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

Posted on 2004-11-29
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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.
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Question by:Jaidenkell
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by:jlevie
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?
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by:Jaidenkell
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.  
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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.
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by:Jaidenkell
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!
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by:jlevie
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.
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