June 15th, 2006, 21:36
Next week, it will be my pleasure to install a new mail server for my church. The donated machine is an AMD-64. It will be running FreeBSD 5.5. Most of the usual stuff I know how to do (reference my newbie HOWTOs on installation and setup).

What I do not know so well is 64-bit gotchas and peculiarities. I don't plan to install a GUI, so we can skip that concern, at least for now.

The LAN setup places this machine behind a gateway/router facing the Net. Thus, I assume a static IP is not so important, since the gateway has one, and can be told to hand off mail to this new one. Until now, the mail was handled by a remote server. There are approx. 200 mail users, and they'll be working both internally and externally to this LAN.

I'll have to use Postfix because I just don't get sendmail, and don't have a year to spend getting it. We may eventually do some webhosting in-house, and that may depend on how well I can move the mail over to this new machine. I'm guessing as long as it can run PHP, not much else matters.

I've read the Handbook, of course. I know I'll have to have some help with things like AV for the Windows machines on the LAN, and I'll be using a collection of DNSRBLs. What are some issues which might arise for someone who's never done server work before?

June 16th, 2006, 17:58
Outstanding ;) You should find it to be just like x86. The only problems I've seen with my AMD64 is getting DVDs and movie clips to run...but that's all GUI stuff.

I have to ask why 5.5 and not 6.1?

June 16th, 2006, 22:29
I've used both. I find 5.5 slightly more reliable. There were a couple of glitches in file system handling with 6.1. The difference is small, I admit, but reliability is probably the number one requirement.

June 17th, 2006, 16:04

- AMD-64 is not ready for Prime Time (server use) yet; use a 32-bit x86 build of FBSD 6.1.
- assign a static IP to the server. If you don't ... you will regret it later.
- don't run any services on the box that aren't strictly needed for its use.
- don't allow any local logins to anyone except the admins, and strictly limit sub-admins privs.
- run ClamAV on this thing; don't just rely on desktop AV.
- get portsnap configured and use it; keep your ports up-to-date

June 17th, 2006, 20:21
Well, that destroys the whole thing. If I can't use the 64-bit version, I won't be using FreeBSD. The whole point in getting this thing donated was to take advantage 64-bit architecture for the sake of longevity. Thanks for the warning, BMW.

June 18th, 2006, 19:46
Hey, whoa! Huh? Longevity? Sorry, I don't follow your reasoning there at all, Bumbler.

You're getting some nice 64-bit hardware. It will also work really well in 32-bit mode--most certainly way more horsepower than you need for your present task. So you have oodles of future-proofing. At some point soon the 64-bit AMD FreeBSD release will be fully debugged and ready for server duty. When you upgrade after that point, you upgrade to the AMD 64-bit release and take advantage of the extra oomph.

Meanwhile, you enjoy the solidity and coolness that FreeBSD 6.1 provides. Where's the problem?

Did you have some conception of just sticking a server release onto this box and then leaving it for the next 5 years? If so, that's not really a good idea. But even still, you'd be in very good shape with installing x86 FreeBSD 6.1 on there and leaving it alone for a long time.

And you should be aware that you aren't going to benefit much from the 64-bitness with your intended workload. In fact if you benchmarked your new hardware running Postfix, Apache and PHP stuff in both 32-bit and 64-bit native code modes, I bet you'd barely notice any difference in speed. That 64-bit CPU is designed to address more RAM (ie above 4 Gig) well, and do fast arithmetic with big numbers, graphics, etc. You're not doing any of those things.

So what you will really be gaining with an AMD 64-bit box is the extra speed that the AMD CPUs bring you relative to similarly clocked Intel CPUs. You will not lose much of that by running 32-bit FreeBSD. I have run 32-bit FreeBSD on 64-bit AMD Sun and HP hardware and it kicks ass.

And if you think that somehow a 64-bit AMD Linux release will magically make these server apps run 2X faster, then good luck with that. :-)

June 20th, 2006, 15:12
FYI: I was deceived. It's a common Athlon-XP, and it appears to be broken. Nothing in my vast collection of OSes will get past hardware detection. The most informative, CentOS, tells me something about pages not where the kernel put them. The rest of it is too obscure for me. Nice box and all, but I believe the donor burned up the CPU before he handed it off.

June 22nd, 2006, 06:35
Try the emergency socketing-frobbing fix. Open it up, look for connectors and any things in sockets, including RAM and PCI/AGP cards. One by one (it's safer that way) remove and reinstall each socketed thing. The CPU may be the trickiest item; you may want to simply loosen its socket rather than completely removing the CPU. Often there's a little handle on one side that you can lever up and then put back.

The theory is that miniscule amounts of corrosion and/or oxidation build up between socket contacts -- electrical points of contact -- and cause extra resistance or a completely open circuit. By working, flexing, tweaking or whatever, each contact point, you restore low resistance connections.

I have found in practice that simply doing this fixes more than 60% of "computer problems".