Process Email Queue by Waving Mouse

Today I had a problem with a development server. A little, low-traffic thing that I was testing some PHP-sends-email pages on. The emails wouldn’t send although I could see them sat in the queue.

The story gets better but there’s a techie bit between here and the punchline – sorry

Exim commands

mailq – show the emails currently in the queue

sendmail -v -q – send the emails in the queue and give plenty of output with it.

The symptoms

Sending email just caused the screen to hang, I’d get something like this:

LOG: queue_run MAIN
  Start queue run: pid=12282
delivering 1HeAZY-0002YQ-J0 (queue run pid 12282)
R: dnslookup for ****************
T: remote_smtp for **********************
Connecting to **************** []:25 … connected
  SMTP<< 220 ********************** ESMTP
  SMTP>> EHLO ****
  SMTP<< 250-***********************

        250-AUTH=LOGIN CRAM-MD5
        250-AUTH LOGIN CRAM-MD5
        250 8BITMIME
  SMTP<< 220 ready for tls


The problem was that we didn’t have enough entropy1 to generate the security for the connection … and getting one of my colleagues to rummage in the rack for the server and wave its mouse continuously solved the problem. It was quite a scene :)

1 For diagnosing randomness, I used: cat /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail

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