Exim lecturing its users (April 29, 2006)

It is frustrating when programmers decide to lecture their users instead of supporting them. I just spent over an hour trying to get my mail to relay through EPFL's mail servers using the restrictive channels EPFL allows, only to find that Exim has its own restrictions. The two sets of restrictions are workable by themselves but do not have a solution together. The only way to make Exim and EPFL both happy is for them not to talk to each other. Bleh. I think I will stick with EPFL and replace Exim.

The specific constraints, for the morbidly curious and the technologically perverse:

  1. Some of the EPFL mailing lists I need to use only allow mails from on campus.
  2. I use this thing called the Internet, though, and do a lot of my work away from campus.
  3. EPFL's IT, recognizing that 1 and 2 together are a problem, keeps #1 but adds an extra on-campus relay server to work around the problem.
  4. Alas, port 25 is blocked when trying to connect to the relay server. The university firewall says no, for some reason.
  5. EPFL's IT, recognizing that 1-4 are a problem together, provides a workaround for the workaround that is blocked: it lets you connect to port 465 instead of 25.
  6. However, on port 465 the relay server only offers the semi-standard SSMTP protocol, not vanilla SMTP.
  7. Exim, as flexible as it is, can talk SSMTP.
  8. However, it will only speak it to clients, not to servers, because "ssmtp is a legacy protocol (and has been for some time)".

I wish EPFL's networking were more permissive, that it erred towards working instead of erring towards making its users work harder. I wish Exim's authors would swallow their taste, that they would support the Internet as it is instead of the Internet they wish for. I wish I had a slice of pie.

Lex Spoon