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From: /dev/rob0 (rob0gmx.co.uk)
Date: Wed May 06 2009 - 12:47:37 CDT
On Wed May 6 2009 00:44:28 Jonathan McMahon wrote:
> I'm 100% completely new to Postfix, somewhat new to *nix.
The former is not a problem; Postfix documentation has you covered.
Where you will find (have been finding) difficulty is in the latter.
Postfix documentation does not (and IMO mostly should not) cover all
the prerequisites that a postmaster needs to know.
1. You need to know your way around your OS. You need to know the
difference between OS issues and Postfix issues. You need to know
where your logs are and when/how to read them. You need to know how
filesystem permissions work, and how to control them.
2. You need to know the boundaries between Postfix and other software
you might be using, such as SASL and TLS libraries, or IMAP/POP3
daemons, or database backends like LDAP or SQL.
3. You need a good understanding of IP networking concepts. You don't
have to be an expert, but you ought to know basic usage of tools
like netstat(8) (it's 8 in Linux, maybe 1 in others) and ifconfig(8)
or equivalent (such as ip(8) in GNU/Linux.)
4. You need a basic understanding of DNS: the data that comprises the
various RR types you will use (A, CNAME, MX, NS, PTR), and how to
retrieve these records manually with dig(1). You should know what a
TTL is and how it works. You should know how reverse DNS works.
5. You need a basic understanding of SMTP. It helps if you know how to
converse with your smtpd(8). (You need to know that if you happen to
be using telnet(1) for that conversation, your question is not
6. You need a certain level of trust in those who have come before you.
They have built a generally good set of rules (POSIX), and for the
most part, things are as they are for good reason. If you don't
understand something, don't panic and don't try to change it; your
first thought should be that you just don't understand it.
7. You need to understand that free software has the cost of learning
how to use it. No one owes you answers to poorly-thought-out
questions. ESR's "Smart Questions HOWTO" is a good resource.
8. You need to grow up. Those, such as the OP and another poster in
this thread, who choose to whine endlessly about rude responses, are
suffering from a fragile sense of self which often leads to serious
learning disabilities. Maybe I/we don't admire you as much as you
think we should ... get over it. (In fact I *do* start to admire
those who accept a brisk or even rude response, which answers the
question, with grace and dignity.)
I've probably missed some things, but the above would certainly be a
good start on your way.
> My general feedback:
> 1. I find Postfix to be somewhat difficult, and the "google search"
> documentation for my specific setup is fragmented and incomplete at
> best. I did expect this given the number of possible system
Good. See above as to why I think it's difficult.
> 2. I'm convinced that the postfix.org information is complete and
> accurate, but it is nearly indecipherable for the truly new user.
A truly new user should learn some basics before attempting to be a
> 3. I realized that the best solution was to sign up for this mailing
> list and politely ask for some help, while at the same time educating
> myself as much as possible via books/internet resources.
> 4. After I learn how to get my setup working, I plan on posting it to
> help others.
It might not help others. Part of the problem with Google is the noise,
the gazillions of clueless questions being answered by other clueless
people. Welcome to the never-ending September. :)
> For all the Postfix pros out there, I think new users would find the
> following very helpful in getting started. If the sites already
> exist, can they be added to the main documentation, or posted, or
> added to your own personal Postfix sites?
I think you should correct your perception that it is the job of
Postfix, or of Postfix users, to provide help on all the aforementioned
I do think a Postfix NEWBIE_README might be a good idea, with some
general advice on what they should learn first.
> Finally, I believe empathizing with new users without dumbing down
> the Postfix site is extremely important. PLEASE don't add a "newbies"
> distro, or segregate the list in any way.
Conversely, new users need to understand that the time and expertise
they're seeking is far more important than their own time (and their
possibly fragile feelings.)
I certainly have empathy. I remember being an advanced Windows user,
some 10+ years ago, and thinking I was pretty good. I read (and often
failed to understand) documentation, I lurked a bit in a forum. I began
to see how little I knew, and thus began my real learning, which is
still in progress!
I think people like you and Scott will do fine, and I hope this helps
you along your way. You're absolutely right about splitting the list;
there is no way that could work. The way it works here is that any fool
like me can answer a newbie's question, and if we get it wrong, we are
corrected by the ones who really know.
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