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Re: using exim for simple mail delivery

Anthony Campbell <ac@acampbell.org.uk> writes:

> This seems very odd. I thought that Debian set up exim more or less by
> default.

Yes, that is because you need _some_ program at least for local mail
delivery (system messages and such), although you don't really need a
full-featured MTA (mail transfer agent) like exim, a MDA (mail
delivery agent) like procmail would in theory suffice.

> I was using smail when I first installed Debian several years
> ago and then exim when that became standard; this is on a dialup account
> (single user). It seems to work perfectly well. How could you send and
> deliver mail without exim or another MTA? Can you point me to an FM
> which explains this?

You do use exim to send mail from your system elsewhere (unless your
MUA (mail user agent) does this by talking to your ISPs mail server).
By default you use exim also to send local mail (within your system).

However, on a dial-up system you usually *do not* use exim to receive
mail from the outside.  Many people use either their MUA to retrieve
mail via POP3 or IMAP (as can be done with kmail, balsa, sylpheed,
...) or they use a separate program such as fetchmail to fetch the
mail using POP3 or IMAP and deliver it locally, possibly using a more
sophisticated MDA like procmail to do some sorting and filtering.

Therefore, in 99% of dial-up user settings exim does not have anything
to do with receiving mail and therefore does not in any way contribute
to sorting incoming mail into folders.

In order to receive mail using exim you would need to have set up an
MX record for your domein pointing to your machine on your nameserver,
which is obviously not the case for the people who ask how to set up
their mail filtering.


P.S.: after writing this I checked again and saw that fetchmail does
sometimes use exim to do the local delivery (possibly even by
default).  I was therefore wrong in claiming exim never intervenes in
the process.  However, using exim as MDA for local delivery with
filtering is _much_ more complicated than using procmail for that

In order to use procmail you only need to put:

 mda "/usr/bin/procmail -d %T"

in your .fetchmailrc

You can then set up filter rules easily in your .procmailrc (as a
user) rather than configuring a (more or less) complicated mail
transport system as root.

I hope especially this latest addition does clarify the situation

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