diary at Telent Netowrks

In recent months, I've become teed off enough with the speed of#

Tue, 27 May 2003 02:43:28 +0000

In recent months, I've become teed off enough with the speed of ifile-gnus that I find myself doing all kinds of stuff to avoid actually pulling my mail into gnus, often for days at a time. Typically this means running mutt on my shell host, which means that my mood for the day is set by checking email in the morning and deleting 100 assorted get rich quick schemes, offers of pharmaceuticals, viruses and invitations to pornographic web sites which are probably illegal and damn well should be. This may be one of the reasons I've been so cheerful and enthusiastic lately, and ought to be fixable.

The choices open to me, it seems: (a) hack up some kind of persistent ifile interface (yay, another network daemon running on the loopback interface), (b) installing some other gnus-based filter, or (c) saying "sod it, I'll go back to spamassassin".

Someone on the Gnus team seems to have taken the unix mechanism-not-policy thing to heart. Here's a tip: just because you have the full power of Lisp as your configuration language is no reason to make people have to read your entire source code just to find out how to make your program work at all. If it's actually possible to use spam-stat to classify incoming mail into different folders for spam vs non-spam, it's seriously non-obvious from the info file. Spam filtering is, unfortunately, a basic requirement of a mail reader these days: a mail reader that doesn't do it out of the box will soon be about as useful as a mail reader that doesn't use a pager of some kind to display messages a screen at a time. Still, this is CVS gnus so carping about the intallation is perhaps unfair if they haven't had time to work on it yet.

So, instead, I've reverted to spamassassin/spamd. It's just about usable after setting OPTIONS="-c -m 1" in /etc/default/spamassassin (though putting 600 messages through it using formail it still managed to push the loadavg to 63 briefly and then give me "Can't fork" messages, so I don't think that's the whole answer). It still does a worse job of identifying spam based on looking at the entire message body than I can based on the header alone. And for each incoming message I have inetd spawn sendmail (actually Exim) spawn sh spawn spamc | procmail. So, Exim reads the message from the network and outputs it to spamc. spamc reads it and outputs it to spamd. spamd reads it and outputs it, suitably mutilated, to spamc. spamc reads it and outputs it to procmail. procmail reads it and outputs it to disk. And this is the normal way of arranging things, if the documentation is to be believed.

I read, sometimes, in LWN, about the marvellous things the kernel developers are doing to reduce the context switch time or process startup time, or the amount of copying done to move packets around the network stack, and I can only conclude that it's all a complete and utter waste of time when this is the kind of crap that people build on top of it.

Still, if it means I can start my working day tomorrow without ten messages from someone eager to tell me that he/she "jammed the babysitter" (what is this, CB radio?) maybe it's all worthwhile.

Roll on pervasive PGP, really. If you should ever bump into me physically, ask for my key fingerprint, because I am -><- this close to whitelisting signed mail from real people and letting everything else queue up in the "Things to do - urgent" folder.