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MTA wars (was Re: make anacron a base package)

On Wed, Mar 31, 1999 at 11:20:18PM +0200, Josip Rodin wrote:
> Hey, you, people who actually picked smail/exim for the default Debian
> MTA, speak up! What were your reasons for not choosing sendmail?

I tried sendmail on my first Debian install, iirc. I think because I
didn't read the docs, so didn't know what `Standard' meant, and thought
`sendmail is the standard MTA. I'll use it.' It took me quite a while
to work out how to get the m4 config file to do what I wanted, partly
because I don't know all that much about sendmail/MTAs, partly because
the docs are (were?) very terse, and partly because my requirements were
a little weird.

I then switched to qmail, which was fun for a while, but I had to manually
patch things like majordomo to have them work, and everytime qmail got
upgraded I had to compile it myself thanks to its stupid license.

So then I switched to exim, was amazed by the comprehensiveness of its
docs, and got everything working. I now even do freaky UUCP over tcp
stuff for a domain I MX for, which I'd not have even been game to try
under sendmail or qmail, simply because I just couldn't understand how
they worked.

Anyway. exim, smail, and sendmail are all free. smail is overly simple,
and not (iirc) maintained upstream. sendmail is moderately slow for large
sites (which is why debian-admin didn't want to use it, iirc), known for
its security holes, and still considered a pain to configure.  exim,
well, isn't. It's maintained, it's considered secure, it's considered
fairly fast (although usually qmail is nominated as better), and it's
considered easy to configure and well documented. At least by me.

If the only difference between exim and sendmail is perception, and exim
is consistently perceived to be better, that's a good reason to make it
default -- more people will want to choose it anyway. If you want to
rally against that perception, fine, but do it on bugtraq by auditing
sendmail and exim and qmail and finding all the remaining bugs in all
three, or something of that nature.

Whining about how sendmail's a good mailer too is pointless: we *know*
it's good, that's why it's packaged, maintained, and easy to install. If
there's some reason why sendmail would be noticably *better* than exim
in a *standard* install, please tell us.

But if it's just that with your special requirements, sendmail is better,
then that's the very definition of `extra' priority.

What's the big deal?


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. PGP encrypted mail preferred.

``Like the ski resort of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking
  for girls, the situation is not as symmetrical as it might seem.''

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