Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess - Debian

This is a discussion on Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess - Debian ; Hi! Noticing among others this bug report http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=322751 and observing the many packages depending on $MTA | mail-transport-agent with $MTA having values like postfix, exim, exim4, sendmail, nullmailer and probably others. And some packages just depending on mail-transport-agent without providing ...

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Thread: Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

  1. Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

    Hi!

    Noticing among others this bug report
    http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=322751 and observing the
    many packages depending on $MTA | mail-transport-agent with $MTA having
    values like postfix, exim, exim4, sendmail, nullmailer and probably others.
    And some packages just depending on mail-transport-agent without providing a
    preferred.

    The latter, just depending on mail-transport-agent, makes apt, at least
    currently, pick the package first in the alphabet providing m-t-a. (A bit
    ago, this was courier. now it is citadel). This definately needs fixing, but
    why not sort everything out while we are at it?

    I think something needs to be done somewhere. There is several solutions,
    among others the following:

    1) Exim4 is currently the default installed MTA. So any package requiring a
    MTA should depend on exim4 | mail-transport-agent. Defined by policy and all
    packages should be fixed to this.

    2) Introduce a default-mta package (currently) depending on exim4. All
    packages requiring a MTA should depend on default-mta | mail-transport-agent.
    This will have the extra advantage that we (and others like CDDs and derived
    distros) easily could swap default MTA.

    3) do the real ugly hack and invent a aaaaa-m-t-a depending on the default mta

    Any comments? Depending on the outcome, I guess I will take this to
    either -policy or tech-ctte or wherever required.

    And please please please. Don't take this into a flamewar about which MTA
    should be the one installed by default.

    /Sune


    Some stats:
    $ grep-dctrl -FDepends -sDepends
    mail-transport-agent /var/lib/apt/lists/*unstable*Packages |
    sed -e's/Depends:\( .*,\)\?\([^,]*mail-transport-agent\).*/\2/' | sort |
    uniq -c
    6 exim | mail-transport-agent
    135 exim4 | mail-transport-agent
    6 exim4 | postfix | sendmail | mail-transport-agent
    3 exim4-daemon-light | mail-transport-agent
    15 mail-transport-agent
    3 nullmailer | mail-transport-agent
    33 postfix | mail-transport-agent
    3 sendmail (>= 8.9) | mail-transport-agent
    9 sendmail | mail-transport-agent
    3 sendmail | postfix | exim4 | mail-transport-agent
    6 sendmail-bin | mail-transport-agent
    3 ssmtp | mail-transport-agent
    --
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    iD8DBQBILKwWnMvaFgH6i0oRAmLhAJ9lR8uvkw+0XR9tRGGm+K uJC1qCXACff1pO
    aF/fne/iq/cFreHWLO5xZRk=
    =1fAw
    -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----


  2. Re: Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

    On Thu May 15 2008 14:33:04 Sune Vuorela wrote:
    > The latter, just depending on mail-transport-agent, makes apt, at least
    > currently, pick the package first in the alphabet providing m-t-a. (A bit
    > ago, this was courier. now it is citadel). This definately needs fixing,
    > but why not sort everything out while we are at it?


    All of the MTA's provide mail-transport-agent. I had assumed that apt
    would choose between them on the basis that exim4-daemon-light is the
    only provider with priority standard, the others being optional or extra.

    If apt does not consider package priorities in resolving disjunctions,
    a possible solution would be for apt to do so.

    --Mike Bird


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  3. Re: Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

    Mike Bird writes:

    > All of the MTA's provide mail-transport-agent. I had assumed that apt
    > would choose between them on the basis that exim4-daemon-light is the
    > only provider with priority standard, the others being optional or extra.
    >
    > If apt does not consider package priorities in resolving disjunctions,
    > a possible solution would be for apt to do so.


    +1

    This solution seems superior to my next choice, the introduction of a
    'sensible-mta' package (to be used much as the OP's suggestion of
    'default-mta').

    --
    \ "Ice Water? Get some onions - that'll make your eyes water!" |
    `\ -- Groucho Marx |
    _o__) |
    Ben Finney


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  4. Re: Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

    On Thu, May 15, 2008 at 11:33:04PM +0200, Sune Vuorela wrote:

    > Noticing among others this bug report
    > http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=322751 and observing the
    > many packages depending on $MTA | mail-transport-agent with $MTA having
    > values like postfix, exim, exim4, sendmail, nullmailer and probably others.
    > And some packages just depending on mail-transport-agent without providing a
    > preferred.


    > The latter, just depending on mail-transport-agent, makes apt, at least
    > currently, pick the package first in the alphabet providing m-t-a. (A bit
    > ago, this was courier. now it is citadel). This definately needs fixing, but
    > why not sort everything out while we are at it?


    > I think something needs to be done somewhere. There is several solutions,
    > among others the following:


    > 1) Exim4 is currently the default installed MTA. So any package requiring a
    > MTA should depend on exim4 | mail-transport-agent. Defined by policy and all
    > packages should be fixed to this.


    > 2) Introduce a default-mta package (currently) depending on exim4. All
    > packages requiring a MTA should depend on default-mta | mail-transport-agent.
    > This will have the extra advantage that we (and others like CDDs and derived
    > distros) easily could swap default MTA.


    I believe that 2) is the correct option, and can see no reason that it
    shouldn't be implemented straight away.

    --
    Steve Langasek Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
    Debian Developer to set it on, and I can move the world.
    Ubuntu Developer http://www.debian.org/
    slangasek@ubuntu.com vorlon@debian.org


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  5. Re: Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

    Steve Langasek writes:

    > On Thu, May 15, 2008 at 11:33:04PM +0200, Sune Vuorela wrote:
    >
    > > 2) Introduce a default-mta package (currently) depending on exim4.
    > > All packages requiring a MTA should depend on default-mta |
    > > mail-transport-agent. This will have the extra advantage that we
    > > (and others like CDDs and derived distros) easily could swap
    > > default MTA.

    >
    > I believe that 2) is the correct option, and can see no reason that it
    > shouldn't be implemented straight away.


    If 'default-mta' is renamed to 'sensible-mta' to follow the existing
    convention (evidenced by 'sensible-editor', etc.), I agree.

    --
    \ "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, |
    `\ neat, and wrong." -- Henry L. Mencken |
    _o__) |
    Ben Finney


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  6. Re: Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

    On Fri, May 16, 2008 at 10:53:03AM +1000, Ben Finney wrote:
    > Steve Langasek writes:


    > > On Thu, May 15, 2008 at 11:33:04PM +0200, Sune Vuorela wrote:


    > > > 2) Introduce a default-mta package (currently) depending on exim4.
    > > > All packages requiring a MTA should depend on default-mta |
    > > > mail-transport-agent. This will have the extra advantage that we
    > > > (and others like CDDs and derived distros) easily could swap
    > > > default MTA.


    > > I believe that 2) is the correct option, and can see no reason that it
    > > shouldn't be implemented straight away.


    > If 'default-mta' is renamed to 'sensible-mta' to follow the existing
    > convention (evidenced by 'sensible-editor', etc.), I agree.


    That's not at all consistent with how sensible-foo is used in Debian today.
    sensible-editor and sensible-browser are /commands/ that are guaranteed to
    be available for other packages to use and which respect the user- and
    site-preferences; default-mta is not at all like this.

    --
    Steve Langasek Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
    Debian Developer to set it on, and I can move the world.
    Ubuntu Developer http://www.debian.org/
    slangasek@ubuntu.com vorlon@debian.org


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  7. Re: Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

    Steve Langasek writes:

    > sensible-editor and sensible-browser are /commands/


    Provided by the 'debianutils' package.

    > default-mta is not at all like this.


    You're right, I'm wrong. Thanks for clearing my confusion.

    --
    \ "Hey Homer! You're late for English!" "Pff! English, who needs |
    `\ that? I'm never going to England!" -- Barney & Homer, _The |
    _o__) Simpsons_ |
    Ben Finney


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  8. Re: Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

    On Thu, 15 May 2008, Steve Langasek wrote:
    > > 2) Introduce a default-mta package (currently) depending on exim4. All
    > > packages requiring a MTA should depend on default-mta | mail-transport-agent.
    > > This will have the extra advantage that we (and others like CDDs and derived
    > > distros) easily could swap default MTA.

    >
    > I believe that 2) is the correct option, and can see no reason that it
    > shouldn't be implemented straight away.


    +1 from me. I have also seen this precise suggestion been made on an
    Ubuntu list as well since they have postfix as default MTA.

    Cheers,
    --
    Raphaël Hertzog

    Le best-seller français mis à jour pour Debian Etch :
    http://www.ouaza.com/livre/admin-debian/


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  9. Re: Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

    On Thu, May 15, 2008 at 04:45:19PM -0700, Steve Langasek wrote:
    > > 2) Introduce a default-mta package (currently) depending on exim4. All
    > > packages requiring a MTA should depend on default-mta | mail-transport-agent.
    > > This will have the extra advantage that we (and others like CDDs and derived
    > > distros) easily could swap default MTA.

    >
    > I believe that 2) is the correct option, and can see no reason that it
    > shouldn't be implemented straight away.


    AOL

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  10. Re: Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

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  11. Re: Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

    * Sune Vuorela

    | 3) do the real ugly hack and invent a aaaaa-m-t-a depending on the default mta

    FWIW, aa sorts together with å (after x, y, z, æ and ø (or ø and æ, in
    da_DK, I think)) in some locales, so that might not be the best
    choice.

    --
    Tollef Fog Heen
    UNIX is user friendly, it's just picky about who its friends are


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  12. Re: Sorting out mail-transport-agent mess

    On a related note


    If I dood it, I get a whipping. I dood it.


    What about the possibility of MTA/MSP alternatives - I'd like to
    support the next generation sendmail (Meta - used to be SM x) -
    a very postfix like design for enhanced security.

    I recall RH, or a deriviative that supported multiple MTAs being
    installed concurrently via alternatives.

    For quite a while, Meta was only usable for an outgoing MTA, and
    was missinge milter support (making it unusable, IMNSHO for inbound)
    so I did some prelimiary work to support this in the sendmail package,
    there would need be much infrastructure suppport to make this feasible.

    --
    Rick Nelson
    "Even more amazing was the realization that God has Internet access. I
    wonder if He has a full newsfeed?"
    (By Matt Welsh)


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