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

On Fri, 14 Oct 2011 14:05:34 +0200
"Bernhard R. Link" <brlink@debian.org> wrote:

> > My brother comes to mind -- he's pretty happy with Debian and if he
> > didn't know me it's _just_ possible that he'd have installed it himself,
> > but would have simply accepted every default.  He uses icedove as his
> > MUA, pointed at a remote SMTP/IMAP server -- I seriously doubt that he'd
> > ever see root mails, and even if he did, he'd ignore them as he
> > cheerfully did on all his windows boxen in their death throws -- I'm not
> > sure what we should do about that, but running exim seems unlikely to be
> > the answer.
> Every shell will usually tell you some "You have new mail". So in case
> some part of the system wants to notify, there will at least some
> information.

"You have new mail" ONLY shows up if you login via a console or from
another machine via SSH - open a terminal window and there's no
indication, login via gdm or other GUI, no indication. 

i.e. Desktop users will not see "You have new mail" until it's
too late because in order to see it, that user has to change to a
console with Ctrl-Alt-F1 and know how to login (that's only going to
happen if the X server failed to start) or connect to their own machine
from another machine across a network.

The first requires a breakage in the system, the second requires
actually quite a lot of other packages to be installed, configuration
to be changed and even involves access to completely separate hardware.

Saying "every shell will tell you about new mail" is simply untrue for
the large number of users who never login at a console and never setup
remote access to their own machine.

> ssmtp had no queue last I looked (and is buggy like hell). This means
> having shortly no connection to the mail server means mails are lost.
> Having exim as satellite is really perferably there.

Or simply have no SMTP at all. I've done that for quite a while. I
configure an MUA to handle SMTP remotely and I use the smtp support in
reportbug - added simply because this kind of setup is becoming more
and more common.

Many users do not need *ANY* form of SMTP program on their own system.

The notifications they don't see don't cause problems (largely because
they wouldn't understand what the notification is about in the first
place) and the absence of an MTA is completely invisible because the
MUA does all of that for them.

Also worth noting that to a lot of people, email == webmail and their
MUA is a web browser. In that situation, an MTA is 100% redundant.


Neil Williams

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