Categories: "Devices"

Sending mail on Debian

Another late night trying to configure that Debian exim4 thingy...

I want to send email from Thunderbird using my Debian box as an SMTP relay.

The mailserver (exim4) will refuse to relay anything to an external domain if you're not properly authenticated.

So here's what I had to do (and thank God it finally works):

  • Cleaned up my /etc/exim4/exim4.conf.template as previously discussed.
  • Generated SSL keys for TLS to use with /usr/share/doc/exim4-base/examples/exim-gencert
  • Activated TLS by writing MAIN_TLS_ENABLE = true into a file called /etc/exim4/exim4.conf.localmacros
  • Activated authentication based on the courier-imap daemon I was already using for IMAP: in /etc/exim4/exim4.conf.template there is a section called AUTHENTIFICATION CONFIGURATION. In there I had to uncomment the blocks named plain_courier_authdaemon and login_courier_authdaemon. I'm not really sure why I uncommented both, but... it works.
  • There I found out (later) that I needed to allow exim to access the courier-imap socket or my /var/log/exim4 wouls state this:

    login_courier_authdaemon authenticator failed for xxx: 435 Unable to authenticate at present (set_id=yyy): failed to connect to socket /var/run/courier/authdaemon/socket: Permission denied

    This can be solved by adding the right user to the rigth group: usermod -G daemon Debian-exim. I'm not sure about how good/secure/clean this is, but it works. Comments welcome ;)
  • Regenerated the exim4 config with update-exim4.conf
  • Restarted exim with /etc/init.d/exim4 restart. I'm not sure this is needed, but it won't hurt...

Sometimes I wish I still had dear/hated old PLESK environment... :roll:

Bonus feature: make those sendings faster!

When you are connecting to the SMTP relay from behind a NAT firewall, there is a fairly high chance that the SMTP will try to RFC-1413 ident you but the firewall will drop the request. So the mailserver will wait for a response until it times out.

Exim4 does exactly that with a 30 second timeout. Which makes sending mails frustrating at best.

In /etc/exim4/exim4.conf.template there is a section about RFC 1413. Make sure you have this line:

rfc1413_query_timeout = 0s

(Zero seconds, means: do not bother wasting time on ident).

mail on Debian

So... I guess I thought I was smart enough to set up a Debian server all by myself... and it looks like I'm not even able to get basic email to work! :roll: Bleh...

I could set up apache, php, mysql and have everything working... but email ? What the hell is going on?

I sorta had exim4 installed automatically while apt-get installing mysql-4.1 . I also installed mutt so I could "read" any mail. But that damn thing won't save any email to /var/mail !! I think there should be a file named 'root' (at least) in there, but there is not.

All I know, is that I can use 'mail' to send email to an external machine. But I can't use mail to send a local mail to root.

I get lines like these in /var/log/exim4/mainlog:

2x0x-05-27 01:18:17 1FjlZR-0007Wy-Gx == /var/mail/mail ( <> R=mail4root T=address_file defer (13): Permission denied: creating lock file hitching post /var/mail/ (euid=8 egid=8)

The exim process seems to be running under Debian-exim4 and the permission for /var/mail seems to be drwxr-sr-x root root

Now of course I can make it work by funkying around with the permissions of that folder, but that doesn't feel right... Besides I wonder what magic that 's' is trying to accomplish...

Is there a caring soul out there willing to show me the light? I'm so lost right now... :| Thanx!! ;)


I think I need to log what I did here... might get useful someday...

Full story »

Two weeks of facts about the Intel Mac Mini

The 10 feet interface

Okay, well, one of the reasons I've been quiet for the last two weeks is because I got myself one of those intel Mac Minis...

The bottom line is: I love that thing!

But here's a little more details... including answers I coouldn't find anywhere on the net before (so I just had to buy it to check it out by myself). (My configuration is a Duo Core with 512 MB of RAM and 100 GB of hard disk. Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. DVI to PAL adapter for TV.)

  • The mac mini is insanely easy to install...
  • ...but it would have been even easier if Apple didn't state in the manual that "if you have bluetooth devices refer to the device doc" which in turn says "install the OS update disc" except you can't because you haven't booted the mac yet. All crap. All you need to do is put the batteries into the keyboard and the mouse, plug the power into the Mini and boot up. Everything gets detected nicely.
  • The Mini IS quiet! Even with a double core! Even when moving videos all around while watching one. I was really surprised by how quiet it is. It is the most quiet fan equipped appliance I have ever seen (I cannot even say "I heard").
  • The Mac Mini Core Duo boots up in 22 seconds. It goes to sleep in 2 seconds. It wakes up in 1 second! Niiiice!
  • The Rosetta Power PC emulation stuff is... errr... working as long as you don't intend to use it seriously. Firefox is a nightmare to emulate with Rosetta. Make sure your apps are released in "Universal" (Intel compiled) format or you're screwed. (Note: FireFox should be released shortly in Universal format.
  • Even if you can't fill a 60 GB iPod, you'll fill up a 100 GB Mac Mini in no time. Get a bigger drive!
  • The iLife'06 suite of applications is a treat! You'll never want to manage you music, photos or videos on a PC again!
  • The Front Row 10 feet interface with the remote is fun too... but mostly for showing it off! It doesn't cut it on day to day use. You can't sort your podcasts. You can't organize your content as you wish. You have to listen to playslists in random order. Fast forwarding or rewinding is a nightmare! The only way you'll be able to bear the clogged remote operation is if you've hurt yourself trying to remote control an iPod before. In that respect, it's good. Otherwise, I can only hope Apple will improve the system in the future.
  • For day to day use, the bluetooth keyboard (which can emulate the remote) and the bluettoth mouse will work better.
  • The mouse however sucks big time! It will move erratically. I haven't figured out yet if it's because of bluettoth interference with the keyboard, because of a bad optical sensor, because of a lousy driver or something else. Btw, you should know that the bluetooth mouse from Apple has only one button with no hidden right click like the Mighty Mouse and worse: the mouse driver had absolutely NO PROVISION for adjusting acceleration. This is to me the biggest concern for a Windows user like me. The mouse doesn't move as I expect it to (even with my PC USB mouse) and I constantly over or under shoot the target. It makes me want to tear my eyes off... and there's just nothing you can do! ... So, well, mouse operation sucks, but since remote control operation sucks too, I maintain that the bluettoth solution is better for everyday use, even from the couch! :P
  • Video output: The driver has an "optimize for video" setting which seems to do just nothing. Otherwise than that, when using the DVI/PAL adapter the image was not centered on my screen. There is an "overscan" checkbox which when used will: a) fill the TV screen nicely, b) hide the menu bar and the dock and make the mac mini useless if not used with the remote (good luck for setting it back) and c) make any DVD play in a corner of the screen instead of full screen. Totally ridiculous. Make sure you can adjust screen size and position on your TV like you can on a monitor... or you're screwed. Well, of course if you connect to a flat panel via DVI (or HDMI) you have no problem. For the rest of us... hunt the "Service Menu" on your TV!
  • Digital audio output: The mini can connect to a Digital Amplifier in order to render full 5.1 surround sound. I connected it to my Denon AVR, then tried a couple of DVDs and all I could get was stereo sound. The AVR was only receiving a stereo digital stream. I called up Apple Care and they made me go through half a dozen setup screen (nice tour of the Mac Utilities folder) and finally came to the conclusion that my Mac was not able to output 5.1 sound. Excuse me? Was Steve jobs lying during the keynote? ... Well I later found how to enable it: remove any DVD from the drive, then launch the DVD player app (not Front Row), then go to Settings, then tell it to output the DVD sound directly to the digital output instead of using the Mac Mini sound processing system... which actually turns out to be only stereo. So you can watch DVDs in 5.1, but if you try to rip a DVD to a 5.1 DivX, I fear you're screwed. Bleh!
  • Finally, when using the digital out the Mac doesn't control the volume any more. You have to use the AVR remote. Those nice volume keys on the keybord, as well as 2 of the 6 remote buttons are useless...

Conclusion: there are a lot of details that certainly itch the geek inside of me, but at the end of the day I always enjoy to wake up the mini and watch a couple of video podcasts it will download automagically. I admit I even use the remote for that :) (Well, I programmed my AVR remote to mimic the Apple remote ;))

Also, the whole user experience (except that thing with the mouse) is so much smoother than on Windows. The apps are pre-installed and nicely integrated with one another. And most of all: most of it "just works as expected". (Except the mouse, did I mention that before?)

Finally, on week-ends it takes no longer than 2 minutes to move the Mini to the desk and connect it to a real monitor for a little iLife experience. I gotta come back on this later.

More reviews:

AC3 codec for Intel Mac (Universal Binary)

Update: I originally found this codec.

However, I've later found a much better one!

2009 Update: The a52 codec now supports 5.1 surround passthrough, even on Mac Mini.

DivX codec for Intel Mac (Universal Binary)

Check it out here.