Subject: Re: Postfix
To: None <>
From: Greg A. Woods <>
List: current-users
Date: 08/14/2000 15:59:43
[ On Monday, August 14, 2000 at 10:37:52 (-0700), Pete Naylor wrote: ]
> Subject: Re: Postfix
> Greg A. Woods wrote...
> > 
> > I think that's the point -- Postfix is smaller,
> I didn't know that.

In strict raw counts by wc of distributed source and documentation:

postfix   111578  404923 3138984 total
sendmail  140784  551827 3779536 total

In terms of just *.[ch] files:

postfix    84767  276735 1917057 total
sendmail   72322  256144 1936205 total

(fewer whitespace characters in postfix?  should sendmail be tabify'ed?  :-)

However given that every postfix .c file contains all the external
documentation for that file, I'd bet you can pretty well cut the real
lines of code down to about half that....  Last I looked sendmail had
some nice internal comments, but nothing to the extent of postfix.

But what I really meant was to conclude from what you'd said directly --
i.e. you said that postfix was still not "full featured", so, therefore
one can conclude that it's "smaller" and "simpler" in concepts.
I.e. it's not cluttered (yet) with a whole lot of complexity that'll
only be used by a very few people.  This is what's really important to
me (outside of its own claims to fame, that is).

>  Is it true when you sum the size of all the binaries
> included in a postfix install?

I don't know -- I don't personally care about the sum of the binaries.

>  Is this really the primary motivation?

I don't know about the "official" motivation, but personally, no, as I
said it's the combination of all those things....
> > simpler,
> No, it's not.  Anything represented by a jumble of a dozen daemons is
> likely to be daunting to a newbie - it's certainly not going to be easy

In your opinion.  and you exaggerate greatly!  :-)

[[ There are just under two dozen programs in /usr/libexec/postfix to be
sure, but there are normally only three daemons running.... ]]

Postfix is extremely well documented, and I don't mean that in the sense
that it too has a 1500 lb. -- errr pg. book to tell you all about it!

> > and easier to
> > configure. 
> Most people don't need to do much sendmail configuration.  For a simple
> node, it doesn't need much help - and a as distributed would
> work pretty much out of the box.

I've only seen one mailer that works ideally for any small leaf node or
minor MX handler without any configuration tweaking, and it's not
sendmail or postfix!  ;-)

> Or even postfix - people are free to get it and install if they so desire.

I think we all knew that right from the start.....   :-)

> Replacing sendmail with postfix in the base distribution is senseless.  

Why?  You've given no solid technical arguments yet that I can recall,
and the only non-technical argument you've given that I see any merit in
is that many admins will already know how to work with sendmail because
it's the de facto industry standard.

However that last argument seems contrary to the TNF pubilshed goal of
technical excellence -- at least so long as you will admit that postfix
is likely technically superior in at least its design and perhaps even
in the current extent of the implementation.

> It provides no advantage at all, and it confuses a lot of people without
> justification.  Exim would probably be a better choice, actually, but I
> still wouldn't want to see it replace sendmail in the base distribution.

I've not yet seen any actual documented cases of confusion -- just
complaints about apparent bloat, wasted resources, etc.....

> > But "basic sendmail" is an oxymoron!  ;-)
> No, it's absolutely not.  sendmail as included in Unix OS distributions
> for many a year has fulfilled the purpose required of it just fine,

Anything that requries a 1500-page guide to describe its idiosyncracies
isn't likely very "basic".  Anything that includes a very hard-to-
program programmable finite state machine as it's core concept is not

> and
> nobody has presented any justification for replacing it with postfix
> beyond "but I like postfix and I think it's better than sendmail".

I guess we thought that was obvious.  I'd suggest reading the code if
you really need convincing, but in general the overview and anatomy docs
available on should be reasonably convincing.  There's
quite a pile of positive testimony from Postfix users too....

>  Geez,
> in many regards, my dog is a better MTA than sendmail - but I don't think
> he should replace sendmail in the NetBSD base distribution.

maybe he should!  :-)  Does he meet the TNF goal of technical excellence?

could be quite an opportunity for NetBSD users to get into bio-tech!  :-)

> In many systems I prefer not to install my preferred MTA, because I can
> use the included MTA for the basic functionality which is required.
> sendmail works just fine for me for that purpose, and I have absolutely no
> desire to learn about the dozen+ daemons in postfix or the postfix
> configuration, or postfix queue management etc.  If there was a compelling
> reason for replacing sendmail with postfix I wouldn't be complaining, but
> there is just absolutely no justification at all.  Why fix something
> that's not broken?

many people, even some of its fans I think, consider sendmail "broken by
However the mere fact that there are many good choices of MTA other than
sendmail should be an indication that something needs fixing, broken or

>  Seems like it's just a personal crusade by a few
> postfix fans :(

Basically what I'm hearing from you is that sendmail is a sacred cow and
it must not be touched.

							Greg A. Woods

+1 416 218-0098      VE3TCP      <>      <robohack!woods>
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