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Section: Mail Avenger 0.8.1 (8) Updated: 2010-04-11
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asmtpd - Avenger SMTP Daemon  


asmtpd [-d] [--verbose] [-f config-file]

asmtpd [--spf] [-f config-file]

asmtpd [--rbl] [-f config-file]

asmtpd [--avenge] [-f config-file] recipient [sender [IP-address]]

asmtpd [--synfp] [tcp-port [IP-address [interface ...]]]

asmtpd [--netpath] IP-address [network-hops]  


asmtpd is the central server daemon for Mail Avanger. Mail Avenger is a highly-configurable MTA-independent SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol) server designed to let you filter and fight SPAM before accepting incoming mail from a client machine. Filtering spam before accepting a message from a remote machine offers a number of benefits. First, while mail is in the process of being sent over the network, more information is available about the client machine, allowing the possibility of more accurate decisions about spam. (For example, machines infected with viruses may be able to be detected by probing.)

Second, filtering during mail transfer allows more options for what to do with potential spam. For instance, one can defer the mail---essentially asking the client to send it again later---which legitimate mail clients will do automatically, but ``spam 'bots'' typically won't. Moreover, it is much safer to reject spam before accepting a message. With typical after-delivery spam checkers, the only options are to discard spam silently (risking false positives that completely disappear), or to notify the sender, but if the sender is forged, this causes more unwanted mail. By rejecting mail during an SMTP transaction, this ensures legitimate mail gets bounced to the sender, while most spam will simply disappear.

Finally, filtering during an SMTP transaction saves resources, since spam messages need never to be spooled in the mail queue.

There are many ways of fighting and detecting spam. Though Mail Avenger has a few basic mechanisms built-in, the philosophy of the system is to let system administrators and individual users plug in their own filtering criteria. The intent is for Mail Avenger to do the hard part---talk the SMTP network protocol, handle asynchronous DNS resolution, SPF rule checking, probing of remote SMTP servers for legitimacy, etc.--while users can set policy through configuration files with simple shell commands.

The basic approach is for users to create scripts in a directory called $HOME/.avenger that specify policies for what mail to accept and what to reject or defer. System-wide fallback policies can also be specified by files in /etc/avenger/. The program that executes these scripts is called avenger, and is described more fully in its own manual page.

asmtpd can be configured to map different email addresses and domains to different local users, in addition to a large number of other configurable features. These are described more fully in the asmtpd.conf(5) manual page.

asmtpd also adds a new header field to messages, "X-Avenger:", containing information that may be of use to spam filters. "X-Avenger:" contains a list of semi-colon-separated tokens, which if present mean the following:

Specifies the version of Mail Avenger that received the message.
Specifies that asmtpd was running on hostname when it received the message.
These specify that the client end of the TCP connection from which the mail came used IP address IP-address and port port-number.
Specifies that a reverse lookup on the client's IP address (to determine the client's hostname) resulted in error.
Specifies that attempts to send bounces to the bounce address of the sender result in SMTP error code. (This is the same value as the SENDER_BOUNCERES environment variable described in the avenger(1) manual page.)
Contains a description of the initial TCP SYN packet used by the client to initiate the TCP connection over which the mail was sent. See the description of CLIENT_SYNFP in the avenger(1) manual page for an explanation of the format.
If present, means the client included a space between the colon in the command ``MAIL FROM:'' or ``RCPT TO:'' and the subsequent ``<'' that begins an email address.
If present, means that the client attempted to pipeline SMTP commands before receiving the "250 PIPELINING" response to the SMTP "HELO" or "EHLO" command. This field has the same meaning as the CLIENT_PIPELINING environment variable in avenger(1).
If present, means the client issued the invalid SMTP command POST. See CLIENT_POST in avenger(1).
This is the number of network hops from the server to the client that sent this mail (if Mail Avenger can figure this out). See CLIENT_NETHOPS in avenger(1).
Set to a space-separated list of as many intermediary network hops as Mail Avenger can efficiently discover on the way from the server to the client that send the mail. See CLIENT_NETHOPS in avenger(1).
To save network traffic, Mail Avenger briefly caches routes to a particular client. network-path-time specifies the precise time at which the information in network-path was discovered. The time is expressed as a standard Unix time (number of seconds since Jan 1, 1970).
RBL=domain (IP-addrs)[, domain (IP-addrs), ...]
For the each real-time blackhole list (RBL) domain specified in asmtpd.conf (see the RBL directive in the asmtpd.conf(5) man page), if the client shows up in the RBL, IP-addrs specifies what the RBL returns.

Usually, RBLs just return to specify that a client is present in the blacklist. However, some services use different IP addresses to encode some information about why the client is listed. If an RBL returns multiple IP addresses, asmtpd includes them all, separated by spaces.

RBL-errors=domain (error)[, domain (error), ...]
Lists any RBL domains Mail Avenger was unable to query at the time of receipt of the message.


The following is a brief description of how to get started with asmtpd. More information is available in the installation guide /usr/local/share/avenger/INSTALL, as well as the asmtpd.conf(5) and avenger(1) manual pages.
If you haven't already, create a user called avenger on your system. This is the user ID under which system-wide avenger scripts will run. (If you wish to use a name other than ``avenger'', you can put the directive "AvengerUser user" in the asmtpd.conf configuration file when you create that.)
Create the directory /etc/avenger.
Create a file /etc/avenger/asmtpd.conf. Copy the sample file in /usr/local/share/avenger/asmtpd.conf and edit to taste.
Create a file /etc/avenger/domains. List each domain for which you would like to receive mail, followed by a colon, one per line. For example:


Fire it up! Run the command ``asmtpd'' as root. You may also want to set things up to run this command automatically on system startup.
Play with scripts. Read the man page for avenger(1), create a .avenger/rcpt file in your home directory, and maybe create a site-wide default file /etc/avenger/default. You will also very likely want to create a script /etc/avenger/unknown to reject mail to unknown users. See the man page for aliascheck(1) and the sample /usr/local/share/avenger/unknown for an example of how to do this.
Finally, you may want to try the avenger.local delivery agent. See the avenger.local(8) man page for more information.


Normally, when started, asmtpd runs as a daemon, sends its output to the system log, and looks for its configuration file in /etc/avenger/asmtpd.conf. The following options change this behavior:
Tells asmtpd to stay in the foreground and send its diagnostic messages to standard error, rather than to the system log.
Ordinarily, asmtpd will attempt to avoid sending overly many duplicate copies of a message to the system log file. The --verbose option changes this behavior, so that certain error conditions (such as missing directories) get reported each time they affect a piece of mail.
-f config-file
Specifies an alternate location for the configuration file.

In addition, several other options are available to run asmtpd in various test modes, for making use of or debugging features.

--spf [-f config-file]
Runs in a mode where asmtpd simply performs SPF tests on <IP-address, sender> pairs it reads from standard input. Can be used to validate asmtpd's SPF implementation against a different implementation, or to debug SPF records (particularly in conjunction with the SPF_TRACE environment variable discussed below).
--rbl [-f config-file]
Tests asmtpd's RBL (realtime black hole) list implementation. The configuration file should contain one or more RBL directives (see the manual page for asmtpd.conf(5)). In this mode, asmtpd will simply read IP addresses from its input and output the result of RBL checks.
--avenge [-f config-file] recipient [sender [IP-address]]
Tests the avenger script for recipient, which must be a fully-qualified email address with a domain. This simulates an SMTP transaction in which client IP-address tries to send mail from sender to recipient. If recipient is not specified, it defaults to postmaster@HostName (where Hostname is the local hostname, as specified in asmtpd.conf). If <IP-address> is not specified, the local address is used.

With this option, asmtpd will log a transcript of avenger's requests to standard error, regardless of the actual DebugAvenger setting. At the end, outputs the SMTP response asmtpd would give to the "RCPT" command.

--synfp [tcp-port [IP-address [interface ...]]]
Tests asmtpd's SYN fingerprinting implementation. Listens to the network and for each incoming TCP connection, prints the IP address and port of the client, along with a fingerprint describing the characteristics of the initial SYN packet from the TCP connection. (For a description of the SYN fingerprint format, see the description of CLIENT_SYNFP in the man page for avenger(1).)

By default, asmtpd will print the fingerprints of any incoming TCP connection. If tcp-port is non-zero, however, asmtpd will only consider SYN packets sent to that TCP port number. If IP-address is supplied and is not, asmtpd will only took at TCP packets for that particular IP address (useful if your local machine has multiple IP addresses). Finally, by default asmtpd will listen to whatever network interfaces correspond to IP-address (or all active non-loopback interfaces for or unspecified). You can alternatively specify explicitly which network interfaces asmtpd should listen on (e.g., ``eth0 eth1'').

To use this option, you must be root (or at least have permission to open the /dev/bpf* packet filter devices on your machine).

--netpath IP-address [network-hops]
asmtpd records the network path to mail clients using a technique similar to the traceroute utility found on many operating systems. The --netpath option tests asmtpd's implementation of this functionality. If network-hops is positive, asmtpd will record only the first network-hops hops on the way to IP-address. If network-hops is negative, asmtpd will output only the last network-hops hops on the way to IP-address. If network-hops is zero, or is not supplied, asmtpd will output the entire route (or as much as it can discover, firewall permitting).

To use this option, you must run asmtpd as root for it to use raw sockets.



When set to a positive integer, causes asmtpd to send to standard error a trace of the checks it is performing while processing SPF records. If set to 1, simply records which SPF traces are happening. Setting it to 2 provides more information, while setting it to 3 provides a complete trace. (Setting the value to 4 or higher additionally causes asmtpd to send the results of all SPF-related DNS queries to its standard output, a feature mostly useful to the implementor.)
asmtpd creates temporary files to hold incoming mail messages before injecting them into the mail system. It usually creates a temporary subdirectory of /var/tmp to hold these files (and cleans up the directory on exit). If TMPDIR is set, its value will be used in place of /var/tmp.


/etc/avenger/asmtpd.conf, /etc/avenger/domains, /etc/avenger/aliases, /etc/avenger/unknown, /etc/avenger/default, $HOME/.avenger/rcpt* /usr/local/share/avenger/*  


asmtpd.conf(5), avenger(1)

The Mail Avenger home page: <>.  


If the packet capture library (libpcap) header files were not available at compile time, asmtpd will not support TCP SYN fingerprints and the --synfp option will not be available. You may be able to fix this by installing a package for your OS called pcap, libpcap, or libpcap-devel (depending on the distribution), then re-running ./configure and re-compiling Mail Avenger.  


David Mazieres




This document was created by man2html, using the manual pages.
Time: 22:01:17 GMT, April 16, 2011