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Re: Changing the default for `send-mail-function'

From: Tim Cross
Subject: Re: Changing the default for `send-mail-function'
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2011 13:25:33 +1000

On Thu, Jul 7, 2011 at 11:19 AM, Lars Magne Ingebrigtsen <address@hidden> wrote:
> Tim Cross <address@hidden> writes:
>> The whole question still seems to come down to two opposing opinions -
>> on one side, we have those who believe that the MAJORITY of local MTA
>> configurations are broken and therefore, we should move to a default
>> of smtpmail, plus those who feel this is the more modern approach
>> adopted by most other mail clients and one that tends to fit better
>> with a model of computing that focuses on mobility and connectivity
>> from multiple networks (with different firewalls, smtp servers and
>> authentication requirements etc)  versus an alternative perspective
>> who question this assumption and who are concerned that many people
>> who currently don't have to worry about issues associated with
>> configuring email will now be forced to and in some cases, this could
>> be difficult as such information may not be readily available - at the
>> very least, it is a change which could force people to do additional
>> tasks requiring additional information which they previously did not
>> have to do.
> Even if that may be the longest sentence I've read outside of Kant, and
> though the verb didn't end the paragraph, I think that's a very cogent
> summary of the issues.

Very generous and I apologise for the length/grammar. I'm posting from
gmail and due to the poor interface, tend not to edit as much as I
should. Not an excuse, just a statement of my laziness.

>> At any rate, without some facts, I doubt this can be resolved. We
>> really need to know some numbers.
> I just have one data point -- I installed Ubuntu, and sending mail from
> Emacs didn't work.
> You'd think that would be pretty typical.  But perhaps I pushed the
> wrong button somewhere?  I can't remember doing so, but somebody (else)
> should just try to install a default Ubuntu on a machine and see what
> happens and report back.

I have installed Ubuntu on one fresh system and upgraded an old system
in the last 12 months. The only issue I had was Ubuntu installed
postfix rather than exim. As part of the installation, I was asked a
couple of very simple questions and mail worked fine.

However, I recently helped someone install ubuntu (11.04) and did
notice that no local MTA was installed at all. I suspect a lot depends
on the set of packages  you install. It isn't at all intuitive either.
For example, the reason that one ubuntu install I did got a local MTA
and the other didn't seems to be down to the fact I have a RAID config
and an MTA is a recommended package for mdadm while the other system
had no RAID and there is no MTA listed in the ubuntu-desktop package
(at least, not at the top level - possibly packages in that
meta-package do require/recommend an MTA). Of course, this is just one
distribution out of many. I think this is partially why this is such a
difficult issue to sort out. This also means that we can see reports
from people installing the same distribution with varying outcomes.
Some get a local MTA and some do not. It has been suggested that even
if they do get an MTA, it will be misconfigured. This certainly hasn't
been my experience. When an MTA has been installed, the configuration
has been very straight-forward - no more difficult than setting up an
individual mail client. Then again, I don't run emacs on a laptop, so
I don't need authenticated SMTP support. My local MTA can use my ISPs
server as a smarthost and all is fine.
>> I have not observed an increase in bugs relating to mail configuration
>> or requests for help to configure mail or frustration regarding the
>> current default.
> Perhaps they weren't able to report the bug?  :-)

With only a little irony and a fair slice of humor, I can only smile and nod!

I would like to say that despite the lack of any clear progress and
the likely high level of frustration that many may be feeling over
this question, I do think you need to be commended for both the work
you have done to improve smtpmail and showing the courage to take on
the frequently touchy topic of changing default settings. It is
important that such questions are raised from time to time to ensure
emacs progresses and I think such discussions/debates are valuable and


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