Amy Alexander on Sat, 20 May 2000 17:44:54 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> OFSS01: First Orbiten Free Software Survey]

On Sat, 20 May 2000, Heiko Recktenwald wrote:

> > notoriously difficult-to-use open source programs. (Although most desktop
> > users don't currently need to use sendmail, running one's own mail server
> > (that's what sendmail is) can have some privacy and diskspace advantages.)
> Also one of the most powerfull. All linux and FBSD people have it
> installed, its difficult to configure, you need to use the m4 thing, but
> once this has been done (see the FBSD "handbook" file), you can forget it.
> Well, there are other smtp programms, but you'll need an smtp server if
> you want to use Pine or whatever like Eudora. Writing mail whenever you
> want and send it when you are connected. I think if you use a permanently
> connected machine, no modem, ppp etc, sendmail works out of the box, if
> there wasnt ORBS and those other bad guys....
Well, yes, but, already you've mentioned several things that people
without Unix admin experience wouldn't understand, and could get pretty
overwhelmed trying to learn it. And sendmail tends to work
out of the box, except when you need to do something a little
different.. (if a newbie were running a
server with more than one DNS A record (i.e. a server that has more than
one name...) how would s/he figure out why sendmail was bouncing all the
mail to the new names? (That was pretty scary the first time it happened
to me. :-) )

I think the new version is supposed to pass the ORBS test out of the box,
but I'm not sure. (for the list people: ORBS is a group that goes around
remotely testing mail servers to see if they can be used to relay spam by
third-parties, and if your server fails they put you on a blacklist that
is supposedly blocked by some receiving mail servers, to pressure you to
fix your server so it can't relay spam anymore... but, scary stuff if you
arenew to sendmail... )

I initially didn't want to make a big example of sendmail, because in the
thread we were discussing the more conventional end-user apps; most users
do have access already to an SMTP server, and sendmail was never really
designed for end-users - so it's not totally fair to complain about its
ease-of-use.  However, since we're on the subject, I think that sendmail
could and probably should be a useful end-user app, for the
diskspace/confidentiality issues I mentioned before:

For example, an individual or group may want to run their own mail/web
server to host a discussion group with a web archive. This can be very
useful, for example, for those times when someone accidentally posts
something to the group that has some degree of confidentiality that should
not be archived on the web for the public to see; you can delete it from
the archive if you are adminning your own machine. Also, semi-private
discussion groups can take place on a server more confidently if the group
members are running the server. You still have to worry about general
network security/privacy issues, but, it's a lot better than running it on
an outside server where the admins may well be reading everything that is
posted. For many situations (organizing protests within an institution,
e.g.), having that degree of control can make a big difference.


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