Skip to main content

Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

New qmail plugin idea: overload

It should not hap­pen but it does: Your qmail serv­er is over­load­ed. Maybe you are un­der a DOS at­tack, or there is a rea­son why you are get­ting 10x your usu­al amount of mail.

But then you start see­ing how your "not pre­pro­cessed" queue starts grow­ing, and grow­ing...

This can al­so mean things like cla­mav or spa­mas­sas­s­in, which need to check the mail be­fore it gets queued are not keep­ing up with the mail flow, or maybe some IO per­for­ma­ce is­sue.

But what can you do righ now to fix it?

Well, you can dis­able spa­mas­sas­s­in, or, in ex­treme cas­es, shut­down SMTP so the sys­tem has a chance to catch its breath so to speak.

Of course, clos­ing SMTP means your own users can't send email ei­ther, which suck­s.

Now there is a lighter al­ter­na­tive: shut­down SMTP for those who are not your user­s.

Here's the triv­ial code, im­ple­ment­ed as a SPP plug­in, fit to be used in the [mail] sec­tion:


if [ -f /var/qmail/control/overloaded ]
      if [ -z "$SMTPAUTHUSER" ]
              echo R451 Temporary Failure: Server overload
              echo overload: $PPID Temporary Failure: Server overload >&2

And if you are dar­ing and want to make your sys­tem self­-­cor­rect­ing, maybe you should cron some­thing like this:

* * * * * if [ `qmail-qstat  | tail -1 | cut -d: -f2` -gt 100 ];\
then touch /var/qmail/control/overloaded ;\
else rm -f /var/qmail/control/overloaded; fi

I will prob­a­bly code it again in C and make it part of ra/­plu­g­in­s.

thepet / 2008-03-10 20:40:

That sounds a bit like silly qmail syndrome:

There are some ideas there on how to prevent it. But yeah, having a temporary delivery failure message that you can turn on/off I'd definitely consider valuable.