I'm running Ubuntu Server 12.04 as a web server and use Exim4 for sending confirmation emails and such. Is there a way to set a system-wide email address for the root user? In other words, I'd like ALL email to go to a different address rather than [email protected]. For example, this command...

echo "test" | mail -v -s test root

...would go to a different address, as well as all cron tasks that root executes:

# m h dom mon dow user  command
17 *    * * *   root    cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.hourly
25 6    * * *   root    test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.daily )
47 6    * * 7   root    test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.weekly )
52 6    1 * *   root    test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.monthly )

2 Answers 2


you can edit /etc/aliases and look for the line starting with: root:

or add one. It might be commented out. Then follow the instructions for your MTA to reload the configuation. For Exim 4 you don't have to restart it actually, but when running Postfix (Ubuntu's default MTA) you'll need to run newaliases.

or update it in /root/.forward

  • I don't have sendmail installed. Would I need to restart anything if I just edit /root/.forward?
    – user157635
    Sep 11, 2012 at 15:16
  • nope, you would not need to restart anything.
    – d4v3y0rk
    Sep 11, 2012 at 15:19

In the root account home folder add a ".forward" file that contains the e-mail address or alternate account name on that system for where you want e-mail to be redirected to.

So, make a file named ".forward" containing one line that reads either:


or simply:


I hope that is clear enough. All e-mail coming into root should automatically be forward to to the other mailbox.

  • From searching, the .foward appears to be part of sendmail. Is there a different configuration needed for exim?
    – user157635
    Sep 11, 2012 at 15:30
  • This doesn't work on my system. Not sure what I'm missing.
    – user157635
    Sep 11, 2012 at 16:04
  • Hmm... strange. You mentioned you don't have sendmail installed. I'm curious why not? That's probably the problem.
    – Bryan C.
    Sep 11, 2012 at 16:06
  • It's close to stock install of Ubuntu. Any reason I need sendmail in addition to exim? I thought they were accomplishing the same task.
    – user157635
    Sep 11, 2012 at 16:25
  • Hmm... sorry. That I don't know. I always run sendmail on my servers. Maybe someone else can chime in on that question.
    – Bryan C.
    Sep 11, 2012 at 16:30

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