Why is sendmail is part of the system and not a package?

Ian Smith smithi at nimnet.asn.au
Fri Oct 30 08:44:59 UTC 2009

In freebsd-questions Digest, Vol 282, Issue 14, Message 14
On Thu, 29 Oct 2009 14:58:54 -0500 (CDT) Lars Eighner <luvbeastie at larseighner.com> wrote:
 > On Thu, 29 Oct 2009, Ruben de Groot wrote:
 > > sendmail is NOT a legacy application. It's actively being developed
 > > ON FreeBSD. Actually, the maintainer(s) are doing a great job
 > Bullshit.


 > Why does sendmail call up the internet during boot?  If it needs to know who
 > it is, why can't it look in hosts?

See the section: WHO AM I? in /usr/src/contrib/sendmail/cf/README 
(assuming you haven't deleted the documentation from your system)

 > Since it cannot be trusted to send mail, what does it need to know
 > from the internet?

The first clause reflects an opinion you apparently formed many years 
ago from which you seem determined not to let any contrary indications 
dissuade you.  I certainly trust sendmail to send mail - who to accept 
mail from is always the far greater issue - though after only 11+ years 
using FreeBSD, I clearly haven't your depth of experience.

 > It has been horribly broken for the 15 years or so that I have run FBSD,

What was the last version of sendmail you actually used?  Sure 8.8 was a 
bear to configure against spam back in '98; I almost succumbed to buying 
the book back then, but always found what I needed here, by searching or 
at sendmail.org.  Since FreeBSD ~4.5 I've done just fine using 'make'.
(cd /etc/mail; ee access; make maps) is my usual extent of maintenance.

 > and this m4 stuff is a pile of crap.

Works here :) though I just let 'make' hide all of the gritty stuff.

 > There is no documentation whatsoever.

Re-sup your sources?  There's plenty here, and the abovementioned README 
contains just about everything I've ever needed to configure sendmail.

Mail is never going to be any trivial one-conf-fits-all service and 
requires some study, with at least a slightly open attitude.

 > Unless you buy a book from O'Reilly and line the pockets of the 
 > "maintainer(s)."  Why can't it be a option to configure the system 
 > without it?  Not any money in that, is there?

Maybe a systems programming background helped, but since ~'02 I've felt 
no further need to explore the intricacies of sendmail.cf tinkering.

Others here affirm that you can indeed configure FreeBSD not to use 
sendmail, or any mailer, but I've never had a need so can't comment.

There's an old folk song you may have come across that pretty well 
covers the best approach to fixing any such perceived brokenness:


cheers, Ian

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