Troubleshooting episode

I was helping a friend with some E-mail problems he was having. Here is the scenario. He is getting a “Cannot authenticate to server” when using his Outlook 2000 to get mail from his Cobalt Qube server. According to him..”Everything was working fine, but the computer crashed. So I had to rebuild the machine and now mail doesn’t work”. Pretty easy right.. So I troubleshoot it in the following way

1) Check account settings in Outlook and make sure that he has the correct “username”, “password” and “server” properties. Everything checks okay. But client still cannot authenticate to the server.

2) Alright.. Lets see if the service is running on the client. Since I didn’t have access to the server, I had to walk my friend through the process. Again, required daemons are running, but cannot authenticate.

3) Now.. I am getting all excited frustrated. I run nmap on the server remotely and see that SMTP is filtered.. Hmm.. Is that a problem.

4) Finally.. I give up and make my friend change the rules on this firewall so that I can log into the server remotely. First thing I do is check the logs (/var/log/maillog) and Bingo!!! I instantly see the error
Feb 9 21:00:10 www in.qpopper[2269]: Karen at ( -ERR [AUTH] Password supplied for “Karen” is incorrect.“. My friend was using “Karen” instead of “karen” as the username.

If only I had asked my friend to meticulously check his settings 🙂 in the first place.

Moral of the story: Unix usernames are case sensitive. And never believe the user when they say that all the settings are correct :).