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Nigel Metheringham edited this page Nov 25, 2012 · 1 revision

Extending Exim to Handle Multiple Queues

There have been several requests for multiple queue support. This page contains some notes about this.

  • An incoming message could be directed to an alternate queue by something like

    control queue=somename

    A problem with this is that it applies to all recipients because it affects the whole message. In some cases this may be what is wanted, but there is probably also a requirement to split a message into different queues according to its recipients.

  • Another possibility is to write a new transport that transports a message from one queue to another. That would be per-address and of course could handle several addresses in a batch if necessary. The downside of this approach is that the message would have to be copied, thus increasing disk usage if it ended up on several different queues.

  • There is no reason why both of the above could not be implemented as complementary approaches.

  • The implementation of other queues would be to put messages under somename/input instead of just input in the spool directory, so you might end up with (for example) /var/spool/exim/nightdelivery/input.

  • There would have to be a new command line option to tell a queue runner which queue to work on. Other command line options that look for specific messages would have to search all the queues, as happens now when the directory is split.

  • There may need to be options for the daemon so that it can start queue runners for different queues at different times. Alternatively, this could be left to the sysadmin to arrange, using cron or whatever.

  • A change of queue in effect changes the spool directory, but only for message-related operations. We don't want to change where the log is written, for example (if it's being written to the spool directory). A new variable with a name something like $spool_queue_directory might be needed.

  • When a message is received into a non-default queue, this should be logged somehow.

RuthIvimey_ adds: Perhaps exim could be arranged as follows:

  • A given instance of Exim (identified by listening port, or explicitly for non-IP exims) reads all message Bodies into a single message store.
  • Processing during message input causes untagged messages to be tagged with one or more queue identifiers along with (perhaps a subset of) the Header information for the message. The queue identifiers should permit one id per recipient. It might be sensible to separate queue id from recipients in the future, but this seems best to start with.
  • The fact of a given message body having several queue ids does not mean that it all has to be copied; instead, the message store refcounts the queues (or, if you prefer, some other mechanism) so as to share bodies.
  • Transports and Routers can both limit their actions to a (sub)set of queues, and transports can cause a message to change queue.
  • It should probably be possible for one exim to tell another exim which queue to use for an incoming message, but this should be out-of-band (so as to stop malicious internet usage of this) and so not in the headers or using ESMTP commands. How then?
  • It should be possible for a queue to require its own storage of message bodies. I think the cleanest implementation would be for a transport to do this: message recipients tagged with Q1 are routed to a transport whose action is to change the queue tag and to copy the message body to a Q2-local message store. Once in Q2, it behaves normally as far as other actions are concerned (?because the queue info contains info about where the bodies are too?).
  • Normal message logging indicates the source queue (if exim was passed one from outside) on the message receipt line, and the final queue used for delivery of the recipient. If intermediate queues were used additional logging would have to be used to see it.
  • Queue names should probably be short strings.

Marc Perkel adds:

  • A first attempt queue that is different than a message to be retried. In some instances speed is important and the first attempt queue could be a ram disk and the retry queue could be a hard drive. This would make Exim lightning fast ut at the risk of losing some email in case of a sudden crash. Exim would transfer the first attempt queue to the retry queue on normal shutdown.