Getting Deferred: local mailer (/usr/bin/procmail) exited with EX_TEMPFAIL error

Posted on 2004-11-29
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-17
long story short, i've got a redhat enterprise server running sendmail (with mailscanner/spamassassin/clamav/mailwatch) and its been fine and happy for several months and pushes out something to the tune of 20,000 messages a day but coming back from the holiday's, i noticed about 450 messages logged in the outbound queue (where mailscanner puts its emails after its scanned them for viruses/spam).  they all have the same error and subject line but different sizes.  here is a copy of my mailwatch log:

     11/29/04 00:22:27   Postmaster notify: see transcript for details Deferred: local mailer (/usr/bin/procmail) exited with EX_TEMPFAIL 18.1Kb 488 00:05:20
     11/29/04 00:24:39   Postmaster notify: see transcript for details Deferred: local mailer (/usr/bin/procmail) exited with EX_TEMPFAIL 9.1Kb 491 00:05:11
     11/29/04 00:25:36   Postmaster notify: see transcript for details Deferred: local mailer (/usr/bin/procmail) exited with EX_TEMPFAIL 5.2Kb 492 00:05:11
     11/29/04 00:26:09   Postmaster notify: see transcript for details Deferred: local mailer (/usr/bin/procmail) exited with EX_TEMPFAIL   20.2Kb 488 00:05:20

they look like NDR's but why are they stuck and what is causing this?  its also making hte server load go a little high so the delivery of emails is slowing down and i'd like to get it resolved as quickly as possible.  Any ideas?

Oh, also, this box is not hosting anything itself.  its a relay only server so it passes all of its mail to other mail servers. no one is POPing off of it.
Question by:Jaidenkell
  • 3
  • 2
LVL 40

Expert Comment

ID: 12698852
Are you using procmail rules? I'd think not on a relay server since procmail is a local mailer that does final delivery of a message to a user's mbox. The actual error messages for these should be in the postmaster's mail. What do they say?

Author Comment

ID: 12700189
The postmaster mailbox is huge (200,000 messages in it totaling a little over 2.1 gigs.  is there an easy, automatic way to prune this?), but i looked at the most recent days in it and they are all basically spam bouncebacks from our other servers telling the relay server that the email address doesn't exist.  Odd thing (maybe this is the problem) is that there are no emails in there from today, only the 28th.  is my mailbox at its limit or something?.

its now gone from 450 to 950 emails in the outbound queue, and it still looks like hte bulk of them are NDR's or delivery reports.  
LVL 40

Accepted Solution

jlevie earned 2000 total points
ID: 12700623
The Postmaster inbox size is probably the cause of the failure of procmail since it is in the 2Gb range. What I'd do at this point is to 'cp /dev/null /var/spool/mail/root' (assuming postmaster is aliased to root to clean out the inbox. If it is the size, as I suspect, that should solve the problem. Then make sure that someone reads root's mail frequently and keeps the inbox cleaned out.

Author Comment

ID: 12700727
That was it. i'm guessing the /dev/null is the nice way of deleting and recreating the root mailbox?  Well, it looks like its working fine now.  Thanks for the help!
LVL 40

Expert Comment

ID: 12701072
'cp /dev/null /var/spool/mail/root' is just a way of emptying the file while preserving its ownership & permissions. /dev/null is just an endless source of nothing. So a copy from it to the file results in an empty file.

Featured Post

Concerto's Cloud Advisory Services

Want to avoid the missteps to gaining all the benefits of the cloud? Learn more about the different assessment options from our Cloud Advisory team.

Question has a verified solution.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, please ask a related question

One-stop solution for Exchange Administrators to address all MS Exchange Server issues, which is known by the name of Stellar Exchange Toolkit.
The core idea of this article is to make you acquainted with the best way in which you can export Exchange mailbox to PST format.
In this video we show how to create a Shared Mailbox in Exchange 2013. We show this process by using the Exchange Admin Center. Log into Exchange Admin Center.: First we need to log into the Exchange Admin Center. Navigate to the Recipients >> Sha…
Established in 1997, Technology Architects has become one of the most reputable technology solutions companies in the country. TA have been providing businesses with cost effective state-of-the-art solutions and unparalleled service that is designed…
Suggested Courses

850 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question