Postfix/amavis workaround: “delivery temporarily suspended”

I’ve put together a quick workaround for a long-standing problem with my server, whereby every so often my mailserver will crash (usually every week or so). I discovered the problem relates to amavis crashing – but as yet I have not found a solution to the problem.

The shell script I’ve put together below (with the help of this) checks the status of the amavis service. If it’s down, the script will bring it back up and then restart postfix to resume deliveries.

I’d suggest running the script every 5 minutes from a cron job (use crontab -e to modify to your cron jobs).

#!/bin/bash
#
# Author: Alex Ward
# This script was created to find workaround to a problem where postfix would fail
# if amavis stopped on ISPConfig / Debian. This simple script will check the
# uptime of amavis and, if it is down, start it and then restart postfix.
# This script can be set up in a crontab.
#
# Built with help from
# http://www.akamaras.com/linux/linux-script-to-check-if-a-service-is-running-and-start-it-if-its-stopped/
#
#
version=”1.1″
#Changelog: Implemented version number and prepared for crontab logging.

service=amavis

echo ‘==========================’
echo ‘MAILSERVER SYSTEM CHECKUP!’
echo ‘==========================’
echo ”
date
echo “Version: $version”
echo ”
echo “Checking $service status…”
if (( $(ps -ef | grep -v grep | grep $service | wc -l) > 0 ))
then
echo “$service is running! No action required.”
else
echo “$service is DOWN! Rectifying this…”
/etc/init.d/$service start
postfix stop
postfix start
fi

echo ”
echo ‘=====================================================================’
echo ”
#END

You can download a copy of the script here (right click, save as).

It isn’t a solution to the problem – but until I find the solution, this will at least stop the problem from killing off mail deliveries.

Three (3) UK scraps unlimited tethering and brings in free 0800 calls – and it’s not like we didn’t see this coming!

Wow – surprise post! You haven’t seen me in a while – in fact it was a year to the day yesterday since I last posted. Sorry – uni, work and self-employed work have all taken their toll and I’ve been forced to reallocate my time. Nonetheless, some news did crop up today which I did think was worth some discussion.

Three – well known in the UK as the most generous data provider around – have today made some major changes to their contract offers to bring into place a range of policy changes.

Before you read on, it’s worth clarifying that these changes do not affect existing One Plan customers. Three would naturally want to avoid making such a major change to existing contracts, as customers would potentially have a get-out clause for the remainder of their contracts (in general, customers can pull out of their contract without penalty if their provider makes a change to their contract mid-term that imposes a significant change to the service that they are entitled to). See clause 10.1(d) of the pay monthly terms and conditions:

10.1 You may end this agreement in the following ways:
(d) Within one month of a materially detrimental variation to your agreement. You can end the agreement within one month of us telling you about a variation to your agreement (which includes your Package) which is likely to be of material detriment to you. You must give notice to Three Customer Services within that month and your agreement will finish at the end of that month once we receive your notice (a Cancellation Fee will not be charged).

As of today, Three are no longer offering their immensely popular One Plan contract to new customers – instead they offering a range of new contracts that provide various allowances of data and minutes. All contracts now include unlimited texts, so I guess that’s one thing that is simpler.

The new plans offer data allowances ranging from 500MB to “all-you-can-eat” and call allowances from 50 minutes through to unlimited. Tethering is now allowed on all plans regardless of your data allowance - except where your allowance is “all-you-can-eat”, where you will now be allowed up to 2GB of tethering per month. Three will notify you when you’ve burned through 80% and 100% of your limit to keep you in the know.

Additionally, for new contracts starting today, Three now offer free calls to all 0800 / 0808 / 0500 numbers for all new 24 month contracts. Again, we would have expected this to be cropping up sometime before too long because Ofcom have instructed all providers to do the same before the end of June 2015. Calls to 084* and 087* numbers are also brought down to 5p per minute – which is great to see as in many cases this will be cheaper than your landline (particularly for 0871 or 0843 numbers – which are very expensive to call from landlines and commonly found on service providers websites). Three certainly deserve credit for simplifying the cost of calling national numbers.

If you’re an existing customer, you aren’t, by default, eligible for the new 08 number rates. If you wish, you can call Three and get your plan updated to include the new rates, but be warned: if you are an existing One Plan customer and you request the new 08 rates, you will be moved to a new plan for the remainder of your contract and will be stripped of your unlimited tethering.

In terms of my own opinion – I’m naturally disappointed that Three will no longer be offering unlimited tethering, but in their defence it is very easy to see why. The cost of providing such an offering would be immense. Many people were abusing the service and using it as a replacement for their home broadband, which would have led to excessive consumption of data. I freely admit myself that I’ve had cases where I’ve consumed in excess of 50GB of data in a month through my plan – mainly due to internet outages at home or simply because, up until when I recently switched to Virgin Media, my 3G signal was faster than my ADSL line!!

So fair enough to Three I guess. My current contract runs through to next February, and until that time I’ll continue to use the tethering as I did before. If anything, it’ll only make me consider other providers when I renew now where I might not have done before. To be honest though, when you bear in mind all the perks you now get from 3 – inclusive allowances in many countries abroad, free 080 / 05 calls (for new customers as above), etc – it’s still hard to bear others in mind. Remember the new rules only apply to tethering – Three are likely to remain the only provider to offer unlimited 4G phone data uage for some time; or at least until giffgaff start providing 4G!

To help make this easier to understand, I’ve put together some FAQs. You may wish to confirm any of these with 3 as I’m not a representative of them or anything like that, but all information is based on what’s available on their website.

Can I still get hold of a ‘One Plan contract?
No, they’re no longer available to subscribe to.

I’m already on a ‘One Plan’ contract – what’s happening to my tethering allowance?
Nothing, providing you make no further changes to your plan for the remainder of your contract (see below for more info). Existing ‘One Plan’ customers will continue to have their existing privileges for the remainder of their contract. So, if you’re currently on a contract under the ‘One Plan’, you will continue to receive your unlimited tethering unless you renew or modify your contract.

I’m already on a ‘One Plan’ contract – do I get the new 08 call rates?
Not by default, no. Your plan remains unmodified, so calls are still chargeable for 08 numbers as they were before. You are able to contract Three Customer Services who will enable the new 08 rates on your account at no extra charge or contract extension - however, by doing so, you are modifying you’re contract and, as a result, you will no longer be eligible for unlimited tethering (instead you get a 2GB tethering limit). DO NOT ASK FOR THE NEW 08 RATES TO BE APPLIED TO YOUR ACCOUNT IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THE UNLIMITED TETHERING.

My renewal is coming up on my ‘One Plan’ contract – can I keep my unlimited tethering?
Unfortunately, no. When your contract renews you can no longer have the ‘One Plan’ so your unlimited tethering is no longer available.

I’ve signed up to a new contract on or after 18/03/2014 – how do the new 08 rates work?
If you’ve signed up to a new contract on or after 18/03/2014, you’re automatically eligible for the new 08 rates. That means that you get free calls to any 0800 / 0808 / 0500 numbers and they do not come out of your minutes allowance. Additionally, any calls to 087* or 084* numbers are set at 5p per minute – which may be cheaper than your landline (it’s worth checking).

Who needs 4G (LTE) when DC-HSDPA outruns it anyway?

First of all, I know this is the first post on GEEK! in around 3 months – sorry about that. I have to say, as I start diving deeper into work and education, I’m running out of time to blog. I’ll try to post a bit more once college is over.

Anyway, I recently gave in and returned (after nearly 4 years) to 3. I used to be with them when I had my Nokia 3120 Classic (good times) on PAYG, but times have changed a fair bit since then and I can afford a snazzy iPhone 5 contract. I thought a lot about who to go with, but I have to say 3 quickly sealed the deal with their One Plan. I mean – come on – who would turn down oodles of minutes/texts and, more importantly, all-you-can-eat (quite literally – it’s realistically up to 1000GB a month) data and tethering for £36 a month? Better still, EE and 3 are the only two networks capable of ever providing LTE for the iPhone 5, so with the promise of that later in the year, it’s almost impossible to say no. EE’s £36 a month deal gives you 500MB a month, which almost questions why you’d even benefit from 4G with a limit that small.

Ok, so the awesome deal had pretty much perfected for me – until I got home and actually used it. Now, bearing in mind, at home I get roughly 7Mbps a second on our stone-age ADSL, I was pretty astounded when I started getting speeds such as this through my iPhone…

IMG_0017Ok, that’s only one test. It’s only fair to do a few, so here’s a good sample.

IMG_0016

IMG_0043

Not bad really? Overall, while at home, I’m averaging around 22Mbps. For me, it questions what benefit there really is to LTE. If I can get these kind of speeds from DC-HSDPA, why would anybody pay such a high premium for 4G?

The speed still holds up fairly well in the city too. My local city is Oxford, and I can happily get speeds of around 10-15Mbps. Given that the network will undoubtedly be under much heavier strain in densely populated areas, it still copes very well.

For me, though, in theory it only gets better. In September/October, EE will hand over a segment of the 1800Mhz LTE spectrum to 3, giving them a very valuable resource. And to top it all off, 3 have told us we won’t have to pay a penny more for it.

3 deserve to be shouting about this way more than they actually are – frankly I don’t think it’s given anywhere near enough credit for what it is.

Nonetheless, I’m delighted to be back with 3. For those that are interested – the plan I’m on is the £36 a month iPhone 5 One Plan.

Charge your iPad from any PC USB port & fix “Not Charging” error

Just a very quick Christmas post. If you’ve got an iPad and you’re wondering why it won’t charge over your desktop or laptop’s USB ports – it’s because by default desktop USB ports only provide 1A of current to connected devices. Any iPad actually needs more than this to charge, hence why Apple give you a special charging plug to charge it.

However, hope is not lost. You can actually get an app for your PC which manually increases the amount of current that your PC’s USB ports provide. It’s called AI Charger and it’s by Asus. Don’t be  fooled though – it will actually work with any computer and not just computers with Asus motherboards.

All you need to do is download the app from the page, install it and give your computer a reboot. When you turn it back on, you should notice that your computer will now charge your iPad (albeit slowly).

This should actually work on any desktop or laptop. Bear in mind, though, that use of this app while using your laptop’s battery may cause excessive wear to your battery. A useful app though, nonetheless.

[ENDED] WIN! £15 to spend on Amazon.co.uk with GEEK! and Alex Ward Web Services

GEEK!, in association with Alex Ward Web Services, is now running it’s latest competition.  This time, you can win £15 to spend on Amazon.co.uk.

To enter, simply fill in the form below and like Alex Ward Web Services on Facebook – it’s that simple. You’ve got until midnight on Friday 9th November to enter – rules are at the bottom of this post as normal!

Good luck!

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