Good-bye Sendmail

As an experiment, when I built my new “home” server (the one hosting my personal email and websites, including this one), I chose Sendmail for my MTA. I’d been using Postfix in the server’s last incarnation, but I was a little tired of what I thought were the oddities in configuring it, and it looked like Sendmail had a nice interface for in-line content filtering.

The experiment is now concluded. Between the three MTAs with which I have experience (Postfix, Sendmail, and Qmail), Postfix is still handily the best.

The arcane and abstruse configuration for Sendmail is worse than setting up Postfix, to be sure. However, what finally tipped the scales is the poor way that virtual domains are handled. I was trying to set up Mailman for a domain that I host, and I discovered that Mailman can only create new lists on the fly if you’re running Postfix. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that you can’t have an address in a virtual domain delivered directly to a program. This effectively means that I’d have to create a local address along with every virtual address used by Mailman. This pollutes the namespace for one of my local domains with accounts which don’t need to be in it and requires me to shell in to my server and update the aliases file every time I add a list.

As an added blow, I discovered several days ago that Postfix also has a nice mechanism for delegating policy enforcement built into it, with a couple of sample SPF and greylisting policy scripts that seem to work well. So much for Sendmail having an advantage because of libmilter.

Champaign-Urbana Music Acquisition

On my way back up from visiting my family downstate this past weekend, I stopped in Champaign. While I was there, I visited the local Borders and scoured their “Local Music” section (in the dark for a while; the power was out when I got there.) I was looking for Funky Butt Drum Club or Temple of Low Men, but they didn’t have either, sadly. What they did have that piqued my intrest and opened my wallet was:

I hope that I’ll have time to give more detailed impressions later, but the first blush:

As good as I remembered. I love Elizabeth Elmore’s voice, and the music is catchy and just varied enough to keep you listening.
Slapshot was undistinguished, but Snake Creeps Down had a good sound to it. It fits together well, which is neat; the songs flow into one another.
Parasol Records samplers
Hit and miss, as you might expect. I’ll have to give these a more careful listen. I know that at least one of them has Absinthe Blind‘s “The Break (It’s Been There All This Time)”, which I really dig.

SORBS: Still Nuts

In my ongoing tweaks of mail systems at work, I reenabled the SORBS spam blacklist for a day.


Apparently, their quixotic crusade to blacklist every IP address from which they’ve ever received spam and demand a $50 ransom to be delisted continues. As you might imagine, given the number of users on their systems, providers like GMail, Ameritech, and Yahoo! have spam come through their mail servers from time to time, which lands them on the blacklist. As you also might imagine, these providers apparently have little interest in paying a fine to get delisted, presumably because you’d have to be a little daft to use a blacklist that blocks mail from them.

We’ll see if SORBS ever figures this one out or if their spam list is doomed to irrelevance.

Perl Has Some Uses

I don’t much care for Perl; I think that I must be the only system administrator on Earth who doesn’t. I see it as a Swiss Army Chainsaw; “there’s more than one way to do it” is not a feature when you (or deity forbid, someone else) have to read the code later and figure out what you were thinking when you wrote it. Or drinking when you wrote it.

Anyway, an alert fellow IMSA alumnus made me aware of a clever Perl implementation of a classic program.

I guess it does have some uses after all.

Mare’s Milk and Headless Goats

I visited my old roommate Jake down in his newly rehabbed condo in the south Loop last night. On entering, I was blinded by the projector that was playing The Work of Michael Gondry on the wall next to the door. After regaining my eyesight, I was greeted by the video “Sugar Water” by Cibo Matto. I was heretofore unaware of the existence of the Director’s Label Series discs or Cibo Matto; both may warrant further exploration.

Jake recently went to visit Ryan in Kazakhstan, where he’s working for the Peace Corps. The ostensible reason for the get-together at his place was to sample Kazakh culinary delights and see his photos and videos from trip.

It seems that (intentionally) fermented dairy products are commonplace in Kazakhstan. We had the opportunity to try both fermented mare’s milk and cow milk. The mare’s milk had a strong smoky odor over the dairy smell; it was like Gouda cheese in a bottle. We each shot a small amount of it. I believe that I can safely say that it was the most repulsive beverage I’ve ever had.

The cow milk was similar, but lacked the smoky scent and flavor. If it weren’t for the tangy, sour flavor, it might almost be good. Maybe it’s better if you get it fresh.

Jake also had a bottle of Kazakh “cognac”. In contrast to the dairy products, drinking this was an enjoyable experience. It tasted much like real cognac, and if I recall correctly, the price of the bottle was around $5. There are apparently some things that we could stand to learn from former Soviet republics.

The centerpiece of the evening was the photo show. While I can’t really hope to relate much about the pictures (it takes me a while to type a thousand words), the photos and videos did introduce me to a sport of which I was previously unaware: kokpar. It’s similar to polo, except that instead of whacking a ball into a goal, there’s a headless goat carcass lying on the field, which has to be thrown into a ring which is surrounded by old tires.
I wonder when ESPN2 will start carrying kokpar.