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qmail John Levine
Published by O'Reilly Media
248 pages
£ 24.95
Published: 2nd April 2004
reviewed by Lindsay Marshall
   in the June 2004 issue (pdf), (html)

Deciding on an MTA is, of course, a deeply serious and important, religious matter. There are those who swear by Sendmail, the one true faith, but more common are those who swear at Sendmail and move to Postfix, Exim or qmail. Even more common are people who no interest at all in the MTA that they have to use and leave that kind of thing to other people. If you are one of the latter then this book will be of no interest to at all, so you can stop reading this review now. Indeed, this is also true for devotees of Sendmail, Postfix and Exim who only agree on their hatred of qmail and will have no truck with heresy. However, if you have looked at all the MTAs and have decided to go with qmail, then this book might well be of interest to you. I only say might because there doesn't seem to be much in the book that you can't find on the net. Nevertheless, the print copy does have the advantage that everything is one place (Doh! obviously Ed.), there are a few more examples, and there is a stylistic homogeneity which makes the reading easier than trying to get to grips with different webpages.

The big question is do you actually need this book? Many people who run qmail do so because it is extremely easy to setup, is pretty secure, and once you have it running you may never need to touch it again if your surrounding environment doesn't change drastically. (I don't want to get into the issues about why you may not want to run qmail). I run qmail on three machines which don't need complex mail setups, their installations are essentially clones of each other and I've not had to change anything for years. Recently I wanted to add a new mail feature to one of my systems (don't ask) and had a small amount of trouble working out how to achieve what I wanted. I eventually found the answer via the net and trial and error: looking at this book, I don't think that it would have helped me, so I am even less convinced of its necessity.

As always with O'Reilly the book is well produced and the technical content is accurate, but I cannot in all honesty say that you need to have it if you want to install and run qmail : it will sit on your shelf unread until you move office. For completists only.

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