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Exim "closing connection" for no apparent reason


The situation: 2 machines, pigeon.pigeonloft ( and
nestie.pigeonloft ( pigeon is the main machine, nestie is
the gateway, connecting via dialup.

nestie receives incoming email with fetchmail and hands it over to
exim, which forwards it to pigeon. This works fine with small numbers
of emails, ie. my normal combination of a few personal emails and
mailing lists in digest form.

Recently I subscribed to the linux-kernel list in order to see what is
being said/done about 48-bit IDE support. This brings in wads of
messages as the linux-kernel list doesn't have a digest (afaik). 

The first 40 or so emails are received and forwarded OK, but after
this /var/log/exim/mainlog suddenly gives me:

2003-02-15 16:08:25 18k4rZ-00005T-00 <= linux-kernel-owner+jah.pigeon=40ukonline.co.uk@vger.kernel.org H=localhost [] U=pigeon P=esmtp S=3392 id=20030215100424.A20365@flint.arm.linux.org.uk
2003-02-15 16:08:25 18k4rX-00005T-01 => pigeon@pigeon.pigeonloft R=lookuphost T=remote_smtp H=pigeon.pigeonloft []
2003-02-15 16:08:25 18k4rX-00005T-01 Completed
2003-02-15 16:08:27 18k4ra-00005T-00 <= linux-kernel-owner+jah.pigeon=40ukonline.co.uk@vger.kernel.org H=localhost [] U=pigeon P=esmtp S=16886 id=20030215102341.GA11502@brodo.de
2003-02-15 16:08:27 18k4rZ-00005T-00 => pigeon@pigeon.pigeonloft R=lookuphost T=remote_smtp H=pigeon.pigeonloft []
2003-02-15 16:08:27 18k4rZ-00005T-00 Completed
# WTF are these next 2 lines all about???
2003-02-15 16:08:28 18k4ra-00005T-00 Remote host pigeon.pigeonloft [] closed connection after initial connection
2003-02-15 16:08:28 18k4ra-00005T-00 == pigeon@pigeon.pigeonloft T=remote_smtp defer (-19): Remote host pigeon.pigeonloft [] closed connection after initial connection
2003-02-15 16:08:30 18k4rc-00005T-00 <= linux-kernel-owner+jah.pigeon=40ukonline.co.uk@vger.kernel.org H=localhost [] U=pigeon P=esmtp S=18807 id=20030215102713.GB11502@brodo.de

At this point the dialup is still connected and nestie is still
downloading mails, but they aren't being forwarded to pigeon. Log
entries after this are full of "defer - retry time not reached".

If, once the dialup connection is closed, I try exim -qf to push the
messages on to pigeon, nothing happens apart from the log filling up
with "connection refused".

If I now reboot nestie and try exim -qf again, all the mails are
forwarded to pigeon quite happily, even though there are probably many
more than 40 (the number at which I first had the problem). This
suggests to me that the problem is not really pigeon refusing
connection, but nestie ceasing to be able to make the connection.
Running nestie's /etc/init.d/networking restart makes no difference.

On both machines exim.conf has smtp_accept_queue_per_connection set to

Does this look familiar to anyone? Where should I be looking for the


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