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My sendmail server occasionally fails at delivering an email. I get a Service unavailable error:

Feb  7 23:45:01 ip-10-101-xx-xx sm-mta[3838]: q17Nj0RQ003836: to=<xxxx@xxx.edu>, ctladdr=<www-data@ip-xxxxx.ec2.internal> (33/33), delay=00:00:01, xdelay=00:00:01, mailer=esmtp, pri=121203, relay=smtp.xxxx.xxxx.edu. [144.92.xx.xx], dsn=5.0.0, stat=Service unavailable

My question is how can I tell if the service at my end was down or the service at the recipient? If it's my problem, how can I solve it?

I'm asking because I'm getting a lot of these errors lately...

  • Are there more logs available? – Karlson Feb 22 '12 at 15:58
  • Send us the output of grep q17Nj0RQ003836 /var/log/mail.log – adamo Feb 23 '12 at 8:33
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From your log line: relay=smtp.xxxx.xxxx.edu. [144.92.xx.xx]

That remote server returned a permanent (500) SMTP error code, and so your server will generate a bounce (a Delivery Status Notification). It would be interesting to see what the actual error on the remote server was - usually Sendmail gives a more informative error message and DSN= number.

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