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Re: selecting a new mail server

On Wed, Aug 23, 2000 at 05:50:49PM -0600, Bruce Wm Folliott wrote:
> Howdy,
> There is an opportunity to upgrade our mail machine
> which is currently a Sun SS5/170 running SunOS4.1.4
> running Zmailer 2.99.51.
> A couple of alternatives are Sun/Solaris or PC/Linux
> setups. I suspect either would work fine.
> I would be interested in hearing from people who have
> changed their mail server lately.

  The MTA is semi-trivial part.  Message store, and its accesses
  are the non-trivial one.

  I have some rules of thumbs:

	- NFS access to the message store (mailboxes) is only over
	  my dead body, and even then only with wallrus size fangs..
	- MTA has local access to the MS
	- IMAP4r1 and POP3 exist for MS access
	- UNIX-environment  .forward  driven pipes to e.g. procmail
	  (and to user's home directory in overall to execute arbitary
	   programs at email reception time) is almost as bad a thing
	  as the message store access via NFS.
	- Admins should consider other than  ~user/.forward  for
	  the forward-file location -- e.g. in a NFS bound cluster
          each user should have  .forward  (or equivalent thereof)
	  AT THE MACHINE which runs the MTA itself (as .forward is
	  router item in Z)  Such thing makes sure that the router
	  will not get hung on automounter/NFS problems and/or when
	  the home directory storage becomes unreachable for a while.
	  (Running e.g. procmail is scheduler's problem, and can
	   parallellize far better.  Even including (hopefully)
	   proper retry due to temporary system problem. )

> Some background. This is an education/research
> department with about 500 users with a heteorgenous
> computing environment - many different boxes mostly
> running UNIX. 
> There is an increasing number of Linux and NT systems.

  POP3 and IMAP4r1 supply you the messsage store for both.
  For sending you may still need workstation local MTA (e.g.
  with mutt), which just sends all email to the mailhub smart

> Mail is picked up by NFS,  with an increasing use of
> pop and imap servers. Daily traffic is a few 10s of
> thousands of messages comprising a very few 100s of
> MB of filespace.  
> I seldom get asked for input on hardware/os selection
> so any advice/experience you can offer would be
> appreciated.

  Our department MTA/MS machine is Sun4/450/2cpu with all disks
  mirrored, and VeritasFS at mail-spool/home/data disk (~ 100 GB).
  It is *serious* overkill for our 50 people :)
  (But at least - hopefully - we will have carefree operation.)

> Bruce Wm Folliott

/Matti Aarnio	<mea@nic.funet.fi>