[dvlug] On running servers on the Internet, in general

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Apr 8 19:17:29 PDT 2009

Earlier, I wrote:

> The earliest linuxmafia.com server, starting 1995, was a 486
> DX2/66 EISA motherboard with 64 MB RAM and a 2.1 GB SCSI drive. 

I think that's a little off, and it was 1994.  I was playing with the
BSDs starting in the late 1980s on my spare machine, and then Linux
starting 1983.  In 1994, I moved residences from San Mateo up to the
CoffeeNet building in SOMA, SF, where I spent time helping Richard
Couture converting that light-industrial building into an Internet cafe.
Richard and I lived in rooms (apartments, sort of) above the main space,
and initially the building's LAN just had a 14.4 kbps modem connection
to the Internet, nailed up 24x7.  We had static IPs, though, so our
machines shared the bandwidth.  (Before the CoffeeNet business opened,
the Net connection was upgraded to T-1.)

It's important to note that _that_ paltry a machine was sufficient for
running a (static) Web server (Apache httpd 1.3.x), a DNS nameserver
(BIND8), and an SMTP server (sendmail).  It still is.

By 1995, when the cafe opened and the T-1 went up, I'd migrated to
the AMD K6/233 with 128MB RAM.  _That_ machine survived being
Slashdotted multiple times.

And, here's the thing:  I wasn't a sysadmin.  I was just a computer 
guy playing with Linux, and picking things up on the fly.  Twice, I
think, I was careless and had to rebuild all software from media because
of break-ins, which was embarrassing and annoying but not a big thing.

And you still don't need to be a sysadmin, to do it.  What you need is a
static IP, and just about any semi-adequate old computer. 

Anybody have a static IP and a castoff computer?

That's all I had.  I started with Apache and a default "standalone
Internet server" sendmail setup.  Not brain surgery, especially back in
1994 when SMTP spam wasn't an overwhelming problem.  (Modern spam
defence adds complexity.)  And with only that much, you can have an
Internet presence that includes home base for DVLUG.

In 1999, I had sudden motivation to set up a mailing list.  (Long
story.)  Nobody told me how:  I just grabbed a copy of majordomo,
configured it, and it Just Worked.<tm>  A year later, somewhat
dissatisfied, I replaced that with GNU Mailman.

My point:  If you're clued enough to join and read mailing lists, you
can definitely run an Internet server.  

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