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Sendmail to discontinue Open Source version soon?

By Dredd in Internet
Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 04:42:46 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

According to a recent posting on the ISP mailing list inet-access, there appear to be grumblings that the financial backers of sendmail.com are going to try and squelch/discontinue the open source version of Sendmail, in favor of their Sendmail Switch product (whose pricing is just ludicrous).

An inet-access member, who was contacting Sendmail, Inc. for support on their Switch product, learned of both their new pricing scheme (designed to completely ignore small companies, by their own admission), and of their intent to kill the open source version.

Being an ardent support of Sendmail myself, I contacted the folks at sendmail.org hoping to get it cleared up (figuring that if some salesdrone knew about this, that the .org folks would know as well, and could either refute the salesdrone, or acknowledge that there was pressure to do so). No response was received from anyone there.

The original message follows (with permission of the author), so you can make your own conclusions. Personally, I can't believe the financial backers can seriously think, with the growing number of OTHER MTAs out there, that if sendmail(open-source) was to vanish, that everyone would just immediately shell out money for sendmail(commercial) and not switch to a different free-as-in-beer product from someone else.

Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 10:45:24 -0600
From: "Michael Phillips \(KF4PFW\)" <mike@coosavalley.net>
To: list@inet-access.net
Subject: Re: Anyone remember Livingston...(Explanation.....)
Sender: owner-list@inet-access.net
Reply-To: list@inet-access.net

And on a similar thread is Sendmail.Com. We made the decision to purchase Sendmail Single Switch in April of this year. Our decision was based at least partially on the fact that Sendmail OpenSource had supported us for some time and it was time to lend support to a program we relied quite heavily on.

Fast forward to last week when we had an issue with Sendmail we needed to resolve. For the very first time, we decided that it would be cheaper for us to contact Sendmail.Com's tech support to get assistance with the problem.

After finding out that we *had* to purchase a 5 pack support contract @ $495.00, we next inquired about upgrading to Sendmail Single Switch 2.2.

The cost? $1295.00. Now, considering we paid $495 for the original (non-upgrade) and Sendmail wants over 3x for an *upgrade*, we felt this was, cough, excessive. I next spoke with the Inside Sales Director who informed me that while she agreed with me that Sendmail was loosing touch with reality, the folks funding Sendmail.Com had decided to concentrate strictly on the Fortune 500 and to hell with everyone else. She also volunteered that Sendmail Open Source was now vulnerable to being dropped from development in the very near future. I pointed out to her that this would more than likely be the kiss of death for Sendmail.com and she agreed, however those that were providing their funding thought otherwise.

My opinion? Sell any stock in Sendmail as well. As for us, we are now converting over to Postfix and will no longer use/support Sendmail.

I feel that Sendmail can be listed right under Livingston as a great company gone bad in the search for profitable stocks.



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Related Links
o sendmail.c om
o sendmail.o rg
o Sendmail.C om
o Postfix
o Also by Dredd

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Sendmail to discontinue Open Source version soon? | 26 comments (20 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
+1 section only.. (2.12 / 8) (#1)
by Fireblade on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 03:57:27 PM EST

just because there isn't any hard evidence yet that this is true. Anyone else hear something about this elsewhere?

Rumors (2.50 / 2) (#9)
by interiot on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 04:27:55 PM EST

there isn't any hard evidence yet that this is true

No doubt. Slashdot is gaining a reputation of being a rumor-mill, we don't need to go there.

[ Parent ]

I disagree (3.50 / 4) (#16)
by Demona on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 12:09:16 AM EST

/. has deservedly gained a reputation over the semi-recent past for inadequate fact-checking and blatantly misleading headlines. k5 readers, when they does post rumors, have clearly indicated which aspects of the story are facts and which are speculations or rumors.

[ Parent ]
alternatives (3.90 / 11) (#4)
by itarget on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 04:09:45 PM EST

They'd be shooting themselves in the foot by yanking the open source version of sendmail.

Given sendmail's history of exploits and the availability of alternative smtp daemons like postfix or qmail, eliminating the open source version would see sendmail usage plummet and with it their brand name recognition as most popular mail server.

Companies really need to quit counting installations of their "free" software as lost revenue. Had there been only a commercial version of their software available, pretty much none of these people would have used it. They'd just use something else. In fact, good experiences with the free version can only encourage purchase of other software or support contracts. Hey, if you don't believe this sort of thing works, just look at CD sales despite the RIAA's fears and constant bitching about mp3 music. :-P

Just how many people paid for Sendmail, anyway? (3.66 / 6) (#10)
by static on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 07:05:08 PM EST

Obviously, the story poster did. But amongst the Kuro5hin regulars, who else has?

For the record, I don't use Sendmail. At home, I use qmail and at work, we use Lotus Domino.


Story Poster Didn't (3.00 / 1) (#13)
by Dredd on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 09:29:34 PM EST

For the record, I posted the story and I never paid for it. The guy on inet-access did. Although I can understand the concept of "buying the product to support the developers". (I've bought copies of Red Hat, SuSE, etc., not so much because I have them all installed at any given time, but to support the developers making them).

Personally, I'm running 8.11.2.Beta0 at home. ;-)


[ Parent ]

Thanks for the correction. (!msg) (none / 0) (#22)
by static on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 04:56:59 PM EST

[ Parent ]
I'm not running the payware version (none / 0) (#17)
by fvw on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 05:50:03 AM EST

I don't run the payware version.. I do run the standard open source version, but only because I bought the bat book a while ago and it would be a waste not to use it. :-)

[ Parent ]
Good Riddance (2.42 / 7) (#11)
by Qtmstr on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 07:39:30 PM EST

Sendmail is one of the buggyest, most insecure MTAs that exists today. If people stopped using it and switched to better software packages like qmail and postfix, not only would boxes, in general, be more secure, but spam would probably decrease as well due to fewer numbers of open relays being active.

Kuro5hin delenda est!
also flexible (3.66 / 3) (#12)
by h2odragon on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 09:18:37 PM EST

Sendmail is capable of doing truly horrible things, relaibly, when you need them done. I'll happily pay the price that exacts in complexity. If you don't care to I can live with that.

If sendmail.com suffers a recto-cranial inversion, no matter. They'll have a commercial fork is all; the massive wart ridden MTA we all love to hate will almost certainly continue its devolpment unabated. At worst they might have to change the name of the open version.

As for spam, I think sendmail gets a bad reputation from all the old installs that haven't been touched since before open relays were a problem. Looked at in a different light, that's some of the best advertisment there is: All of these mail systems have been functioning well enough to be left alone for how many years now?

[ Parent ]

Qmail seems to be able to mangle email pretty good (3.66 / 3) (#14)
by tzanger on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 10:54:11 PM EST

Sendmail is capable of doing truly horrible things, relaibly, when you need them done. I'll happily pay the price that exacts in complexity.

As the subject suggests, qmail is capable of insanely complex rule matching as well. In fact you can put procmail, shell scripts, perl programs or compiled code right in the routing path and do whatever the hell you desire based on whatever rules you desire, the phases of the moon, whether Venus is in Capricorn, whatever... Is there something sendmail does which the alternatives are incapable of?

Not meant as a troll, I am genuinely curious.

[ Parent ]
probably not (4.00 / 4) (#15)
by h2odragon on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 11:43:41 PM EST

I haven't looked at other MTA's seriously for a couple years now actually, and this story has put a new look at both qmail and postfix on my list of stuff to do soon. I could be flip and point out the fun stunts like turing machines and calculators in sendmail.cf and so on, I suppose...

I imagine that sendmail still leads the pack in some things of more historic interest nowadays, UUCP and other weird mail system bridging and the like. There was a time not so long ago that those features were important, and I'm close enough to the edge of the net to have some chance of needing that kind of thing even today. If qmail does the kind of thing you describe then making it do what's needed probly wouldn't be hard, indeed might have been done for all I know.

I was exposed to sendmail at a very tender age when there were no alternatives capable of doing the job I needed (worse than FIDOnet but thankfully much smaller), and with sendmail at the time it was a matter of a few relatively simple hacks and tweaks.

If I'd actually been authorised to play with the mail hub the system might have lived longer... I'll shut up now since the rest of that story might end up helping your side of the argument.

[ Parent ]

Wrong! (none / 0) (#23)
by KindBud on Fri Nov 17, 2000 at 05:56:36 PM EST

Sendmail is one of the buggyest, most insecure MTAs that exists today.

You must be thinking of v5 or SMI-8.6.

Did you know that any local user can overwrite any message in the postfix queue?

Also, qmail and postfix are incapable of supporting many sendmail features, such as LUSER_RELAY and complex address rewriting rules.

But the "sendmail is insecure and buggy" claim is old-hat, and not applicable to current versions any more than it is applicable to the current versions of alternatives.

just roll a fatty

[ Parent ]

Postfix misinformation. (none / 0) (#26)
by churchr on Mon Nov 20, 2000 at 04:09:59 PM EST

Both assertions are incorrect, at least in recent versions (I've been using Postfix for about a year and a half). LUSER_RELAY is absolutely supported in Postfix, and world-writeable mqueues are certainly _not_ a condition for running Postfix. It's an administration issue. I could make a world-writeable mqueue in sendmail as well, couldn't I?

[ Parent ]
Optonline.net runs "buggyest MTA" (none / 0) (#24)
by KindBud on Fri Nov 17, 2000 at 06:07:54 PM EST

Qtmstr (qtmstratoptonlinedotnet) wrote on Wed Nov 15th, 2000 at 05:39:30 PM PDT:
Sendmail is one of the buggyest, most insecure MTAs that exists today.
$ telnet mail-hub.optonline.net smtp
Connected to s1.optonline.net.
Escape character is '^]'.
220 s1.optonline.net ESMTP Sendmail 8.10.2/8.10.2; Fri, 17 Nov 2000 18:06:06 -0500 (EST)


just roll a fatty

[ Parent ]

Yes, but... (none / 0) (#25)
by Qtmstr on Sun Nov 19, 2000 at 01:57:48 AM EST

Yes, but I don't run optonline.net

Kuro5hin delenda est!
[ Parent ]
Irrelevent, this is what Open Source is for (3.50 / 2) (#18)
by codemonkey_uk on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 09:46:16 AM EST

The Sendmail Licence is a:
"standard BSD style licence with some extra GNU style 'Derivatives should contain the same licence, unless you receive a custom licence from Sendmail, INC'." - http://www.flora.org/flora.comnet-www/1289
Which means that when, or if, sendmail.com stop developing the Open Source version, then somebody (probably sendmail.org) can take up (or continue) development without them.

This is not the end of sendmail. It may be the loss of a developer, maybe the lead developer. But those that care (need to) will continue, support companies targeting the smaller buisness will crop up, if theres a demand.

Note, I havn't examined the licence in detail (a copy of which can be found here) so I may be wrong.

"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell

Sendmail raises prices as predicted (3.50 / 2) (#19)
by kiwi on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 02:33:15 PM EST

As the author of the original message on this thread, I decided today to see if a *portion* of what I had been told by the Inside Sales Director I spoke with was true and was verifiable. Checking on Sendmail.com's web site, the price of Sendmail Single Switch has risen from $2500.00 last week to $3500.00 this week. I wonder what has been added to this product to warrant raising prices from a low of $99 (the introductory price when switch was first released, IIRC) to today's $3500.00, especially with only a minor revision number change ???

They say they're not (4.80 / 5) (#20)
by h2odragon on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 04:06:08 PM EST

After seeing this I hunted through the sendmail.com site for a contact address. I asked, "Is sendmail trying to go totally commercial?"

Thanks for the heads up. This is a misquote. Sendmail has no intentions to discontinue supporting the Open Source product. We are taking action to correct this statement.

Barbel French
Director Corporate Communications
Sendmail, Inc.
6425 Christie Ave., 4th Floor
Emeryville, CA 94608

Official comment from Eric Allman (5.00 / 4) (#21)
by hadashi on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 04:15:41 PM EST

Hello, all.

Eric Allman has posted a response to this on the inet-access list:

From: Eric Allman <eric@Sendmail.COM>
To: list@inet-access.net
Subject: wither sendmail open source?

I've recently heard that there are rumors floating around that Sendmail, Inc. is contemplating dropping the open source version of sendmail. Nothing could be further from the truth. The open source is important to our commercial success and an integral part of our business strategy. We have absolutely no plans to even consider dropping open source, and continue to put substantial resources behind open source development.

(end quote)

Just thought y'all would like to know.

disclaimer: Yes, I do work for sendmail.com. No, I don't speak for them.

-- If the .sig fits...

Sendmail to discontinue Open Source version soon? | 26 comments (20 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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