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
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!

2 responses to “Cargo-cult trivia!”

  1. <mode=”standard procmail rant”>
    Also, if you happen to discover any version of egrep that has regexps that appear to be even vaguely related to procmail’s, I’d like to see it.

    Per the manual:

    These regular expressions are completely compatible to the normal egrep(1) extended regular expressions. See also Extended regular expressions.


  2. Wow. My .forward is simply "|exec /usr/bin/procmail", and I’m pretty sure I got that from the manpage as well.

    You and your crazy crazy.

    I have no optimization news.