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Linux System Administration

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Book Reviews 74

Bob Uhl writes "I've just finished reading a review copy of O'Reilly's latest GNU/Linux title, Linux System Administration. It's a handy introduction for the beginner GNU/Linux sysadmin, and a useful addition to an experienced sysadmin's bookshelf. The book is essentially a survey of various Linux system-administration tasks: installing Debian; setting up LAMP; configuring a load-balancing, high-availability environment; working with virtualization. None of the chapters are in-depth examinations of their subjects; rather, they're enough to get you started and familiar with the concepts involved, and headed in the right direction." Read below for the rest of Bob's review.

I like this approach, as it increases the likelihood that any particular admin will be able to use the material presented. I've been working with Apache for almost a decade now, but I've not done any virtualization; some other fellow may have played with Linux for supercomputing, but never done any web serving with it; we both can use the chapters which cover subjects new to us.

I really like some of the choices the authors made. A lot of GNU/Linux 'administration' books focus on GUI tools — I've seen some which don't even bother addressing the command line! I've long said that if one isn't intimately familiar with the shell — if one cannot get one's job done with it — then one isn't really a sysadmin. Linux System Administration approaches nearly everything from the CLI, right from the get-go.

The authors also deserve praise for showing, early on, how to replace Sendmail with Postfix. In 2007, there's very, very little reason to use Sendmail: unless you know why you need it, you almost certainly don't. Postfix is more stable and far more secure.

Another nice thing is how many alternatives are showcased: Xen & VMware; Debian, Fedora & Xandros; CIFS/SMB & NFS; shell, Perl, PHP & Python and so forth. One really great advantage of Unix in general and GNU/Linux in particular is choice — it's good to see a reference work which implicitly acknowledges that.

The authors are also pretty good about calling out common pitfalls — several got me, once upon a time. It'd have been nice to have had a book like this when I was cutting my teeth...

Lastly, I liked that the authors & their editor weren't afraid to refer readers to books from other publishers, in addition to O'Reilly's (uniformly excellent) offerings. Not all publishers would be so forthright; O'Reilly merits recognition for their openness.

The book's not quite perfect, though. I wish that PostgreSQL had at least been mentioned as a more powerful, more stable (and often faster in practice) alternative to MySQL, and one doesn't actually need to register a domain in order to set up static IP addressing. Still, these are pretty minor quibbles.

I'd say that the ideal audience for this book is a small-to-medium business admin who'd like to start using Linux, or who already is but doesn't really feel confident yet. It covers enough categories that at least a few are likely to be relevant. Even an experienced admin will probably find some useful stuff in here.


You can purchase Linux System Administration from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Pitfalls.... (4, Insightful)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468383)

The authors are also pretty good about calling out common pitfalls -- several got me, once upon a time. It'd have been nice to have had a book like this when I was cutting my teeth...

I bet you never forgot the problem again. That's the thing, by researching these problems, you come across similar problems and pitfalls and you learn more looking it up.

The second thing is, many times, these pitfalls disappear after a release or so, so having them documented in a book that's updated after several releases can be a waste. On the other hand, when you have a boss/customer breathing down your neck, learning be damned, you got to get this sucker up and running!

Re:Pitfalls.... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468477)

Then again, you might fall into the trap of having to administer an older version of a system where the flaw is still extant. Never hurts to have that knowledge at your fingertips (I personally have been keeping O'Reilly in business for the past few years) and I think that even if a pitfall gets programmed out, there may be resonances of it in the current release or perhaps in a different distro altogether.

sendmail vs postfix (3, Insightful)

rossz (67331) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468385)

Postfix is more stable and far more secure.


Excuse me? Based on what? I would have been able to accept the argument that "postfix is easier to configure than sendmail", but questioning the security of sendmail is complete bullshit. In the last 10 years sendmail has had how many critical security flaws?

Re:sendmail vs postfix (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468405)

Based upon past history.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468765)

Based upon past history.


Well, duh. The future history hasn't happened yet!

Re:sendmail vs postfix (-1, Offtopic)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 7 years ago | (#19469337)

Based upon past history.
How is this flamebait? How come if this had been said about Microsoft products, it would have been considered insightful?

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 7 years ago | (#19474865)

Based upon past history.
How is this flamebait? How come if this had been said about Microsoft products, it would have been considered insightful?
Based upon past history.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1, Interesting)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19471403)

Bad moderation at its finest. Believe it or not, people with opinions you don't like or even unpopular opinions are not trolls or flamebait. Sendmail has a terrible security record.

The tally of security flaws is a lousy metric. First you have to question severity and ease of exploit. Then you have to debate whether finding more flaws means more vigilant and effective bug fixing and therefore raises the bar to exploit the application (my inclination) or it means the program is less secure because it had less flaws (I don't buy this, every program has flaws).

The reality is that the count of flaws found and patched is not a useful metric of security. Beyond all the conditions that can completely change the meaning of those exploit counts is the fact the number of flaws reported and patched is NOT how many flaws the program had. The kid who hacked your server and stole 10,000 credit cards successfully did so with unreported exploit and probably covered his tracks so that you will never know.

The most useful metric I have found is actual in the wild exploitation. Every remotely compromised *nix system I have ever seen (I'm not counting social engineering or password guessing of course) was compromised via Sendmail or bind. Exploited or not I rarely see a securely configured sendmail due to the complexity of configuration and since that complexity doesn't bring added function over competitors like postfix it is fair to call it a critical flaw.

There are replacements for sendmail that scale as well, perform as well, have no greater number of security holes, and are equally flexible. I'm sorry old hat sendmail gurus who put time and effort into mastering sendmail fu but the only excuse you could have for using sendmail in modern times is a desire for job security. That said, there are still zillions of sendmail installations out there.

Unfortunately, I am unaware of a replacement for bind that is as stable, scalable and flexible. There are many that have great security track records and can lap bind on the racetrack time and again but security issues or no I don't anything else is ready to support the structure of the internet.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (-1, Offtopic)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19472285)

People with opinions you don't like are not 'overrated' either. Slashdot would be better off without the overrated and underrated moderations.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (0)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468489)

Results 1 - 10 of about 137,000 for sendmail critical security flaws. (0.11 seconds) http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=sendmail+crit ical+security+flaws&btnG=Search [google.com]

Re:sendmail vs postfix (2, Funny)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468579)

Results 1 - 10 of about 1,030,000 for google is unreliable. (0.06 seconds) http://www.google.com/search?q=google+is+unreliabl e [google.com]

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468641)

yes I know, most of those results are of various other permutations but the point is the same, sendmail has had security flaws just like anything else, it is just a matter of the magnitude.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

gkhan1 (886823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19476611)

So google was right! It is unreliable!

But wait... if google is unreliable... how can it... hmm...

I wonder what the Gödel number for "Google is unreliable" is?

Re:sendmail vs postfix (5, Interesting)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468529)

Inability to set up Sendmail properly is in and of itself a security risk. You may quib that any admin who cannot set up Sendmail properly shouldn't be an admin, but this elitist attitude is counterintuitive.

The variety of responsibility is different within any organization, from 10 employees to 10,000, there is a huge variability of skillsets required. Do you think a small home business grossing $10,000 monthly can afford to hire an admin who would take at least half of that? Like it or not, open source software is a huge boon to small businesses and we should strive to empower them with easy to use software, not bash them for not hiring better administrators.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468607)

Inability to set up Sendmail properly is in and of itself a security risk

The same can be said about qmail

Re:sendmail vs postfix (2, Insightful)

kyliaar (192847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19470485)

I run sendmail for my organizations inbound mail service. I spent a good amount of time tweaking it, enabled amavisd with spamassassin, writing custom access rules and milters to protect our outdated Exchange network, etc. I constantly used the O'Reilly sendmail book to figure out how to do things as sendmail configuration is anything but simple, intuitive or user-friendly. In my years with working with it, I have not found any sort of inherent security flaw that wasn't quickly fixed with a security patch. Most distributions have a pretty good base configuration for it as well.

One could argue that the benefit of sendmail is the amount of configurability it gives the admin. This is true. If you want a mail environment that is anything but vanilla with a lot of custom tweaks, sendmail is a good choice because it lays it all out for you pretty much. Postfix has similar features as well though.

This discussion is an easy one to get very biased on. What is the better choice will depend on what the specific needs for the organization are and what experience the administration team has. However, working with Postfix has a lower entry point than sendmail does. This point alone would probably make me choose Postfix for a new system design because it will reduce cost and increase flexibility in the future.

I do think it is flamebait and a sign of ignorance and/or arrogance to assert that sendmail is less secure than postfix or that no one really has a need to run it in 2007.

However, I will probably buy this book based on the review.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (0)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19470843)

Inability to set up Sendmail properly is in and of itself a security risk

The same can be said about qmail


Except in the case of qmail its more like:

'inability to apply the appropriate third party patches in the right order and failing to regression-test them against one another'.

Qmail by default, as DJB intended it, is terribly, terribly wrong...

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478451)

I'd love to see your actual reasoning for the statement, "Qmail by default, as DJB intended it, is terribly, terribly wrong." Without patching, Qmail is an excellent MTA. With patching, Qmail has more features (or works better on different platforms). Qmail may not be the end-all and be-all of MTAs, but it has never let me down in 8 years of running it on multiple servers.

Please actually give evidence or links to real legitimate arguments instead of posting flame bait.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19480811)

"All mail should be either bounced or delivered"

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491583)

That's it? That's your whole rant on why qmail is flawed? Don't you agree? Try using arguments, not stating facts to stand on their own -- as I've said elsewhere, "not everyone's brain is wired the same, explain your thoughts or forget others understanding them."

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19496615)

Its qmail. I don't need a cogent argument. Dan doesn't. He doesn't even need cogent source-code. Or cogent licensing terms.

To have a functional mail server in todays environment (as opposed to the 1980's) you need to apply multiple third-party patches to it. These patches are not regression-tested against one another so you can't rely on them.

Operating system distributors cannot ship properly patched and tested qmail packages because that would violate the licensing terms.

Oh and Dans policy on email, as applied in qmail, *is* that all mail must be either delivered or bounced. Its backscatter city. And Dans assertions that he'd pay a bounty on remote exploits in the default install of qmail are worthless because someone *did* find one and Dan did *not* pay up.

I spent 6 months managing a qmail server which was set up by someone 'clever'. Once I changed over to exim my workload dropped significantly as did the spam delivered to my users.

But keep it up Mike. Maybe Dan will give you a backrub.

I'm not saying that Dan is completely worthless though -- Maildir was a stroke of genius.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19519461)

I'm not sure what your problem is, but E-mail *should* be bounced or delivered once its accepted. If you don't want to bounce messages, don't accept them. The whole spam era has screwed up what E-mail is supposed to be about -- Dan believes reliable E-mail is more important than an empty Inbox. I happen to agree.

If you think I spend more than an hour a year administering qmail, you'd be wrong. Once configured, it just works. That's what I like about it. Enjoy Exim though.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 7 years ago | (#19471493)

I can set up Sendmail properly and securely. I've done so before, and I could again, if I wanted to burden myself with such a monumental task. By comparison, Postfix can be set up properly and securely more quickly, and with less pain.

Given the dilution of system administration jobs, in large part due to businesses wanting to pay admins less, there will be a lot of people in such jobs that fall into the "gap" between "cannot configure sendmail properly and securely" and "can configure postfix properly and securely". It might not be a huge gap, but there is one.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1, Interesting)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19471847)

'Inability to set up Sendmail properly is in and of itself a security risk. You may quib that any admin who cannot set up Sendmail properly shouldn't be an admin, but this elitist attitude is counterintuitive.'

Agreed but it goes beyond that. An admin who never bothered to learn sendmail configuration isn't lesser than one who has. The quality of an admin isn't defined by the skills he can list on his resume but by his ability to choose his tools wisely and to abandon tools (and the investment spent learning them) when better tools come along. Sendmail hasn't been the best tool for the job anytime in the past 10 years so anyone with less than 10 years experience wouldn't really need it in their skill set.

We aren't talking about VI vs Notepad where the end of the learning curve results in mastery of vastly more powerful tool. There are a number of sendmail replacements that do the job as well. Postfix is an excellent example, it scales, it outperforms sendmail, has a superior security track record, and can be configured properly in a tenth of the time.

Basically postfix (and others) does everything sendmail does, does it as well or better, has a much gentler learning curve and has a much better security track record. I would argue that the admin who installs sendmail today should have the salary cut, not the other way around. We are admins, we invest time to learn and master tools our competency is defined not only by our ability to accomplish that but by our ability to toss aside those tools and the hours spent learning them to learn and master new ones.

'Like it or not, open source software is a huge boon to small businesses and we should strive to empower them with easy to use software, not bash them for not hiring better administrators.'

Agreed, this is a huge and largely ignored segment. Besides that, Postfix configuration may be a walk in the park compared sendmail configuration but there is definitely a learning curve. Postfix is not configured with 'are you sure' wizards that would allow someone who did not understand what they were doing to configure anything but the most trivial configuration. You still have to understand the protocol and how the servers communicate with one another, processes, storage concerns, logging and permissions.

Email and MTA's really aren't all that complex. The only reason to justify a dedicated mail admin would be large numbers of users with enough petty issues to monopolize an admin's time. There simply is no excuse for an admin only knowing mail server administration anymore.

P.S. Old guy who loves sendmail. No I am not a whipper snapper who lacks the experience to understand or who didn't get sendmail and so dismisses it. I get sendmail, I've worked with it many times in many different configurations. It works very well. But it is cumbersome, slow and the only justification left for using it is 'if it aint broke don't fix it'. Sendmail was once the most flexible and powerful MTA available and it scaled up to any task. Sendmail never lost those traits but other programs sprang up that could match that power, flexibility and eventually scalability. Sendmail still made sense for serious users who would rather have the tried and true over spring chickens. But now those alternatives have rock solid tenure of their own. Programs like Postfix have tenure in their own right.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468569)

I want to know what SMTP server the largest of ISPs run... I guarantee it's not Postfix.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19471463)

Far too many large providers and organizations run sendmail. They do it because their old hat admins spent years mastering sendmail, not because it scales or performs better. Postfix is easier to configure, every bit as flexible (rare combination), generally outperforms sendmail and scales just as well.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468691)

http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/17192 [securityfocus.com]
http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/8641 [securityfocus.com]
http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/8649 [securityfocus.com]
http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/6991 [securityfocus.com]
http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/6548 [securityfocus.com]
etc...

I couldn't find any "critical security flaws" for postfix. I did, however, find this: http://cr.yp.to/maildisasters/postfix.html [cr.yp.to]

Re:sendmail vs postfix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19475425)

I couldn't find any "critical security flaws" for postfix. I did, however, find this: http://cr.yp.to/maildisasters/postfix.html [cr.yp.to]


I think today postfix works around this as it encodes the inode in which the mail is stored in the filename of the mail itself. If you link to it the inode does not fit and postfix detects the attack.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (3, Informative)

rattis (125942) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468693)

The argument they used in the book, page 22, is "...Sendmail has many of the security problems listed on the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) list hosted at http://cve.mitre.org./ [cve.mitre.org] "

I did a quick search on the site. Sendmail has 69 listed, while Postfix has 10. I'm not saying the book is right, I'm just saying how they made the argument.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

div_2n (525075) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468721)

Not a lot, but there was one very critical last year that had remote root capabilities:

http://lwn.net/Articles/176596/ [lwn.net]

Courier MTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468809)

Courier, on the other hand seems like a good option for an all-in-one, but all the on-line resources about how to set it up strongly imply that it's WAY more complicated than it really is.

MORE THAN EXCHANGE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468937)

Put that in your pipe, hippie.

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

csoto (220540) | more than 7 years ago | (#19470103)

I agree with you that the argument that "postfix is ... far more secure" than sendmail is flawed. But this isn't because sendmail is so secure. Rather, it's because the secuirty (or lack of) sendmail has no reflection on the security (or lack of) of postfix. Both can be equally "insecure." And I guarantee you there are (or will be) flaws in both applications...

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19471967)

'And I guarantee you there are (or will be) flaws in both applications...'

Without questions and the number of reported flaws is a useless metric for a number of reasons. You are right sendmail and postfix can be equally secure and/or insecure depending upon configuration. That said security in otherwise secure programs is inversely proportional to configuration complexity. Both programs have a learning curve but the configuration of sendmail is far more complex than that of Postfix (even for a knowledgeable user).

Re:sendmail vs postfix (1)

Bob Uhl (30977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478887)

This guy [slashdot.org] posted a list of recent Sendmail vulnerabilities. Moreover, Sendmail does too much and is too hairy for the vast majority of mail servers out there (I'll pull a number out of thin air and say 99.999% of mail servers just need to talk SMTP and local delivery and can safely ignore UUCP, Bitnet and the rest, and probably 90% don't need to scalability of Sendmail), and its monolithic nature means that a vulnerability in one part can easily lead to a root exploit.

Postfix, OTOH, was designed to reduce risk from the get-go. It's broken down into several small programmes, only a few of which need privileged authority; if an unprivileged programme has a bug it can't be exploited to get root privileges--that's pretty key.

The ease of configurability is also IMHO a security feature. Postfix makes it relatively easy to be certain that it's properly and securely configured; Sendmail just doesn't.

Postfix isn't perfect, of course: Sendmail can handle greater message throughput. But there's no reason that a RedHat, Solaris or AIX install should default to Sendmail. If you need Sendmail, sure--use it. But it should be a conscious decision, taken

What about monitoring ? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468441)

Most of the literature covering system administration never mentions server/network monitoring as a part of the whole "system administration" package.

Is it that monitoring is viewed as something unnecessary or is monitoring something that is just starting to take off ?

Re:What about monitoring ? (2, Insightful)

Meorah (308102) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468559)

Viewed as too expensive/unnecessary by executives, adds no features, most smaller businesses can resolve their issues without installing monitoring software by overworking their admins instead.

Re:What about monitoring ? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19471671)

The authors cover monitoring in Chapter 4. They show the reader how to configure a pretty good Daemon Monitoring Daemon.

Slow News Day? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468463)


Is this why Slashbot has the nth Book and Product Review?

Re:Slow News Day? (1)

HalifaxRage (640242) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468531)

Funny thing, you don't *have* to click on every link if they don't interest you. Stuff that matetrs - not exclusively to you.

Heretic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468467)

Reviewer says GNU/Linux a couple of times before mostly using Linux to refer to the OS, not just the kernel. Heretic! And he can't even claim ignorance as an excuse! I sentence him to life imprisonment in the Stallman State Penitentiary For Freedom.

Re:Heretic! (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 7 years ago | (#19474959)

(..)the Stallman State Penitentiary For Freedom.
LOL :-D :-D

HA/Clustering (5, Interesting)

Trigun (685027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468471)

I am glad that these issues are being addressed by O'Reilley now. The last Linux Administration book that I purchased from O'Reilley was nothing more than DNS/DHCP and NFS.

I would still like to see more about LDAP, authentication and authorization, single sign-on, etc. Ususally O'Reilley practices become the de facto best practices, and after a few years in a quasi-management role, I am learning the difference between implementation and implementation based upon industry standards. The latter can be an ass-saver.

Re:HA/Clustering (1)

4pins (858270) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468967)

"I would still like to see more about LDAP, authentication and authorization, single sign-on, etc."

I've scoured the web for a GOOD reference for this and have been disappointed (however I haven't looked lately). If anyone know of a particularly good site for this please let us all know. Oh, and please realize that LDAP [openldap.org] isn't really the problem. The problem is trying to archive "single sign-on" with LDAP.

Re:HA/Clustering (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19481405)

If you get any response on this, please let me know.

Re:HA/Clustering (1)

jerkyjunkmail (590408) | more than 7 years ago | (#19485635)

Well it's not a whole FOSS stack per se but I used Open Directory(which does use OpenLDAP albeit with a simple gui around it) from Mac OS X Server to acheive this. You might be able find something helpful infomation to "clear the haze" around that topic even if you aren't using Mac OS X Server http://www.jerkys.org/wiki/x/YgAf [jerkys.org] http://www.jerkys.org/wiki/x/CQAQ [jerkys.org] http://www.jerkys.org/wiki/x/OwAf [jerkys.org]

Steve Jobs just cured cancer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468475)

And by cured cancer I mean released Safari for Windows, and this is what you're talking about?

LAMP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468533)

I love LAMP

Re:LAMP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468659)

Obligatory picture [imageshack.us]

What are the reasons for Sendmail? (3, Insightful)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468567)

I don't know why I would need it, so I probably don't, but it would be interesting to know.

Re:What are the reasons for Sendmail? (3, Insightful)

e9th (652576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468649)

The last time I needed Sendmail I was using a MicroVAX II as a DECnet/uucp gateway.

Re:What are the reasons for Sendmail? (5, Insightful)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468695)

for sending mail. that's my guess, anyway.

Re:What are the reasons for Sendmail? (1)

EatHam (597465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19469903)

I heard the next release will be called some really esoteric Swahili word. It will be pronounced "The boss is a cock", and everyone will wonder why users will be slow to adopt it.

Re:What are the reasons for Sendmail? (1)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 7 years ago | (#19469993)

Mainly because you spent years learning how to configure it through M4 and you're so stuck in your ways that moving to a modular, faster, more flexible and secure MTA is unthinkable. At least, that's how most people who still run Sendmail strike me...

Re:What are the reasons for Sendmail? (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19472059)

'Mainly because you spent years learning how to configure it through M4 and you're so stuck in your ways that moving to a modular, faster, more flexible and secure MTA is unthinkable.'

I don't think it's just that. I think of the old unix admins have the ability to readily grasp and learn the new stuff. I suspect it has more to do with job security. It goes like this, if sendmail isn't in place you sell it by explaining that it is tried, true , and stable unlike these flaky new systems and maybe you claim nothing else could reliability handle the load if it is a big corporation. TADA. You have just made yourself more valuable because the number of people who can competently administer the mail server has dropped dramatically.

The same is true for many proprietary unix solutions and mainframes, certain large database solutions and last but not least some very expensive network solutions.

The old guys in many industries may be obsolete but nobody became an old hat computer guru with a learning impairment. These guys have just learned that there are more important aspects of the corporate game than the computers they administrate.

Re:What are the reasons for Sendmail? (1)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 7 years ago | (#19482075)

I just said "unthinkable" - I didn't say whether it'd be unthinkable due to learning impairment or due to other more subversive political reasons... :)

Re:What are the reasons for Sendmail? (1)

smash (1351) | more than 7 years ago | (#19472759)

I haven't dealt with sendmail or postfix for some years, but back in 2002, sendmail's support for multiple domains, virtual user tables, etc seemed to be a little easier to configure (using .mc files and running make to generate the .cf files under BSD). Also, the virus scanner i was using back then didn't want to play with spamassassin when run under postfix for some reason (memory hazy) - sendmail was better supported by the scanner i was using.

I also haven't seen much in postfix with regards to using uucp for mail delivery, though i never looked as i haven't used it.

In short, i think it comes down to legacy network protocols - postfix probably doesn't support them as well, but is much leaner/more secure/cleaner for it... in general I agree with the sentiment of "use postfix unless you find something it can't do for you"...

Re:What are the reasons for Sendmail? (1)

Bob Uhl (30977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478987)

Sendmail is a lot more than just an SMTP/local mail server; it can act as a fairly complex mail gateway and can deal with a lot of older, funkier email protocols (UUCP, mail11, HylaFax and QuickPage according to Wikipedia; I could have sworn that it also handled Bitnet or Fidonet or something like that). It can also handle more email throughput than Postfix (or, I believe, qmail, exim and others). If you need to handle a large volume of email and cannot buy extra boxes to run Postfix, then you might need to use Sendmail instead. If you need to deal with some funky mail protocols beside SMTP, then you probably need to use Sendmail (although Postfix can handle some of 'em anyway, I daresay those code paths are even less exercised than Sendmail's...).

Oh, and if you want plausible deniability when your box starts acting maliciously on the network, Sendmail might be a good idea. That and SSH protocol 1 or even telnet/ftp...

Debian??? (-1, Flamebait)

jschmitz (607083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468651)

Okay I am assuming it covers other flavors than that?? Most companies either use Red Hat or SUSE - I mean Ian Murdock works for Sun now...Debian was a pretty lame distro anyways IMHO (bring on the flames) I will probably get a copy of it anyways - \m/ dark hails \m/

Mail configuration it are hard (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468685)

I remember when I set up my first LAMP stack. I thought I was the shit. I had my own fucking webserver, for fuck's sake! Who could possibly fuck with me now? I installed mediawiki and phpbb, and I was root and admin, and all was good.

Lately I have been playing with mail servers, and it is a whole different ball game. Imagine a series of croquet rings dotted around a field. Now imagine standing at the side of that field and sliding a rope across the grass, threading it perfectly through each ring, without moving from that spot. That is what configuring a mail server is like.

It's for your own good, mind. Your MTA should only be able to transport mail. But configuring the MTA to use the authentication daemon to allow users to connect and use it as a relay is a nightmare. And if you want spam filtering, you have to tell it to pass mail to a local delivery agent (usually procmail), and then you have to tell procmail to filter mail through spamassassin, and then you have to tell spamassassin how to filter the mail. And then to get at your mail, you'll also need a POP3 or IMAP server, which will also need to know how to use the authentication daemon. And don't even think about anti-virus or MySQL backends. Just don't.

Long story short, programmers are not automatically also sysadmins. At least now I know to appreciate my sysadmins.

mod 3own (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19468717)

superior to slow, may disturb other one Here but now Be on a wrong Users all over the vary for diiferent users. BSD/OS in eternity...Romeo

linux is unmanageable (0, Flamebait)

oktokie (459163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19468757)

How can you manage something that changes as you sleep at night.
Linux administration is something like being married to the servers.
Even worse, your server never have downtime...at least human babies take nap here and there.
Try managing human babies before try managing linux servers.

Re:linux is unmanageable (2, Funny)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19469189)

Try leaving your human baby alone, locked in a 55-degree room, with only the hum of a thousand small fans as a lullaby....

Re:linux is unmanageable (4, Funny)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19469201)

Even worse, your server never have downtime...at least human babies take nap here and there.

I can see the Microsoft tow picture ad now, top picture harried sysadmin with the linux box, screen showing * WORK * WORK * WORK * in ugly green pixelated courier on black. In the next picture, the same (now) MS based admin is leaning back on his chair with a big smile with his feet propped up, on the screen - white on pretty blue - is "Server down, please reboot" in nice friendly Arial TTF letters.

And the quote, "Even sysadmins deserve a break from sever management, Microsoft will give it you."

Re:linux is unmanageable (1)

rustalot42684 (1055008) | more than 7 years ago | (#19472143)

Maybe something a little like this? [imageshack.us]

Re:linux is unmanageable (1)

smash (1351) | more than 7 years ago | (#19472701)

Oh really it's not that bad. Given the choice i'll admin freebsd instead because it does feel more consistently "right", but adminned soley linux systems for 6 years or so before my current employment dealing wiht mostly A.D. and a couple of linux systems.

I also have to deal with AIX now too.

If you can't get your head around minor differences in linux distributions, then you shouldn't be a sysadmin. Besides, the changes between windows nt 3.x, 4.x, 2000 and vista are much bigger than the changes that have occurred as far as administering linux from the command line, in the past 15 years.

SysAdmins (1, Redundant)

OddlyMoving (1103849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19469121)

We are born, not made.

Linux Administration Handbook (4, Interesting)

stjobe (78285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19469359)

How does it hold up to Linux Administration Handbook [amazon.com] by Evi Nemeth et al?

This is a book that I've used for years and years (since before it forked into a Linux book and a Unix book) teaching Linux system administration classes, and I never found its match. Strongly recommended for novices and masters alike.

Re:Linux Administration Handbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19475927)

This book does not hold a candle to the tried and tested "linux administration handbook" by Nemeth. This book is really a collection of howto's, it would more aptly be named "linux cookbook for administrators or power users."

Re:Linux Administration Handbook (1)

Bob Uhl (30977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19478727)

Very different. The Linux/Unix Administration Handbooks are excellent works--you really can't be a sysadmin without one of 'em on your bookshelf. This book is good, but oriented more towards particular problems, while the L/UAH are full of vital day-to-day stuff.

Stop referring to Linux as GNU/Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19470265)

Yes, I know whoever wrote this review worships RMS, but face it the correct term is Linux.

I propose that all slashdot articles be rejected if they refer to Linux as GNU/Linux. We need to get out from under RMS's boot.

it's Lignux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19473117)

check out the old usenet thread from back in 1995 or so...
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