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Re: Re: RFC: Making mail-transport-agent Priority: optional

On Thu, 13 Oct 2011 at 10:17:38 +0200, Bernhard R. Link wrote:
> * Josh Triplett <josh@joshtriplett.org> [111013 05:51]:
> > Users can easily install an MTA; why do they need one *by default* on
> > every Debian system they install?
> Because the system is not in a useful state without. If you want to
> cripple your system, just deinstall it.

(TL;DR: I agree with Josh.)

My parents' Debian systems (a laptop and a desktop) are perfectly useful
without a local MTA - they use Thunderbird^WIcedove for email via IMAP and
authenticated SMTP. In some ways, this configuration is better than a
local MTA with a smarthost - the SMTP authentication authenticates the user,
not the machine (whereas a local MTA would have to either use a particular
person's credentials, or have credentials for a shared account named after
the machine, able to send but not receive mail).

For that matter, my mobile phone is loosely Debian-based (an N900 with Maemo)
and has no use for a MTA at all :-)

I realise there's no correct answer for everyone, but the sort of people who
need an MTA can easily install one (or get one installed via dependencies),
whereas the sort of people who don't need an MTA often don't know that they
don't need one, don't know that they have one, don't know how to get
rid of it, and don't know how to read any messages that it might have left
for them.

It seems to me that if we do need an MTA in standard it's for cron jobs and
similar system notifications, where Exim is overkill - esmtp-run or dma would
be quite sufficient. (I thought we also had an MTA that didn't speak SMTP at
all, and only delivered addresses without "@" locally via an MDA, but I can't
see such a thing in aptitude - either I'm misremembering, or it got removed.)

I'm not really convinced of the usefulness of a local mail spool to notify
non-server users about anything, though - a typical user of Icedove, KMail,
Evolution or whatever will never see things that get left in /var/spool/mail.

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