Diggin' technology every day

August 31, 2011

WebOS device sales still hectic

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — Nate @ 9:28 am

HP announced recently they are going to manufacture another round of Touchpads to meet more demand, and limit one TP per customer. Best Buy has also been selling TPs with a limit of one per customer.

You can see in the Precentral Forums as well as the Palm Developer forums the frustration by the existing user base that many are not able to get their hands on hardware.

The limit per customer should help get TPs in to more hands without having to resort to the scalping market, though many folks wanted to buy a couple extras as gifts. One is better than none..

While the Touchpad continues to make headlines with the fire sale what hasn’t made any headlines is the desperate struggle many users are going through to try to get their hands on the HP Pre3 which was released in Europe mere days before the big HP announcement that they were getting out of hardware.

My own experience mimics that of many others, I put in an order to a UK reseller on the 20th whom appeared to have stock on hand. It took a few days to get past their security checks but I got past them, and then they went to go to their distributor to get stock (they apparently had none at the time), and their distributor told them they couldn’t have any stock, someone upstream (maybe HP, maybe another carrier the speculation runs wild) has blocked it. So the company refunded my money and that of many others who ordered. Unfortunately this took until Thursday of last week to find out I was not going to be getting Pre3s from this company.

So I set out on a quest to find Pre3s from someone else, every place I came across said no stock, there was talk about the Palm Eurostore selling Pre3s, BUT they only require both that your billing and shipping addresses are in Europe. No shipping to the US.

There is a UK reseller which is requiring all orders be shipped to the UK. They accept US billing and shipping addresses but have canceled every order that had one after the order was placed.

There are people trying to order from over in France whom have a stock of AZERTY based Pre3s (I had never heard of AZERTY until then), but their shipping forms do not list U.S. as an option (I think people have tried anyways not sure of results). I have seen other stories of people in Asia getting their orders canceled by with the company directing those users to the Asian version of the site (which has no Pre3s of course). While it’s apparently not hard to change the keyboard layout in the phone itself, there is still the physical keyboard where the keys won’t be right once the mapping is changed. But users are willing to make the compromise in order to get their hands on the device (I would too if they’d ship to the US). I was about to order from them when I saw the billing address had no place to put a state. Only City, Country, and street address. Also no mention of U.S. shipping options, so it seemed pretty clear to me that they weren’t going to ship my order so I didn’t submit it.

So I began searching Ebay and came across another company KICK MOBILE over in the UK and I ordered a pair of Pre3s from them last Thursday morning. I emailed them later asking if they really did have stock because the last place did not, they said they are sold out *right now* but are 99.9% confident they will get 100 units the following day. The people/person at Kick Mobile has been very nice and friendly. Unfortunately Friday came and mostly went and Kick Mobile sent out an update saying they have not gotten stock yet but have confirmed their upstream supplier has 100 units set aside for them (out of 1500 units on hand), and they are still highly confident they will get them because Kick Mobiles is doing them a favor in buying a couple hundred older Blackberry phones to liquidate. They said they won’t know for certain until the end of this month or maybe the 1st or 2nd of September. The upstream supplier was waiting for authorization to release the units to the resellers.

I haven’t gotten an update directly yet (have not asked) but did see someone else post an update from them saying that Kick Mobiles no longer has confidence they will get that stock, though the final nail is not in the coffin yet (probably will be in the next 24 hours though).

What’s more frustrating is that Kick Mobile mentioned if I had placed the order a mere 24 hours earlier I would of gotten the phones. Getting the bad news back from the first reseller took too long!

I don’t blame any of the resellers they are all doing everything (or have done) they can to try to get the product to the desperate customers and have done a great job.

So yesterday I went on Ebay again and found a pair of Pre3s from what appears to be an end user who had two of them, and I immediately hit the buy it now button to buy one. I’m normally not one who likes to use auction sites I don’t know why I just don’t feel comfortable doing it but at the moment if I want a Pre3 (and I want one as you can clearly see) I have little choice at this point, it seems as time goes on there are fewer and fewer available, even though there is good information that says there are at least hundreds to thousands being held up in warehouses with an uncertain future. You can probably bet there are hundreds to thousands of AT&T and Verizon branded Pre3s as well which people speculate may just be outright destroyed rather than sold.

With each attempt to buy a Pre3 the unit price has gone up by roughly $125. There’s one report of someone paying over $900 for one.

There have been rumors of a fire sale of Pre3s as well but so far very few have been able to get them at those prices, even the official Palm Eurostore says they were not able to resell at those prices and in fact is unable to get more stock and is canceling all outstanding orders and not accepting new orders. Not a good sign. Contrary to initial beliefs the Eurostore is not directly affiliated with HP or Palm but is a 3rd party reseller like most others. From their web site

Update Wed 31st Aug 15:00 :
From the contacts we initiated since last Friday ;
– We have cancelled and refunded all orders where we received notification to cancel.
– We have shipped all orders for those people we had contacted and who accepted the order for a single unit at the standard/agreed price.
– We are still awaiting response from some of the people we contacted
We are now going to set a deadline of midday (BST) on Thursday 1st Sep. A final reminder email has gone out to these people. We will have no option but to cancel those orders after that point if we have not heard back from them.

The European Pre3 only works on one of the two AT&T 3G frequencies, so will be crippled to some degree(mainly when used in doors), by contrast I read that the way T-mobile uses their frequencies the Pre3 would have no 3G coverage at all. T-mobile apparently uses one frequency for upstream and one for downstream, AT&T has both frequencies available for up and down.

I’ll take what I can get though, assuming I can get the Pre3. I got a Pre2 in yesterday (can’t use it yet because I don’t have a SIM card). Was supposed to get a Veer (with AT&T SIM) yesterday, but fedex screwed me on the delivery claiming my address was wrong and before I could pick the package up at the local facility shipped it back to AT&T.  I have another Fedex package coming from HP today with a Touchpad and some accessories in it, will see if they screw up again. I’ve recieved a lot of UPS and USPS packages at my address so I know it’s right, it is a new address, the building has only existed for about 1.5 years but hard to believe Fedex hasn’t delivered a package here before, there’s a couple hundred people living here.

While the initial reviews of the Pre3 are very positive at least from the WebOS community(which is biased of course), they are not suitable devices for the general public in the U.S. as you will have to jump through hoops and stuff to use them due to the frequency differences and general lack of support. But for more hard core technical users it’s clear it’s by far the best phone to come out of Palm since the first Pre launched back in 2009.

In case your wondering why I have been trying so hard to get my hands on a Pre 3. Well part of it as I have mentioned in the past is, for several different personal reasons (won’t elaborate again here), I won’t really go near a Android, iOS or Windows mobile device for myself at least. The Pre2 and Pre3 will keep me on a platform I like for a while to come until I need to make a decision about where to go at that point. I’ve been using a feature phone from Sanyo for the past 8 months while I waited for the Pre3 to be released. It’s an OK phone, I like that I don’t have to charge it often, though it’s not as nice as the Sanyo phones I used to have, the software is quite different, and in general not as good.  It may be because the phone might just be Sanyo in name since they were bought by Kyocera (the phone itself says Sanyo by Kyrocera) Though I guess one thing I will be able to finally test without being too paranoid is how rugged this rugged phone really is, your supposed to be able to completely submerge it in water and have it be OK. I’ll finally test that out!

Meanwhile my order for 4 Touchpad 16GBs which was accepted by HP’s systems on August 21st at 2AM (26 hours before their cutoff period for canceling orders) is still pending shipment, I assume they are out of stock now. The order status page says it is in an “Admin” state. My 2nd order  was processed before my first which I thought was unusual. My 2nd order is the 5th Touchpad with accessories, in order to secure a discount on accessories I had to buy another TP. I was in such a hurry to buy the original Touchpads I did not pay attention to accessories or discounts on the 21st as I was busy fighting server errors on HP’s side.

My original Palm Pre, which has been disconnected from the Sprint network for 8 months did something unusual on Monday – it showed I had a new voice mail. I checked my normal Sprint phone it too said I had a voice mail. I would not of expected the Pre to show that (it never has before). Just because I was curious I tried to check the voice mail on the Pre and got a message from Sprint saying my account could not be verified. So clearly the phone wasn’t authorized to operate on Sprint anymore, must’ve been some sort of temporary hole opened in the Sprint network which allowed the phone to log in for a moment and detect the new voice mail.

I only wish management at HP cared enough to handle this whole situation better in the first place. I do feel sorry for the entire WebOS division (hardware+software), including the leadership who were just as blindsided by this as everyone else. I can’t imagine the stress the leadership is under to try to maintain morale at this point.

Over 2,000 words for this post, not bad.

DOJ files to block AT&T T-mobile deal

Filed under: General,Random Thought — Tags: , — Nate @ 7:49 am

Wow, I didn’t expect the government to do this, hopefully it sticks, but apparently the DOJ  has filed to block the merger between T-mobile and AT&T. Just a couple of hours ago some AT&T exec was on CNBC touting how good of a deal it was, how they’d bring back jobs etc, I couldn’t bring myself to watch or listen to him talk.

What I’m sure they didn’t mention was the leaked emails showing the public AT&T position was pretty much the exact opposite from what they were portraying internally. Some folks did calculations and determined that actual investment was going to go down with AT&T buying T-mobile, rather than up (don’t have a reference for that handy right now).

I didn’t like the deal to begin with of course, so hopefully it’s dead, and T-mobile will get a few billion in break up fees as a result (and some free spectrum! I forgot about the spectrum AT&T has to give them). I know some folks at T-mobile apparently internally they were convinced it was going through, and already started doing a bunch of stuff to prepare for it.

I can’t believe that some folks believe that actual investment would go down if the deal was blocked, in fact the same Wall street investors are buying up shares of cell tower companies like American Tower in response to the DOJ deal, speculating that investment will go UP. AT&T and T-Mobile of course will have to continue to invest regardless, it’s not as if AT&T is going to stop spending if they don’t get T-mobile, they still have to compete against the other carriers in the space.

The DOJ said in a speech earlier this morning, among other things:

As can be seen in the Department’s complaint, AT&T felt competitive pressure from T-Mobile.   One example cites an AT&T employee observing that “[T-Mobile] was first to have HSPA+ devices in their portfolio…we added them in reaction to potential loss of speed claims.”

Combine that kind of claim with the leaked emails and a little bit of common sense and it’s not hard to see how this deal would hurt consumers. Now there’s speculation again that Sprint may go after T-Mobile. I kind of hope they don’t, since their technologies are not compatible (CDMA & GSM). The Sprint Nextel deal was a real mess I think in good part because the handsets and networks were not compatible.

AT&T will have to rely on organic growth it seems – oh no, the world is coming to an end.

I say this as a new AT&T customer – somewhat forced to take the leap off of Sprint (after being with them for 10 years) onto AT&T in order to get GSM service so I can run more WebOS phones including the Pre3 by swapping SIM cards between phones.

August 29, 2011

Farewell Terremark – back to co-lo

Filed under: General,Random Thought,Storage,Virtualization — Tags: , , , — Nate @ 9:43 pm

I mentioned not long ago that I was going co-lo once again. I was co-lo for a while for my own personal services but then my server started to act up (the server was 6 years old if it was still alive today) with disk “failure” after failure (or at least that’s what the 3ware card was predicting eventually it stopped complaining and the disk never died again). So I thought – do I spent a few grand to buy a new box or go “cloud”. I knew up front cloud would cost more in the long run but I ended up going cloud anyways as a stop gap – I picked Terremark because it had the highest quality design at the time(still does).

During my time with Terremark I never had any availability issues, there was one day where there was some high latency on their 3PAR arrays though they found & fixed whatever it was pretty quick (didn’t impact me all that much).

I had one main complaint with regards to billing – they charge $0.01 per hour for each open TCP or UDP port on their system, and they have no way of doing 1:1 NAT. For a web server or something this is no big deal, but for me I needed a half dozen or more ports open per system(mail, dns, vpn, ssh etc) after cutting down on ports I might not need, so it starts to add up, indeed about 65% of my monthly bill ended up being these open TCP and UDP ports.

Once both of my systems were fully spun up (the 2nd system only recently got fully spun up as I was too lazy to move it off of co-lo) my bill was around $250/mo. My previous co-lo was around $100/mo and I think I had them throttle me to 1Mbit of traffic (this blog was never hosted at that co-lo).

The one limitation I ran into on their system was that they could not assign more than 1 IP address for outbound NAT per account. In order to run SMTP I needed each of my servers to have their own unique outbound IP. So I had to make a 2nd account to run the 2nd server. Not a big deal(for me, ended up being a pain for them since their system wasn’t setup to handle such a situation), since I only ran 2 servers (and the communications between them were minimal).

As I’ve mentioned before, the only part of the service that was truly “bill for what you use” was bandwidth usage, and for that I was charged between 10-30 cents/month for my main system and 10 cents/month for my 2nd system.

Oh – and they were more than willing to setup reverse DNS for me which was nice (and required for running a mail server IMO). I had to agree to a lengthy little contract that said I wouldn’t spam in order for them to open up port 25. Not a big deal. The IP addresses were “clean” as well, no worries about black listing.

Another nice thing to have if they would of offered it is billing based on resource pools, as usual they charge for what you provision(per VM) instead of what you use. When I talked to them about their enterprise cloud offering they charged for the resource pool (unlimited VMs in a given amount of CPU/memory), but this is not available on their vCloud Express platform.

It was great to be able to VPN to their systems to use the remote console (after I spent an hour or two determining the VPN was not going to work in Linux despite my best efforts to extract linux versions of the vmware console plugin and try to use it). Mount an ISO over the VPN and install the OS. That’s how it should be. I didn’t need the functionality but I don’t doubt I would of been able to run my own DHCP/PXE server there as well if I wanted to install additional systems in a more traditional way. Each user gets their own VLAN, and is protected by a Cisco firewall, and load balanced by a Citrix load balancer.

A couple of months ago the thought came up again of off site backups. I don’t really have much “critical” data but I felt I wanted to just back it all up, because it would be a big pain if I had to reconstruct all of my media files for example. I have about 1.7TB of data at the moment.

So I looked at various cloud systems including Terremark but it was clear pretty quick no cloud company was going to be able to offer this service in a cost effective way so I decided to go co-lo again. Rackspace was a good example they have a handy little calculator on their site. This time around I went and bought a new, more capable server.

So I went to a company I used to buy a ton of equipment from in the bay area and they hooked me up with not only a server with ESXi pre-installed on it but co-location services (with “unlimited” bandwidth), and on-site support for a good price. The on-site support is mainly because I’m using their co-location services(which in itself is a co-lo inside Hurricane Electric) and their techs visit the site frequently as-is.

My server is a single socket quad core processor, 4x2TB SAS disks (~3.6TB usable which also matches my usable disk space at home which is nice – SAS because VMware doesn’t support VMFS on SATA though technically you can do it the price premium for SAS wasn’t nearly as high as I was expecting), 3ware RAID controller with battery backed write-back cache, a little USB thing for ESXi(rather have ESXi on the HDD but 3ware is not supported for booting ESXi), 8GB Registered ECC ram and redundant power supplies. Also has decent remote management with a web UI, remote KVM access, remote media etc. For co-location I asked (and received) 5 static IPs (3 IPs for VMs, 1 IP for ESX management, 1 IP for out of band management).

My bandwidth needs are really tiny, typically 1GB/month. Though now with off site backups that may go up a bit (in bursts). Only real drawback to my system is the SAS card does not have full integration with vSphere so I have to use a cli tool to check the RAID status, at some point I’ll need to hook up nagios again and run a monitor to check on the RAID status. Normally I setup the 3Ware tools to email me when bad things happen, pretty simple, but not possible when running vSphere.

The amount of storage on this box I expect to last me a good 3-5 years. The 1.7TB includes every bit of data that I still have going back a decade or more – I’m sure there’s a couple hundred gigs at least I could outright delete because I may never need it again. But right now I’m not hurting for space so I keep it there, on line and accessible.

My current setup

  • One ESX virtual switch on the internet that has two systems on it – a bridging OpenBSD firewall, and a Xangati system sniffing packets(still playing with Xangati). No IP addresses are used here.
  • One ESX virtual switch for one internal network, the bridging firewall has another interface here, and my main two internet facing servers have interfaces here, my firewall has another interface here as well for management. Only public IPs are used here.
  • One ESX virtual switch for another internal network for things that will never have public IP addresses associated with them, I run NAT on the firewall(on it’s 3rd/4th interfaces) for these systems to get internet access.

I have a site to site OpenVPN connection between my OpenBSD firewall at home and my OpenBSD firewall on the ESX system, which gives me the ability to directly access the back end, non routable network on the other end.

Normally I wouldn’t deploy an independent firewall, but I did in this case because, well I can. I do like OpenBSD’s pf more than iptables(which I hate), and it gives me a chance to play around more with pf, and gives me more freedom on the linux end to fire up services on ports that I don’t want exposed and not have to worry about individually firewalling them off, so it allows me to be more lazy in the long run.

I bought the server before I moved, once I got to the bay area I went and picked it up and kept it over a weekend to copy my main data set to it then took it back and they hooked it up again and I switched my systems over to it.

The server was about $2900 w/1 year of support, and co-location is about $100/mo. So disk space alone the first year(taking into account cost of the server) my cost is about $0.09 per GB per month (3.6TB), with subsequent years being $0.033 per GB per month (took a swag at the support cost for the 2nd year so that is included). That doesn’t even take into account the virtual machines themselves and the cost savings there over any cloud. And I’m giving the cloud the benefit of the doubt by not even looking at the cost of bandwidth for them just the cost of capacity. If I was using the cloud I probably wouldn’t allocate all 3.6TB up front but even if you use 1.8TB which is about what I’m using now with my VMs and stuff the cost still handily beats everyone out there.

What’s the most crazy is I lack the purchasing power of any of these clouds out there, I’m just a lone consumer, that bought one server. Granted I’m confident the vendor I bought from gave me excellent pricing due to my past relationship, though probably still not on the scale of the likes of Rackspace or Amazon and yet I can handily beat their costs without even working for it.

What surprised me most during my trips doing cost analysis of the “cloud” is how cheap enterprise storage is. I mean Terremark charges $0.25/GB per month(on SATA powered 3PAR arrays), Rackspace charges $0.15/GB per month(I believe Rackspace just uses DAS). I kind of would of expected the enterprise storage route to cost say 3-5x more, not less than 2x. When I was doing real enterprise cloud pricing storage for the solution I was looking for typically came in at 10-20% of the total cost, with 80%+ of the cost being CPU+memory. For me it’s a no brainier – I’d rather pay a bit more and have my storage on a 3PAR of course (when dealing with VM-based storage not bulk archival storage). With the average cost of my storage for 3.6TB over 2 years coming in at $0.06/GB it makes more sense to just do it myself.

I just hope my new server holds up, my last one lasted a long time, so I sort of expect this one to last a while too, it got burned in before I started using it and the load on the box is minimal, would not be too surprised if I can get 5 years out of it – how big will HDDs be in 5 years?

I will miss Terremark because of the reliability and availability features they offer, they have a great service, and now of course are owned by Verizon. I don’t need to worry about upgrading vSphere any time soon as there’s no reason to go to vSphere 5. The one thing I have been contemplating is whether or not to put my vSphere management interface behind the OpenBSD firewall(which is a VM of course on the same box). Kind of makes me miss the days of ESX 3, when it had a built in firewall.

I’m probably going to have to upgrade my cable internet at home, right now I only have 1Mbps upload which is fine for most things but if I’m doing off site backups too I need more performance. I can go as high as 5Mbps with a more costly plan. 50Meg down 5 meg up for about $125, but I might as well go all in and get 100meg down 5 meg up for $150, both plans have a 500GB cap with $0.25/GB charge for going over. Seems reasonable. I certainly don’t need that much downstream bandwidth(not even 50Mbps I’d be fine with 10Mbps), but really do need as much upstream as I can get. Another option could be driving a USB stick to the co-lo, which is about 35 miles away, I suppose that is a possibility but kind of a PITA still given the distance, though if I got one of those 128G+ flash drives it could be worth it. I’ve never tried hooking up USB storage to an ESX VM before, assuming it works? hmmmm..

Another option I have is AT&T Uverse, which I’ve read good and bad things about – but looking at their site their service is slower than what I can get through my local cable company (which truly is local, they only serve the city I am in). Another reason I didn’t go with Uverse for TV is due to the technology they are using I suspected it is not compatible with my Tivo (with cable cards). Though AT&T doesn’t mention their upstream speeds specifically I’ll contact them and try to figure that out.

I kept the motherboard/cpus/ram from my old server, my current plan is to mount it to a piece of wood and hang it on the wall as some sort of art. It has lots of colors and little things to look at, I think it looks cool at least. I’m no handyman so hopefully I can make it work. I was honestly shocked how heavy the copper(I assume) heatsinks were, wow, felt like 1.5 pounds a piece, massive.

While my old server is horribly obsolete, one thing it does have even on my new server is being able to support more ram. Old server could go up to 24GB(I had a max of 6GB at the time in it), new server tops out at 8GB (have 8GB in it). Not a big deal as I don’t need 24GB for my personal stuff but just thought it was kind of an interesting comparison.

This blog has been running on the new server for a couple of weeks now. One of these days I need to hook up some log analysis stuff to see how many dozen hits I get a month.

If Terremark could fix three areas of their vCloud express service – one being resource pool-based billing,  another being relaxing the costs behind opening multiple ports in the firewall (or just giving 1:1 NAT as an option), and the last one being thin provisioning friendly billing for storage — it would really be a much more awesome service than it already is.

August 23, 2011

Mac Daddy P10000

Filed under: Datacenter,Storage,Virtualization — Tags: , , — Nate @ 9:55 pm

It’s finally here, the HP P10000 – aka 3PAR V Class. 3PAR first revealed this to their customers more than a year ago, but the eagle has landed now.

When it comes to the hardware – bigger is better (usually means faster too)

Comparisons of recent 3PAR arrays

8-node P10000
(aka V800)
1,600 TB288 ports
(192 host)
512 GB256 GB1,920112 GB/sec96 GB/sec600,000
8-node T800800 TB192 ports
(128 host)
96 GB32 GB1,28045 GB/sec19.2 GB/sec225,000
4-node T800
(or 4-node
400 TB96
(64 host)
48 GB 16 GB6409.6 GB/sec?~112,000
4-node F400384 TB32
(24 host)
24 GB16 GB3849.6 GB/sec ??93,000
Comparison between the F400, T400, T800 and the new V800. In all cases the numbers reflected are in a maximum configuration.

3PAR V800 ready to fight

The new system is based on their latest Generation 4 ASIC, and for the first time they are putting two ASICs in each controller. This is also the first system that supports PCI Express, with if my memory serves 9 PCI Express buses per controller. Front end throughput is expected to be up in the 15 Gigabytes/second range (up from ~6GB on the T800).  Just think they have nearly eight times the interconnect bandwidth than the controllers have capacity to push data to hosts, that’s just insane.

IOPS – HP apparently is not in a big rush to post SPC-1 numbers, but given the increased spindle count, cache, doubling up on ASICs, and the new ASIC design itself I would be surprised if the system would get less than say half a million IOPS on SPC-1 (by no means a perfect benchmark but at least it’s a level playing field).

It’s nice to see 3PAR finally bulk up on data cache (beefcake!!) – I mean traditionally they don’t need it all that much because their architecture blows the competition out of the water without breaking a sweat – but still – ram is cheap – it’s not as if they’re using the same type of memory you find in CPU cache – it’s industry standard ECC DIMMs. RAM may be cheap, but I’m sure HP won’t charge you industry standard DIMM pricing when you go to put 512GB in your system!

Now that they have PCI Express 3PAR can natively support 8Gbps fibre channel as well as 10Gbit iSCSI and FCoE which are coming soon.

The drive cages and magazines are more or less unchanged (physically) from the previous generation but apparently new stuff is still coming down the pike there.  The controller’s physical design (how it fits in the cabinet) seems radically different than their previous S or T series.

Another enhancement for this system is they expanded the number of drive chassis to 48, or 12 per node (up from 8 per node). Though if you go back in time you’ll find their earliest S800 actually supported 64 drive chassis for a time, since then they have refrained from daisy chaining drive chassis on their S/T/V class which is how they achieved the original 64 drive chassis configuration (or 2,560 disks back when disks were 9GB in size). The V class obviously has more ports so they can support more cages. I have no doubt they could go to even more cages by using ports assigned to hosts and assign them to disks, just a matter of testing. Flipping a fiber port from host to disk is pretty trivial on the system.

The raw capacity doesn’t quite line up with the massive amount of control cache the system has, in theory at least if 4GB of control cache per controller is good enough for 200TB raw (per controller pair), then 32GB  per controller should be able to net you 1,600 TB raw (per controller pair or 6,400 TB for the whole system), but obviously with a limit put in of 1,600 TB for the entire system they are using a lot of control cache for something else.

As far as I know the T-class isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, this V class is all about even more massive scale, at a significantly higher entry level price point than the T-class(at least $100,000 more at the baseline from what I can tell), with the beauty of running the same operating system, the same user interfaces, the same software features across the entire product line. The T-class, as-is still is mind numbingly fast and efficient, even three years after it was released.

No mainframe connectivity on this baby.

Storage Federation

The storage federation stuff is pretty cool in that it is peer based, you don’t need any external appliances to move the data around, the arrays talk to each other directly to manage all of that. This is where we get the first real integration between 3PAR and HP in that the entire line of 3PAR arrays as well as the Lefthand-based P4000 iSCSI systems (including the Virtual storage appliance even!) support this new peer federation (sort of makes me wonder where EVA support is – perhaps it’s coming later or maybe it’s a sign HP is sort of depreciating EVA when it comes to this sort of thing – I’m sure the official party line will be EVA is still a shining star).

The main advantage I think of storage federation technology over something like storage vMotion is the array has a more holistic view of what’s going on in the storage system rather than just what a particular host sees, or what a particular LUN is doing. The federation should also have more information about the location of the various arrays if they are in another data center or something and make more intelligent choices about moving stuff around. Certainly would like to see it in action myself. Even though hypervisors have had thin provisioning for a while – by no means does it reduce the need for thin provisioning at the storage level (at least for larger deployments).

I’d imagine like most things on the platform the storage federation is licensed based on the capacity of the array.

If this sort of thing interests you anywhere nearly as much as it interests me you should check out the architecture white paper from HP which has some new stuff from the V class here. You don’t have to register to download it like you did back in the good ‘ol days.

I’d be surprised if I ever decided to work for a company large enough to be able to leverage a V-class, but if anyone from 3PAR is out there reading this (I’m sure there’s more than one) since I am in the Bay area – not far from your HQ – I wouldn’t turn down an invitation to see one of these in person 🙂

Oh HP.. first you kick me in the teeth by killing WebOS devices then before I know what happened you come out with a V-class and want to make things all better, I just don’t know what to feel.

The joys of working with a 3PAR array, it’s been about a year since I laid my hands on one (working at a different company now), I do miss it.

Running your own mail server pt 2 – the humor

Filed under: Random Thought — Tags: — Nate @ 7:30 am

Running your own mail server also has it’s humorous points, mainly around SPAM. I love it when people spam me acting as my email administrator (which is obviously me as well) saying my email is about to be cut off unless I download the attachment and run the virus or whatever is in there (compound that with the fact that I run linux and would have to jump through a few hoops to run their virus inside wine or something for it to do anything).

This morning I got a pair of LinkedIn security alerts(addressed to an address LinkedIn has no knowledge of no less) –


 Your LinkedIn account has been blocked due to suspicious activity.
 Please Follow this link [1] for details. 

 Thank you for using LinkedIn! 

--The LinkedIn Team [2]  

? 2011, LinkedIn Corporation

The ironic part here is Sanitizer ripped out whatever url they were trying to insert to spoof the LinkedIn site – so not only is the text to click on accurate, the link itself is accurate as well, there is no malware site to be seen.

I have Sanitizer attach a log as to what it is doing and this is what it said it did

Sanitizer (start="1314091520"):
 SanitizeFile (filename="unnamed.html, filetype.html",
 Match (names="unnamed.html, filetype.html", rule="9"):
 Enforced policy: accept

 Note: Styles and layers give attackers many tools to fool the
 user and common browsers interpret Javascript code found
 within style definitions.

Rewrote HTML tag: >>_div_>_p__DEFANGED_div_>_table style="border-top: 4px solid rgb(51, 153, 204); margin: 0pt auto; max-width: 550px; font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none;" width="550" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"_>_table DEFANGED_style="border-top: 4px solid rgb(51, 153, 204); margin: 0pt auto; max-width: 550px; font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none;" width="550" border=0 cellpadding=0 cellspacing=0_>_h1 style="margin: 5px 0pt; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: arial; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: bold; font-size: 23px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none;"_>_h1 DEFANGED_style="margin: 5px 0pt; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: arial; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: bold; font-size: 23px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none;"_>_td valign="top" style="font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none;"_>_td valign="top" DEFANGED_style="font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none;"_>_p style="margin: 3px auto; width: 550px; font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 10px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; color: rgb(153, 153, 153);"_>_p DEFANGED_style="margin: 3px auto; width: 550px; font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 10px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; color: rgb(153, 153, 153);"_>_div_>_p__DEFANGED_div_>_table style="border-top: 4px solid rgb(51, 153, 204); margin: 0pt auto; max-width: 550px; font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none;" width="550" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"_>_table DEFANGED_style="border-top: 4px solid rgb(51, 153, 204); margin: 0pt auto; max-width: 550px; font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none;" width="550" border=0 cellpadding=0 cellspacing=0_>_h1 style="margin: 5px 0pt; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: arial; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: bold; font-size: 23px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none;"_>_h1 DEFANGED_style="margin: 5px 0pt; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: arial; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: bold; font-size: 23px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none;"_>_td valign="top" style="font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none;"_>_td valign="top" DEFANGED_style="font-family: arial,helvetica,sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none;"_>_p style="margin: 3px auto; width: 550px; font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 10px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; color: rgb(153, 153, 153);"_>_p DEFANGED_style="margin: 3px auto; width: 550px; font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 10px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; color: rgb(153, 153, 153);"_


So, quite a bit of stuff. Roundcube is a new webmail client I am playing with, so far it’s ok, looks nicer than Squirrelmail in general though not as good as SM in other ways.

The [1] link above I assume might be the malware site – But if I were to click on it I’d just get back to my webmail client.

And just a few minutes ago I got one of those emails that poses as myself threatening to cut off my email – oh so funny!

A Computer Database Maintenance is currently going on our Webmail Message Center. Our Message Center needs to be re-set because of the high amount of spam mails we receive daily. A Quarantine Maintainance will help us prevent this everyday dilemma. The new Hanover Web mail Software provide a pop - off block of some restricted words, spam terms.

To revalidate your mailbox Please Fill the link below:

UserName: ....................................
Old Password:.......................................
New Password:.......................................  

WARNING!!! E-MAIL OWNERS who refuses to upgrade his or her account within
Five days after notification of this update will permanently be deleted
from our data base and can also lead to malfunctioning of the client or
user's account and we will not be responsible for loosing your web mail

Your response should be sent to admin manager

August 21, 2011

Windows Phone 7 is dead

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — Nate @ 7:03 am

That is the headline of this news article, and as I read the article, and more importantly the comments I couldn’t help but think about the parallels between both of those and HP’s now defunct WebOS (yeah I know officially HP has committed to continue support but most people expect nothing to come of it unfortunately).

Here is part of the list, see the article for the rest

  1. Sales are plummeting – Same was said for WebOS
  2. Mango (new version of Windows phone 7) is taking too long – Same was said for WebOS 3, Pre3, and the Pre3’s lack of running WebOS 3
  3. Customer’s don’t care – Similar things said about WebOS
  4. Nokia doesn’t matter – HP at least believed the Palm brand didn’t matter since they killed the Palm name earlier in the year..

I’d say a good 8 out of 10 of those points could of applied to WebOS/Palm as well. I also suspect that the same could possibly be said of RIM as well.

But the comments from the community responding to the article were much more similar to what the hard core WebOS community would say than I would of expected and thought that was fascinating.

Maybe it’s coincidence, but I have seen more than one suggestion from the WebOS community that Windows Phone 7 is the closest user experience to WebOS.

I was never a strong defender of the WebOS platform, I used it for myself, thought it was a solid product line, never tried to talk someone else into using it, though often times I wanted to try (unlike some other products/companies I talk about on this site). I suppose deep down I knew they needed “more” to appeal to more users so I was patient  – waiting until the day they had those core elements completed, HP wasn’t so patient though.

For me, I ordered a pair of unlocked Pre 3 phones from the UK for about $500 each last night in the hopes they will ship. Far more than I’ve ever spent on a phone before, but given the retirement of the hardware and no future prospects of new hardware at this point, ironically it was a pretty easy decision to make. I just hope they have stock. The price point almost assures there won’t be a mad dash to buy them like with the Touchpad. If I get lucky and HP has a fire sale of the remaining stockpile of Pre3s in the US, I’ll pickup more. My only real concern is batteries – what’s the best way of storing a battery if your not going to use it for a year or more ? Should it be fully discharged? Should I keep it on the charger the whole time? Maybe it doesn’t matter what I do.

At this point I guess I’m glad HP left the Pre 3 with WebOS 2.2 where there was/is a stronger development base on the Mojo(?) SDK with many more applications. WebOS 3 by contrast that runs on the Touchpad uses another, incompatible SDK Enyo.

One of the strange decisions HP/Palm made was when they built the original SDK they didn’t take into account large screens, so when the Tablet came around they had to re-do it. Unfortunately for some reason they didn’t make the new SDK good for small screens for some reason (I assume that reason was lack of time and resources for the schedule), so developers were stuck having to use two different ways of writing apps to support the Phone vs Tablet, not a good way to attract developers from competing platforms.

But like most of the faults I believe it would of been fixed at some point in the not too distant future(~1 year or so), once Palm had the ability to stabilize and catch their breath from the break neck pace they’ve been working at for years now.

I think what hurt Palm/HP/WebOS more than anything is they didn’t have enough resources to pull off what they needed to in the time allowed. I have little doubt they tried to hire like crazy after HP bought them but there just wasn’t enough time to develop these 3 products, and ramp up hiring / get people familiar enough with the platform to be really productive at developing by the time they had to launch their products.

Made me think back to this post about a year ago.

The main difference between WP7 and WebOS, as I’ve mentioned before, is that Microsoft is not going to give up on their platform. WP7 may die, or may not, I don’t know. But if it does MS will re-work it, and try again. I had expected and hoped, as mentioned before, HP was going to do the same with WebOS.

August 19, 2011

Touchpad fire sale starts tomorrow

Filed under: Events,General — Tags: , — Nate @ 4:57 pm

UPDATED HP has apparently given their partners notice to liquidate everything – 16GB Touchpads will go for $99, and 32GB go for $149 according to Pre Central.


HP Touchpad

Sale starts tomorrow apparently, I will go get some 16GBs myself, 3? 4?  5? Not sure yet..

Even if you use it for nothing other than web browsing (or watching video) it’s a nice device. Pair it with a Touchstone (I love the Touchstone technology) and you got yourself a high resolution picture frame that can do far more for about the same cost as a 1024×768 standalone frame. I assume the accessories for the Touchpad will be dirt cheap as well.

Beats the hell out of a fire sale Android tablet I saw on Daily Steals recently.

Apparently some users in Europe received the Pre3 already, so they have manufactured  some, hopefully I can get my hands on a couple.

UPDATE – I visited about a dozen stores in the bay area none of them had any Touchpads in stock this morning. Best Buy is refusing to participate in the fire sale and I think supply is generally constrained. I suspect mostly what is happening is most stores probably have single digit numbers of Touchpads in stock, I’d be surprised if in many cases employees weren’t buying some of those right away, then all it takes is one or two customers to consume the remainder of the stock. More than one place I went to today had others like me racing around the area trying to find stock.

Thought it was kind of funny, one of the office supply stores – forgot which – had little advertisements with the reduced pricing (though for them it was $129 for the 16GB), and said good from now till the end of the year while supplies last – only the supplies didn’t even last through the first morning.

I read many similar stories on Pre Central in other parts of the country. Then I saw a link mentioning the HP SMB store had Touchpads available for order (the “Home” store lists them as out of stock).

So I tried to order — and was confronted with out of memory errors on the HP servers

again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and

I’ll save you the next 100 lines of that, and just say I was pretty persistant, working for more than two hours to try to get an order through. Not long after I started I found that Firefox and Seamonkey which I normally use in Linux was not rendering the billing address page on HP’s site, I suspect the page was somehow broken because HP’s servers are in a hissy fit at the moment. So I tried Opera – fortunately Opera was able to render the page. After trying again and again and again and.. I finally got an order confirmed for 4 x 16GB Touchpads for $99/ea.

I hope HP honors it, I suspect they will have enough to ship given the massive numbers of units they will be receiving from Best buy (apparently something like 250,000 units).


Though earlier today I was really thinking to myself it really would of been nice if HP had given preferential treatment to those early adopters, give them the opportunity to buy more before the rest of the public. I suppose there wasn’t any time, and possibly wasn’t anyone around that cared enough to try to arrange something like that. I just hate the idea that small numbers of people may be able to buy large numbers of touchpads (I saw one report of a person buying 35 of them at once), and trying to profit off of it on eBay (reminds me of a lady that mortgaged her home and tried to buy every iPhone at a store one day only to be told she was only allowed to buy one). For me I will use one of the four for work use only, at least two more will likely be gifts for family I think they will like them a lot, and the 4th I haven’t figured out yet, probably a spare unit or something, since HP apparently is not going to honor warranties on these units (though I believe they are honoring them on the ones sold at full price).

Since I was in such a rush to order – I’m contemplating trying to go through the process again to get a 32GB touchpad – so I can return it to best buy for $599 (what I paid for my current TP). I thought about just returning my current one but migrating the data and stuff would be a pain – and I know my current TP works great – there’s always a chance that a replacement might have a glitch.

Best buy extended the return period for Touchpad to 60 days, which gives me about 11 days if I wanted to return mine.

UPDATE 2 Just checked and HP charged my CC .. so I should be good to go

UPDATE 3 Best buy changed their policy again and is allowing customers to buy 1 per customer while supplies last, reports seem to be stores selling out within minutes or stores haven’t gotten the word yet, Best buy removed the SKUs from their systems and are having to put them back in again. See more info here. Looks like they’ll refund the difference in price for my launch day 32GB TP, just need to find that receipt…

HP in trouble..

Filed under: General — Tags: — Nate @ 7:23 am

HP is certainly not going to die any time soon, but it seems that a large number of people(some of which are investors) did not like what they heard from HP yesterday sending their stock down about 21% to levels not seen in what seems more than five years.

Myself I don’t agree with their strategy either in trying to get rid of their PC business as well as kill WebOS – a market that is growing faster than anything else right now and most people seem to think is the future (mobile computing stuff). Speaking of mobile, I was surprised last year when looking at their site that the iPAQ was still around – I recall that as being a popular device about a decade ago though haven’t heard the brand mentioned in many years. I wonder if HP will keep that stuff around or kill it with WebOS.

Then there is the acquisition of this Atonomy software company for $10B, never heard of the company myself, looked briefly at their web site and am not familiar with the space. I saw, or read yesterday that Atonomy is on track for $1B in revenues this year.

I’d of course prefer HP invest $10B in WebOS that would be a much better strategy in, as previously mentioned, a much faster growing market.

It is nice to see investors punishing the stock today, after writing about WebOS yesterday I saw that HP had indeed replaced roughly half of it’s board members as well as the CEO since the acquisition of Palm last year.

Another interesting flip flop that the CEO of HP did is indeed on the consumer products, saw earlier on CNBC this morning one of the anchors of the show dug up a quote from earlier this year where the current CEO of HP said the consumer unit of the company gave HP “an immense competitive advantage” (his exact words). Now, barely six months later they can’t wait to get rid of it.

I know really nothing about their consumer PC stuff – I wouldn’t ever buy one of their laptops (prefer Toshiba now that IBM Thinkpads are gone), desktops are pretty generic no matter where you go, printers..whatever. PCs aren’t going away any time soon.

Unfortunately – it seems like in general more signs of short term thinking a problem that plagues both our public an private sectors, and only seems to be getting worse as time goes on. HP’s previous CEO was known for gutting the company of R&D and cutting costs..

To me it sounds like too much of a knee jerk reaction. As a local reporter here put it

What a waste.

August 18, 2011


Filed under: linux — Tags: , , , , — Nate @ 7:05 pm

UPDATED I have been a user of WebOS based devices for a couple of years now, I bought a Palm Pre in late 2009, and a Touchpad on launch day. WebOS in general has been a pretty good user experience, it worked quite well from a functional perspective in my view. The devices weren’t the fastest(though since I really never used any others I had little frame of reference), I think mainly to the web-centric nature of the OS instead of running mostly native code.

The Pre was my first Palm-branded product, though I did own a couple of Handspring Visors for a long time.

WebOS seems to have been, for the most part widely praised from a user friendliness angle from a wide selection  of folks, though that alone wasn’t enough to carry the platform forward for HP.

Myself, I had a firm belief that HP was committed to the platform for the long run – at least 2-4 years before making any decisions about the future. Primarily because of the situation of the market. With Microsoft, Nokia, and RIM all struggling in one way or another, and wide fragmentation of Android leading to, from what I’ve read, poor user experiences on the platforms (granted there are probably some really good ones but given the number of Android devices it appears most of them are pretty bad). There was, and still is room for someone to play in the space with a unique product offering.

I can only assume the new leadership at HP just didn’t agree with the previous leadership which is too bad. I mean it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize it’s going to take multiple billions of dollars of investment to build up such an ecosystem, you don’t need an army of consultants and market analysts to figure that one out. Unfortunately for Palm, WebOS, and the user base the new management didn’t want to commit to the platform in the way they needed to in order to drive it.

The best comparison I have I think is perhaps Microsoft – they have been in the mobile phone space in one form or another for more than a decade, and they have low single digit market share to show for it — but they haven’t given up (and it looks like they won’t either). I felt that same level of commitment from HP early on, unfortunately I guess the folks that make the big decisions decided to change their mind and cut their losses(either that or the people that make the big decisions themselves got changed out).

It wouldn’t surprise me if the current HP management wouldn’t of been willing to pay the $3 billion for 3PAR either if they had that opportunity today. Well I’m glad HP has 3PAR — if for nothing else it kept them out of the hands of Dell. Their quarterly report today mentioned “triple digit growth” for the 3PAR platform, which in general is kind of confusing – I mean it seems most everyone is reporting massive storage growth — this can’t all be net new storage — someone has to be at the losing end of it — who ? HDS ? IBM ? (I haven’t noticed either talk too much about growth but I haven’t tried to look for their comments either). Maybe in 3PAR’s case most of their growth is at the expense of EVA(which should just go away), I haven’t tried to find details. From the folks I know at 3PAR it certainly seems like they can’t keep up with demand.

The news that they are killing WebOS is quite sad to me, it was a platform with a lot of promise, it just needed more work – I have no doubt they were short handed and rushed to market with many things which hurt them — but it was a choice, either release something now, as a sort of stop gap, or wait 6-12 or maybe even 18 months and release something good. You lose either way (at least until you have a polished end-to-end system) but I think the strategy they chose they “lost” less. You have to keep the news coming, the products coming etc.

I plan to keep my Touchpad myself, and if I see a fire sale on them will probably pick up more, it’s a good device, I’ve been using it pretty much daily for casual use since I bought it and really have very few complaints (even before the 3.0.2 OS upgrade).

If the Pre3 does come out in some form (un clear whether or not they ever manufactured it), I’ll try to pick up one/more of those as well – I’d assume no carriers will sign on to sell it, so the only way to really use it would be unlocked, on a GSM network. That is assuming that the device isn’t a total brick. I was happy with the functionality I got on my original Pre with WebOS 1.4, in some cases I’m not hard to please (hey – I’ve been running Linux as my primary Desktop since ~1997 if that gives you any idea). The 64GB “4G” Touchpad was supposed to launch soon, but now who knows – I suspect the launch will get canned.

Even if HP continued WebOS development I have no doubt the Pre3 would struggle to find relevance in the market given it’s late arrival. Most folks were expecting it months ago – the most recent estimations put it at mid September – right smack when the iPhone 5 is supposed to launch, as well as the free iPhone 3GS.

As time has gone on the Pre3 hardware has gone from looking really good to nothing special. Compound that with the fact that HP apparently wasn’t going to use the next generation WebOS 3.0 on the Pre3, instead using the older generation of WebOS software with a completely different SDK, I suppose it wouldn’t be too far fetched to say the Pre3 was going to be mostly DOA, performing no better(perhaps worse) than previous WebOS devices due to the poor timing of it’s release. I have struggled to try to think of why it was taking them so long to get the Pre3 out the door, especially since they weren’t going to use WebOS 3.

I’m not expecting anyone else to pick up WebOS — instead I think others will just mimic it’s functionality on their own platforms – sort of like how RIM did with the multitasking on their Playbook tablet.

What was more surprising to me in general was that tablets in general are not selling. As many people have said – there really isn’t much of a tablet market out there – there is an iPad market, but not much of a tablet market. I have read things recently that seem to indicate almost all of the Android tablets are faring even worse than the HP Touchpad was – Android as an aggregate has been doing fairly well but the individual companies pitching their tablets – the sales are quite poor in general (with a couple of standout exceptions), There’s gotta be what – 50+ different Android tablets on the market now?

I’m really too sad to be mad at this point, I have no regrets in buying into the platform – it’s more sad about seeing such a promising platform be killed prematurely.

I suppose I should end this on a positive note — the one thing HP did give WebOS was another chance, Palm was pretty much flat broke when HP bought them. So I thank HP for that…

UPDATE – Barely 24 hours after they kill the platform they launch the 64GB White Touchpad for a mere $599.


The 64GB "White" Touchpad - what they don't have Photoshop? Or maybe they just don't care.

I guess not everyone got the memo yet.


August 9, 2011

How hard is it to run a mail server

Filed under: Random Thought — Tags: — Nate @ 11:23 pm

I read slashdot quite often, mostly for the comments, I post (as AC) maybe once every 3 years, but find the discussions interesting on occasion.

One such discussion was here, where someone was asking for advice as to how best to migrate off of gmail onto their own hosted platform. To me it seemed simple enough, but honestly I could not believe the negative response towards running your own mail server.

First off I’ll say I haven’t run a “corporate” mail server for almost a decade now, I have run several mail relays for companies for applications and stuff. I have been running my own mail server for my own personal (and some family) use for more than a decade, and I run another mail server that has maybe a dozen people on it, left overs from when I ran a small ISP in Washington.

So nothing major. I didn’t get the impression that the poster on slashdot was asking for anything major. But I was seeing people talk about massive headaches with blacklisting, anti spam, having to worry about disaster recovery, data replication, and the constant hand holding and patching of the system to keep it running.

I just didn’t get it. I mean sure it took some effort to set up the system I have which is pretty basic, it really requires minimal maintenance, I have never been blacklisted, really have minimal spam problems (very manageable anyways for me).

My setup is basic as I mentioned:

  • Postfix for SMTP – I setup quite a bit of anti spam stuff many, many years ago but really haven’t touched it much at all since.
  • SpamAssassin – for – duh – spam. I took some time to integrate this into incoming postfix email and it flags messages as **** SPAM ****  in the subject when something hits the spam filter, I have server side mail filters that move that to a dedicated folder. In all my years I have never noticed a false positive and have never had anyone complain that they can’t email me for a reason related to Spam Assassin flagging their email as Spam. My biggest potential issue with Spam Assasin is I probably get 150 spam (that get past the filters) for every real email I get (I don’t get a lot of email at home excluding mailing lists that I occasionally participate in). So I don’t have much “ham” to train SA with. I haven’t recently tried to determine how much spam is blocked at the various levels but last time I did (many years ago) it was quite a bit.
  • Anomy Sanitizer – this does quite a few things such as stripping HTML email, stripping bad attachments etc. I’m sure it goes overboard in a lot of cases, and most users probably wouldn’t like it, stripping HTML email probably causes the most usability issues for me as some emails don’t come in with plain text as well as HTML, so some times I  get email that says “Hey click on this link to unsubscribe (or do some other action – e.g. rate Netflix quality back when I used their stuff)” only to find Sanitizer stripped the html so there is no link to click on, and no url I can copy/paste to the browser. But IMO at least it’s a small price to pay
  • Cyrus IMAP 2.1 for IMAP – I started using Cyrus back in 2000 when I migrated a company off of UW IMAP onto Cyrus because it had some more advanced functionality vs Courier at the time (don’t remember what). I’ve stuck to it because it seems to work for me. I create different email addresses for pretty much every organization I deal with and have those go to dedicated IMAP folders (server side – not using filtering, postfix delivers directly to the mailbox), so most of the time I am unsubscribed to 85% of the IMAP “user accounts”, and only subscribe when I need to, email collects silently in the background in the meantime. User accounts is in quotes because I use a single account to access all of the other IMAP accounts (which can be problematic for some email clients because they make certain assumptions that don’t apply to me)
  • Squirrelmail for webmail – The UI is basic, hasn’t really changed much since – you guessed it – about 2000 when I first started using it, I have, on occasion looked for alternatives but have not found one (until this slashdot discussion that is) that looked interesting enough to try. One big feature I like about squirrelmail is the ability to have many, many “From” email addresses, and select them from a drop down box. I have upwards of 100 different email accounts(view from the outside world – from my view it’s a single account), I maybe need to send mail “From” from maybe 10-20. So when I compose an email I select which email address to send “From”. Squirrelmail is smart enough if I hit reply on an email someone sent, say to my linkedin@ address, the mail client will automatically select the right “From” email address to use without me having to think about it. Since Sanitizer strips out html from emails I don’t believe I have to worry about XSS bugs in Squirrelmail because it’s all stripped out (but I could be wrong I’m not sure). As a result I haven’t upgraded in eons..

The last time I did major changes to my system was probably 5-6 years ago, those were introducing Spam Assassin to the system, and the more painful process of upgrading from Cyrus 1.x to 2.x (it was an ugly upgrade process).

I don’t use anti virus, never needed it(I integrated anti virus with Sendmail at the one company that I did manage the corporate email servers for back in 2000-2002). A lot of my habits and practices were set up a long time ago and there may very well be better ways to go about things these days(one thing would be to investigate using spamd for anti spam instead of spawning a separate SA process for each message), but what I have works, it doesn’t cause issues, I just don’t understand what some of those people were complaining about when running their own personal mail server.

I also don’t do any sort of calendaring system – never really needed it for personal use.

Sure it requires some setup, and you need to be smart (forward & reverse DNS, you want clean IPs that aren’t blacklisted (easy ways to check that are out there). I saw one guy say the person should get a block of 30-40 IPs and put the mail server in the middle of the block! I mean are you kidding me?

Even back when I ran an ISP with maybe 50-60 users (yes it was a small ISP – back in late 90s mostly), we never had blacklisting or spam problems. Maybe we were lucky I don’t know.

I just couldn’t believe the experiences some of these people were posting. Sure I can understand having those kinds of issues if your running a big mail system for a lot of users, but the impression I got was the original poster was looking to run a setup sort of like mine – a small number of users – or maybe just themselves.

I’ve even gone through the process of migrating my mail system from:

  • Office with dedicated T1 lines to..
  • Home with DSL connection to ..
  • Temporary office with T1 lines while my DSL is moved to ..
  • Home with DSL connection to ..
  • Co-location to..
  • Terremark Cloud (where it runs now) and this weekend to..
  • Co-location

And all of the DNS changes and stuff associated with it, for the most part the migrations are pretty painless.

A couple of my users were wondering how I went about moving all of their data and stuff from Washington to Miami in a matter of minutes without them noticing anything, it takes some moderate planning but in the grand scheme of things it’s not that difficult from a technical perspective. Next weekend I’ll be migrating them again from Miami to California – their data resides on a different system from mine.

I just wanted to write about my experience – sure it does take some work – depending on how much functionality  you want  – to initially set  up the system. But in my experience once it is setup, the amount of work to maintain it is minimal.

I like the privacy and control I get with running my own stuff. I sure as hell don’t trust google with my data, they could pay me $100/mo for hosting my email with them and I wouldn’t do it. But for others it may be a good option.

I did use Gmail at the last company I worked at, their corp email was Gmail. I really didn’t like it – but what surprised me the most was how slow the search was. I was expecting anything I searched for would be returned in a fraction of a second but it took much longer (not forever but 10-20x longer than I was originally expecting). I never got used to how they organize their mail, with the tags and stuff. Even after using it for ~8 months I never warmed up to it, probably because there was mini demons in the back of my head screaming at me not to like it because I don’t trust Google, I’m sure that had something to do with it.

But for others maybe it’s the best way, or hotmail, or yahoo, or whatever.. I’ve been hosting my own email for so long I never really used anything else.

The most annoying problem I think I ever came across running my own mail system was not granting Spam Assassin enough memory – sometimes it would puke causing the email to get garbled – it would happen maybe once every 150,000 emails or something (which means maybe 2-3 times per year), I ignored it for a few years finally decided to look into it and found that SA was running out of memory so I gave it more(I think I went from something like granting it 32MB to 128MB), hasn’t happened since.

Do I have disaster recovery? No – don’t need it. If my server goes down for a few hours or a day or whatever, mail is likely queued at the other end (mail is often queued for up to what – 5 days before being dropped from the queue?). What happens if I lose an email? Really not the end of the world. I have had a few times when people say my system rejected their message – and sometimes it does, I wrote (again a long time ago) a lot of regular expression checks to try to detect spam, and sometimes it gets a false positive, so I fix it and move on, it’s rare though(again a few times a year at most). If the email is THAT CRITICAL then if they really can’t get through to me they’ll call. And if I don’t answer(or don’t return the call) and it’s THAT CRITICAL – they’ll call again later.

Of course my co-location/cloud stuff doesn’t run just email – it runs this blog, my basic web sites, DNS, and my new co-location serves as my off site backup with ~3.5TB of usable disk space on the system, I brought the system home last weekend and sync’d up 1.7TB of data to it.

Moral of the story is – if you really want to run your own mail system, don’t be afraid – it’s not THAT hard.

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