What Resources Are Available Now That Qmail.org Is Gone?

Posted by Viola Eva on August 5, 2019

Inbox

For many people, sending an email involves a few simple steps. In most cases, all you need is to have your email address, the email address of the person to whom you’re sending the message, a subject and the message itself. As long as you know how to click the send button, your email is as good as sent. However, in the background, the action is a little more complicated. This is where a Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) plays an integral part in ensuring that a message successfully moves from a sender to the receiver. Qmail is one of the popular MTAs that have dominated the internet over the last two or so decades.

One of the most popular reference sites for Qmail users was Qmail.org. However, try to access the site today, and you’ll discover that it is gone. We took some time to research what happened to Qmail.org. Then, we identify resources that people who relied on Qmail.org can resort to now that it is no longer available.

 

What Is Qmail?

Dale Sill, the writer of the Qmail Handbook entitled Introducing Qmail, describes Qmail as “an Internet MTA for Unix and Unix-like operating systems.”

Sill goes on to explain that the function of an MTA is twofold. The first is to accept new messages coming from a user’s computer and deliver them to the network of the recipient. The second is to accept emails coming from other systems, which are usually directed at local users. Many people who send emails would neither know nor care what MTAs do because they do not directly interact with these systems (Source).

 

The History of Qmail

Daniel J. Bernstein, the developer of the Qmail software package, works as a professor at the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  He began coding Qmail at the end of 1995. He reports that he got serious when he became “sick of the security holes in Eric Allman’s Sendmail software” (Source). At that time, Sendmail was the leading MTA on the internet.

Bernstein is not the only one who notes the challenges which faced Sendmail in the 1990s. Sill also did; noting that even though “Sendmail developers have worked hard over the years to enhance its security and performance… there’s only so much that can be done without a fundamental redesign” (Source).

According to Sill, the main challenges faced by Sendmail were linked to the fact that it was developed before the explosion of the Internet in the early years of the 1990s. It had been created for a time when the internet was small, and the people online knew each other. He notes that at that point, “Security was not a major concern” because “there were few potential ‘bad guys’ from which to be protected” (Source).

As the Internet expanded and many businesses started to conduct their affairs online, the need for an MTA which could respond to the escalating security challenges became increasingly obvious. This was the background against which Bernstein developed and implemented an MTA that could face the threats presented by the modern internet.

 

Courthouse

Bernstein v. Department of Justice

Bernstein was famous for more than just Qmail. In 1999, he took the government of the United States to court after the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) attempted to prevent him from publishing the source code freely. The EAR is the agency regulating whether something can be exported from the United States.

In court, Bernstein argued that the actions of the EAR were an infringement on his First Amendment Rights. In its verdict, the court agreed with Bernstein. It stated that even though not all software is an expression, programming can be taken as speech which is protected by the First Amendment (Source).

 

The Guarantee

Bernstein was so confident of Qmail’s security that in 1997, he took the bold step of publicly offering a reward of $500 to the first individual who could publish a verifiable security hole in the latest version of Qmail. When no one claimed the $500, he raised his offer to $1000. There is currently no information on anyone claiming this prize.

 

Distinguishing Between Qmail and Qmail.org

The discussion so far has focused mainly on Qmail, the Mail Transfer Agent.  The Qmail software is still widely available (and widely used).  Qmail.org was a website designed as a reference site for Qmail users, and it provided several resources, including a list of “mirrors” of Qmail.org. As of 22 August 2019, Qmail.org was down, and there is very little information about what happened to the reference site.

Qmail.org appeared on the internet for the first time around December 1996. At this time, visitors to the site could get information related to other software that works with Qmail. Users could also access some general tips for solving problems associated with Qmail.

 

The Man Behind Qmail.org

Russ Nelson created Qmail.org. Even though Nelson gained his fame as an American computer programmer and briefly served as the president of the Open Source Initiative, he attracted controversy in 2005 when he posted an article entitled “Blacks Are Lazy” on his blog.

Reports indicate that the fallout from Nelson’s controversial article forced him to step down from his position at the Open Source Initiative. However, he has challenged the accusation of racism and said, “I think that my chief mistake was to say, “Blacks are lazy,” rather than asking, “Are blacks lazy?” He apologized to anyone who thought the post was racist (Source).

 

Qmail.org Mirrors

Qmail.org was mirrored in several places. Mirroring refers to the creation of an identical website or web page under a different URL. Usually, mirror sites are located in different continents to relieve pressure on the original site.

Below is a list of the Qmail mirrors in different continents.

 

USA Asia/Oceania Europe World
Califonia-Geto Australia-Glasswings

 

Belgium-Hebergeur Argentina-Localhost.net.ar
Florida-Orlando Australiallisys Bosnia and Herzegovina-BLIC

 

Brazil-USP
Kansa-Pandakc

 

Australia Sydney Bulgaria-Online Canada-qmail.ca
Michigan-Auchnet

 

Hong Kong-Ibase Bulgaria-CBox Canada – compevo communications
New York-qmail.org

 

Iran-Morva Czech Republic-Cuni Israel-Abramov
Pennsylvania Pair Japan-Teraren France-OVH Israel
Korea

 

Singapore

Latvia (Russian team) Philippines RISE
Luxembourg South Africa
Germany-Kendzorra
Germany GNSW

 

Greece-NTUA

 

Greece

 

UK, Bangor, Northern Ireland – DNSBeans

 

Italy-Hypergrid

 

Poland-LU-MEDIA

 

Switzerland

 

Turkey

 

London, UK

 

UK, London, IPv4, IPv6

 

Blue Keyboard

Alternatives to Qmail.org

Now that Qmail.org is no longer available, what resources could those who relied on the site to solve Qmail problems resort to? We identified a few.

Everything About Qmail

It might be a long time since the site LifeWithQmail.org was last updated, but it still provides excellent resources for anyone looking for comprehensive information about the MTA.

From LifeWithQmail.org, you can download the Life with Qmail PDF handbook. The handbook introduces readers to Qmail, its history, features, and reasons why they should use the MTA, among other topics. It provides details on installation, configuration and usage.

Qmail Tips

In its early days, Qmail.org offered articles written by information technology experts like John Mitchell and Tim Godwin, offering Qmail user tips on how to solve Qmail problems. It also provided information about where users could find commercial support for Qmail. One site that still provides similar services is Qmailrocks.org. It provides a platform where you can access a how-to guide on installing Qmail and other tips.

Qmail User Forums

EmailQuestions.com provides a forum where Qmail users can ask any question about the MTA. From this site, you will find discussions on topics like:

Qmail News

Qmail.omnis.ch delivers news on all things to do with Qmail from as early as 1999. This is an excellent resource for someone who wants to follow the history of the MTA.

Below are a few examples of the topics covered on this site.

  • Mark Steele wrote up some notes on Setting up a Qmail front-end for M$ Exchange server
  • Chris Hardie has written a program to migrate from IMail Server to qmail/vpopmail.
  • Cristiano Venturini has developed Qmailsuite to manage accounts of QMail Ldap Server written in Python (command line) and Php5 (web application).

You can read all the stories here.

 

Conclusion

We cannot conclusively say what happened to Qmail.org. However, we can confidently say that Qmail users still have several resources they can turn to, to find tips, news, select mirrors and ask questions.

 


Viola Eva

Viola Eva

SEO Consultant from Flow SEO

You might also like...

ENTERPRISE

Join over 500.000+ people and businesses using Mailbird.

Unlimited email accounts. Unlimited Inboxes. Unlimited fun.

  • bbc
  • pcworld
  • cnbc
  • Product-hunt
  • itworld
  • huffington post
  • tech-crunch
  • bloomberg