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Vacation in Sendmail

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Christian Briddon_1
Occasional Advisor

Vacation in Sendmail

We run an N Class server with about 400 users. All the users have the same home directory. What I want to do is to be able to offer the use of vacation to the users. I can do this easily for the few users who have a seperate home directory but not for the rest. Does anyone have any ideas or even another approach to the problem.

Thanks in advance,

Christian Briddon
Honored Contributor

Re: Vacation in Sendmail


If your users are sharing the same home directory, it is difficult to configure vacation mail for them. For other users you can configure vacation mail as advised in this link,

Hope this helps.

Christopher Caldwell
Honored Contributor

Re: Vacation in Sendmail

Based on your topology (everyone in one home directory) it would be ugly, but you could use procmail as your Local Delivery Agent (LDA) and build a procmail recipe that looks at the To: address of the e-mail. Based on the To: address, the recipe could local for a user specific procmail recipe that would provide the vacation functionality.
Sridhar Bhaskarla
Honored Contributor

Re: Vacation in Sendmail

Probably you can educate your users how to setup their vacation messages by documenting a README file for .forward files or you can install some softwares like forward that is available at the HP-UX porting site.

Or you can use your aliases to temporarly point the user on vacation to a script that will take care of forwarding/autoreply.


You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try
Jeffrey S. Sims
Trusted Contributor

Re: Vacation in Sendmail

I would aggree with Christopher. Procmail is probably your best choice in this case. You can download it from and there is a pretty simple tutorial on how to use procmail located at and continued at

Hope this helps.
Marco Paganini
Respected Contributor

Re: Vacation in Sendmail

Hello Christian

That would be a very easy task if you had separate home directories for each user. However, since everybody shares the same dir, I believe some cooperation will be necessary.

Here's the idea: you can use procmail, but procmail will use the ~/.procmailrc (it will be only one for all users, since you only have one homedir for everybody). In that case, you'll have to do some adjustments in your .procmailrc file.

Suppose users foo, bar and goo all share the same dir. Users foo and bar went out on vacations, but not goo. Suppose your domain is Also, suppose the homedir for everybody is /home/mess


First, we have to create a file called .forward in /home/mess. This will will put procmail as the local delivery agent:

"| exec /opt/procmail/bin/procmail"

Make this file chmod 600

Then, we need to setup the /home/mess/.procmailrc file:

(goes attached)

Make sure you chmod 600 this file as well.

As you can see, procmail will filter explicitly mail sent to and Add users to that line as necessary, following the example as a model.

A mail will be sent back to whoever sends mail to these users. Since they all share the same dir, I'd say anybody will be able to edit this file. Proceed with caution.

Also, I've not personally tested this .procmailrc file. It came from my head and an example in procmail's manpages.

Hope it helps

Best of Luck,

PS: Have you considered separating the user's home dirs?
Keeping alive, until I die.
Christian Briddon_1
Occasional Advisor

Re: Vacation in Sendmail

Thanks to you all for your help. the reason we have one big home directory is because the application we use (Kerridge) insists upon it. I agree it is a bit messy.

I think I will go with the procmail suggestion. It look like it will do the job.

Thanks again for your help.