what is relaying?
By jbeck on Oct 10, 2004
I just answered this in comp.unix.solaris for what seems like the millionth time, so I thought I might as well record the answer here for others who might be interested...
People who run mail servers need to be careful not to be an "open relay", or they will get added to various black-lists, and all sorts of mail delivery problems will ensue, as spammers take advantage of open relays when and wherever they find them.
Basically, a message has to either "start here" or "finish here" or it is considered a relay. There is a test and a parameter for each condition. The parameter for "finish here" is the domain part (i.e., right-hand side) of each recipient's e-mail address, and the test is "is that my host name?", though it is often extended to "is that host in my domain?". The parameter for "start here" is the IP address of the client side of the SMTP connection, and the test is "is this the loopback address" (i.e., "is this the local host?"), though that is also often extended to "does this IP address reverse-map to a name in my domain?"
Note that sendmail has disabled relaying by default since version 8.9, which first shipped with Solaris 7, and that the .mc file used to generate the default sendmail.cf on Solaris contains this macro:
DOMAIN(`solaris-generic')and that domain file contains:
FEATURE(`relay_entire_domain')which enables the extensions to which I alluded above. Details can be found in the README file, which is in /usr/lib/mail/ on Solaris 9 and earlier, but in /etc/mail/cf/ on Solaris 10; see the ANTI-SPAM CONFIGURATION CONTROL section of that file in particular.