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SpamAssassin 3.2.0!

W00t! SpamAssassin 3.2.0 has finally gone gold!

This release is a big one — it’s the first major release since 3.1.0, back in September 2005, just over a year and a half ago. Here is the release announcement mail, containing a list of major changes since version 3.1.8. There are a few major new features that I feel worth picking out in more detail and editorialising about:


This is a biggie. This new script takes the active SpamAssassin ruleset, and uses code contributed by Matt Sergeant to produce input for re2c. re2c in turn compiles the ruleset into a deterministic finite automaton, which can match multiple regular expressions in parallel. That’s not all, though; re2c then compiles that DFA into C code — which is then compiled into native object code. SpamAssassin will then load that object code and use it to replace the slower perl regexp tests, if it’s available at scan-time.

Now, it’s been a long time since SpamAssassin’s ruleset consisted mainly of rudimentary regular expressions matched against the body text — a good portion of SpamAssassin’s ruleset these days operates against headers, performs network lookups, analyzes URLs extracted from the body, uses the more advanced features supported by Perl’s NFA regexp engine, or so on. But even given that, the effects of ‘sa-compile’ seem to average between a 15% and 25% speedup, in my testing. That’s good ;)

Many of the commercial versions of SpamAssassin include their own body-rule speedups — but this is the first time anything similar has made it into the open source code.


Another good one for performance. There are some rules that you can reasonably assume will never hit nonspam or spam mail in a well-configured setup. For example, a hit on “ALL_TRUSTED” should mean that the message never traversed an untrusted network, therefore it cannot be spam, so why bother applying the expensive tests? It should be reasonable to “short-circuit” and immediately return a “ham” score for that mail.

This new plugin implements that algorithm — and efficiently, too, which historically has been the hard part!

I’ve been using this for a while with a ruleset like this one — in my experience, it’s cut overall CPU time spent scanning mail by 20%.

It is pretty flexible, too — there’s lot of tweakage that can be done with this functionality to suit your own setup.

Reduced memory footprint

One aim of this release has been to reduce the memory usage of SpamAssassin; the core code now uses less RAM than 3.1.x does, when tested with the same ruleset. (Unfortunately we’ve added lots more rules in the interim, so it’s a bit of a wash overall. ;)

The VBounce anti-bounce ruleset

Detects spurious bounce messages sent by broken mail systems in response to spam or viruses. More info about that here.


apache-spamd implements spamd as a mod_perl module. This was contributed by Radoslaw Zielinski, as a Google Summer of Code project last year. Thanks Radoslaw!

There are plenty more new, useful features and rules — these are just the top ones, in my opinion. Pretty cool stuff!