Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Server tinkering

So I finally got the last process off my mac mini, allowing me to retire or repurpose it. I suppose I should explain. Over the years, going back at least a decade, I've always had a server machine running at my residence, for the purposes of file serving and mail storage. For a significant chunk of that time it was actually a a publicly visible SMTP server for accepting incoming mail. Its usually been made out of whatever parts were no longer apropos for my primary computer (or that of my significant other).

A few years back, when the Mac Mini came out, I decided to try it out as my wife's primary machine, mac's being all about ease of use. That lasted until she started playing World of Warcraft, which was too much for the paltry first-gen machine. Since my server machine was pretty old and out of date I decided to use the Mini as its replacement. At the time, pretty much everything I needed out of a server was covered by three things, Postfix for mail delivery, Dovecot for local mail storage and Samba for file serving. All three were available on the Mac so I spent the time needed to get them installed and working. Unfortunately, the auto-update functionality of the Mini doesn't extend to such arcane packages installed by the user, so there they have sat, largely untouched, for the past 4 years.

A few months ago I was struggling with my PS3's media serving abilities which are less than stunning. The PS3 is very finicky about what codecs it will and won't stream and a lot of my media was on the 'fuck you' list apparently. After struggling valiantly trying to figure out how TwonkyMedia's transcoding features were supposed to work, I finally gave up and started looking for a new solution, which I found in the aptly named PS3 Media Server. However, the Mini just didn't have the power to do the transcoding I wanted it to do so I decided to repurpose Kat's old laptop (really not that old, just not good enough video for the latest Warcraft expansion) into a new server running Ubuntu and all the media serving software. Partially because Samba management is easier on linux than on the Mac, and partially because serving media off a local disk is better than sending it over the wire twice, I decided to move all the file serving over to the new machine as well.

At this point, only the email functionality remained on the Mini. Well yesterday I finally moved that over as well. It turns out I was fairly behind the times on my Dovecot and Postfix versions, so I had to make some config changes on each, but on the plus side my Dovecot server now requires a secure connection for email, and also supports full text search (though only on a per-folder basis).

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