procmail keeps dieing on freebsd 5.4 with postfix

Matt Juszczak matt at
Wed Jun 15 17:42:28 GMT 2005

Appreciate the response :) Here's my message the way it should have been 

> Seriously though, you need to provide some more detailed information if
> you want anyone here to be able to help you. Start with explaining why
> you decided to change MDAs in the first place since I'm sure I'm not the
> only one thinking you must be nuts to make such a major change on a
> production system with a potential 3000-user lynch mob waiting in the
> wings. What were you using for local delivery before this? Was there a
> problem with it or were you looking for new features, etc.?

We are currently moving to a new mail server that is FreeBSD-based.  Our 
old mail server is a chrooted slackware box that hasn't been upgraded in 
years because no one even had access to it for a while (the management of 
the company I work for used to stink, its better now).  Our new mail 
server has 3000 accounts on it, that are active, but only about 50 of them 
are actually functioning (one of our virtual domains).  We haven't 
switched the MX record for our main ISP yet, we're waiting to make sure 
the box is stable first.  So to answer your question, there is only about 
a 50-user lynch mob and most of those users are internal to our ISP 
(employees, etc.).... I would not make a change on something that had more 
live users, especially paying customers.

Our current mail server supports procmail, and we have about 50 users who 
use it.  Therefore, thats why I was turning it on on the new server. 
We're working on basically mirroring the old server to the new one and 
making sure that our change will be swift and efficient.  I've considered 
using postfix's internal LDA and just calling procmail from inside a 
.forward file for those users who need it/want it ... this might end up 
fixing the problems.

> If you're not around to see the console messages how do you know
> "procmail is always the error causer"? Perhaps this is conveyed to you
> by your co-workers but if so, why don't they tell you the complete error
> message so you can convey it to us? Leaving that aside, however, what
> about the logs? Certainly /var/log/maillog should provide some clues if
> the problem is really your MDA (more on this below). Also we'd need to
> know something about your configuration (i.e. contents of and
> for starters) to help you with a MTA/MDA problem.

Its happened twice now.  The first time this problem happened was late at 
night, about 2 days after I made the change to the LDA.  The machine would 
not respond to ping, and nagios was alerting us like crazy that the box 
was down.  The machine was non-responsive to the keyboard, and the console 
had a "dump" on it, about 15 lines long, with procmail written all over 

I turned procmail off after rebooting the machine, running fsck, restoring 
postfix to a functioning state, etc.  Procmail remained disabled for about 
three weeks, in which the box ran fine.  Yesterday afternoon we switched 
the LDA back to procmail, and the machine ran fine over night.  On my way 
into work today, I got paged that the box was down from nagios and called. 
The tech that was here rebooted the machine, but before he did he said, 
in his own words "There was a bunch of crap on the screen with procmail 
this and procmail that, and the machine was locked hard.".  I've disabled 
procmail again and it seems to be running stable.

As far as logs, nothing.... the maillog cuts out at 11:14 AM and cuts back 
in at 11:21 AM, with no "errors" in between.

> FWIW this doesn't sound like a software issue (except maybe a massive
> memory leak(??)) but then again, I'm saying this with very little useful
> information provided by you. Have you done any basic hardware checks
> (e.g. memtest, case and cpu cooling, power supply integrity, etc.)?

Yes, the machine has been checked.  We ran memtest on it, etc., with no 
problems.  The machine is about 2 months old; however, so its passed its 
burn in test but could have issues, but I doubt thats the problem.

> You've stated that these lock-ups occur every week at the beginning of 
> your post then you say later it's every couple of days. Which is it? 
> Also, please try to precisely define "locking up" and "crashes". It's 
> unclear to me based on your description and the (possibly misleading) 
> subject line what portions of the system are affected. Precision matters 

See above.  Its occured twice in a one month span but most of that time 
procmail was not running.  It occurs usually within 24-48 hours of 
switching procmail back on.

Thanks, hope this helps a little more!


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