Subject: Re: /etc/mailer.conf vs. postfix vs. sendmail vs. ??? (was: CVS commit: basesrc/etc)
To: NetBSD Userlevel Technical Discussion List <tech-userlevel@NetBSD.ORG>
From: Charlie Allom <>
List: tech-userlevel
Date: 10/20/2002 16:36:36
On Sat, Oct 19, 2002 at 05:25:12PM -0400, Greg A. Woods wrote:
> [ On Sunday, October 20, 2002 at 05:23:13 (+1000), Charlie Allom wrote: ]
> > Subject: Re: CVS commit: basesrc/etc
> >
> > "what is a mail wrapper?"
> "man mailwrapper"  :-)
> > "what does mailer.conf do for me?"
> "man mailer.conf" :-)
> > "what is sendmail, exactly?" for that matter
> "man sendmail" :-)

point, point and point. It was past 05:00 and the beer was leaving,
with my sense.

> > I remember these questions from some time ago - _document_ it for the
> > clueless or leave it as a working system IMO. I would call a
> > non-local-delivering OS on install a broken one.
> The clueless really must learn to RTFM -- or at least find help from
> someone clued enough to do that for them.  If they can't do that they
> probably shouldn't even be trying to use a computer, let alone have the
> root password to one.  "Good system administration is not easy, ..." and
> "... it takes great system administration to keep a machine secure...".
> (Steve Bellovin, <URL:>)

OK - I agree with it all - but not everyone uses NetBSD for system
administration. Each day NetBSD gets closer to being a 'user-friendly'
desktop OS, that we'd like our mothers to use - why cut them out?

> > Some of us may hate sendmail - but hey - it works for that simple
> > purpose!
> well, if you ignore the potentially serious consequences of being hit
> with a subtle mis-configuration that makes it an open relay, or worse
> there's yet another remote exploit.....  :-)

OK also - I am totally for a smaller mailer that delivers locally. A
comparative 'lukemmailer' to the superb ftp tools we have for our OS -

> a nice small mailer that only handles aliases and either calls
> mail.local to deliver locally or if networking is enabled then
> optionally calls some trivial SMTP-like client that only forwards to a
> gateway (no routing) would be much better.

Who will write it? It 'may' make more sense to use an MTA that you
don't have to run as a daemon, but that has a better track record than
the old dinosaur.. I won't mention any names - as I don't have any
interest in the holy war that would ensue if this got going..

> Note that Postfix can be very safely configured that way MUCH more
> easily than Sendmail can be.....  The setting the gateway is just one
> non-standard line in /etc/postfix/ (relayhost=SOMEHOST) and the
> rest is just a matter of commenting out the 'smtpd' line in
> /etc/postfix/

I agree - it's an excellent trick and I do it on all my machines - for
the record: I love postfix, but the running process can be a pain on
strange machines. Take for instance my laptop where postfix isnt so
stable for some reason. Once every few weeks mutt will error that
postfix isn't runnig, and I have to go and start her up again, keeping
those processes idle but at-the-ready.

The simple mailer (think nullmailer/ssmtp/etc..) is a cleaner idea.