Rich Lafferty's LiveJournal (mendel) wrote,
Rich Lafferty's LiveJournal

Cargo-cult trivia!

A mini scavenger hunt for the unixheads out there:

dagbrown and I were just talking on #unix about the correct way to invoke procmail. According to the procmail manpage, the correct way to invoke procmail is something like this:

    "|IFS=' ' && exec /usr/bin/procmail -f- || exit 75 #wlonkly"
Dave rightly noted:
    <dagbrown> It's some bizarre incantation because for some reason
               procmail doesn't work right by default and nobody can 
               understand the code to fix it.
So the whole thing is pretty cargo-cultish, but our issue here is the practice of putting your username in a comment following the command. The procmail FAQ states that
Some mailers `optimise' maildelivery and take out duplicates from Cc:, Bcc: and alias lists before delivery. If two or more persons on such a list would have identical .forward files, then the mailer will eliminate all but one. Adding a `#' with your login name following it will make the .forward files unique, and will ensure that the mailer doesn't optimise away some addresses.
but he and I are convinced that no-one has had to do that for decades, and that people only include it (and checking a system I help maintain suggests that everyone still uses it) because they saw someone else include it, and so on. (That's true for me, at least.)

So your quest, should you choose to accept it, is thus:

Find me the name and version of an MTA that optimized .forward the way the Procmail FAQ describes.
The contest will end in a week or so (unless someone has a good reason to ask for an extension, and I'm worse than a teaching assistant on those). The winning entry will be the first one received whose MTA version is the most recent (by release date, but at my discretion). The winner will get fame (mentioned here) and fortune (a ThinkGeek t-shirt of their choosing).

Decisions as to the validity or disqualification of entries is entirely up to me, because it's my game. The only way to get disqualified is to try to play with loopholes in the "rules" instead of trying to find an MTA which actually does as described. Of course, the MTA you submit should probably actually support .forward files. Your chances of winning improve if you also submit some evidence regarding your claim.

Do not post your responses to this thread! Questions about the contest are welcome here though.

Mail submissions to Feel free to submit multiple times if you find a better answer after you've already submitted. I'll reply to you when I (manually) read your submission to let you know I received it.

Tell your friends!


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