Speeding up SpamAssassin rule processing on Debian and Ubuntu

SpamAssassin is one of the most-used spam filtering systems in use today. Unfortunately, because there are so many different ways SpamAssassin can be used, SpamAssassin remains subject to many performance problems. Fortunately, there are several speed-ups and optimizations that can be applied to most SpamAssassin installations to speed up its rule processing, especially on Debian and Ubuntu GNU/Linux-based systems. These instructions can be adopted to other operating systems as well.

This article does not discuss configuring your mail filtering system (i.e. procmail, maildrop). This depends completely on your setup, and more than likely there are plenty of other articles that describe the best way to setup what you want.

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jQuery: the new defacto Javascript web framework

News from a couple days ago: both Microsoft and Nokia are now including the jQuery Javascript framework as part of their development kits. That is: jQuery will be part of Microsoft’s ASP.NET AJAX framework and be available for use in applications written for ASP.NET; and jQuery will also be distributed on millions of Nokia phones.

Defacto standards, I believe, are a good way to inform the development of real standards. Standards developed the other way around, at least in the tech industry, have had a habit of taking a very long time to reach end consumers… for example, how many decades has it taken for your average web user to gain access to a fully CSS2-compliant web browser? How many more decades will it take for OASIS’s OpenDocument format to supplant Microsoft Word and its *.doc files?

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a path that will lead to jQuery’s inclusion into the Javascript language, as well as initiatives that will improve jQuery’s performance.

I like the fact that Microsoft and Nokia are not trying to reinvent the wheel, and roll their own Javascript frameworks. Sun did this with Java Server Faces. A frequent lament with JSF is that it’s nearly impossible to customize any of the widgets. There is too much complex, custom Javascript, and the adoption of the frameworks used makes figuring out how to work with them difficult.

Also, as others have noted, this is the first time Microsoft itself is distributing an open-source project with one of their products. A sign of things to come?

Has the war on spam been lost?

O’Reilly Radar has an article written by Dale Dougherty, a roundtable set of opinions on whether the war on spam can be won. Rafe Colburn also has his own response.

Rafe’s solution is to use GMail. In the Dougherty’s article, Paul Vixie mentions that the internet is going to become a “walled garden;” relying on proprietary technology provided from a single company is the same thing in my eyes. There’s no way I’m going to advocate a proprietary solution for something as important as my e-mail.

Eric Allman mentions DKIM, which I think is an excellent weapon in the war on spam. I’m not using it however, as it doesn’t fit in with the way I use e-mail, and MUA (e-mail client) and MTA (e-mail SMTP server, essentially) is extremely sparse.

My unfortunately ineffective and impractical solution to this problem is use of PGP. Besides identity verification via digital signatures, it is also a generic platform for encrypted digital communication, and provides a distributed, robust trust model. Unfortunately, its learning curve is high, and that is why it’s basically been a failure for the past 10 yrs.

Though, lack of user education is why the spam problem keeps getting worse too. It’s users who click links in spam e-mail; it’s users who allow spammers to take over their machines through their negligence in applying security updates; it’s users (sometimes) who allow their identities to be stolen.

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