Job Controller operation

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The Job Controller does not process or deliver messages itself, but rather keeps track of message files, and creates and manages channel jobs to process those messages.

Upon receipt of an incoming message from any source, the MTA channel that is handling the receipt of the message determines the destination, enqueues the message, and sends a request to the Job Controller to execute the next channel. The Job Controller will then initiate a channel job, if one is needed (that is, if there is not such a channel job already running, or if there are not "enough" jobs for that channel). Channel jobs, in turn, ask for and receive from the Job Controller the name of which message they should process next. When there are multiple messages to process, a channel process may end up running for "awhile", in a cycle of asking the Job Controller for a message and then processing (delivering) it, and then asking for another, etc.. And if the number of messages eligible for immediate delivery attempts is sufficiently "high", the Job Controller will initiate more than one channel job to work in parallel, each delivering a subset of the messages. Internally, the Job Controller maintains a data structure of a set of queues of messages awaiting delivery attempts. This data structure is referred to as the queue cache database. New messages are inserted into this data structure sorted onto queues according to their destination channel, in some cases also sorted by their destination domain name, and further sorted according to message processing priority. Additional queues are maintained (one for each destination channel) of those messages that have already had at least one unsuccessful delivery attempt, and which are waiting for another delivery attempt.

The Job Controller configuration establishes processing pools; each such pool has a limit (job_limit) on how many processes may execute in it simultaneously (and a pool may optionally be configured with restrictions on times of day or days of the week in which it may execute processes). Each channel is constrained (via the pool channel option) to run in one such pool, and may optionally be further constrained on how many processes it may run simultaneously within the pool (maxjobs). Multiple channels may be configured to run in the same pool, if it is desired for those channels to share (contend for) the same pool of process slots.

The Job Controller tracks how many processes each channel has running (and in the case of multithreaded channels specifically written to operate with the Job Controller by letting the Job Controller initiate delivery threads, the Job Controller tracks how many threads are running). When there are "enough" messages eligible for an immediate delivery attempt, the Job Controller will initiate a new delivery thread, or whole new delivery process, as needed (if the configured limits on such jobs have not yet been reached).

The Job Controller will also "cycle" channel jobs, aging out (expiring) sufficiently old channel jobs and then creating new channel jobs (as needed) to take their place. Thus channel jobs, even for busy channels, have a limited life-span. That this is a built-in aspect of the Job Controller both increases robustness in the face of unexpected problems, and ensures that updates to the MTA configuration, and changes to user and domain data in LDAP, will propagate through to affect channel jobs automatically, with bounded delay.

As part of the Job Controller's housekeeping and self-maintenance of its internal message queueing data structures, the Job Controller will periodically do a disk scan of the MTA queue area, to detect any message files omitted from its in-memory queues and reconcile its in-memory lists with what is physically present on disk.

So to summarize: the Job Controller's primary responsibilities are to maintain internal queues of which messages need delivery attempts and when, to initiate channel jobs to attempt those deliveries as needed, and to hand over to channel jobs the name of which message the job should attempt to process next.


See also: