How to deploy Zimbra ZCS Open Source Edition on Amazon EC2

This guide should help you deploy Zimbra ZCS 7.1.3_GA on an Ubuntu 10.04 instance with Amazon EC2.


1) Ensure you have set up Amazon EC2 CLI scripts …

Download tools from here

Generate certificates in the security credentials section of AWS control panel

Set up environment variables in your .bash_profile (using your key paths, and your preferred EC2 region)

export EC2_PRIVATE_KEY=/path/to/ec2-private-key.pem
export EC2_CERT=/path/to/ec2-cert.pem
export EC2_URL=

2) Ensure you have imported your public ssh key (replace paul-public-key with whatever label you want to use)

for r in us-east-1 us-west-1 ap-southeast-1 eu-west-1; do ec2-import-keypair --region $r paul-public-key --public-key-file ~/.ssh/ ; done

3) Setup an elastic IP, and then create DNS entries for your mail server, that point to that IP. Let’s assume you are going to call your mail server, you will need records in’s zone for:

mail1 CNAME
mail1 MX 10 mail1

Where xxx-xxx-xxx-xxx is your elastic IP. For other domains, you can then point their MX records to

4) Setup a security group for your Zimbra server with the desired ports open (25,80,443, 110, 143, 389, 443, 993, 995, 7071, 7110, 7995, 7143, 7993 etc… ).

ec2-create-group "Zimbra ZCS" -d "Zimbra Collaboration Suite Group"
ec2-authorize "Zimbra ZCS" -P icmp -t -1:-1
ec2-authorize "Zimbra ZCS" -P tcp -p 22
ec2-authorize "Zimbra ZCS" -P tcp -p 25
ec2-authorize "Zimbra ZCS" -P tcp -p 80
ec2-authorize "Zimbra ZCS" -P tcp -p 7071


1) Launch a new instance. Replace paul-public-key with the name of your public key (this will need to have been imported into AWS previously). The -g switch refers to your security group. We are using 100GB as the main disk size, as by default they are too small for a Zimbra installation.

// This will launch a new launch instance of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS
ec2-run-instances -t m1.large -g "Zimbra ZCS" -k paul-public-key -b "/dev/sda1=:100:false" ami-cc0e3cb8 --region eu-west-1

2) SSH in and resize the filesystem to the full disk size. Run ec2-describe instances to find your new instance’s IP address, then ssh in to it and resize the file system.

ssh ubuntu@your-instance-public-ip
sudo su -
resize2fs /dev/sda1

3) Assign the elastic IP you chose earlier

// Check your instances ID
// Associate the address to the instance
ec2-associate-address ELASTIC_IP_ADDRESS -i INSTANCE_ID

4) Set up hostname on the system

echo '' > /etc/hostname
echo ' mail1' >> /etc/hosts

Then check it works with..

hostname --fqdn

IMPORTANT: The commands above specify as the IP for the system’s hostname in /etc/hosts. You need all 3 fields listed in /etc/hosts (eg. mail1) – otherwise LDAP install fails as it tries to connect to resolved elastic IP. In addition, use a CNAME for the public DNS MX records hostname instead of A record, then when it is resolved internally, it should get a local IP, which should assist postfix with LMTP lookups. If you don’t do this you will get issues – – A crude fix is to open port 7025 in the security group, but the CNAME is better.
4) Download Zimbra

cd /root/ 
mkdir zimbra
cd zimbra
// Download the appropriate version for your Linux distribution (and architecture, e.g. 64 bit)
tar -xvzf zcs-7.1.3_GA_3346.UBUNTU10_64.20110928134610.tgz

5) Install dependencies

apt-get install libperl5.10 sysstat sqlite3

6) Install Zimbra (this takes about 10-15 minutes)


Keep all default settings and proceed with install

When it complains “DNS ERROR – none of the MX records for resolve to this host” say No to change domain name.

Set password… at menu (make a note of it).

Apply changes.

You can login to the web interface with:

u: [email protected]
p: whatever you set in the install script

Try sending a test e-mail to [email protected] – you should be able to log in to the web interface and view it.

References: – Ubuntu Image List – Zimbra Downloads


11 thoughts on “How to deploy Zimbra ZCS Open Source Edition on Amazon EC2”

  1. Hey Paul,

    Thanks so much for your article, followed the link here from your comment on Elijah’s article.

    Configuring BIND was killing me and I was just about to give up, but now I have a working staging ZCS server and some very happy clients. =o)

    Keep up the good work!

    Season’s greetings & best regards,

  2. I tryed many times to install zimbra in ec2.
    Every time I find a new error.
    You suggest to don’t use this /etc/hosts configuration: localhost.localdomain localhost mail1

    but you suggest this: mail1

    But the installation don’t proceed for problem about mysql installation.

    But in the other hand the ldap inizializing fail.

    i need to try this mail server.
    Have you a solution?
    How you skipped the error?

  3. Hi Paul,

    First of all, thank you very mutch for your tutorial.

    I wont to ask if i set the DNS Entry correctly, it look like this in my Amazon Route 53 A ELASTIC_IP MX 10 CNAME

    the hostname of my linux instance is Should it work this way?

  4. I followed your instructions and they worked very well. However the only email addresses I can setup seem to be [email protected]. I setup another domain in Zimbra that is just and added an account. The account can send mail but cannot receive mail using the address [email protected]. How can I drop the ‘mail’ part from the email address?

  5. Interesting tutorial!! Have you any resource to install Zimbra on multiple server on AWS? I mean by using autoscale and other automatic feature to manage traffic peak etc…

  6. Hi Raf,
    No I haven’t tried installing Zimbra on multiple servers with traffic scaling. If you have any success with this, perhaps you could post a comment on there?

  7. Hey Paul what a great article you have in theres. I wonder what would be different now on zimbra 8?

    Also…, in general terms what you say are the benefits of hosting with Amazon EC2 VS a traditional hosting environment either on a VPS or a dedicated server?


  8. Thanks so much.

    Configuring bind was headache for me. And this post will sort my almost all the issue.

    Thanks Once again.

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