[Pkg-exim4-users] Dropping support for users of Debianhowto-vexim

Marc Haber mh+pkg-exim4-users at zugschlus.de
Tue Nov 29 15:44:07 UTC 2005

On Tue, Nov 29, 2005 at 02:47:07PM -0000, Phillip Baker wrote:
> > In most cases, I found out that the people asking these questions have 
> > used the directions listed in 
> > http://www.debianhowto.de/de:howtos:sarge:exim4_vexim2_courier_mailman
> > which basically say "disable the Debian magic and use our exim4.conf".
> This is, to some extents, understandable. Vexim's example config changes a
> lot of parts of the bog standard exim configuration. There is no reason
> however that the split config file system could not be supported, but noone
> has taken the time to split the monolithic example file down into "Debian
> magic" friendly files. (I'm assuming by debian magic you're including the
> split config schema that is default, as well as the debconf stuff).

Actually, the clean way to do it would be to have their own package,
exim4-config-debianhowto-vexim, which plugs into our packages and
replaces our exim4-config in its entirety. In that case, people are
free to do what they want, and to provide their own support.

> Personally, I always use the monolithic config file because it's easier to
> find things! As a long standing Debian and historically, "exim" package
> user, I find the split configs and the debconf stuff counterintuitive - _to
> what I want to do_. We use vexim very successfully across a number of
> servers and have no problems whatsoever with operating without the 'magic'.

Of course. You have some clue. Which is the target audience of our

> Are the problems people experiencing actually solvable using the debian
> magic or is the problem just that their setup is different to what you would
> expect?

The problem is that these people don't know zilch about how to run a
mail server and expect everything to work fine. If one actually reads
the Debianhowto HOWTO, it will probably lead to a useable server, but
it will definetely not smoothly upgrade. And of course, there is no
mechanism to push configuration changes to the users' systems which
might be a big issue if a security advisory comes up.

I do not object to the HOWTO, I do not object to the way it switches
our magic off, but I do object to offloading their support burden to
us, and to the fact that they seem to attract a BIG bunch of
completely clueless newbies who do not even spare the time to read the
HOWTO and don't have the necessary background.

> > I am therefore tempted to drop any support for vexim-based 
> > configurations and to send all people asking for support towards the 
> > debianhowto.de people who have quite clearly demonstrated that they do 
> > not care about the work load of the people providing Debian's exim.
> This would be an overreaction. Vexim isn't your problem. The standard vexim
> documentation is adequate for those with any familiarity with
> linux/mail/exim to install vexim successfully without having any significant
> problems.

But it quickly becomes my problem when 50 % of incoming newbie
requests come from vexim users who think that the nifty web interface
saves them from accumulating and knowledge about e-mail and exim basics.

> If we are seeing a large volume of users who are having problems
> as a result of following debianhowto.de's walkthrough, then the problem
> could well be there. Or, because it's the only (at last check) howto
> available on putting vexim onto sarge (with all the toys) that non-german
> speaking users are attempting to follow it (and promptly getting lost).

The issue is that HOWTOs are prone to make people do things they are
not qualified to do.

> I'm happy to play host to a proper debian/vexim howto/wiki and can offer
> suggestions but don't have time to do much documentation myself due to the
> amount of work I have on at the moment - any other successfull debian &
> vexim users lurking who could help out?

Hosting surely is not a problem, but dedicating time might. I surely
don't have any available to provide newbie-level documentation for a
software package I don't use myself, and having to do this in two
languages (otherwise, German-language people would continue using the
debianhowto.de HOWTO because they're too lazy to read english text).


Marc Haber         | "I don't trust Computers. They | Mailadresse im Header
Mannheim, Germany  |  lose things."    Winona Ryder | Fon: *49 621 72739834
Nordisch by Nature |  How to make an American Quilt | Fax: *49 621 72739835

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