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Openbsd Upgrade: Server Problem

Tried upgrading my server OS from Openbsd 3.5 to 3.6. I didn't figure it was going to be easy and I was right. Ended up hosing out the whole thing. Had to restore from backup. Mail and web server have been down for a few days.

Starting to get things back in order, but if things look different --that's why.


New Server

My brother gave me a 1 gig machine he wasn't using. Kind of looks like my old server --no case, just a motherboard, power supply and a couple of drives. Didn't take me too long to transfer my web site over to the new box. Hopefully the difference in speed is noticable.

A few things remain to be done. Struggling with getting that chat interface working. Nobody was using that anyway though so I guess there's no hurry. Mail is still working off the old box. For now this means my chess diagram won't get updated. If I play a chess game before I switch mail over to this new box that is.

Much easier to move the site to this new machine. Much easier than it was in previous times. A folder, some permissions, a web server config file and some cron jobs... is that all there is to a web site? Anyway, this is a big improvement over the last server. Thanks Dan.


The Geek Factor

Been looking for an old junker computer that I could use as a mail server. Right now I'm using the same machine for web and mail servers --an older computer that my brother donated to the kacked mission. I think it's an AMD 233. Something like that. It's sitting there in the corner, plugging away ever since I installed openbsd on it and set everything up. I was installing some software on it several months back and ran out of room on the root partition. Sounds more serious than it is (I guess) cause it still keeps plugging away. It has Openbsd 3.3 on it and I would like to upgrade to 3.4 (jeepers 3.5 comes out in less than a month) but they made a change to "elf binaries" between 3.3 and 3.4 so the only way to get 3.4 is a complete reinstall. What the heck are "elf binaries"?

Got an old Compaq Presario computer from my brother. I think he got it at a yard sale. Digs those yard sales. Reminds me of my grandfather in that regard. He scores a lot of cool stuff that way, but I keep thinking about my grandfather's garage. The way you could hardly move around in there. Wish I had some of the 78's. The compulsion to collect might be genetic --I have it too. You never know when you're going to need that stuff...

Tried reviving that old Compaq but it was no go. Have been using it as a little table to put my mythtv box's keyboard on. My friend Brandon had an identical looking Compaq computer. An old junker from '95. Virtually an antique. He was using his as a table as well. I kept bugging my brother about it: "see if you can get that computer off of Brandon, I can maybe use it as a mail server".

Brandon finally did part with it. Looks like he got a real table for the new computer he got. So, yeah. I spent all day Saturday trying to get that "bios on the hard drive" thing working. Compaq computers are notorius for not having bios installed on the motherboard in roms --the way most computers do. Instead, they put it on the hard drive in a special partition. I guess this works ok until you go to replace the hard drive, and then you have to search the Compaq web site for the floppy discs that will do this bios hard drive thing. What a pain in the ass...

Figured it out though. Getting Brandon's junker working made me realize what was wrong with the one I had gotten from my brother so I was able to fix that one as well. Now I'm the proud owner of two antique computers. Circa 1995. Takes me back to my first pc, which I got it in the early 90's. A pentium 90 with a 750 meg hard drive and 16 meg of ram. I was a big baller.

So now I got these old school machines. With ISA slots. I plan to use one of them as a mail server, maybe use the other as a temporary web server so I can rebuild the box I'm currently using (eventually I'll need a faster machine since my web site is done "on the fly", maybe you notice how slow it is...) And then I want to experiment with using my desktop box as an x server and maybe the slowest of these old junkers as a "thin client" machine. At that point maybe I can even rebuilt the machine in the livingroom as a client running x off my box. I'm sure that would offer more oumpf that the way it works now. Way more geek factor too...


Rolling My Own Webmail

Oh man. Tired. Caught some head cold thing from my brother. After this post I think I'll jump in bed and watch a movie.

Installed a bunch of stuff on my openbsd box. Later I'll write a detailed account of what I did (and why), not so much for you as for when and if I need to reinstall it again. Took a while to figure out. Let's see... here's what I installed:

The hardest part was getting my brain wrapped around the authentication part of courier-imap. It doesn't seem to want to work as flexibly on openbsd as it does on some other *NIX systems. Of course this has been my experience generally with openbsd --everything seems a little tougher to setup than on Linux. Worth it though if I have to worry about security problems less and it's fun to learn a new OS. Something more industrial server oriented.

It's all working and I think I got a handle on setting up virtual webmail accounts. Next up, some kind of spam and anti virus filtering. I don't know how seriously I can take this webmail thing though since I'm not convinced that the power or my internet access may go down at any minute. Things are kind of unstable recently (or should I say more unstable) since my roommate lost his job. Hope it works out for him.

Oh yeah. Did I mention that I need to learn how to do some kind of backup on this openbsd box? Too much cool stuff here to lose it all due to the hard drive blowing out or a lightning strike. That's a pretty serious threat out in I'm starting to learn. Backup... backup... backup... maybe if I keep repeating this I'll actually do something about it. O.K., yeah, movie time!



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