name = qmail
Daniel J. Bernstein
latest release version = 1.03
latest release date = release date|1998|06|15
latest preview version = netqmail 1.06
latest preview date =
November 11, 2007
operating system =
programming language =
C (programming language)
Mail transfer agent
public domaincite web
title=Some thoughts on security after ten years of qmail 1.0
website = http://cr.yp.to/qmail.html
qmail is a
mail transfer agentthat runs on Unix. It was written, starting December 1995, by Daniel J. Bernsteinas a more secure replacement for the popular Sendmailprogram. qmail's source code is released to the public domain, making qmail free software.cite web
title=Information for distributors
quote=I hereby place the qmail package (in particular, qmail-1.03.tar.gz, with MD5 checksum 622f65f982e380dbe86e6574f3abcb7c) into the public domain. You are free to modify the package, distribute modified versions, etc.]
When first published, qmail was the first security-aware mail transport agent; since then, other security-aware MTA's have been published. The most popular predecessor to qmail,
Sendmail, was not designed with security as a goal, and as a result has been a perennial target for attackers. In contrast to sendmail, qmail has a modular architecture composed of mutually untrusting components; for instance, the SMTPlistener component of qmail runs with different credentials than the queue manager, or the SMTP sender. qmail was also implemented with a security-aware replacement to the C standard library, and as a result has not been vulnerable to stack and heap overflows, format string attacks, or temporary file race conditions..
When it was released, qmail was significantly faster than Sendmail, particularly for bulk mail tasks such as mailing list servers. qmail was originally designed as a way for managing large mailing lists.
Prior to qmail, the most popular Internet mail server was Sendmail. Sendmail configuration had been notoriously complex, involving one of the most complicated configuration file formats facing Unix systems administrators. In contrast, qmail was configured using a series of small flat files. For common configurations, in many circumstances, qmail was significantly easier to configure and deploy.
qmail encourages the use of several innovations in mail (some originated by Bernstein, others not):
; Maildir: Bernstein invented the
Maildirformat for qmail, which splits individual email messages into separate files. Unlike the "de facto" standard Mboxformat, which stored all messages in a single file, Maildir avoids many locking and concurrency problems, and can safely be provisioned over NFS. qmail also delivers to Mbox mailboxes.
; Wildcard mailboxes: qmail introduced the concept of user-controlled wildcards. Out of the box, mail addressed to "user-"wildcard" on qmail hosts is delivered to separate mailboxes, allowing users to publish multiple mail addresses for mailing lists and spam management.
qmail also introduces the
Quick Mail Transport Protocol(QMTP) and Quick Mail Queuing Protocol(QMQP) protocols.
qmail is nearly a completely modular system in which each major function is separated from the other major functions. It is easy to replace any part of the qmail system with a different module as long as the new module retains the same interface as the original.
qmail was designed as a pointed response to Sendmail, an extremely popular and somewhat beloved piece of Unix software. Author Bernstein was not shy about pointing out the deficiencies in Sendmail's design and the superior characteristics of qmail, nor did he take pains to replicate Sendmail's behavior, which at the time was the de facto standard for Internet mail delivery. As a result, qmail came under unusually intense scrutiny.
ecurity reward and Georgi Guninski's vulnerability
Bernstein offered a US$500 reward for the first person to publish a verifiable
security holein the latest version of the software.cite web
title=The qmail security guarantee
In 2005, security researcher Georgi Guninski found an
integer overflowin qmail. On 64-bit platforms, in certain configurations of disputed realism (including absence of resource limits and unusually large amounts of available virtual memory), the delivery of huge amounts of data to certain qmail components may allow remote code execution. Bernstein disputes that this is a practical attack, arguing that no real-world deployment of qmail would be susceptible. Configuration of resource limits for qmail components mitigates the vulnerability. [cite web
author = Georgi Guninski
title = Georgi Guninski security advisory #74, 2005
url = http://www.guninski.com/where_do_you_want_billg_to_go_today_4.html
November 1, 2007, Bernstein raised the reward to US$1000.cite web
title=Some thoughts on security after ten years of qmail 1.0
accessdate=2007-12-01] At a slide presentation the following day, Bernstein stated that there were 4 "known bugs" in the ten year old qmail-1.03, none of which were "security holes." He characterized the bug found by Guniski as a "potential overflow of an unchecked counter." "Fortunately, counter growth was limited by memory and thus by configuration, but this was pure luck."cite web
title=Some thoughts on security after ten years of qmail 1.0 [Slide presentation]
Frequency of updates
The core qmail package has not been updated for many years. [cite web
url = http://www.lifewithqmail.org/lwq.html#history
title = Life with qmail; History
accessdate = 2007-12-01] New features are provided by third party patches, such as net-qmail. This is a benefit for some users, from not needing to apply patches continuously, and a liability for other users, particularly those who rely on authentication mechanisms that post-date qmail.
qmail was designed to replace
Sendmail, but does not behave exactly as Sendmaildid in all situations. In some cases, these differences in behavior have become grounds for criticism. For instance, qmail's approach to bounce messages (a format called QSBMF) differs from the standard format of delivery status notifications specified by the IETFin RFC 1894, meanwhile advanced to draft standard as RFC 3464, and recommended in the SMTP specification.
Furthermore, some qmail features have been criticized for introducing mail forwarding complications; for instance, qmail's "wildcard" delivery mechanism and security design prevents it from rejecting messages to nonexistent senders during SMTP transactions. In the past, these differences may have made qmail behave differently when abused as a spam relay, though modern spam delivery techniques are less influenced by bounce behavior.
Despite these concerns, qmail is among the five most popular Unix mail servers, forwarding a significant fraction of all of the email on the Internet.
qmail was released to the public domain in November 2007. [cite web
url = http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3147768955127254412&q=%22Bernstein+releases+code+to+public+domain%22&total=1&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0
title = Bernstein releases code into the public domain
accessdate = 2007-11-30] Formerly, qmail was
license-free software, which granted permission for distribution in source form or in pre-compiled form (a "var-qmail package") only if certain restrictions were met, primarily involving compatibility.
qmail is the only broadly deployed MTA in the public domain.
List of mail servers
Comparison of mail servers
* [http://cr.yp.to/qmail.html Official qmail website] , maintained by the author
* [http://www.qmail.org Unofficial qmail website] , maintained by
* [http://qmail-ldap-ui.sourceforge.net qmail-LDAP-UI] - qmail-LDAP-UI is a Web based User Administration tool
* [http://www.qmailrocks.org/ "qmail" rocks] , a qmail guide with additional addons
* pkgsrc [ftp://ftp.netbsd.org/pub/NetBSD/packages/pkgsrc/mail/qmail/README.html qmail] and [ftp://ftp.netbsd.org/pub/NetBSD/packages/pkgsrc/mail/qmail-run/README.html qmail-run] , a pair of easy-to-install cross-platform qmail source packages included in [http://www.pkgsrc.org/ pkgsrc]
* [http://qmail.faqts.com/ The qmail section of FAQTS] , an extensive knowledgebase built by qmail users
* [http://www.qmailwiki.org/ qmailWiki] is a relatively new
wikiabout qmail, hosted by Inter7
* [http://home.pages.de/~mandree/qmail-bugs.html Unofficial qmail Bug and Wishlist]
* [http://xzdev.com/qmail_queue.html Qmail queue messages deliver (PHP)]
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