A Welcome Nightmare

After receiving two rather patronising emails from Del Monte this morning, I decided it was time to investigate. Why were game server customers not receiving their welcome emails?

I installed Sendmail in a hurry on Agatha (our 2nd web server) a short while ago via a RPM debian install. It failed to start first time, so after some sendmail.mc tweaking, it happily started. We did not need it before, you see, as there were no applications running on the machine that needed the facility to send outgoing mail. Now, however, we have automatic game server installations on the go, and as such customers need their welcome emails with control panel login info and the sort. Del Monte tested the system and found he didn’t receive his welcome email. He was not happpy.

After looking through the Sendmail config files, and finding that there were no obvious issues, I decided to look at the mail.log file. I was greeted with 3453 lines of deferred relay denied, connection refused errors. Joy.
You can telnet to the machine locally, the hostnames are correctly configured, the access.db file is set to relay local mail and the config files are all set. So what on earth is causing the increasingly large mail queue to fail to send?

Thanks goes out to Rob at Bluesquare for fixing this one! It seems a blind squirrel does sometimes find a nut ;o)
All emails in the queue (mainly customer welcome emails) have now been sent successfully. Apologies to customers kept waiting in the dark!

This is what Rob had to say:
By default the local submission agent (as configured in submit.cf/submit.mc) talks to localhost on port 573, but it wasn’t set up to listen on that port. I went into /etc/mail/sendmail.mc and added another daemon options line to set up another MTA port on 573 on localhost and then ran ‘make’ to regenerate sendmail.cf


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4 Responses to A Welcome Nightmare

  1. I’d like to point out that the configuration change I made is in fact slightly incorrect; by my limited understanding of sendmail (oh please kill me) it should in fact be an MSA port, rather than an MTA port, but in the heat of the moment I didn’t do that. It seems to work, but I think MSA ports do a different set of checks on the mail.

    Sendmail isn’t my preferred choice of MTA (I prefer the ‘writing small notes and post-it-ing them to the person’s forehead’ school of message delivery’), so I beg pardon for this lapse and when convenient I’ll pop in and change it.

    I still maintain any software that has a configuration file that looks *like that* (sendmail users will know what I mean) cannot have been designed by anyone entirely sane.

    Just in case any pedants are reading ;-) .

  2. Del Monte says:

    Well done Rob & Carl for fixing the issues.

    Keep in mind that Del Monte was not being patronising but truthful.

    If Del Monte had not tested the system it may not have been noticed by staff but rather 100′s of angry customers.

  3. Olly says:

    TBH, as much a you test, test and test more, it always still goes wrong.

    Great it’s all fixed now. It’s giving us a lot more time to spend on support…..and I’m getting to play more games :D

  4. Carl says:

    I had tested it and it worked (I forwarded the email it sent me to Olly as proof), but after someone rebooted the machine it went a bit crazy. Tis all working now tho =]

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