Email Sending with Dada Mail FAQ

This FAQ attempts to answer questions specifically to sending out email from Dada Mail.


Related FAQ's


General

What's the difference between the Sendmail Command and SMTP?

Both SMTP sending and using the sendmail command do the same thing - they send email.

The SMTP engine will connection directly to an SMTP server.

The sendmail command will pass an email message to a server utility, which will then connect to the SMTP server.

Which one should I use, the sendmail command or SMTP?

If the sendmail command works, there's no reason to use SMTP directly.

Some reasons you may want to use SMTP sending:


SMTP Sending

What does Dada Mail use for its SMTP Sending?

Currently, Dada Mail uses the Net::SMTP_auth CPAN module to send email via SMTP. More information:

http://search.cpan.org/~apleiner/Net-SMTP_auth

In versions prior, it has used the Net::SMTP CPAN module:

http://search.cpan.org/~gbarr/libnet/Net/SMTP.pm

And the Mail::Bulkmail CPAN module:

http://search.cpan.org/~jimt/Mail-Bulkmail/Bulkmail.pm

Net::SMTP_auth is a little more flexible than Net::SMTP when it comes to setting the authentication schemes to use and Mail::Bulkmail does not support SASL authentication at all, has some mysterious bugs we couldn't figure out and Dada Mail does much of the rest of the utilities that it packs.


SMTP Authentication

One of the main disadvantages of using the, Send via SMTP feature in Dada Mail is actually, setting up a mailing list to use it. Not that you have to jump through flaming hoops to do so, it should be very similar to how you'd set up a desktop mail reader to send messages. But, if you haven't done that, it can be slightly intimidating.

Currently, there are two different authentication schemes that Dada Mail supports for sending via SMTP.

Note: Be very wary if your SMTP server requires no authentication. This is also known as an, ``open relay'' mail server. Any mail sent through an open relay these days will be black listed by spam filters. Because of this fact, most SMTP servers require some sort of authentication.

Only use an SMTP server that does not require authentication when the server has some other way of being selective on who connects to it. For example, your SMTP server may just be, localhost and will only accept local connections. In this setup, it would be OK to use SMTP sending without authentication.


SASL Authentication.

The first SMTP authentication scheme is called, SASL Authentication.

Basically, Dada Mail will log into an SMTP mail server and the SMTP mail server will ask for the correct username and password. When Dada Mail gives this to the SMTP mail server, it can then send mail. Pretty simple.

What username and password are you supposed to give the SMTP server?

The username and password that you want to give the SMTP server is either:

Usually, I check the option in Manage List: Sending Options: SMTP Settings, Set the Sender of SMTP Mailings to the List Administration Address. If I have to use Authentication with the SMTP server, I will then use the List Admin's username/password information

How do you know you're supposed to use SASL authentication?

Usually, the documentation provided by your hosting company will tell you if you need to use SASL authentication. If you do not need to use SASL authentication, you'll most likely need to use POP-before-SMTP authentication.


POP-before-SMTP Authentication

POP-before-SMTP Authentication is slightly different than SASL Auth. Instead of the SMTP mail server requesting the appropriate username and password to log into the SMTP mail server, you'll instead have to first, successfully log into the POP mail server.

To clarify, a POP mail server is usually used to fetch received mail, as opposed to an SMTP mail server, which is used to send mail. So POP mail server: receives mail; SMTP mail server, sends mail.

The SMTP server will know if you've recently successfully logged into the POP mail server and if so, will allow you to send mail through the SMTP mail server. Sounds weird, right? I think so too.

Again, you'll probably want to use the list owner's email address's username/password to log into the POP mail server and again, your hosting company will most likely let you know which authentication is required.

Testing Your SMTP Sending

In the Manage List: Sending Options: SMTP Options list admin screen, you should see a button labeled, Save and Test SMTP Settings.... Clicking this button will both Save your SMTP settings and test the settings to see if they work.

Testing basically involves connecting to the SMTP server and attempting to send a message out.

What you'll see in the test results is the actual communication between the (sometimes POP3 server if you're using POP-before-SMTP auth) SMTP server and Dada Mail.

Sometimes, you can tell if you'll need SASL authentication when you see something similar to the following line:

 Net::SMTP=GLOB(0x56054)<<< 250 AUTH LOGIN PLAIN CRAM-MD5

This means, the server requires SASL authentication, in either the, LOGIN, PLAIN or, CRAM-MD5 type. Note! that sometimes SMTP servers advertise SASL authentication, but actually do not support it. Confusing? Yes.

If you have problems with SASL Authentication, you'll usually see a message like this:

 [Sun Jan 21 17:35:59 2007] mail.cgi: Problems sending via SMTP:  at /Library/WebServer/CGI-Executables/dada/mail.cgi line 3295

If you do ask for help with debugging a problem connection, make sure to never post your password on any public mailing list/message board. It may be difficult to see, since your password will be encoded, but it's easily decoded.

For example:

 Net::POP3=GLOB(0x54710)>>> APOP user%example.com 15e134ff8f404386b79613cfd3254d6f

15e134ff8f404386b79613cfd3254d6f is the encoded password.

Another way to continually see these verbose results of ever SMTP connection made is to tweak the Config.pm variable, %CPAN_DEBUG_SETTINGS. The two key/value pairs you'll be interested in are:

 NET_POP3 => 0,
 NET_SMTP => 0,

Change the 0 to 1 To have extremely verbose debugging information in your error log (set up your error log as well)

How can I enable SMTP sending using SSL/TLS?

You'll need a few things, none of which we can really bundle with Dada Mail (unfortunetly)

If you were hoping that you can just use SSL connections with Dada Mail - you can, but you'll need a few things already available on your server. The upshot is that these things may already be available. The downshot is, if they're not, it can be difficult to install, if you are not well-versed in administrating your own webserver. But, the support in Dada Mail is there.


Bounces

Is there a bounce handler for Dada Mail?

Yes, see:

http://dadamailproject.com/support/documentation/dada_bounce_handler.pl.html

Where are my bounce messages going?

Short Answer:

Bounces will go to which ever email address is set in the Return-Path of your email messages. Look at the source of an email message sent by Dada Mail, to find where the Return-Path header is set.

Longer Answer:

A brief tutorial in email sending:

An email message has basically two parts: the Message Headers and the Message Body. The Message Body is the easiest thing grasp - it's the message itself. The Message Headers all serve different roles, but a few should be familiar to anyone.

For example, the Subject: header is where the subject of the message is, the From header tells you where the message originated from, the To: header tells you where it's going. Easy enough. I'll throw in two more headers at you, that sometimes do not visually appear when you view a message in your mail reader.

The first is the Reply-To header. It'll hold a email address, just like the From: and To header. When you reply to a message, and the Reply-To header is present, it'll be sent to that address. If the Reply-To header is not present, your message will be sent to the email address that's present in the, From header.

The other header I want to talk about is the Return-Path header. This header also contains an email address and serves a similar purpose as the Reply-To: header, but is instead used for automatic response systems - like when a server bounces your message back, or a vacation script sends a note to you. It'll never be used by a real live human being, so it's not something you need to check.

So, in general:

Saying all that, Dada Mail's list administrator should be what's being set in its message Return-Path.

By default, this is probably not the case - you'll have to do some minor tweaks to your list. If you don't, the best bet is that the Return-Path header is set to a email address that is quite foreign to you.

Depending on how your sending options are setup, you need to do different tweaks. Here they are:

And, that's it.

Now that you know how to set the Return-Path header, put it to some good use! Set up Mystery Girl, the Bounce Handler for Dada Mail:

http://dadamailproject.com/support/documentation/dada_bounce_handler.pl.html


Problems

Write an HTML message, receive it as PlainText

If you write your message in HTML, and it's received what looks like PlainText, a few things may be wrong: