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Sendmail Performance Tuning
by Nick Christenson
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As e-mail traffic continues to increase, system administrators must be able to guarantee that their e-mail servers can deliver reliable performance today and bear larger loads tomorrow. sendmail Performance Tuning is a handbook for building, tuning, and testing e-mail servers using sendmail to function more efficiently, handle more messages, and resist both accidental and malicious load-related incidents. This practical guide begins with an introduction to sendmail and performance tuning. Author Nick Christenson describes best practices for building, installing, and maintaining a system and then details proven techniques for tuning e-mail relaying, reception, and sending. His strategic guide to configuration and security is followed by precise directions for managing bottlenecks and load testing. By the book's end, readers know exactly how to optimize system performance.
Provides a deeper understanding of e-mail servers. Offers quick fixes for making overburdened servers work better. By the book's end, readers know exactly how to optimize system performance. Softcover.
From the Back Cover
"This book is great. Nick covers a wide range of materials--everything from how to architect the mail system and what disks to buy to how to configure your router. This book should be a basic reference for anyone who needs to get down into the guts of a sendmail-based system and make it shine."
--Eric Allman, the creator of sendmail and Chief Technical Officer, Sendmail, Inc.
As email traffic continues to increase, system administrators must be able to guarantee that their email servers can deliver reliable performance today and bear larger loads tomorrow. sendmail Performance Tuning is a practical guide to building, tuning, and testing email servers based on sendmail to function more efficiently, handle more messages, and resist both accidental and malicious load-related incidents.
Featuring sendmail 8.12 (and earlier versions), the book begins with an introduction to sendmail and performance tuning. Author Nick Christenson then describes best practices for building, installing, and maintaining a system and details proven techniques for tuning email relaying, reception, and sending. This strategic guide to configuration and security is followed by precise directions for managing bottlenecks and load testing. By the book's end, readers should know exactly how to optimize system performance.
Key topic coverage includes:
Whether you are looking to solve an immediate problem or gain a deeper understanding of email servers, sendmail Performance Tuning provides clear guidance and valuable insight.
About the Author
Nick Christenson designed and implemented Internet systems, including email, for EarthLink Network, Inc., during its period of rapid growth. He also worked for Sendmail, Inc., as a senior software engineer and senior technical consultant. Nick is currently a senior analyst for Sistina Software. He has given talks at the USENIX Symposium on Internet Technologies and Systems and at the O'Reilly Open Source Conference. He has written articles for ;login:, the Erlang/OTP User Conference, and USENIX LISA.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Most people consider email to be the "killer application" of the Internet. An astounding amount of email crosses the globe every day. These messages flow from server to server in ever-increasing quantities. Some email servers originate email, some relay it from one network to another, some store email for later retrieval, and some perform all of these tasks. This book explores the intricacies of email communication, focusing on sendmail-based solutions, and suggests how one can build, design, and tune email servers that will accomplish each of these tasks more efficiently. Applying the suggestions in this book will help email servers perform better under increasing load, expedite the delivery of their messages, and make them more resistant to accidental and malicious load-related incidents. These pages contain detailed descriptions of precisely what actions go on behind the scenes on an email server, information about email software features and ways that options for deploying this software might affect performance, suggestions on methods and pitfalls to effectively test email server configurations, and actual test data to support the claims made in this book.
This book is intended to be read primarily by system administrators of UNIX-based email servers. Other system administrators and email application developers, however, may find many of the topics discussed here to be useful. While the thrust of this book targets the use of the Open Source sendmail software package, much of the information presented here should prove useful in non-sendmail environments as well. However, this is not a book on basic system administration, sendmail administration, or general UNIX performance tuning. I assume that the reader of the book either understands these issues, if only at a basic level, or knows where to look if clarification or more information about some point is necessary. While some duplication of material between this book and others is both necessary and beneficial, I've tried to repeat information that can be found in other books as little as possible. My recommendations on excellent books that provide this information are available in the concluding chapter, and I strongly recommend them to readers of this text.
This book is intended to be read sequentially. Chapters build on information found in previous chapters, so skipping around may prove confusing. One exception involves the sendmail introduction chapter (Chapter 2), which may be safely skipped by readers who are familiar with sendmail and especially comfortable with building version 8.12 sendmail.cf files using M4. At the end of each chapter, a "Summary" section lists the key points discussed in the chapter. While these summaries are not substitutes for reading the chapter, the reader should find them useful in reinforcing some of the more important points that have been discussed.
In this book, literal information as it might be expressed on a computer system is rendered in a fixed-width Courier font. This includes actual file names, commands as they are typed into a computer, source code of any form, and variable names as they appear in configuration files. A variable is indicated by the use of Courier italic. For example, /var/mail/username would indicate a variable file name that should be replaced with a real username, and this file resides in the /var/mail directory.
I hope you enjoy this book.Nick Christenson
El Cerrito, California
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