4
Nov

msmtp – a (fairly) simple mail submission program

As an oldtime Unix guy, I’ve always been used to having the BSD mail utility to hand, and a suitably configured mail system, so that I can script jobs to run and email the results back to me. I use mail as a sort of glorified syslog facility. With smaller single board Linux computers we don’t always want to install a full mail setup – resources often tend to be limited. A few years back I discovered msmtp http://msmtp.sourceforge.net/.

This utility is an smtp client that submits a file in standard mail format to a mail server. It can submit plain text email or use TLS/SSL etc. I use a couple of script wrappers to emulate, sort of, sendmail and the sending part of the BSD mail utility.

Of course to use msmtp you need a mail server to which you can submit email for delivery. My home server is my mail server, but you could use your ISP’s smtp server. Another problem is that msmtp just fails if it can’t connect to the mail server – it’s up to you to handle that and do something else with that precious message you can’t mail just now! My sample scripts do not deal with that situation.

This very simple script I call sendmail, and it will need customising for your setup…

#!/bin/sh
#

# set these for your setup...
MailServer=mail.server
Domain=MachineName
From="me\@my.domain.com"

exec msmtp --host=$MailServer --domain=$Domain --from=$From $*

This is my simple script to emulate the simple parts of the send functionality in the BSD mail utility. It has many shortcomings, but it has served me well…

#!/bin/sh
#
# A sort of shell replacment for the send functionality of
# the standard "mail" utility.
#
# mail [-s subject] recipient(s)
#

u=`id -un`
d="my.email.domain"
r=""
s=""
v=""

while [ $# -gt 0 ]; do
 p="$1"
 shift
 case "$p" in
 -s)
        s="$1"
        if [ $# -gt 0 ]; then shift ; fi
        ;;
 -v)
        v="-d"
        ;;
 -*)
        echo 1>&2 "Option \"$p\" not recognised."
        exit 1
        ;;
 *)
        r="$r , $p"
        ;;
 esac
done
if [ "$r" = "" ]; then
 echo 1>&2 "No Recipients."
 exit 1
fi
if [ "$s" = "" ]; then
 printf "Subject: "
 read s
fi

s="Subject: $s \n"

(echo -e "From: ${u}@$d \nTo: $r \n$s \n\n"
 cat ) | sendmail -t $v

So if you have a job to run on the platform, then this will email the output to you…

my_job | mail -s “my_job output” [email protected]

msmtp can be loaded from the package systems of most distributions, but I have had occasion to cross-compile the package for installing on a system without package management. I had only limited libraries on my cross compile system, and found that after downloading and extracting the sourcecode from sourceforge, I had to cross compile without some of the advanced features. I used

./configure –build=arm –disable-ssl –disable-gsasl –disable-nls

before doing the make to build the binaries. The resultant binary just submitted plain text email, but that was ok for my use – YMMV. The resultant binary, suitably stripped,is pretty lean.

I recently revisited using msmtp to pre-test a change to my ISP’s new smtp server, before committing the change to my mailserver’s sendmail setup. It can also be useful for testing security settings etc on mail submissions systems.

Jim

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