Mail server recomendations (was: is the list the right place toask?)

Jeffrey Goldberg jeffrey at
Mon Feb 12 15:06:54 UTC 2007

[I had originally meant to post this to the list, but had mailed it  
the individual poster instead (who send a very nice reply)]

On Feb 10, 2007, at 10:04 PM, Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

> I would caution anyone against using the alternatives.  There are a  
> lot of people that use them successfully, but sendmail is far more  
> popular in terms of total installs - this is no doubt because it is  
> used in the larger mail servers on the Internet, and the  
> alternatives are more used on home or small servers.

I should point out that exim is used by large ISPs (mostly in Europe)  
and during its development had a great deal of input from what was  
then the largest ISP in the UK.

Postfix is used by and other dedicated mail providers.

> The reason you want to use Sendmail is that once you learn how to  
> use it, that is knowledge that you have a much higher chance of re- 
> using in the future.

A few years ago I would have said the same thing.  Indeed when I set  
up MTAs for clients I went with sendmail because my clients would  
have a broader base of support if I were to be run over by a bus.

But I feel that that has changed.  And the advantages of exim or  
postfix are strong enough and there is a growing base of people with  
experience with them, particularly postfix.

Sendmail suffers from its extreme age and in the distant environment  
in which it was developed.  Sendmail does things with its  
configuration file ((2)821) address parsing for example) that should  
be hard coded, while it hard codes things (like the 1 second  
throttling increment) that should be in a configuration file.

The big plus for sendmail is milters.  This is a plug-in system that  
I find extremely valuable.

Anyway, I'm not going to recommend one above the other.  The original  
poster can't really go wrong with either sendmail, exim or postfix.   
I'm in the process of setting up postfix because that host's mail  
will almost entirely be as a list server and mailman integration  
seems best with postfix (which I want to learn anyway).

I just don't find the "sendmail is everywhere" case as strong as I  
used to.  I should also say that when running mail at a small  
university, moving from sendmail to exim in the 1990s was such  
relief.  Even with all of the m4 stuff, sendmail is much harder to  
maintain and configure than either exim or postfix.


Jeffrey Goldberg              

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