Configuring sendmail Options

sendmail has a number of options that allow you to customize the way it performs certain tasks. There are a large number of these, so we’ve listed only a few of the more commonly used ones in the upcoming list.

To configure any of these options, you may either define them in the m4 configuration file, which is the preferable method, or you may insert them directly into the file. For example, if we wished to have sendmail fork a new job for each mail message to be delivered, we might add the following line to our m4 configuration file:


The corresponding entry created is:

O ForkEachJob=true

The following list describes common sendmail m4 options (and equivalents):

confMIN_FREE_BLOCKS (MinFreeBlocks)

There are occasions when a problem might prevent the immediate delivery of mail messages, causing messages to be queued in the mail spool. If your mail host processes large volumes of mail, it is possible for the mail spool to grow to such a size that it fills the filesystem supporting the spool. To prevent this, sendmail provides this option to specify the minimum number of free disk blocks that must exist before a mail message will be accepted. This allows you to ensure that sendmail never causes your spool filesystem to be filled (Default: 100).

When a mail target such as an email alias is expanded, it is sometimes possible for the sender to appear in the recipient list. This option determines whether the originators of an email message will receive a copy if they appear in the expanded recipient list. Valid values are “true” and “false” (Default: false).

Whenever sendmail receives an SMTP connection from a remote host, it spawns a new copy of itself to deal with the incoming mail message. This way, it is possible for sendmail to be processing multiple incoming mail messages simulatanenously. While this is useful, each new copy of sendmail consumes memory in the host computer. If an unusually large number of incoming connections are received, by chance, because of a problem or a malicious attack, it is possible for sendmail daemons to consume all system memory. This option provides you with a means of limiting the maximum number of daemon children that will be spawned. When this number is reached, new connections are rejected until some of the existing children have terminated (Default: undefined).

When processing the mail queue and sending mail messages, sendmail processes one mail message at a time. When this option is enabled, sendmail will fork a new copy of itself for each message to be delivered. This is particularly useful when there are some mail messages that are stuck in the queue because of a problem with the target host (Default: false).

Whenever a connection is made to sendmail, a greeting message is sent. By default, this message contains the hostname, name of the mail transfer agent, the sendmail version number, the local version number, and the current date. RFC821 specifies that the first word of the greeting should be the fully qualified domain name of the host, but the rest of the greeting can be configured however you please. You can specify sendmail macros here and they will be expanded when used. The only people who will see this message are suffering system administrators diagnosing mail delivery problems or strongly curious people interested in discovering how your machine is configured. You can relieve some of the tedium of their task by customizing the welcome message with some witticisms; be nice. The word “EMSTP” will be inserted between the first and second words by sendmail, as this is the signal to remote hosts that we support the ESMTP protocol (Default: $j Sendmail $v/$Z; $b).

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