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Howto fix long boot delay with "Starting MTA:" (Common Issue)

Posted 06-10-2010 at 12:20 PM by bittner
Tags debian, exim4, mta

A common issue when setting up servers in a lab is that the Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) delays the boot process waiting for a very long timeout. In the forums on the web this reads as ...
  • "boot process slow when 'Starting MTA' offline"
  • "Can I get rid of MTA?"
  • "Starting MTA delay"
  • "I see a line saying Starting MTA: It takes ages until Debian comes."

The issue is typically related to an unsuccessful reverse DNS lookup that the Mail Transfer Agent tries to do. Usually - I've figured out -, this is caused by incorrect information in /etc/resolv.conf.

For example, if you're not planning to use (outgoing) mail at all on your server you would set up exim4 (the default MTA on Debian) such that it delivers mail locally only. You can configure this with:
# dpkg-reconfigure exim4-config
The main point to resolve the issue, however, is /etc/resolv.conf. For local delivery it should look like this:
domain local
search local
For "real" domains (and local delivery) I've seen it works fine also when you simply omit the nameserver part, e.g.:
domain bittner
search bittner
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