brad at stop.mail-abuse.org
Fri Mar 25 22:08:23 CET 2005
At 11:55 AM -0800 2005-03-25, Heather Madrone wrote:
> The OSX setup, however, is only a stopgap while I get my permanent
> server set up. I've been looking for an open source operating system
> that will run well on our Ultra 5 (sparc). We were going with Debian,
> which then announced that it's dropping sparc support, so we've switched
> to OpenBSD.
In terms of providing good support for UltraSPARC, Solaris is
going to be best, and I believe that Solaris 10 is freely available
from Sun. But that's not what I would consider an "open source"
In terms of Open Source operating systems for UltraSPARC, NetBSD
is probably going to be the best, with OpenBSD close behind (they
split off from NetBSD not too long ago), and FreeBSD catching up very
quickly. There may be some Linux distributions which also support
UltraSPARC, and they might have been decent in the past, but I think
they're tending to drop it in the same way that Debian has done.
> The time has come to start seriously thinking about the MTA. OpenBSD
> comes with sendmail, but I'm not going down that road again. I've heard
> good things about postfix, but I've never used it. It seems somewhat more
> complex to set up than exim, and its integration with Mailman does not
> seem to be as seamless.
Postfix is a good MTA for use with mailing lists. It does a lot
of things out-of-the-box that you want in this kind of environment,
and which take more work to do if you want to use sendmail instead.
I have run large sites with both sendmail and postfix, and depending
on what you're trying to do and how much care & feeding you're
willing/able to give it, either sendmail or postfix should be
I know a lot less about Exim, but it does seem to be reasonably
capable, and I have spoken to the author of Exim a fair amount. Phil
Hazel is a good guy. Based more on that than anything else, I
consider Exim to be the only other MTA that I can recommend that
In terms of integration with Mailman, I think postfix is about as
good as anything else I've seen, and the hacks to improve the
integration with sendmail basically amount to lying to Mailman and
instead telling it that it's using postfix.
> My previous service provider used postfix, and we had recurrent problems
> with Mailman's queues getting silently hung up. A friend of mine who
> runs a Mailman/postfix site also has the same problem.
Hung up? In what way?
> I wrote a perl
> script to check for this problem and restart Mailman's qrunner if necessary,
> and my Mailman/exim installation hasn't had this problem once. Is this
> problem related to postfix or have I just been lucky?
I've never heard of a problem like this being able to be
attributed to postfix and not be generally applicable to other MTAs
> * Exim's ability to directly poke the Mailman installation and
> determine legitimate delivery addresses.
If you use the postfix integration scripts, then the aliases are
automatically generated when you create and delete mailing lists, and
this shouldn't be a problem.
> * Exim's ability to handle VERP processing through the MTA
> rather than having Mailman have to do it.
Postfix has support for XVERP, and there have been patches posted
which allow Mailman to take advantage of that. I don't personally
like that option, as I don't think it really saves you anything, and
it certainly takes a lot of the control away from Mailman that I
would normally want to maintain. But if you want this, you can do it
> * Exim's fine degree of control of transient and permanent
> delivery errors (by host, by address, by error type).
I'm not sure I understand what you're talking about. Can you be
more specific? I know that postfix gives you a lot of control in
these areas, but without knowing more about how Exim does them, it's
hard to compare.
> * Exim's informative logs.
I've seen Exim's logs. I was never able to make much of any
sense out of them. I've also seen postfix's logs, and they seem to
me to be the model of readability and understandability.
Is there something in specific you don't like?
> * Ease of configuration and administration.
Postfix is the only MTA on the planet that can have a truly
useful two-line configuration file. Moreover, it has the most
intelligible configuration file that I have ever seen. Better still,
it comes up "default secure", unlike every other MTA I've ever seen.
I've seen Exim configuration files, and it's hard to tell what
goes where, what is a router versus all the other ways that certain
things could be handled, etc....
When looking at Exim and Mailman, there is a distinct issue that
has to be kept in mind. The instructions for integrating Mailman
2.0.x are oriented exclusively towards Exim 3.x, and the instructions
for integrating Mailman 2.1.x are oriented exclusively towards Exim
4.x. If you've got Exim 3.x and you want to use Mailman 2.1.x,
Been there, done that. Not knowing Exim very well, I had to be
the one to try to patch together something that would
kinda-semi-sorta work with Mailman 2.1.x and Exim 3.x. Not fun. I
might wish this kind of experience on my worst enemies, but not
This is at least one area where postfix does not share the same
kind of problem -- the instructions and scripts provided with Mailman
2.0.x and 2.1.x work with pretty much any version of postfix that has
shipped within the last few years.
> * Reliability.
All I can say is that the largest Mailman installations in the
world (that I know of) exclusively use postfix. You'd have to ask
them why they went this route, but my personal belief is that postfix
is more powerful, flexible, and scalable than Exim, or most anything
> What are some reasons that I would consider postfix instead of exim?
Well, for a small site, it mostly comes down to personal
preference. Regardless of whether I think that postfix is
head-and-shoulders above Exim or not, if you're familiar with Exim
and you feel comfortable administering it, then you should seriously
consider continuing to go that route. Of course, your hosting
provider might also fit into this picture -- if they're not familiar
with Exim, then if you have any problems you may not be able to rely
on their help.
We use postfix on python.org for mailman-users and the other
mailing lists we host, the freebsd.org folks use it for their mail
servers, and lists.apple.com use it for theirs. However, just
because we use postfix does not necessarily mean that you have to.
Brad Knowles, <brad at stop.mail-abuse.org>
"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little
temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
-- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), reply of the Pennsylvania
Assembly to the Governor, November 11, 1755
SAGE member since 1995. See <http://www.sage.org/> for more info.
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