Spamassassin timeouts - Just an observation

Martin Hepworth maxsec at
Fri Jan 2 15:05:22 GMT 2009

2009/1/2 Steve Campbell <campbell at>:
> Just got back from the holidays, so my reply is a little overdue.
> Ugo Bellavance wrote:
>> Steve Campbell wrote:
>>> The topic seems to come up quite often, and although the answers are
>>> usually pretty much the same, I never really see much of a "Solved" reply.
>>> I upgraded from version 4.58, where I saw maybe 3 or 4 timeouts, to 4.71,
>>> and saw an immediate increase to around 100-300 timeouts. I ran all of the
>>> --debug and --debug-sa flavors of help I could think of. I reviewed the
>>> logs. I run a caching nameserver. And I zeroed out some RBL scores. I still
>>> have yet to find why this happens. I eventually upgraded to 4.72, and
>>> started using clamd. I still get the large numbers of timeouts. I would
>>> think that the fact that this doesn't happen with all of my large batches
>>> indicates I'm not using any dead RBLs.
>>> I'm still exploring the causes, but haven't had much luck. I find it odd
>>> that SA would really keep RBLs that have expired over time in their default
>>> files, so I really don't think it's that. I do all of my checking of RBLs in
>>> SA. I always do my configuration and language upgrades, and search for
>>> rpmnew and rpmsave files. This has happened on 3 different but very similar
>>> servers that I run.
>>> I'm not really asking for assistance here, but just wanted to let others
>>> who are seeing this problem to  be aware that there is something unique
>>> triggering this. I'm fairly confident that it is not happening at all sites,
>>> but something here is causing it. It may not even be related to MS/SA, but
>>> totally something else.
>>> The most I could ask for is a small checklist of what to ensure I have
>>> set. Every time I try to use the debug procedures, the tests perform
>>> flawlessly with no errors. It is very sporadic. We receive those normal
>>> bursts of spam, but for the most part, the batches ares small. The average
>>> amount of email per day is usually around 10k emails, but I get the above
>>> stated 100-300 timeouts. I'm going to try and match batch numbers to
>>> timeouts and see if this will reveal anything. I only run 3 Children on a
>>> fairly hefty Dell PowerEdge, but I do use 30 messages per child. I don't
>>> think this is excessive thought.
>>> Hope everyone has a Happy Holiday.
>> What is the machine?
> The machines are all Dell PowerEdge servers. There are three servers
> involved. Two are well equipped. One is just used as an interface for our
> webmail users. Not a lot going through it.
>> Did you check the optimization section of the MAQ page on the wiki?
> No, I haven't, but I will. I have reviewed it before, but will look to see
> if anything has changed or been added.
>> When running --debug --debug-sa, don't you find anything that is a bit
>> slow?
> Nothing at all.
> I would think that if something were causing these that were DNS or RBL
> related, it would show for most all of the batches, not just random batches.
> So I am guessing it is either network clutter or something else. I just
> don't know yet. But still, there is the situation where this all started to
> happen after an upgrade. I'm going to review in the upgraded conf files and
> see if I've missed something.
> I have reduced the number of children on all machines from 5 to 3. This has
> reduced the total of timeouts - which sort of points to machine capacity. I
> only use 10 messages per batch. The main machines have 1 GB of RAM. The
> actual number of emails going through MS is quite low; around 10K, but I
> have quite a large access file, and the number of emails getting to the
> machines are closer to 25k+.
> Thanks for the thoughts and ideas. I'll keep digging and maybe find
> something.
> steve
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1GB ram is pretty minimal for SA...depends what third party rules you
got, but I'd consider increasing ram.

I presume you've got a local caching nameserver and you've dropped
most of the RBL's by giving them a zero score. Also trying using
opendns as your forward query servers which can operate lot quicker
than alot of ISP's DNS.

Martin Hepworth
Oxford, UK

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