The sys admin’s daily grind: Swaks

For the Protocol

Article from Issue 145/2012

Searching for errors on an SMTP server via Telnet and test mails can seem like a never-ending obstacle course. The utility called Swaks helps bring the finish line within reach.

SMTP is a plain text protocol, which proves to be quite useful when searching for errors on the mail server. I can simply connect to port 25 via Telnet and then act like a mail client. By means of the server’s answers, I can quickly see where the problem is – theoretically, at least. In practice, as you may have already guessed, things don’t go that smoothly.

SMTP has become fatter and fatter over the years, not least because security functions were desperately needed. Although basic commands like HELO <FQDN> or RCPT are easy for me to type quickly, authentication with CRAM-SHA-1 no longer has anything to do with plain text as far as I am concerned, and any fun I might have been having is long gone.

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