[volunteers] What broke mail to 'president@svlug.org'

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Aug 4 01:11:39 PDT 2016

Quoting Daniel Gimpelevich (daniel at gimpelevich.san-francisco.ca.us):

> Then you're _really_ not going to like reading the following at this
> stage:

Actually, I like that as explanatory text -- up to a point.  It's
thorough, partially clear, and concise.

> Since a lot of people would type simply "svlug.org" into a browser
> without the www, that needs to work. Previously, this was taken care of
> by the ill-conceived PHP on the lists host, an apparent vestige of when
> there was only one host.

I'm not sure I know what this refers to.  Your reference is vague.  A
redirect page?  So, unfortunately, from this point on, I'm really not
following you.  There are other, _much_ better ways to do such a
redirect, such as a 301 redirect stanza in the Web server configuration.

I have sample code for doing this in Apache httpd.  Web-searching in the
obvious way for Lighty finds
among other things.

> Retiring Apache and its PHP meant an alternate solution was needed.
> Lighttpd on gruyere had at some point in its early history been
> specifically set up to respond without the www, but this functionality
> was never used.

I don't know what 'set up to respond without the www' means
specifically.  Your reference is vague.

> Repointing the A record for "svlug.org" to gruyere also could not 
> be done in a vacuum, because when Exim sent mail,
> it told the receiving hosts that it was "svlug.org" which couldn't be
> left resolving to something else, so I told Exim that it is now
> "mail.svlug.org" and verified that it continued to function unchanged
> after repointing "svlug.org" to gruyere.

I honestly have absolutely no idea why you would even be tempted to play
around with 'A' records, and _certainly_ am dumbfounded that you'd even
consider pointing that to gruyere, which has nothing to do with
receiving mail.  On balance, I'm very glad you didn't touch that for any

Please do not fuck around with the DNS.

Anyway, deciding to fool with the Exim configuration was a big mistake
given that you (1) didn't understand it, and (2) didn't test results for
the two FQDNs for which lists.svlug.org must receive mail, svlug.org and
lists.svlug.org.  The former got broken by your changes (along with the 
obsolete lines in /etc/hosts).

And, if I might repeat a point of paramount importance I seem to have to
keep repeating and isn't sinking in, all of this would have been much
more easily solvable if you had properly documented what you did.
'Properly documented' means a contemporaneous, timestamped record
showing in detail what you changed, in exactly enough detail so that
other people can know exactly what you did and if necessary can revert.

This is a production system.  Worse, it is a fragile production system.
Therefore, you cannot just fuck around with it.  If you _must_ fuck
around with it, for the love of God at least have the decency to
properly document what you do.

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