Thunderbird mail check problem fix to: “An error occurred sending mail: Unable to establish a secure link with SMTP server smtp.examplehost.com using STARTTLS since it doesn’t advertise that feature.”

Some clients of one of the qmail servers mail domain complained that there are problems sending e-mails with Thunderbird (pop / imap) client.

The exact Thunderbird sending error is:

Unable to establish a secure link with SMTP server smtp.examplehost.com using STARTTLS since it doesn't advertise that feature.
Switch off STARTTLS for that server or contact your service provider.

For for almost half an hour I pondered why the heck this odd error happens in sending mails with a fresh new Thunderbird (auto) configured mail address.
Few months back some clients were experiencing similar STARTTLS errors so I went back to check my previous post to get an idea what was wrong then in order to determine if the current reported error had to do with the previous one. My previous post is here – How to work around STARTTLS Qmail Thunderbird / Outlook mail sending (error) issues

After reading on the previous error and some assumptions I found out the whole problem lays in incorrectly set DNS records.
By default Thunderbird (and probably other mail clients) are configuring automatically as SMTP server (smtp.examplehost.com) if the DNS record for smtp.examplehost.com points to an IP address / host which belongs to another mail server, everytime thunderbird tries to send email the incorrect smtp.examplehost.com is used, hence the mail sending fails with the err:

Unable to establish a secure link with SMTP server smtp.examplehost.com using STARTTLS since it doesn't advertise that feature.
Switch off STARTTLS for that server or contact your service provider.

In my case the DNS for examplehost.com which is the mail server host was managed by Godaddy’s DNS-es:

ns49.domaincontrol.com
ns50.domaincontrol.com

The A record for our domain smtp.examplehost.com was by default set in GoDaddy to point to incorrect IP, so the fix was simply to change the Domain alias of smtp.examplehost.com to the proper mail host.

Another thing I had to do is change variables in /var/qmail/supervise/qmail-smtpd/run and /var/qmail/supervise/qmail-smtpdssl/run

In both files I changed variables:

SSL=0
ALLOW_INSECURE_AUTH=0

to

SSL=1
ALLOW_INSECURE_AUTH=1

Also variables FORCE_TLS and DENY_TLS in /var/qmail/supervise/{qmail-smtpd,qmail-smtpdssl}/runs should be:

FORCE_TLS=0
DENY_TLS=1

Though the problem was occuring in Mozilla Thunderbird, i’m sure same email sending problem will be present if Microsoft Outlook Express or any other desktop pop3 client is used.
After this changes I had to restart qmail server through qmailctl:

# qmailctl stop; sleep 5; qmailctl start

This fixed clients mail sending issues … hope this will help to others looking for way to remove STARTTLS, TLS, SSL qmail support

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2 Responses to “Thunderbird mail check problem fix to: “An error occurred sending mail: Unable to establish a secure link with SMTP server smtp.examplehost.com using STARTTLS since it doesn’t advertise that feature.””

  1. admin says:
    Firefox 3.6.3 Firefox 3.6.3 Windows 7 Windows 7
    Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US; rv:1.9.2.3) Gecko/20100401 Firefox/3.6.3

    Also it is good idea to set correct DNS records for
    pop.examplehost.com
    pop3.examplehost.com
    pda.examplehost.com
    e.examplehost.com

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