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Technical mail setup question

Dale, only a small part of this message is in direct reply to your
post.  The last 2/3rds is mostly just me spouting to the rest of the
list after following this rather surreal discussion for the last two
days.  You have been warned. ;-)

On Thu, Jun 03, 1999 at 03:31:04PM -0400, Dale Scheetz wrote:
> and answers. I believe that this process could be used to provide accounts
> for multiple nodes on a LAN through a common provider, even using the
> common provider's local mail server, as long as each node on the LAN has a
> valid e-mail account on a server exterior to the LAN.

That's all well and good and works on just about any setup.  However,
that only addresses retrieving mail from an upstream server.  It
doesn't address the matter of sending out mail.

> If the gateway (the node dialing up the ISP) is a perminant one,
> providing a relay server on the gateway that could recieve mail for
> the various accounts on the LAN should be a functional solution as
> well.

There's the rub.  What about those people who don't have a static IP
or a static hostname?  They can't use their firewall box as a relay.
More than likely, the box can't be configured with a suitable real
Internet-wide hostname to use when talking to the ISP's relay.  Unless
the relay doesn't check the connecting machine's HELO signature,
people in this situation are screwed.

Also, I'm not sure how one goes about authenticating with a relay
server.  If there is some provision in SMTP to authenticate with
username/password (of which I do not know), then this might work.
Otherwise, an ISP relay is simply going to relay messages that come
from the "right" IP or the "right" email address.

Even if there is authentication involved, this won't stop spammers
from using throw-away ISP accounts.  If they're able to hop from one
account to the next on an ISP to send spam directly from their box to
a recipient (presumably because the ISP is nuking the previous account
each time people complain), then how is authentication, whether it be
by password, IP address, or mail address going to help?

And if authentication happens on "From" address, what about people who
use their Linux box to send mail from several different legitimate
e-mail addresses (for example, their ISP address and their Debian
address).  Again, are they just stupid people unworthing of sending
e-mail because they can't afford their own leased-line?

I admit I'm not totally up to snuff on all of the technical details
involved for legitimate users to get around all of the roadblocks
imposed by MAPS and ORBS, but this sounds like a Byzantine-nightmare
for anyone to navigate w/o enough cash to afford their own dedicated
net connection.  IMO, it does smack of snobbery at best, and outright
discrimination at worst.  Are all the people in their ivory towers of
dedicated net connections with their own relays to use who are
constantly reiterating the same insipid refrain "its your choice
whether you use a relay or don't get your messages sent" even aware of
all the technical difficulties such a system presents for all of the
lowly people who can't afford $500/month for net connections and
$10,000+ for big iron?

Yes, spam is bad.  Spam is horrible.  Something needs to be done, but
the ends do not justify the means.  A better solution to spam needs to
be found.  Finding spammers and ISPs who allow it criminally liable
would be a good start, but perhaps more realistically, a better
technical situation that doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater
needs to be seriously persued.

For those of you tempted to reply, if you're just going to spout the
same old rhetoric that's been touted in two dozen other messages in
this thread, don't waste your time or energy replying.  On the other
hand, if you're willing to reasonably discuss the technical merits of
spam prevention or practical mail relaying for dynamic IP machines
without resorting to Neanderthalic chest-pounding, I and probably many
others would love to read your ideas.  An enlightening discussion and
the ins and outs of mail software, SMTP, spam software specifics,
etc. would be most helpful to me and possibly others (although it
might be more on-topic in another mailing-list).

                              |        Must I hold a candle to my shames?
Brian Cox (coxbrian@msu.edu)  |          -- William Shakespeare, "The Merchant
                              |                    of Venice"

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