Saturday, February 5, 2011

Will Exim support its users or its philosophy?

I wrote several years ago that I don't like when software lectures its users about how their suffering is going to help the greater good:
It is frustrating when programmers decide to lecture their users instead of supporting them. I just spent over an hour trying to get my mail to relay through EPFL's mail servers using the restrictive channels EPFL allows, only to find that Exim has its own restrictions. The two sets of restrictions are workable by themselves but do not have a solution together. The only way to make Exim and EPFL both happy is for them not to talk to each other. Bleh. I think I will stick with EPFL and replace Exim.
I still feel the same way. Both EPFL's admins and Exim's maintainers were unreasonably stubborn. Good software helps its users in their actual situations, not in some idealized alternate world. Good software works on crummy half-baked networks instead of needing everything around it to be in perfect condition.

Curiously, there's a chance now for Exim to change its mind and support SSMTP after all. Simon Arlott has written a drop-in patch that adds the support to Exim and linked it on my ancient feature request to Exim. Will Exim take the patch? The Exim of 2006 would have said no way. What will the Exim of 2010 say? Do they want users, or obscure philosophical purity?

No comments: