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Basic data

developer Sendmail Inc.
Publishing year 1980
Current  version 8.15.2
( July 3, 2015 )
operating system UnixWindows NT
programming language C.
category Mail Transfer Agent
License Free software
German speaking No

Sendmail is a mail transfer agent whose history dates back to the early 1980s.


This computer program has become so widespread that many other programs for Unix assume that Sendmail is installed and configured. Short-term calls as intended via the command line are not used as a daemon .

Processing commands designed for Sendmail in this operating mode is referred to by other Mail Transfer Agents as being compatible with Sendmail, which is a feature that is often emphasized.


Sendmail is free, open source software . It uses its own license that allows the creation of non-commercial proprietary derivative works.


Sendmail was released with the first Berkeley software distribution for TCP / IP . Eric Allman had developed the program from his hack delivermail , which he programmed in 1980 for adapting e-mail addresses between different computer networks at the University of California at Berkeley . The fact that delivermail could only be configured in the source code turned out to be very obstructive when TCP , DNS and SMTP were introduced and prompted the further development of Sendmail. To deliver mail 2 followed as Sendmail third

Being included in the first free Unix system wasn't the only benefit of Sendmail. With the older alternative MMDF , a group to implement TCP / IP first had to be found, which dragged on for two years. Changes were made much faster with Sendmail.

1987 Lennart Lövstrand at the University of Linköping developed the spin-off IDA sendmail from version 5 of Sendmail , from which in turn KJS and UIUC IDA emerged . UIUC IDA was supervised by Paul Pomes at the University of Illinois and Neil Rickert at Northern Illinois University , who developed today's concept of configuration. Unix manufacturers such as Sun Microsystems developed their own extended variants. For example, Hewlett-Packard added support for MIME . Configuration files were not interchangeable between different variants, and different variants with the same problems required different solutions.

In 1992, Allman began rewriting Sendmail to version 8, which took over much of the spin-offs. In 1999 he co-founded Sendmail Inc., which took on the further development and marketing of Sendmail. Version 8.10 from 2000 was the first published by the company and was largely programmed by Greg Shapiro. Claus Aßmann later added authentication and encryption and realigned the further development.

In 2003, Sendmail was taken over by the US company Proofpoint.

Sendmail 9 was renamed sendmail X during its development and was eventually spun off as MeTA1 . This software from Assmann is no longer monolithic , but modular .


Configuring Sendmail is complex. Even long-exotic network protocols such as UUCP are still provided with several configuration variants. Fundamental changes were considered at an early stage, but were not made due to the widespread use, which was initially only supposed to exist.

Security gaps in Sendmail became known within a few weeks. In late May 2006, Sendmail was removed from NetBSD . Its developers were tired of being prevented from fixing security problems because most of them were classified as confidential and Sendmail itself was problematic in terms of security.

Another criticism is that Sendmail is still using outdated, non-public and partly insecure software for administration ( CVS ), delivery ( FTP ) and support ( Usenet newsgroups) in 2019.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. .
  2. ^ What operating systems has Berkeley sendmail been ported to? Sendmail Inc., accessed January 9, 2017 .
  3. ^ Changing Your Mail Transfer Agent. In: FreeBSD Handbook. FreeBSD Foundation , accessed January 9, 2017 .
  4. ^ Licensing. Sendmail Inc., accessed January 9, 2017 .
  5. ^ B. Costales, G. Jansen, C. Assmann: sendmail . O'Reilly Verlag , 2008, History, pp. xvii ( Google Books ).
  6. ^ A b E. Allman: The Architecture of Open Source Applications . Ed .: A. Brown, G. Wilson. 2012, ISBN 978-1-257-63801-7 , Chapter 17. Sendmail ( online ).
  7. ^ David H. Crocker: Some History . Kai Kruger. January 21, 1996. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  8. a b Sendmail: Software from the digital stone age . December 3, 2019. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  9. What was new wrt e-mail? . Sendmail Inc .. June 22, 2009. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  10. Sendmail X . Sendmail Inc. January 4, 2007. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  11. MeTA1 and other modern MTAs . Claus Assmann. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  12. ^ B. Costales, G. Jansen, C. Assmann: sendmail . O'Reilly, 2008, Thoughts from Eric Allman, pp. xix ( Google Books ).
  13. Using UUCP Mailers . Sendmail Inc .. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  14. Andreas Wilkens: Another vulnerability in sendmail. In: Heise online . March 30, 2003 . Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  15. removed sendmail from the tree. NetBSD Foundation, May 29, 2006; accessed January 9, 2017 .
  16. Waving the flag: NetBSD developers speak about version 4.0 . Ars Technica. January 30, 2008. Retrieved January 29, 2012.