System Administration Guide: Network Services

Interactions of Mail Programs

Mail services are provided by a combination of the following programs, which interact as shown in the simplified illustration in Figure 14–2.

Figure 14–2 Interactions of Mail Programs

The context describes the graphic.

The following is a description of the interactions of mail programs.

  1. Users send messages by using programs such as mailx. See the man page for mailx(1) for more information.

  2. The message is collected by the program that generated the message, and the message is passed to the sendmail daemon.

  3. The sendmail daemon parses the addresses (divides them into identifiable segments) in the message. The daemon uses information from the configuration file, /etc/mail/, to determine network name syntax, aliases, forwarding information, and network topology. By using this information, sendmail determines which route a message must follow to get to a recipient.

  4. The sendmail daemon passes the message to the appropriate system.

  5. The /usr/lib/mail.local program on the local system delivers the mail to the mailbox in the /var/mail/username directory of the recipient of the message.

  6. The recipient is notified that mail has arrived and retrieves the mail by using mail, mailx, or a similar program.