How do I install and configure FormMail on my server?


How do I install and configure FormMail on my server?


Once you download the script, a few modifications must be made before it will work correctly.




Most third-party scripts are not available in the  ports collection, and our support staff is not available for custom scripting.  However, some common scripts, such as Formmail, will only require a few minor changes to work on a server.


First, you have to put the FormMail tarfile onto your  server. There are several methods for doing this, but this document only covers the easiest.

Point your web browser to the following URL:

From here, select the file "formmail.tar.gz" about halfway down the page, and save it to your desktop, using right-click (or hold-click on a Macintosh). Once you have the file on your desktop, you can use FTP to put the file in a convenient location on your server.

Now that the file is physically on your server, you will need to login to your server through SSH (or telnet if necessary). On the command line, you will want to 'cd' (change directory) to the directory were you placed the tarfile. From there run the command 'tar -zxvf formmail.tar.gz' from within the same directory.

When you run this command, it will unpack the archive into a directory called 'formmail' with the two files 'README' and ''. You almost certainly want to at least peruse the 'README' file. This is the author's official "How to Use This Program", and should not be overlooked. The '' file, however, is the program itself.

At this point, you will have to decide what domain(s) will be using this script, and apply the following to each. You will want to copy the '' file to the 'cgi-bin' directory for the respective domain(s). The alternative option to this is to place the script in a universal 'cgi-bin' directory, and have all your domains/vhosts reference it from there. We do not offer assistence for this modification, however. Once the file is safely stowed in its proper place, as a final step you should change the permissions so that anyone and everyone can execute the script. For this you should use 'chmod 775'.

For FormMail to work, we will need to make two very important modifications to the actual Perl script. You will want to be aware that any mistakes in these modifications can prevent the script from working. Using the text editor of your choice, go into the '' script and find the following line:

@referers = ('','');

Here you will want to put the domain(s) that are allowed to use this script (meaning, what webpages will be calling this function), and the IP address(es). For further information on this, consult the official documentation.

Then, find the following line in the '' file:

$mailprog = '/usr/lib/sendmail';

This will need to be changed to read:

$mailprog = '/usr/sbin/sendmail';

Then save the changes to '' and exit the text editor.

Form Configuration

The action of your form needs to point towards this script, and the method must be POST or GET in capital letters. Version 1.5 of FormMail offers many ways to code your form, allowing you to tailor the resulting HTML page and the way the script performs. Below is a list of form fields you can use, along with instructions about how to implement them.

Necessary Form Fields:

There is only one form field that you must include in your form for FormMail to work correctly. This is the recipient field.

Field:  recipient

Description: This form field allows you to specify to whom you wish to mail your form results. You will likely want to configure this option as a hidden form field with a value equal to that of your email address.


<input type=hidden name="recipient" value="">

Please note that if the recipient address is invalid, the CGI will fail (and consequently generate a server error message). Please make sure that the recipient address is valid.

Optional Form Fields:

Field: subject

Description: The subject field allows you to specify the subject that will appear in the email you receive after this form has been filled out. If you do not have this option turned on, the script will default to a message subject of: "WWW Form Submission."

Syntax: If you wish to choose what the subject is:

<input type=hidden name="subject" value="Your Subject">

To allow the user to choose a subject:

<input type=text name="subject">

Field:  email

Description: This form field allows the user to specify his or her return email address. If you want to be able to reply to the user's email, we strongly suggest that you include this form field and allow them to fill it in. This will be put into the From: field of the message you receive. If you want to require an email address with valid syntax, add this field name to the "required" field.

Syntax: <input type=text name="email">

Field:  realname

Description: The realname form field allows a user to input his or her real name. This field is useful for identification purposes and will appear in the From: line of your message header.

Syntax: <input type=text name="realname">

Field:  redirect

Description: If you wish to redirect people to a different URL, rather than having them see the default response to the fill-out form, you can use this hidden variable to send them to a pre-made HTML page.

Syntax: To choose the URL they will end up at:

<input type=hidden name="redirect" value="">

To allow users to specify a URL they wish to go to once the form is filled out:

<input type=text name="redirect">

Field:  required

Version: 1.3 & Up

Description: You can require that certain fields in your form to be filled in before the user can successfully submit the form. Simply place all field names that you want to be mandatory into this field. If the required fields are not filled in, the user will be notified, and a link back to the form they just submitted will be provided.

To use a customized error page, see 'missing_fields_redirect'

Syntax: To require that people fill in the "email" and "phone" fields of your form, you would use the following syntax:

<input type=hidden name="required" value="email,phone">

Field:  env_report

Version: 1.3 & Up

Description: Allows you to have Environment variables included in the email message you receive after a user has filled out your form. Useful if you wish to know what browser they were using, what domain they were coming from or any other attributes associated with environment variables. The following is a short list of valid environment variables that might be useful:

REMOTE_HOST     - Sends the hostname making the request.

REMOTE_ADDR     - Sends the IP address of the remote host making the request.

REMOTE_USER     - If server supports authentication and script is protected, this is the username they have authenticated as. *This is not usually set.*

HTTP_USER_AGENT - The browser the client is using to send the request.

There are others, but these are a few of the most useful. For more information on environment variables, please visit the following URL:

Syntax: If you want to find the remote host and browser sending the request, you would put the following into your form:

<input type=hidden name="env_report" value="REMOTE_HOST,HTTP_USER_AGENT">

Field:  sort

Version: 1.4 & Up

Description: Allows you to specify the order in which your variables appear in the email that FormMail generates. You can choose to have the field sorted alphabetically, or specify a set order in which you want the fields to appear in your email message. By leaving this field out, the order will simply default to the order in which the browser sends the information to the script (which is usually the same order as they appear in the form). When sorting by a set order of fields, you should include the phrase "order:" as the first part of your value for the sort field, and then follow that with the field names you want to be listed in the email message, separated by commas. Version 1.6 allows a little more flexibility in the listing of ordered fields, in that you can include spaces and line breaks in the field without messing up the sort. This is helpful when you have many form fields and need to insert a line wrap.

Syntax: To sort alphabetically:

<input type=hidden name="sort" value="alphabetic">

To sort by a set field order:

<input type=hidden name="sort" value="order:name1,name2,etc...">

Field: print_config

Version: 1.5 & Up

Description: print_config allows you to specify which of the config variables to have printed in your email message. By default, no config fields are printed to your email because the important form fields (such as email, subject, etc.) are included in the header of the message. However, some users have asked for this option so they can include these fields in the body of the message. The config fields that you wish to have printed should be in the value attribute of your input tag, separated by commas.

Syntax: <input type=hidden name="print_config" value="email,subject">

Field:  print_blank_fields

Version: 1.6

Description: print_blank_fields allows you to request that all form fields are printed in the return HTML, regardless of whether or not they were filled in. By default, FormMail turns this off so that unused form fields aren't emailed.

Syntax: If you want to print all blank fields:

<input type=hidden name="print_blank_fields" value="1">

Field:  title

Version: 1.3 & Up

Description: This form field allows you to specify the title and header that will appear on the resulting page if you do not specify a redirect URL.

Syntax: If you want a title of 'Feedback Form Results':

<input type=hidden name="title" value="Feedback Form Results">

Field:  return_link_url

Version: 1.3 & Up

Description: This field allows you to specify a URL that will appear, as return_link_title, on the following report page. This field will not be used if you have the redirect field set, but it is useful if you allow the user to receive the report on the next page but want to offer them a way to get back to your main page.

Syntax: <input type=hidden name= 'return_link_url' value="">

Field:  return_link_title

Version: 1.3 & Up

Description: This is the title that will be used to link the user back to the page you specify with return_link_url. The two fields will be shown on the resulting form page as return_link_title.

Syntax: <input type=hidden name="return_link_title" value="Back to Main Page">

Field:  missing_fields_redirect

Version: 1.6

Description: This form field allows you to specify a URL that users will be redirected to if there are fields listed in the required form field that are not filled in, allowing you to customize an error page instead of displaying the default.  

Syntax: <input type=hidden name="missing_fields_redirect" value="">

Field:  background

Version: 1.3 & Up

Description: This form field allows you to specify a background image that will appear if you do not have the redirect field set. This image will appear as the background to the form results page.

Syntax: <input type=hidden name="background" value="">

Field:  bgcolor

Version: 1.3 & Up

Description: This form field allows you to specify a background color for the form results page in much the way you specify a background image. This field should not be set if the redirect field is.

Syntax: For a background color of White:

<input type=hidden name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF">

Field:  text_color

Version: 1.3 & Up

Description: This field works in the same way as bgcolor, except that it will change the color of your text.

Syntax: For a text color of Black:

<input type=hidden name="text_color" value="#000000">

Field: link_color

Version: 1.3 & Up

Description: Changes the color of links on the resulting page. Works in the same way as text_color. Should not be defined if redirect is.

Syntax: For a link color of Red:

<input type=hidden name="link_color" value="#FF0000">

Field:  vlink_color

Version: 1.3 & Up

Description: Changes the color of visited links on the resulting page. Works exactly the same as link_color. Should not be set if redirect is.

Syntax: For a visited link color of Blue:

<input type=hidden name="vlink_color" value="#0000FF">

Field:  alink_color

Version: 1.4 & Up

Description: Changes the color of active links on the resulting page. Works exactly the same as link_color. Should not be set if redirect already is.

Syntax: For an active link color of Blue:

<input type=hidden name="alink_color" value="#0000FF">

Any other form fields that appear in your script will be mailed back to you and displayed on the resulting page if you do not have the redirect field set. There is no limit as to how many other form fields you can use with this form, except the limits imposed by browsers and your server.

Additional Information:

For more information, the FormMail official homepage is at:

The FormMail official readme file can be found at:

The FormMail official Frequently Asked Questions is at: