: Note that with a mail server, this is precisely the sort of thing
:that happens with /var/spool/mqueue. In particular, with sendmail, a
:qf/df pair of files get created, the message is received, the sender
:is told "250 Ok", then sendmail goes to deliver the message in the
:background, which 95-99% of the time happens on the first attempt,
:and then the qf/df pair of files get deleted.
: So, again, we see that they've actually done a decent first-pass
:attempt at simulating the load a mail server would place on the
:filesystem. All that we need to add now are a few more features. ;-)
:|o| Brad Knowles, <email@example.com> Belgacom Skynet NV/SA |o|
Well, actually I would disagree quite strongly with you here.
Sendmail does not get into trouble with queue files it is able to retire
quickly. Where sendmail gets into trouble is with queue files it ISN'T
able to retire quickly. This is why you *see* 10,000+ files in mqueue
at times. These files build up because a small percentage of mail
destinations cannot be delivered to immediately.
These files are being continuously rescanned by sendmail queue runs.
It is because of these files that you get good hit-rates on the name
The reason sendmail tends to break down with large queue directories has
little to do with directory overhead and a lot to do with sendmail's own
algorithms. If you have 50 sendmails running a 10,000 file queue, each
of those sendmail processes is essentially scanning the entire queue.
That is, sendmail is implementing an O(N^2) algorithm irregardless of
the directory overhead. When you add UFS cache-miss directory scan
overhead to the fray, it becomes O(N^3).
The MinQueueAge sendmail option helps considerably, but every sendmail
is still going through and scanning the directory and stat'ing every
If not controlled, this eventually leads to a cascade failure. The
potential for a cascade failure is, in fact, the number one reason for
*NOT* running sendmail with background queueing mode turned on. The
best way to avoid a cascade failure is to run the sendmail daemon in
queue-only mode with a set fork limit:
sendmail -bd -OMaxDaemonChildren=X -ODeliveryMode=q
And run the sendmail queue runner separately:
sendmail -q1m -OMaxDaemonChildren=Y -OMinQueueAge=1h
If you run the sendmail daemon in background-delivery mode it is possible
to saturate the system with running processes that stick around trying
to deliver mail to downed destinations. If you do not separate the
queue-running from the daemon accepting connections you can wind up in
the situation where one or the other hogs the MaxDaemonChildren process
limit. But if you run them separately, with separate limits, you give
the system a chance to recover from 'blow-up' situations without
requiring intervention from the sysop.
Just controlling the number of sendmails running the queue immediately
solves many of the directory-too-big problems by preventing a queue-run
cascade failure (where sendmails are forked to run the queue more
quickly then they can be retired).
: An absolutely full newsfeed these days is running somewhere
:around 1.1 million files comprising some 55GB of data (see
:<http://transit.us-va.remarq.com/feed-size/>), or an average of
:52,608.71 bytes per article. A very busy mail server might do a
:million messages per day (or more), but the average message size
:would be much closer to 2-5KB.
This is BEST's mailing-list server. 154 million messages out since
Aug11 last year - around 370 days. A little less then a half a million
messages a day on average. Amazingly enough, barely a terrabyte a year
In anycase, the average from this box is around 5K/msg outgoing.
Statistics from Tue Aug 11 14:07:32 1998
M msgsfr bytes_from msgsto bytes_to msgsrej msgsdis Mailer
0 0 0K 3971636 38000691K 0 0 prog
1 0 0K 15894749 95543012K 0 0 *file*
3 12160185 135184699K 1 1K 2794 0 local
5 5455615 24980285K 154042760 819622748K 910650 3603 esmtp
T 17615800 160164984K 173909146 953166452K 913444 3603
The key issue with any mail server is that bandwidth and transaction
useage tends to be low relatively speaking. A USENET news system
almost always has much higher transactional overhead, especially if it
is taking several feeds. A million news messages a day translates to
around 10 million protocol transactions for a news box taking 4 feeds.
A mail server has many fewer transactions so you can actually afford to
spend more time servicing them. What you cannot afford to spend time
doing in a mail server is scanning the same queue file over and over
again, so what you want to optimize for are the 5% of email messages
that wind up stuck in the queue for more then a few minutes but usually
less then an hour, and then make sure the 1% that stick around past
that do not interfere with the processing of those that stick around
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