[linux-elitists] What is the Elite MTA?

tc lewis tcl@bunzy.net
Fri Mar 30 22:15:44 PST 2001

On Fri, 30 Mar 2001, Rick Moen wrote:
> First of all, just because providing this link has now become
> traditional in such discussions:  http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/faq/#djb

yeah, and every time i see this link i hang my head in shame that such a
public figure and hostname has stooped to the levels of name calling and
subjective arguments.

the arguments you present can be narrowed down to 2 types.  first, the
technical ones.  second, the licensing/free software arguments.  some
people don't care about the latter arguments at all.  some care about them
to a point.  some care about them very, very much.  pretty much all wise
men in technical fields should be considering the technical ones, however,
so let's examine those.

your first argument begins with insults to a small extent.  "Prof.
Bernstein's software is, first of all, pervaded by a bloody-minded
disregard for the rest of the world".  your example of this bloody-minded
disregard seems to come down to bugs/inefficiencies in other mtas, or
perhaps qmail being too efficient.  the insecure.org reference seems to be
not responding at the moment, so i can't go into great detail, but i'm
assuming this has something to do with a qmail client end opening a bunch
of connections to a sendmail/other smtp server end, and that server end
being overloaded.  and this "denial of service attack"'s solution, in your
opinion, seems to be to not use qmail on the client end.  since when is
server security ever managed on client ends?  invalid argument.

next comes your comments on his design, which i suppose is still in the
technical realm, even if the technicalities are subjective.  well, maybe
not.  let's examine.  "qmail's insistence that binary packages must
install all files including libraries, binaries, and configuration files
within /var/qmail, and the default alias database being scattered among
myriad tiny text files inside /var/qmail/aliases, all with names starting
with the string ".qmail-"."  afterwards, "(Nope, DJB-acolytes, I do know
all about fastforward.  As usual, you are missing the point, that one must
hunt down and add this as a modification and add-on to qmail proper.)".
so i guess i won't bother by responding with "you can change it" retorts.
unfortunately, it's a good retort for the /var/qmail argument.  "you can
change it" is used all the time.  sendmail doesn't install its files how
redhat's sendmail installs its files.  a fine example of "you can change
it" coming into play.  of course, the response at this point is "but the
[lack of] licensing prevents me from changing it", which falls under
non-technical arguments.  maybe it's still not easy to change some
/var/qmail stuff beyond that.  there are some patches out there of people
who have already done it.  that's probably not good enough for you.  i
guess i can't blame you.  i'm not sure how easy it is to move sendmail's
/var/spool/mqueue/ and /var/spool/mail/ directories.  i'm guessing it's
not cake.  as for the whatever/aliases/ argument, yes, that's how qmail
works.  sendmail works with /etc/aliases.  why should this even be an
argument?  "qmail is bad because it's not managed like sendmail".  boggle.
you even say, "Now, it might be argued that lots of small alias files are
somehow more efficient than /etc/aliases, but why should all their names
start with ".qmail-"?"  well, given a technical argument, efficiency would
certainly be my preference over naming conventions.  you disagree?  if so,
on what grounds?  on the grounds of it not being like sendmail?  i, again,
would consider that an invalid argument.  why are they named ".qmail-"?
to not conflict with any other mtas that may be present on the system.
i'd like to say "duh", but i'm trying to be objective here.  i guess it'd
be nice if that were configurable, but i don't really see why that would
be a huge issue.  at least in comparason to the things that actually
matter for mtas and delivery agents (such as efficiency, speed, security,
sensible design...).

the rest of your text is about licensing and non-technical issues (at
least the text related to qmail).  i don't care to discuss these again
right now.  judging by the size of this thread, it's probably already
being discussed.

speaking of which, i apologize in advance for responding to this without
reading all of this thread yet.  if i'm overlapping arguments, shoot me.


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