Last year we had consolidated all our servers into a single data center. We were faced with a choice for setting up new DNS server. Our current DNS server (at the time) was RedHat Linux, but it did not belong to us. We used it at our previous "shared" space for DNS and email Relay. We had sufficient hardware for a new box - but we weren't altogether satisfied with the Redhat box. It seemed like we had to patch it quite frequently, and the features seemed like overkill for DNS and Email Relay. As a part of our migration we were fortunate to hire into an outstanding Cisco and networking consultant named Jeff Zimmerman (firstname.lastname@example.org). Jeff not only "fixes" our stuff but he "teaches us to fish". He's a great knowledge sharer and is very responsive. He recommended we switch to OpenBSD. His take was that it was designed with security and stability the top priority. He said it would run forever and we would never notice it.
After 3 months I'd have to say he was spot on in his assessment. The servers have not had any issues. We installed BIND, Sendmail and webmin. Webmin was for me - I hate telnet (ha). There are some gotchas. The install program was written by Koko the Gorilla (on a bad hair day). The configuration tools and interfaces aren't intuitive or sexy. In fact I'd say they are designed to be as "un-sexy" as possible. If you look in the dictionary under "unattractive" I think you would find "see OpenBSD". But besides being the pinnacle of geekdom, the OS works as advertised and does not require attention. In fact, I can safely say now that the biggest issue with OpenBSD is that it requires so little attention we run the risk of forgetting what we've learned about it.
Ever have the problem of a service not wanting to start on boot-up? Maybe you have to manually start your FTP or World Wide Web publishing service after every reboot of your server. We had this problem about a year ago on one of our servers. It has to do with the start order of the services that depend on each other. The WWW and FTP service in Windows both depend on the IISAdmin service. If it is unable to start in a timely manor, one or both may fail. The symptom will be that IISAdmin is running, but either FTP or the WWW service is not. This masks the actual problem - which is that there is an internal dependency that is either not specified or is not reporting back to the start-up routine. Coldfusion compounds the problem because it depends on some of the same internals as IISAdmin - so the problem often rears its head after installing CF or some other AP server or filter using IIS. To solve the problem you make the Coldfusion service "Depend" on the IISAdmin service so that it won't start unless IISAdmin is running. Then you make www (and or ftp) "depend" on the Cold fusion application server service before it starts. This outstanding blog entry by Dan Switzer shows how to make that happen.
We ran into a minor issue with the Urchin web analyzer and ecommerce module. One of our clients uses Edge-web hosting to host a dedicated server. They do a fabulous job and they actually know quite a bit about configuring a Coldfusion server. Anyway, one of the items they offer is the "Urchin" web log analyzer. This analyzer produces some fabulous reports and does a gret job with things like referral key words and the like. A "plugin" for the analyzer allows you to analyze e-commerce logs that are stored in a particular format - but your shopping cart must be able to produce those logs. Either that or you would have to custom program the logging.
We had added the module to our customers web site because we thought it might add some benefit - but the task of customizing the logs did not seem worth the expense so they cancelled it. As soon as they let the license revert back to "basic" the particular profile we were working on stopped picking up new logs to analyze. I assumed it was because the profile was still seton "e-commerce", but setting it back to basic didn't help. In order to fix it I had to create a new profile and delete the old one. Just a tip in case you needed the info.
You may know that (in the US) you cannot simply put a used monitor in the trash. It has to be disposed of in an "environmentally approved" manner. This is because of some substances in the CRT that are dangerous to the environment. In our city you call a recycler and actually pay him to come and haul it away. With the popularity of LCD monitors, thousands and thousands of CRT monitors are now being shipped to recyclers. What you may not know....Read More