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"sendmail Cookbook": Timesaving Recipes Ease sendmail Configuration Woes

January 6, 2004

Sebastopol, CA--More often than not, the words "sendmail configuration" strike dread in the hearts of sendmail and system administrators--and not without reason. sendmail configuration languages are as complex as any other programming languages, but used much more infrequently--only when sendmail is installed or configured. The average system administrator doesn't get enough practice to truly master this inscrutable technology.

Fortunately, there's help. The sendmail Cookbook (O'Reilly, US $44.95) by Craig Hunt provides step-by-step solutions for the administrator who needs to solve configuration problems quickly. Suppose you need to configure sendmail to relay mail for your clients without creating an open relay that will be abused by spammers. A recipe in the Cookbook shows you how to do just that. No more wading through pages of dense documentation and tutorials to create a custom solution--just go directly to the recipe that addresses your specific problem.

The fact that the "sendmail Cookbook" provides quick answers to common problems is of critical importance to system administrators, says Hunt. "The one thing that most system administrators do not have enough of is time," he explains. "They're swamped with other work and have very little time to devote to sendmail. They certainly don't have time to read a book-length tutorial or study the details in a sendmail reference. This book is for the busy administrator who needs to solve a problem fast."

Each recipe in the "sendmail Cookbook" outlines a configuration problem, presents the configuration code that solves that problem, and then explains the code in detail. The discussion of the code is critical because it provides the insight administrators need to tweak the code for their own circumstances.

"Readers should understand that the recipes in this book are complete solutions," Hunt notes. "Some cookbooks show an individual command outside of the context of a fully functioning program and describe how that command solves the stated problem. Readers then need to integrate that command into their own programs to test the effect of the command on the program. Because m4 sendmail configurations are short enough for a recipe to contain a complete configuration, this book can take a different approach--a reader can literally type in the recipe exactly as shown in the book to produce a complete, operational configuration that can be tested as described in the discussion section following the recipe. This means that readers can evaluate the effect without modifying the server's real configuration."

The "sendmail Cookbook" begins with an overview of the configuration languages, offering a quick how-to for downloading and compiling the sendmail distribution. This is followed with a baseline configuration recipe upon which many of the subsequent configurations, or recipes, in the book are based. Recipes in the following chapters stand on their own and offer solutions for properly configuring important sendmail functions such as:

  • Delivering and forwarding mail
  • Relaying
  • Masquerading
  • Routing mail
  • Controlling spam
  • Strong authentication
  • Securing the mail transport
  • Managing the queue
  • Securing sendmail
  • "sendmail Cookbook" is more than just a new approach to discussing sendmail configuration. The book also provides lots of new material that doesn't get much coverage elsewhere--STARTTLS and AUTH are given entire chapters, and LDAP is covered in recipes throughout the book. But most of all, this book is about saving time. Pick up the "sendmail Cookbook" and say good-bye to sendmail dread.

    Additional Resources:

    sendmail Cookbook
    Craig Hunt
    ISBN 0-596-00471-0, 408 pages, $44.95 US, $65.95 CA, 31.95 UK
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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