Switching to Postfix

After using qmail for years, I've finally decided that it's time to switch to something else. I really like qmail's general model and particularly like how its configuration files are handled, but it's accumulated enough issues that Postfix looks more attractive.

The main problem is backscatter spam. I've been adding various bogus addresses to qmail to discard all mail to them, but that hasn't kept up with the variety of crap that spammers are trying. As a result, I know I've been accepting a lot of mail and then bouncing it back to the (forged) envelope sender, and have been feeling rather bad about that. Postfix not only lets me avoid that for local recipients, it lets me avoid that for backup MX hosts as well (by keeping a record of which recipients are valid on the remote system). This is quite nice.

There are other problems with qmail as well, though. The weird licensing means I have to build it myself and not just use Debian packages, which I much prefer. Despite promises of qmail 2.0, it looks like qmail development is near-permanently stalled, and there are some features I'd like to have. And it's getting to the point where I want to plug in various spam detection or prevention add-ons, possibly including such things as greylisting or running SpamAssassin before delivery, and of course everything supports Postfix and not much supports qmail.

I could have stuck with qmail but switched to a different SMTP listener, and that would have resolved many of these problems, but it still would mean building my own qmail rather than using native packages.

I've switched windlord over to Postfix already. It only took me a couple of hours to write all of the configuration, rename my .qmail files, and test the oddities. If I find the time, I'll put together a web page listing the various issues that I ran into. Some things definitely aren't as nice -- the program interface is significantly inferior, the configuration syntax is much more complex and annoying, and I had to tweak several of the scripts I use to process mail.

Postfix isn't unambiguously better. If both packages had the same license and were both actively developed, I would definitely use qmail over Postfix, even if qmail had no additional features. The Postfix features aren't worth the annoying configuration and loss of good program functionality. But the backscatter problem is just huge now, and the longer I maintain Unix systems, the more important it is to me to be able to reuse other people's packaging work rather than constantly rolling my own.

Posted: 2005-06-25 17:36 — Why no comments?

Yay Postfix!

How is the configuration annoying? I probably just haven't dug into it too deeply.

Posted by rone at 2005-06-25 20:59

There are tons of different options and tons of configuration for things that I don't actually want to configure. That also means Postfix is more flexible, I know, but I want to be able to read through all the config options and figure out which ones I need. There are a lot of configuration options that should never be set, but I also couldn't find a good alternative to reading through postconf(5) to figure out what I needed to do, since I have some mildly complex mail routing and want to preserve some qmailisms (like - as a recipient separator).

Plus, there's master.cf, which is just strange and intimidating.

It's certainly much better than sendmail, but I loved the qmail configuration system and found it very clean and well-documented. Postfix is thoroughly documented, but that's not quite the same thing.

But partly it's just that I know qmail exceptionally well, and with time I'll get used to Postfix.

Posted by eagle at 2005-06-25 21:33

Last spun 2013-07-01 from thread modified 2013-01-04