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Essential System Administration, 3rd Edition by Æleen Frisch

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A Few Final Tools

We’ll end this chapter on electronic mail by looking at a few related tools and utilities.

You should be aware of the vacation program (included with the sendmail package). It is a utility for automatically sending a predefined reply to all arriving mail while a user is away from email access. To use it, the user creates a file named .vacation.msg in his home directory and creates a .forward file containing an entry like the following:

\username, "|/usr/bin/vacation username"

This sends each mail message to the user’s usual mailbox and pipes it to the vacation program, giving the username as its argument. The slash is needed before the username to create a terminal mail destination and avoid an infinite loop.

Finally, the user activates the service with the following command:

$ vacation -I

To disable vacation, simply move or remove the .forward file.

Warning

Running the vacation command without any arguments triggers an automated setup process. First, a message file is created and started in a text editor (selected via the EDITOR environment variable). The program then automatically creates a .forward file and runs vacation -I. As a side effect, any existing .forward file is lost.

Next, you might find useful these commands that notify users that they have received new mail: biff , xbiff, and coolmail (a prettier xbiff written by Byron C. Darrah and Randall K. Sharpe; I found it on the Internet at http://www.redhat.com/swr/src/coolmail-1.3-9.src_dl.html, but it ...

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