Holding messages in the Postfix mail queue

Earlier today, someone sent a large number of email messages each containing a 30 megabyte attachment to users on our servers. This put our Postfix servers under a heavy load and caused some messages to be delivered after a substantial delay. (This was in part due to additional processing done by our servers, I’m sure a plain-jane Postfix instance could have handled it without an issue.)

This was no good. The sender–let’s call it bigbulk.test.com–should be able to send such messages, but not at the expense of normal mail delivery. I needed to change the priority of those messages to let other messages take priority.

The first thing I did was to hold all the mail from bigbulk.test.com:

  • Retrieve the mail queue
  • Select only the lines containing bigbulk.test.com
  • Select only the queue ID, the first item listed in each result
  • Pass the queue IDs to the postsuper -h command

mailq | grep bigbulk.test.com | cut -d ' ' -f 1 | xargs -n1 postsuper -h

But what about delivering them? I sent them in small batches so as not to overload the server again.

  • Retrieve the mail queue
  • Select only the lines containing bigbulk.test.com
  • Select only the queue ID (stripping out the hold-indicator)
  • Select only the first 5 results
  • Pass the queue IDs to the postsuper -H command

mailq | grep bigbulk.test.com | cut -d '!' -f 1 | head -n5 | xargs -n1 postsuper -H

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