24.5. Mail Delivery Agents

24.5. Mail Delivery Agents

Red Hat Enterprise Linux includes two primary MDAs, Procmail and mail. Both of the applications are considered LDAs and both move email from the MTA's spool file into the user's mailbox. However, Procmail provides a robust filtering system.

This section details only Procmail. For information on the mail command, consult its man page.

Procmail delivers and filters email as it is placed in the mail spool file of the localhost. It is powerful, gentle on system resources, and widely used. Procmail can play a critical role in delivering email to be read by email client applications.

Procmail can be invoked in several different ways. Whenever an MTA places an email into the mail spool file, Procmail is launched. Procmail then filters and files the email for the MUA and quits. Alternatively, the MUA can be configured to execute Procmail any time a message is received so that messages are moved into their correct mailboxes. By default, the presence of /etc/procmailrc or of a .procmailrc file (also called an rc file) in the user's home directory invokes Procmail whenever an MTA receives a new message.

Whether Procmail acts upon an email message depends upon whether the message matches a specified set of conditions or recipes in the rc file. If a message matches a recipe, then the email is placed in a specified file, is deleted, or is otherwise processed.

When Procmail starts, it reads the email message and separates the body from the header information. Next, Procmail looks for /etc/procmailrc and rc files in the /etc/procmailrcs directory for default, system-wide, Procmail environmental variables and recipes. Procmail then searches for a .procmailrc file in the user's home directory. Many users also create additional rc files for Procmail that are referred to within the .procmailrc file in their home directory.

By default, no system-wide rc files exist in the /etc/ directory and no .procmailrc files exist in any user's home directory. Therefore, to use Procmail, each user must construct a .procmailrc file with specific environment variables and rules.


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