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I recently set up a new computer with Ubuntu 11.04 amd64, set up as a desktop. I hadn't got around to setting up an email client to read system mail, and I was curious what unread mail might have built up. I was surprised to find that /var/spool/mail was empty, that /etc/aliases did not exist, and that neither exim4 nor any other mail transfer agent (MTA) was installed.

My previous computer had exim4-light installed, and I had reconfigured it a few times, but I don't remember installing it. I had started with Ubuntu 8.04, and upgraded it in place with each release as they were released, until 11.04. I'm wondering if exim4-light was installed by default with some earlier release of Ubuntu, or if it was installed as a dependency of something else I installed.

(I'm also wondering whether to bother installing an MTA, as perhaps checking routine system mail was a waste of time better spent playing Minecraft, but that's probably a subjective question.)

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More seriously, some system processes and cron jobs will produce email, and there's a handy utility, logwatch, which will analyze your log files and email you a summary daily. These can be useful for alerting you to misconfigurations or strange behavior on your system. –  bgvaughan May 31 '11 at 17:22
    
This article on help.ubuntu.com refers to exim4 and mutt being installed by default in Ubuntu 8.04. I know I chose to install mutt much later, so I don't believe it was installed then, but perhaps it's correct about exim4. I don't remember ever not getting system mail. –  bgvaughan Jun 1 '11 at 1:34

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Default MTA for Ubuntu is Postfix. You still to install it. Exim is still in the repo's. It sounds like you probably installed a package which pulled Exim in as a dependency.

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I looked at a few packages that had an MTA as a dependency, and if I read the details right, each pulled in postfix unless there was an MTA already installed. I remember reading some tutorial on help.ubuntu.com that discussed Dovecot, though all the recent stuff refers to postfix as the default. It's a mystery how I got exim4-light. –  bgvaughan May 30 '11 at 19:44

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