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Re: The Unix Philosophy (was Re: POP3 mail fetcher that supports unreliable connections?)

On 2003-11-06 09:31:35 -0700, Nate Duehr wrote:
> Sounds like what you want is better communication with your sysadmin?
> If the sysadmin knows you're using fetchmail and they're good, they'll 
> let you know if they're going to break your setup.  Or they'll warn you 
> they're making an MTA change.  Hell, they should be doing that anyway -- 
> system changes should be announced.

It seems that you don't live in the real world. Communication isn't
even always good between the sysadmins themselves.

But I think that for communication between sysadmins and users, there
is a real resource problem (too few sysadmins for too many people),
and they won't have the time to communicate for everything and to make
sure that there won't be problems for any individual user. So, many
users (like me) prefer to administrate their machines than leaving
that to the sysadmins, even if it is not our job (unfortunately, this
is not possible everywhere).

> Fetchmail does work, and if the system is left alone, won't break.

Too many people have lost mail with fetchmail. Even if this is partly
their fault, software shouldn't assume that the system is correctly
configured (well, at least they should detect configuration problems)
when handling important data. It is very easy to make mistakes in the

I also had lost mail (at the local level) with fetchmail + sendmail,
which I configured: messages from one POP3 mailbox were received as
expected, but not messages from another POP3 mailbox (at another ISP),
though they were downloaded. I hadn't put any filter or whatever. How
do you explain that?

Moreover a MTA may reject mail by default (e.g. when detecting loops).
This is not what I want when using a POP3 fetcher. I just want mail to
be fetched, with no verification at all.

> You're again blaming someone else for your configuration error again. 
> It's not the sysadmin's fault.  You chose fetchmail and configured it. 
> Did you communicate that choice of how you get your mail to the 
> sysadmin?  Do they approve of such a configuration.

Why would the sysadmin bother with user-level problems? There are enough
system-level problems that take months to be fixed...

> I don't know of any sysadmins who've made local MTA changes ever
> that would break fetchmail, but perhaps you have run into it because
> of lack of communication.

You just have an example above, where even without needing any
communication, mail may be lost.

> If what you want is "just works - always" then you need your own
> mail server you control and configure. That's not difficult to get.
> Dump fetchmail, fire up your MTA of choice and go for it. Then when
> you have users on your systems someday you can forget to announce an
> MTA change to them too! ;-)

This does not work always: see the example above.

Vincent Lefèvre <vincent@vinc17.org> - Web: <http://www.vinc17.org/> - 100%
validated (X)HTML - Acorn Risc PC, Yellow Pig 17, Championnat International
des Jeux Mathématiques et Logiques, TETRHEX, etc.
Work: CR INRIA - computer arithmetic / SPACES project at LORIA

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