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IRIX Advanced Site and Server Administration Guide

Chapter 20
IRIX sendmail

This chapter describes IRIX sendmail, a facility for routing mail across an internetwork. This chapter is for system administrators who set up and maintain the mail system on a station or network. It provides the information necessary for a straightforward implementation of sendmail. The following topics are covered:

For sites already using sendmail, refer directly to "Notes to Current sendmail Users".

The complete IRIX sendmail Reference appears as Appendix E of this guide.

The Mail System

The mail system is a group of programs that you can use to send messages to and receive messages from other users on the network. You can send mail through either UUCP or TCP/IP. The IRIX operating system uses Media Mail, System V /bin/mail, 4.3BSD /usr/sbin/Mail, and sendmail for its mail implementation.

The process of delivering mail involves four elements:

User Interface

The user interface creates new messages and reads, removes, and/or archives received messages. Media Mail, System V /bin/mail, and 4.3BSD /usr/sbin/Mail are the user interfaces provided with IRIX. Reference pages are available to fully describe the features of these interfaces, and Media Mail has an extensive online help system.

Mail Routing

A mail router examines each message and routes it through the network to the appropriate station. The sendmail(1M) program not only routes messages, but also formats them appropriately for their recipient stations.

Mail Transfer

A mail transfer program transmits messages from one station to another. sendmail implements the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) over TCP/IP. For TCP/IP mail, sendmail acts as an integrated routing and transfer program. In all cases, mail transfer has a counterpart: mail reception. In most cases, a single program provides both functions. UUCP is a mail transfer program that uses its own protocols and runs over serial lines.

Mail Delivery

A mail delivery program deposits mail into a data file for later perusal by a user or another program. The /bin/mail -d program delivers local mail.

After you compose a message by using Media Mail, /bin/mail, or /usr/sbin/Mail, the message is sent to sendmail, which attempts to determine the destination of the message. sendmail either calls /bin/mail (for mail to a user on the local station) or passes the message to the appropriate mail transfer program (for mail to a user on a remote station).

When sendmail receives a message from another station, it analyzes the recipient address; then, it either calls /bin/mail to complete the delivery if the local station is acting as a relay, or sendmail passes the message to the mail transfer program. For TCP/IP SMTP, sendmail also performs the mail transfer.

When you send a mail message on a network that uses TCP/IP, several layers of network software are involved. Figure 20-1 shows the layers of TCP/IP mail network software.


Figure 20-1 : Layers of TCP/IP mail software

An Overview of sendmail

The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) layer supports SMTP, which sendmail uses to transfer mail to other TCP/IP stations. sendmail is responsible for calling local delivery programs, mail routing, and TCP/IP mail transfer; it may also call other mail transfer programs. For example, sendmail uses the UUCP transmission program to handle messages sent to UUCP stations.

sendmail's implementation features aliasing, forwarding, automatic routing to network gateways, and flexible configuration.

In a simple network, each node has an address, and resources can be identified with a host-resource pair. For example, a mail system can refer to users with a host­user-name pair. Station names and numbers must be administered by a central authority, but user names can be assigned locally to each station.

In an internetwork, multiple networks with different characteristics and management must communicate. In particular, the syntax and semantics of resource identification change. You can handle certain simple cases by using improvised techniques, such as providing network names that appear local to stations on other networks. However, the general case is extremely complex. For example, some networks require point-to-point routing, which simplifies the database update problem, because only adjacent stations are entered into the system tables; others use end-to-end addressing. Some networks use a left-associative syntax; others use a right-associative syntax, causing ambiguity in mixed addresses.

Internetwork standards seek to eliminate these problems. Initially, these standards proposed expanding the address pairs to address triples, consisting of network, station, resource. Network numbers must be universally agreed upon; stations can be assigned locally on each network. The user-level presentation was quickly expanded to address domains, composed of a local resource identification and a hierarchical domain specification with a common static root, as defined in RFC 1034. The domain technique separates the issue of physical versus logical addressing. For example, an address of the form "jane@iris1.company.com" describes only the logical organization of the address space.

sendmail bridges the gap between the world of totally isolated networks that know nothing of each other and the clean, tightly coupled world of unique network numbers. sendmail can accept old arbitrary address syntaxes, resolving ambiguities by using heuristics specified by the network administrator, as well as domain-based addressing. sendmail helps guide the conversion of message formats between disparate networks. In short, sendmail is designed to assist a graceful transition to consistent internetwork addressing schemes.

System Organization

The design goals for sendmail included the following:

    Message delivery should be reliable, guaranteeing that every message is correctly delivered or at least brought to the attention of a human for correct disposal; no message should ever be completely lost.

    Existing software should be used to do actual message delivery whenever possible.

    sendmail should be easy to expand to fairly complex environments.

    Configuration should not be compiled into the code.

    sendmail should let various groups maintain their own mailing lists, and let individuals specify their own forwarding, without modifying the station's alias file.

    Each user should be able to specify which mailer to execute to process mail being delivered for him. This feature allows users with specialized mailers that use a different format to build their environments without changing the system, and facilitates specialized functions (such as returning an "I am on vacation" message).

    To minimize network traffic, addresses should be batched to a single station where possible, without assistance from the user.

Figure 20-2 illustrates the sendmail system structure that is based on the original design goals for sendmail.


Figure 20-2 : sendmail System Structure

sendmail neither interfaces with the user nor does actual mail delivery. Rather, it collects a message generated by a user agent program such as Berkeley Mail, edits the message as required by the destination network, and calls appropriate mailers to do mail delivery or queueing for network transmission. The exception is mail sent to a file; in this case, sendmail delivers the mail directly

This discipline allows the insertion of new mailers at minimum cost.

Because some of the senders may be network servers and some of the mailers may be network clients, sendmail can be used as an internetwork mail gateway.

How sendmail Works

Understanding the sendmail programs requires understanding a variety of components. Some of these components are daemons, scripts, files, and commands. This section describes the various sendmail components.

The sendmail Daemon

For sendmail to process incoming mail, a daemon must be running. The sendmail daemon is the sendmail program with specific flags. (Appendix E describes the sendmail command-line flags in detail.) The daemon is automatically started by the /etc/init.d/mail script at station start-up. The default command for the sendmail daemon is:

/usr/lib/sendmail -bd -q15m 

The -bd flag causes sendmail to run in daemon mode. The -q15m flag causes sendmail to fork a subdaemon for queue processing every fifteen minutes. The -bd and -q flags can be combined in one call.

sendmail Scripts

There are two scripts provided with your system that perform common functions in sendmail. Use these scripts whenever possible, as they have been tested and are known to perform the task correctly.


Under rare circumstances, a user may need to stop or start the sendmail daemon manually. For example, to implement changes to the configuration file, you must stop all running sendmail processes, "refreeze" the configuration file, and restart the sendmail daemon before the new configuration will take effect. To simplify the task of starting and stopping sendmail, IRIX provides a shell script called /etc/init.d/mail.

This script takes a single argument, either "start" or " stop," which starts or stops the sendmail daemon respectively. You must be superuser (root) to use this script. For example, to stop sendmail, use the following command:

/etc/init.d/mail stop 

When /etc/init.d/mail is called with the "start" argument, it verifies the existence and permissions of various sendmail related files and directories (see "sendmail Related Files and Directories"). If a required component such as the /var/spool/mqueue directory is missing, the script creates it. For more complex components such as /etc/aliases, the script exits with a message.

When the /etc/init.d/mail script is called with the "stop" argument, it kills all running sendmail processes with a SIGTERM signal.

Note: Station start-up includes an automatic call to the /etc/init.d/mail script with the start argument. If station start-up runs in "verbose" mode (that is, /etc/chkconfig verbose on), the following message appears, verifying that sendmail has been started:

Mailer daemons: sendmail

For more information, examine the /etc/init.d/mail script.


The /usr/etc/configmail script provides an interface between command line input and the sendmail.cf file. For more information, see "sendmail Related Files and Directories" It pipes the macro and class definitions into the sendmail.params file . This script simplifies the sendmail configuration process.

The configmail script allows the user to interact with several sendmail.cf parameters. These parameters are equivalent to sendmail.cf macros and/or classes. You can verify the current parameter settings, set specific parameters, issue a quick setup command, and get some basic online help. configmail stores your changes in the sendmail.params file, which is read by sendmail at startup time.

sendmail Related Files and Directories

The sendmail configuration files and directories are:


At the heart of the sendmail program is the sendmail configuration file /etc/sendmail.cf. The sendmail.cf file is an ASCII file that contains most of the configuration information and is read at run time. This file encodes options, header declarations, mailer declarations, trusted user declarations, message precedences, address-rewriting rules, macro definitions, and class definitions.

As the mail administrator and in order for you to successfully set up sendmail, you must know which sendmail.cf macros and variables to change. The sendmail.cf file takes advantage of sendmail's ability to read macro and class definitions from pipes, thereby simplifying and automating the sendmail configuration process. This file takes command line input from the sendmail.params file and /usr/etc/configmail script and incorporates the input into the appropriate macros and classes.


The sendmail.fc file is a frozen configuration file. A frozen configuration file is an image of the data space that belongs to sendmail when the configuration file is read. The sendmail.fc file is not present by default. You can create the sendmail.fc file using the touch (1) command. After the sendmail.fc file is created, it is used in place of /etc/sendmail.cf. This process improves start-up speed.

Note: All modifications to sendmail macros and classes should be made to sendmail.cf.

However, if the /etc/sendmail.fc file exists, changes to it are not honored until you rebuild /etc/sendmail.fc. The mail script, /etc/init.d/mail automatically rebuilds the frozen configuration file if the sendmail.cf file exists. Always use the mail script, /etc/init.d/mail, as it will automatically rebuild the sendmail.fc file. If you need to manually rebuild the frozen configuration file, the command is:

/usr/lib/sendmail -bz


The sendmail.hf file is the SMTP help file. It contains some brief information about the various Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) commands.


The sendmail.st file is used to collect statistics related to sendmail. By default, the file is not present. You can create the file using the touch(1) command. If the file is present, sendmail automatically updates the file with relevant sendmail statistics.


The aliases file contains the text form of the alias database used by the sendmail program. The alias database contains aliases for local mail recipients. For example, the following alias delivers mail addressed to jd on the local station to johndoe@company.com:


When sendmail starts up, it automatically processes the aliases file into the files /etc/aliases.dir and /etc/aliases.pag. The aliases.dir and aliases.pag are DBM versions of the aliases database. The DBM format improves sendmail performance.

Note: The newaliases program must be run after modifying the alias database file. See "Building the Aliases Database" for more information about building the alias database.


The mail queue, /var/spool/mqueue, is the directory in which the mail queue and temporary files reside. The messages are stored in various queue files that exist under the /var/spool/mqueue directory. Queue files take the form of:

Normally, a sendmail subdaemon processes the messages in this queue periodically, attempting to deliver each message. (The /etc/init.d/mail script starts the sendmail daemon so that it will fork a subdaemon every 15 minutes to process the mail queue.) Each time sendmail processes the queue, it reads and sorts the queue, then attempts to run all jobs in order.


/var/mail is the directory that houses all incoming mail. Each user on a local station will receive his/her mail in a subdirectory of /var/mail. For example, the user guest receives his/her mail in the directory /var/mail/guest.

sendmail Commands

These section describes some of the related sendmail programs and commands. The programs and commands discussed in this section are:


sendmail is the program that implements sendmail's routing and transfer service. As a program it has many flags that can be set on the command line to tailor the sendmail environment. Appendix D, "IRIX sendmail Reference," and "sendmail Command-Line Flags" provide complete descriptions of the various command line flags and options.


Program used to rebuild the DBM version of the aliases database. This program must be run anytime the text version of the aliases file is modified. If newaliases is not run after making changes to the aliases file, the changes are not incorporated into the DBM alias database and are not seen by the sendmail program. See "The Aliases Database" for more details about the alias database.


The command prints a current listing of the mail queue.

The Aliases Database

The aliases database is an ndbm(3B) database that contains mail aliases to be used by the sendmail program. The text form of the database is maintained in the file /etc/aliases. The aliases are of this form:

name: name1 [, name2, ...]

For example, the following command delivers mail addressed to jd to johndoe@company.com:


Note: Only the local part of an address can be aliased. For example, the following command is wrong and will not have the desired effect:


sendmail consults the alias database only after deciding that the message (as originally addressed) should be delivered locally, and after it has rewritten the address to contain only the local part.

An alias continuation line must start with a space or a tab. Blank lines and lines beginning with the number sign (#) are treated as comments.

If you are running NIS, sendmail can use the contents of the NIS alias database with the local aliases database by adding the following special alias to the /etc/aliases file:


This special alias tells sendmail to consult the NIS alias database if the alias cannot be found in the local alias database. When the same alias is specified in both the local and NIS aliases file, the local alias supersedes the NIS alias.

Building the Aliases Database

At start-up sendmail automatically uses the ndbm(3B) library to process the /etc/aliases file into the files /etc/aliases.dir and /etc/aliases.pag. Using these files to resolve alias is a technique that improves performance.

To rebuild the DBM version of the database without restarting sendmail, execute this command:


Executing this command is equivalent to giving sendmail the -bi flag:

/usr/lib/sendmail -bi

When building the DBM version of the database, sendmail checks the left-hand side of each entry to make sure that it is a local address. sendmail issues a warning for each entry in /etc/aliases with a non-local left-hand side. Such entries are not entered into the DBM version of the database.

If the NIS alias database is used with the local usr/lib/aliases database, the special "+:+" alias is entered into the DBM version of the database. If sendmail cannot find an alias in the DBM version of the database, it looks for the special "+:+" alias. If it finds the special alias, sendmail then queries the NIS alias database. This query permits you to change the global NIS alias database without having to rebuild the local alias database. However, the left-hand sides of the NIS alias are not checked by sendmail to ensure that they contain only local addresses.

If the configuration or the command line specifies the D option, sendmail will automatically try to rebuild the alias database when it is out of date.

sendmail rebuilds the alias database if either of the following conditions exists:

Auto-rebuild can be dangerous on heavily loaded stations with large alias files. If it takes more than five minutes to rebuild the database, there is a chance that several processes will start the rebuild process simultaneously.

Testing the Aliases Database

You can test the alias database with the -bv options of the sendmail program. See "sendmail Command-line Flags" for more details.

Potential Problems

Problems can occur with the alias database, especially if a sendmail process accesses the DBM version before it is completely rebuilt. Two circumstances can cause this problem:

sendmail has two techniques for trying to relieve these problems. First, to avoid the problem of a partially rebuilt database, sendmail ignores interrupts while rebuilding the database. Second, at the end of the rebuild it adds an alias of the following form (which is not normally legal):

@: @

Before sendmail accesses the database, it ensures that this entry exists. For this action to occur, the configuration file must contain the -a option.

If the @:@ entry does not exist, sendmail waits for it to appear. After the specified waiting period elapses, sendmail will force a rebuild itself. For this action to occur, the configuration file must include the D option. If the D option is not specified, a warning message is generated and sendmail continues.

Another alias problem can arise for stations incorporating the NIS alias database in /etc/aliases through the use of the +:+ alias. If the NIS alias server goes down or is otherwise nonresponsive to NIS queries, sendmail will not see the aliases normally obtained from the NIS server. This situation may result in mail being returned, marked "User unknown."

List Owners

If an error occurs when mail is sent to a certain address (x, for example), sendmail looks for an alias of the following form to receive the errors:


This scheme is typically useful for a mailing list where a user mailing to the list has no control over the maintenance of the list itself; in this case the list maintainer would be the owner of the list. For example, the following would cause jd@1company.com to get the error that occurs when someone sends mail to unix-hackers and sendmail finds the phony user nosuchuser on the list.

unix-hackers: jd@company1.com,
owner-unix-hackers: jd@company1.com

sendmail Network Configurations

This section explains the functions of domains, forwarders, and relays in a mail network. It also explains how each of these components is designated in the /usr/etc/configmail script and in the sendmail.cf file. It is important to understand these designations, since you will be expected to enter this information in the working copy of these files for your station.

Mail Domains

Within the sendmail environment, a domain is an administratively-defined area of control with logical rather than physical boundaries.

You can configure three general types of domains:

The following parameters designate domains in the /usr/etc/configmail script and the /etc/sendmail.cf file:

configmail parameters: rootdomain, directdomain, and localdomain

sendmail.cf macros/classes:

Mail Forwarders

A forwarder station is a station that acts as a mail gateway into another network. Typically, stations on either side of a gateway cannot connect directly to each other, making the forwarder station a physical (not just an administrative) necessity.

Forwarder stations are not necessarily "smarter" about mail routing than other stations in the network, but they are "better connected." Forwarder stations deliver mail to "all points beyond" some point in the domain name space.

The designation of the forwarder station is primarily determined by the physical topology of the network; The default sendmail.cf file can designate only a single forwarder; the name of that station must be hard-coded in the configuration file.

The following parameters designate a mail forwarder in the /usr/etc/configmail script and the /etc/sendmail.cf file:

configmail parameter: forwarder

sendmail.cf macro and class: F

Mail Relays

A relay station is a station that acts as a collection point for mail destined for a specified domain or group of domains. In the absence of MX records and mail exchangers, relay stations provide a mechanism whereby mail can be concentrated onto centralized locations prior to actual delivery. For more information about MX records and mail exchangers, see Appendix D, "IRIX sendmail Reference."

Relay stations are not necessarily "better connected" than other stations in the network, but they are "smarter" about mail routing. They deliver mail to "all points within" some point in the domain name space.

For example, a company with a domain company.com, has configured sendmail to treat alpha.company.com as the forwarder station and omega.company.com as the relay station. sendmail assumes that alpha.company.com is ultimately responsible for all mail to domains other than company.com and that station omega.company.com is ultimately responsible for all mail to the company.com domain itself. Note that there is nothing to prevent the relay and forwarder functions from residing on the same station.The designation of a relay station is primarily determined by administrative decision. sendmail can recognize a number of relay stations.

The relay station name is a special name used to identify relay stations in the network. This special name is defined by means of the R macro and is typically the name "relay." A relay station is so designated by being aliased to the name "relay." The default sendmail.cf file probes for a station named or aliased to the special relay station name and delivers mail to any such station in preference to the actual destination station. Mail is also sent to relay stations whenever the local station cannot determine the proper routing.

The following parameters designate a mail relays in the /usr/etc/configmail script and the /etc/sendmail.cf file:

configmail parameter: relayname

sendmail.cf macro: R

User Configurable Macros and Classes

The sendmail.cf file defines your mail network by assigning each element in the network a macro and/or class value. The default values in your distribution sendmail.cf file will not work without some modification.

Instead of modifying your sendmail.cf file directly, you can use the /usr/etc/configmail script. It takes your input, saves it in sendmail.params and configures the appropriate macros and classes according to your sendmail environment.

(D)omain Name Macro and Class

The D macro defines the local domain name. Be sure that the macro contains the name of the domain in which this station resides. If domains are not used, you can leave this macro empty or comment it out.

(F)orwarder Station Name Macro and Class

The F macro defines the station name or alias of the station to which this station will forward mail for unknown stations or domains.

(R)elay Station Name Macro

The R macro defines the station name (or an alias) used by all stations that act as relay stations. Relay stations are forwarders to known internal domains and are defined by the use of this relay station name as their station name or alias. This macro comes preconfigured as "relay," a name that is strongly suggested.

(T)op-Level Domain Macro

The T macro defines the name of the top level of the local domain space. For example, if this station resides in a subdomain named bar.foo.com under the foo.com domain, and if all stations under the foo.com domain or any subdomain under the foo.com domain are considered to be internal stations, the T macro contains foo.com.

(K)illed Stations Class

The K class is a list of all known "killed" or "dead" stations in the local domain. This is only defined on mail forwarders to detect mail to stations that no longer exist. Any mail directed to a ``dead'' station is automatically sent to the mail forwarder.

(P)athalias Database Macro

The P macro defines the location of the pathalias database that is used by sendmail for UUCP mail routing.

A sendmail Planning Checklist

Here is a list of items to consider prior to configuring your sendmail environment.

Configuring sendmail

Configuring sendmail involves these tasks:

    Customizing the sendmail.cf file

    Modifying the aliases file

    Starting the sendmail daemon

This section provides an example for configuring a fictitious sendmail environment. The fictitious environment includes:

Note: In the following examples, an empty macro or class has no values assigned to it. The macro or class is left blank.

Figure 20-3 illustrates the fictitious sendmail environment to be used for configuring sendmail.


Figure 20-3 : sendmail Configuration Environment (fictitious)

Customizing the sendmail.cf File

The configuration file describes mailers, tells sendmail how to parse addresses and rewrite message headers, and sets various sendmail options. The standard configuration file shipped with IRIX supports a wide variety of mail configurations and does not work ``out of the box.''

All examples are based on the default sendmail.cf configuration file as it is shipped with IRIX. Note that sendmail macros and classes are both case sensitive. See "User Configurable Macros and Classes".

Stand-alone Station

In this case, there is a single, isolated station named solitaire. Mail is only sent from one user on the station to another user on the same station. No mail is sent to any other station, and no mail is received from any other station.

Using the configmail script, set up mail like this:

/usr/etc/configmail set directdomains NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set localdomain NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set forwarder NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set rootdomain NULL

If configuring the sendmail.cf file by hand, make the required adjustments to the following macros and classes:

The D macro and class:

Make sure that both the D macro and class are empty.

The F macro and class:

Make sure that both the F macro and class are empty.

The T macro:

Make sure that the T macro is empty.

Note: If this is the only station you are configuring for sendmail, proceed to "Modifying the Aliases Database".

Simple Isolated Network

This is the simplest network mail environment. A number of stations reside on a private network and send mail to each other on a peer-to-peer basis. All stations exist in the same domain; no subdomains exist. There is no connection or gateway between this private network and the outside world. No station in the network has greater responsibility for mail delivery than any other station. No relay or forwarder stations exist. The stations in the network are named lab1, lab2, and lab3. All stations exist under the lab.fictitious.com domain.

Each station in the network uses the same configuration. Using configmail on each station, make the changes shown below. For example, use configmail to

set up mail on station lab1:

/usr/etc/configmail set directdomains lab.fictitious.com
/usr/etc/configmail set localdomain lab.fictitious.com
/usr/etc/configmail set forwarder NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set rootdomain NULL

If configuring the sendmail.cf file by hand, make the required adjustments to the following macros and classes:

The D macro and class:

Change the D macro and class to contain the lab.fictitious.com domain name.

The F macro and class:

Make sure that both the F macro and class are empty.

The T macro:

Make sure that the T macro is empty.

If you modified sendmail.cf by hand, you can copy the modified sendmail.cf file to all other stations in the lab.fictitious.com domain. When complete, proceed to "Modifying the Aliases Database".

Hierarchical (Relay) Network with a Single Domain

In this example, all stations do not bear the same responsibility for mail delivery. One or more stations are designated as mail relay stations, where mail is concentrated for further processing or queueing before delivery.

This scheme has particular advantages if some stations frequently are powered off or are otherwise unable to communicate. In such a situation, one or more relay stations are "more reliable"; they are never or infrequently out of communication with the network and are designated as mail concentration points. When mail is sent to a station that is down, the mail travels to the relay station, where it is queued for later delivery, rather than being queued on the originating station. When the destination station returns to operation, it is more likely that the relay station will be up than the originating station. Therefore, the mail will be delivered to the destination station in a timely manner.

This hierarchical scheme also offers administrative advantages. For example, if a single station goes down for an extended period of time, or is simply failing to accept mail, the situation is easier to detect when there is a central mail queue. An administrator can check the mail queue on the relay station to see which stations are not accepting mail. If there were no relay station, mail to the down station would be queued on stations throughout the network, and the problem could be harder to spot.

All stations exist under the engr.fictitious.com domain. The stations in the network are named engr1, engr2, and engr3. The mail relay station is engr1. The other stations in the network are expected to send mail through engr1 rather than delivering it directly.

Each of the non-relay stations runs the same sendmail.cf configuration file. The sendmail.cf file on relay station engr1 has a slightly different D class definition.

For example, using the configmail script, configure mail on the relay station engr1:

/usr/etc/configmail set directdomains engr.fictitious.com
/usr/etc/configmail set localdomain engr.fictitious.com
/usr/etc/configmail set forwarder NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set rootdomain engr.fictitious.com

Using the configmail script, set up mail on the remaining stations in the engr.fictitious.com domain. Note that the directdomains parameter is set to NULL on all stations except the relay station engr1.

/usr/etc/configmail set directdomains NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set localdomain engr.fictitious.com
/usr/etc/configmail set forwarder NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set rootdomain engr.fictitious.com

If configuring the sendmail.cf file by hand, make the required adjustments to the following macros and classes:

The D macro and class

On all stations, change the D macro to contain the engr.fictitious.com domain name.

On the relay station engr1, make sure that the D class contains the engr.fictitious.com domain name so that engr1 sends mail directly to all stations in the engr.fictitious.com domain.

On the remaining stations, make sure that the D class is empty so that they do not send mail directly to other stations. (They are to send the mail to engr1.)

The F macro and class

Make sure that the F macro and class are empty.

The T macro

On all stations, change the T macro to contain the engr.fictitious.com domain name.

For engr1 to be recognized as the mail relay station, the special relay station name "relay" (as defined by the R macro) must be one of the station alias that belongs to engr1. Include the station name "relay" in the entry for engr1 in /etc/hosts and/or the DNS and NIS equivalent.

When you have completed this exercise, proceed to "Modifying the Aliases Database".

Hierarchical (Relay) Network with Multiple Domains

In this example, the hierarchical model is extended to multiple subdomains. This type of environment is a logical extension of the preceding one and is probably the easiest model to expand as the number of stations on the network increases. The environment requires that domain names be used for proper mail addressing.

The entire local domain is named corp.fictitious.com. There is one subdomain under the corp.fictitious.com domain: fin.corp.fictitious.com. The stations in the corp.fictitious.com domain are corp1, corp2, and corp3. The stations in the fin.corp.fictitious.com domain are fin1, fin2, and fin3. corp3 is the relay for the corp.fictitious.com domain; fin3 is the relay for the fin.corp.fictitious.com domain.

The stations in each of the two domains (corp.fictitious.com and fin.corp.fictitious.com) are configured much like those described in the preceding subsections.

Using the configmail script, set up mail on the relay station corp3:

/usr/etc/configmail set directdomains corp.fictitious.com
/usr/etc/configmail set localdomain corp.fictitious.com
/usr/etc/configmail set forwarder NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set rootdomain corp.fictitious.com

Using the configmail script, set up mail on the relay station fin3:

/usr/etc/configmail set directdomains \ fin.corp.fictitious.com
/usr/etc/configmail set localdomain fin.corp.fictitious.com
/usr/etc/configmail set forwarder NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set rootdomain corp.fictitious.com

Using the configmail script, set up mail on the remaining non-relay stations in the corp.fictitious.com domain. Note that the directdomains parameter is set to NULL on non-relay stations.

/usr/etc/configmail set directdomains NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set localdomain corp.fictitious.com
/usr/etc/configmail set forwarder NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set rootdomain corp.fictitious.com

Using the configmail script, set up mail on the remaining non-relay stations in the fin.corp.fictitious.com domain. Note that the directdomains parameter is set to NULL on non-relay stations.

/usr/etc/configmail set directdomains NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set localdomain fin.corp.fictitious.com
/usr/etc/configmail set forwarder NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set rootdomain corp.fictitious.com

If configuring the sendmail.cf file by hand, make the required adjustments to the following macros and classes:

The D macro

For all stations in the corp.fictitious.com domain, change the D macro to contain the corp.fictitious.com domain name.

For all stations in the fin.corp.fictitious.com domain, change the D macro to contain the fin.corp.fictitious.com domain name.

The D class:

On the relay station corp3, make sure that the D class contains the corp.fictitious.com domain name so that corp3 will send mail directly to all stations in the corp.fictitious.com domain.

On the relay station fin3, make sure that the D class contains the fin.corp.fictitious.com domain name so that fin3 will send mail directly to all stations in the fin.corp.fictitious.com domain.

On the remaining stations in the network, make sure that the D class is empty so that they do not send mail directly to other stations.

The F macro and class:

Make sure that the F macro and class are empty.

The T macro:

On each of the stations, change the T macro to contain the corp.fictitious.com domain name.

For the relay stations corp3 and fin3 to be recognized as such, the special relay station name "relay" (as defined by the R macro) must be an alias for each of them. There can only be one relay alias in the /etc/hosts file. Here is how to set up each alias:

When you have completed this procedure, proceed to "Modifying the Aliases Database".

A Complex (Forwarder) Hierarchical (Relay) Network with Domains

This section explains how to configure a station to act as the forwarder station; a forwarder station can be added to any of the scenarios described in the preceding subsections. Please see "sendmail Network Configurations" for an explanation of the forwarder station concept as used by IRIX sendmail.

This discussion applies to mail environments of all types. Whatever the form of your internal mail environment, whenever you want to use a mail gateway station between your internal mail network and the external world, a forwarder station is required. The sendmail configuration for using this forwarder station is exactly the same for all stations on the internal side of the gateway.

The internal mail environment consists of the domain corp.fictitious.com and any or all domains under corp.fictitious.com (fin.corp.fictitious.com). All stations within the corp.fictitious.com domain are capable of communicating with each other. For example, there is no physical restriction to prevent station fin1.fin.corp.fictitious.com from sending mail to corp1.corp.fictitious.com.

Station corp2.corp.fictitious.com can connect to all stations within the corp.fictitious.com domain and can also connect to stations in other domains, such as engr.fictitious.com. Station corp2.corp.fictitious.com is therefore the forwarder station to all domains beyond the corp.fictitious.com domain. In this example, station corp2.corp.fictitious.com is aliased to corp2 for ease of addressing in the internal mail environment.

In addition to the changes to sendmail.cf required for the internal mail environment, make the following changes to the sendmail.cf file on all stations within the corp.fictitious.com domain. Using the configmail script, change the appropriate parameter:

/usr/etc/configmail set forwarder \
              corp2.corp.fictitious.com corp2

If configuring the sendmail.cf file by hand, make the required adjustments to the following macros and classes:

The F macro:

Make sure that the F macro contains the station name corp2.corp.fictitious.com.

The F class:

Make sure that the F class contains the two names corp2 and corp2.corp.fictitious.com, by which the forwarder station is known.

When you have completed the procedure, proceed to "Modifying the Aliases Database".


The default sendmail.cf file shipped with IRIX includes support for sending mail through UUCP. This section discusses these capabilities and explains how to integrate UUCP mail into the local mail environment. UUCP support can be added to any of the scenarios described in the preceding subsections.

The sendmail.cf file directs sendmail to read the /etc/uucp/Systems file on start-up. All UUCP station names are read from this file, and stations marked "domain-machine" are noted. If a UUCP pathalias database is maintained on the station, the location of the database is set with the P macro.

If the /etc/uucp/Systems file indicates that there are stations connected to the local station through UUCP, sendmail sends mail received on the local station, and addressed to one of the stations described in the /etc/uucp/Systems file, on to the proper place. If the P macro is set and points to a valid UUCP pathalias database, sendmail will attempt to find a UUCP path to a station for which it cannot find an address or MX record. If the database returns a good UUCP path to the destination station, sendmail attempts to send the mail to the left-most station on the path.

Depending upon the network environment, UUCP mail may range from the only form of network mail to one part of a much larger network mail environment. The following example shows a common technique for adding UUCP to an existing local area mail network.

Sample Environment

The local domain is named uk.com. Station uk1.uk.com is the forwarder station, as described in "A Complex (Forwarder) Hierarchical (Relay) Network with Domains" in "Customizing the sendmail.cf File".

To avoid forwarder loops, the default sendmail.cf file permits only one forwarder station to be configured. Therefore, station uk1.uk.com is also the UUCP forwarder station.

Changes to sendmail.cf

No changes to sendmail.cf are necessary beyond those required to configure station uk1.uk.com as the forwarder station. (See "A Complex (Forwarder) Hierarchical (Relay) Network with Domains" in "Customizing the sendmail.cf File") If station uk1.uk.com maintains a pathalias database, the P macro should be set to the pathname of the pathalias database.

Other Changes

The /etc/uucp/Systems file must also be configured before sendmail will see any of the UUCP-connected stations. For more information see Chapter 21, "UUCP."

When you have completed this procedure, look ahead to "Modifying the Aliases Database".

Non-Domain Addressing

This section discusses issues related to a mail network that does not use domain addressing. Note that all of the previously discussed mail environments, with the exception of the "hierarchical multi-domain" environment, are possible in a network that does not implement domains.

If a network does not use domain addressing, specific changes are required in the sendmail.cf file on all stations in the network. First, make changes to the sendmail.cf file as described in the appropriate examples in this section. Next, make the following changes, even if they replace changes you have just made.

Using the configmail script, set up mail on each station on the network.

/usr/etc/configmail set directdomains NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set localdomain NULL
/usr/etc/configmail set rootdomain NULL

If configuring the sendmail.cf file by hand, make the required adjustments to the following macros and classes:

The D macro and class

Make sure that the D macro and class are both empty.

The T macro

Make sure that the T macro is empty.

In an isolated network, you must create the file /etc/resolv.conf and add the line:

hostresorder local bind yp 

For more information about the resolv.conf file, see the resolv.conf(4) reference page.

When you have completed this procedure, proceed to "Modifying the Aliases Database".

Modifying the Aliases Database

After modifying a station's sendmail.cf file (see "Customizing the sendmail.cf File") the alias database file should also be modified to reflect your sendmail environment. If you don't have any ``private'' company aliases, you still need to modify the aliases file to provide it with a valid postmaster alias.

Creating the Aliases File

Continuing with the fictitious example used in "Customizing the sendmail.cf File" we will assume that the administrator for the domain corp.fictitious.com has derived a list of aliases for the corp.fictitious.com domain. The list of aliases is shown in Table 18-1.

Table 20-1 : Sample aliases File Entries

Alias Name Member Station Name
finance john fin1
finance paul fin2
finance mary fin3
corp sharon corp1
corp pam corp2
corp peter corp3
all finance and corp N/A
postmaster mailmgr corp1

The /etc/aliases file entries based on the list of aliases generated by the administrator would look like this:

############################################################# # Aliases in this file will NOT be expanded in the header 
# from Mail, but WILL be visible over networks or from
# /bin/mail.
# >>>>>>>>> The program "newaliases" must be run after
# >> NOTE >> this file is updated for any changes to
# >>>>>>>>>> show through to sendmail.
start of common aliases--do not remove this line
# Add the following alias to enable Yellow Page aliases. If
# enabled, the YP database defines anything not defined in
# this file.
# Alias for mailer daemon
# send mail likely to be lost to the mail server
# Following alias is required by RFC 822
# You should change 'root' in the first line below to
# the administrator of this machine, and un-comment the
# following line.
# aliases to handle mail to msgs and news
nobody: /dev/null
# end of common aliases--do not remove this line
# corp.fictitious.com aliases

Updating the aliases Database File

Anytime you modify the /etc/aliases text database file, you must run the newaliases program. This program incorporates the text changes into the DBM files, /etc/aliases.dir and /etc/aliases.pag.

Update the aliases database file:


If there is nothing wrong with your aliases database, newaliases should list the number of aliases and then return your prompt. If you see any other message, most likely there is a problem with your aliases file. See "Debugging Flags" for hints on troubleshooting the alias file.

Starting the sendmail Daemon

After customizing the sendmail.cf files and modifying the aliases database, you are ready to start sendmail.

By default, IRIX automatically starts sendmail at station start-up by using the shell script /etc/init.d/mail. However, if you are configuring and testing sendmail and don't want to reboot the station, you can run the /etc/init.d/mail script manually. You should always use the mail script to stop and start sendmail. It processes and checks sendmail related files and programs and in the correct order.

Start the sendmail daemon:

/etc/init.d/mail start

If you need to stop sendmail, enter the following command:

/etc/init.d/mail stop

Managing sendmail

This section describes some of the tasks related to managing the sendmail environment.

sendmail Command-line Flags

You can include one or more flags on the command line to tailor a sendmail session. This section describes some of the more frequently used flags. For a complete description of command-line flags, Appendix D, "IRIX sendmail Reference."

Changing the Values of Configuration Options

The -o flag overrides an option in the configuration file. The override is for the current session only. In the following example, the T (timeout) option becomes two minutes for this session only:

/usr/lib/sendmail -oT2m

For a complete discussion of configuration options, see Appendix D, "IRIX sendmail Reference."

Delivery Mode

One configuration option frequently overridden on the command line is the d option, which specifies the sendmail delivery mode. The delivery mode determines how quickly mail is delivered:


deliver interactively (synchronously)


deliver in background (asynchronously)


queue only (don't deliver)

There are trade-offs. Mode i passes the maximum amount of information to the sender, but is rarely necessary.

Mode q puts the minimum load on your station, but if you use it, delivery may be delayed for up to the queue interval.

Mode b is probably a good compromise. However, in this mode, sendmail may initiate a large number of processes if you have a mailer that takes a long time to deliver a message.

Queue Mode

The -q flag causes sendmail to process the mail queue at regular intervals. The syntax is as follows, where time defines the interval between instances of queue processing:

-q [time]

Time is expressed in number of minutes: 15m sets the interval to 15 minutes. If time is omitted, sendmail processes the queue once and returns. The -q flag is often used in conjunction with daemon mode, described in the next subsection.

Daemon Mode

To process incoming mail over sockets, a daemon must be running. The -bd flag causes sendmail to run in daemon mode. The -bd and -q flags can be combined in one call, as in the following example:

/usr/lib/sendmail -bd -q30m

This command causes sendmail to run in daemon mode and to fork a subdaemon for queue processing every half hour.

The script for starting sendmail that is provided with IRIX includes the following command line:

/usr/lib/sendmail -bd -q15m

Verify Mode

Using the -bv flag directs sendmail to validate addresses, aliases, and mailing lists. In this mode sendmail performs verification only. It does not try to collect or deliver a message. sendmail expands all aliases, suppresses duplicates, and displays the expanded list of names. For each name, sendmail indicates if it knows how to deliver a message to that destination.

Test Mode

The -bt flag places sendmail in test mode so that it describes how the current configuration rewrites addresses. Test mode is extremely useful for debugging modifications to the /etc/sendmail.cf configuration file. For more information, see Appendix D, "IRIX sendmail Reference."

Debugging Flags

Several debugging flags are built into sendmail. Each flag includes a number and a level. The number identifies the debugging flag. The level, which defaults to 1, dictates how much information is printed. A low level causes minimal information to print; a high level causes more comprehensive information to print. By convention, levels greater than 9 are not recommended, since so much information prints that it is of limited value. Debugging flags use the following syntax:

-d debug-list

Many debugging flags are of little use to the average sendmail user. Some are occasionally useful for helping to track down obscure problems. Appendix D, "IRIX sendmail Reference," includes a complete list of debugging flags.

Using a Different Configuration File

The -C flag directs sendmail to use an alternate configuration file. For example, the following line directs sendmail to use the test.cf file instead of the default /etc/sendmail.cf file:

/usr/lib/sendmail -Ctest.cf

If the -C flag appears without a file name, sendmail uses the file sendmail.cf in the current directory. Thus, the -C flag directs sendmail to ignore any /etc/sendmail.fc ( "frozen") file that may be present.

The Mail Queue

This section discusses how to print and force the mail queue.

Listing the Queue

You can list the contents of the queue by using the mailq command or by specifying the -bp flag to sendmail. The list includes a listing of the queue IDs, the size of each message, the date the message entered the queue, and the sender and recipients.

Forcing the Queue

The -q flag (with no value) forces sendmail to process the queue. It is sometimes useful to use the -v flag (verbose) also when running the queue manually, as follows:

/usr/lib/sendmail -q -v

In verbose mode, sendmail displays the SMTP chatter with other stations as well as messages indicating any delivery errors and final message disposition.

Because of the locking algorithm, it is impossible for one job to freeze the queue. However, an uncooperative recipient station or a program recipient that never returns can consume many station resources. Unfortunately, there is no way to resolve this situation without violating the SMTP protocol used by sendmail.

In some cases, if a major station goes down for a couple of days, a prohibitively large queue may be created. As a result, sendmail will spend an inordinate amount of time sorting the queue. You can remedy this situation by moving the queue to a temporary location and creating a new queue. The old queue can be run later when the offending station returns to service.

Use the following commands to move the entire queue directory. The mail queue should be owned by root and belong to the mail group.

cd /var/spool

mv mqueue omqueue

mkdir mqueue

chmod 755 mqueue

Then kill the existing sendmail daemon (because it will still be processing in the old queue directory) and create a new daemon:

/etc/init.d/mail stop

/etc/init.d/mail start

To run the old mail queue, use the following command:

/usr/lib/sendmail -oQ/var/spool/omqueue -q

The -oQ flag specifies an alternate queue directory and the -q flag causes sendmail to run every job in the queue once and then return. Use the -v (verbose) flag to watch what is going on. It may be necessary to run the old mail queue a number of times before all of the messages can be delivered.

When the queue is finally emptied, the directory can be removed:

rmdir /var/spool/omqueue

The .forward File

As an alternative to the alias database, a user can put a file with the name .forward in his home directory. If the .forward file exists, sendmail redirects mail for that user to the list of recipients in the file. The recipients are separated by commas or new lines. For example, if the home directory for user jane has a .forward file with the following contents, any mail arriving for jane is redirected to the specified accounts:


The .forward file also allows the user to redirect mail to files or programs. A .forward file with the following contents will redirect any incoming messages to jd@company.com, append a copy of the message to the file /var/tmp/mail.log, and pipe a copy of the message to stdin of the /usr/bin/mymailer program:

| /usr/bin/mymailer

In general, file-type recipients must be writable by everyone. However, if sendmail is running as root and the file has setuid or setgid bits set, then the message will be written to the file.

Users can redirect mail to themselves in addition to sending it to other recipients. This feature is particularly useful if the users want to continue to receive mail in their own mailboxes while passing copies of each incoming message to some alternative destination. For example, say that the home directory for user john contains a .forward file with the following contents:

\john, |/usr/sbin/vacation 

sendmail will behave as follows:

Questions, Problems, and Troubleshooting

    What are MX records?

    MX records are resource records in the BIND database. Each record contains the name of a target station, a preference level, and the name of an exchanger station that handles mail for the target station. (The exchanger station may be the target station itself.)

    The BIND database can contain several MX records for each target station; the record with the lowest preference level is tried first.

    MX records provide a way to direct mail to alternative stations. Using MX records lets you eliminate static routes from your sendmail configuration file. For more details about setting up MX records, see Appendix D, "IRIX sendmail Reference."

    sendmail doesn't seem to see my changes to sendmail.cf.

    Don't forget to save your changes to the configuration file by issuing the following commands:

    /etc/init.d/mail stop 
    /etc/init.d/mail start 

    The stopping and starting of the daemon forces sendmail to reconfigure the file. Otherwise, sendmail will run using the old, "frozen" version of the configuration file, thus ignoring your changes. For more information on "frozen" configuration files, see Appendix D, "IRIX sendmail Reference."

    Can I put comments in macro definitions?

    Do not include comments on macro or class definition lines in the sendmail.cf file. For example,

    DDfoo.com # my domain name

    would define the D macro as:

    "foo.com # my domain name" 


    CD foo.com bar.com # my local domains

    would define the D class as containing "foo.com," "bar.com," "#," "my," "local," and "domains."

    Where can I find information to help me troubleshoot my sendmail installation?

    See Appendix D, "IRIX sendmail Reference."

Notes to Current sendmail Users

In general, the current version of sendmail should be backward-compatible with previous versions. Most users should be able to replace their existing sendmail with the new IRIX 4.0 sendmail and run as before without any changes. However, there are certain differences between this and previous versions of sendmail that may cause compatibility problems. These differences are described in the subsections that follow.

MX Record Support

For each destination station contacted by means of an IPC-type mailer, (P=[IPC] in the mailer definition line), sendmail will query the DNS database for MX records associated with the destination station. If the MX query succeeds, mail will be routed through the appropriate exchanger station found among the returned MX records as described in RFC 974 and required by RFC 1123.

The result is that mail to stations for which MX records are available may be routed differently by this version of sendmail than was done by previous versions. See Appendix D, "IRIX sendmail Reference," for information regarding mailer definitions.

With the advent of MX records, you may want to edit your sendmail.cf file to remove previously required static routes.

Multi-Token Class Match

Some sendmail.cf implementations inadvertently rely on the inability of sendmail to do multi-token class-matching. One such implementation is the standard sendmail.cf file distributed with IRIX Releases 3.2 and 3.3. If your sendmail.cf file is based upon one of those standard sendmail.cf files, you should read this section. If your sendmail.cf file is not based on one of those standard files, this section may serve as an example if you encounter odd behavior with class-matching while running the new sendmail.

The standard IRIX Release 3.2 and 3.3 sendmail.cf files define an S class that is scanned in from the /etc/hosts file. This class is used to detect single-token station names that appear in the local /etc/hosts file. With the advent of multi-token class-matching, the S class no longer operates as intended.

The problem is that station names appearing in the /etc/hosts file are scanned into the S class whether they are single- or multi-token station names (that is, whether or not they contain dots.) The S class still worked as intended with previous versions of sendmail, because if an attempt was made to match a multi-token station name in the class, the match would always fail. With the new sendmail, that same match will (incorrectly) succeed. This problem is observed when rules such as this one began matching qualified station names such as foo.bar.sgi.com:

# Assume that unqualified names are local.
R$*<@$=S>$* $1<@$2.$D>$3

The result was that stations such as foo.bar.sgi.com that appeared on the LHS of the rewrite rule shown here were being rewritten to foo.bar.sgi.com.bar.sgi.com, which is obviously wrong.

The problem was not the use of the S class, but rather the practice of scanning multi-token station names from the /etc/hosts file into the class in the first place.

An examination of the sendmail.cf file shows that the S class is being scanned in by the following scan sets:

# Directly-connected SMTP hosts
FS/etc/hosts %*[.0-99] %[-_.a-zzA-ZZ0-99]
FS/etc/hosts %*[.0-99] %*[-._a-zzA-ZZ0-99] %[-_.a-zzA-Z0-99]

These scan sets read in the two left-most station names from /etc/hosts regardless of whether they contain dots. To correct the situation, modify the scan sets to read in only the station names from /etc/hosts in their single-token, unqualified form, as follows:

# Directly-connected SMTP hosts
FS/etc/hosts %*[.0-99] %[-_a-zzA-ZZ0-99]
FS/etc/hosts %*[.0-99] %*[-._a-zzA-ZZ0-99] %[-_a-zzA-ZZ0-99]

Note the removal of the dots from the right-most patterns.

Depending on your use of class-matching, this incompatibility may not affect you. If you suspect there might be a problem, you should examine your use of classes and your class definitions. If you are currently using a sendmail.cf file supplied by Silicon Graphics, you should examine the S class scan sets and make the corrections indicated here. If you use the default sendmail.cf as supplied in this release, you should be free from any such problems.

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