUTH. I had to play with the run file of the specific service (on my system, /var/qmail/service/smtpd-465/run). Can you post yours ?

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I don't use SSL 465

I don't use SSL 465

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spamdctl DOPTIONS for IPv6

Spamassassin 3.4.1 was not working.  I was getting spamd.log hits

warn: spamd: unauthorized connection from ::1 [::1]:52080 to port 783, fd 5 at /usr/local/bin/spamd line 1600.

and spamd was not working at all.

I added ::1  in the spamdctl file like so:

DOPTIONS="-x -u spamd -A,::1 -s /var/log/spamd.log -H /home/spamd -d -c --pidfile=$PIDFILE"

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I think you have to check

I think you have to check that spamd is listening on IPv6 as well and eventually add a "-i [::1]:783" option to your spamdctl. Look here for details

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We have a new email server for 300 people thanks to your guide.  Being able to use Roundcube with PGP was the key piece.   I had to keep the old qmail / sqmail  with the PGP plugin up until today.

IPv6 is working great and spamassassin is doing the job.

I sent you a couple of coffee's and we thank you for keeping the awesome qmail alive.

John D. Trolinger

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spamassassin error


I have this error on load :

error: Can't locate loadable object for module Geo::IP in @INC (@INC contains: /usr/local/share/perl5 /usr/local/lib64/perl5 /usr/lib64/perl5/vendor_perl /usr/share/perl5/vendor_perl /usr/lib64/perl5 /usr/share/perl5) at /usr/local/share/perl5/Geo/ line 42.


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spamassassin error

the problem is missing geoip-perl-api - solve like this:

cd /usr/local/src
tar zxvf
cd geo-api-perl-1.45
perl Makefile.PL
make install


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spamassassin error

GEO:IP is already mentioned above among the packages that must be installed via CPAN...

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I would try to see which

I would try to see which module is missing looking inside that file/line

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did you installed GEO:IP?

did you installed GEO:IP?

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I have this in cpan

I have this in cpan

install Geo::IP

Geo::IP is up to date (1.45).

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I had to disable loadplugin Mail::SpamAssassin::Plugin::URILocalBL  in v341.pre   to get rid of this error in the spamd.log

error: Can't locate loadable object for module Geo::IP in @INC

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I had the same issue. It was resolved by installing GeoIP2 and uninstall IP::GeoIP. Spamd may complain about missing Class::XSAccessor, after installing it there was no more error.

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Change DB Spamassassin

For update Spamassassin 3.4.1 is necesary update the db (in my case):

ALTER TABLE `awl` ADD signedby VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL DEFAULT '' AFTER totscore;


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Disable Spamassassin

How can I disable the use of spamassassin? Just uninstalling it?


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no, just edit

no, just edit /var/qmail/control/simcontrol and put spam=no. update the simcontrol after that:

$ /var/qmail/bin/simscanmk

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Many thanks

Wow, just found this post yesterday when I wanted to install Spamassassin on my Slackware64-current box. I can't thank you enough for this superb post. Grazie mille!

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Geo::IP plug not working

Thank you for a great tutorial.

I was wondering did you manage to make the new Geo::IP plug in working. I have installed from cpan and updated (geoiplookup works) but spamassassin doesn't seems to take that in consideration when I block a country. I have enable it from init.pre. Any ideea what can be?


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I don't use that plugin

Sorry, I don't use that plugin

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