a blog by wallace winfrey


I’ve been meaning to get this off my chest for a long time, but if anyone is considering installing Qmail or the Qmailrocks distribution, here’s a word of advice: don’t.
Now, I should point out that for many years, Qmailrocks worked just fine for me. The problem is, Qmail is stuck at v.1.03 because it’s creator is some kind of weirdo that doesn’t want to take the time to update it, but won’t allow the project to be branched and further developed, so if you want to update Qmail with modern SMTP features such as SMTP AUTH, STARTTLS, etc. you have to modify it with an increasingly-large patchset, many of which are incompatible with one another and of which any one could take down your production mail server for the better part of a day. Plus, it uses the absolutely ancient ezmlm mailing list manager, which was a great idea in 1999 or 2000, but pretty much sucks these days.
Now, let me explain why I hate the distribution in particular. Sure, it ships with some goofy settings that don’t really make sense in a production environment, but what really irks me is the support model.
Qmailrocks has a web forum, which is comprised mostly of stuck newbies trying to figure out easy shit like permissions problems. It also has a support mailing list, of which there are no easily-accessible-or-search-able archives, which means you can’t easily look up a question that might have been asked before. Now, if the list was populated with really helpful people who didn’t mind seeing the same questions asked over and over again, that would be one thing, but it’s not.
In fact, it’s populated by the kind of poorly-socialized, smarter-than-thou computer nerd that responds to legitimate, well-formed questions with a link to Eric S. Raymond’s How To Ask Smart Questions document, which is their (well, his) way of saying that you’ve asked a stupid question (I should also mention that I’m always annoyed when anything written by ESR is suggested to me). Additionally, the guy basically takes an attitude that if you haven’t, like him, spent many nights reading the Qmail source (I’m guessing, based on his online demeanor and general lack of socialization, that the guy has plenty of nights at home alone to devote to reading source), that you’re unqualified to not only run Qmail as your SMTP server, but also unworthy of asking a question in his little virtual clubhouse.
I will say that I’m grateful for some of his little tools, and he did wind up giving me some useful advice, but given that getting legitimate questions answered on the mailing list initiates such a large amount of feather-fluffing on these guys’ parts, I decided to give up on Qmail altogether and migrate to a commercially-supported Postfix, vPostmaster.
So if you find yourself in a position where you’ve got to set up email for the small-sized (or medium-sized) company you work for, and have not found yourself in the midst of people who think that “email server” == “Microsoft Exchange”, then by all means, avoid Qmail like the plague, and check out vPostmaster.
(slightly edited for clarity and grammar)

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