Getting a new server

Chuck Swiger cswiger at
Wed Feb 1 08:10:12 PST 2006

Lisa Casey wrote:
> My company (a medium sized ISP) has decided to replace one of our mail
> servers. We need more CPU power, memory, etc. My boss is talking about
> getting 2 good size hard drives with a raid card to mirror these. I was
> planning to install FreeBSD 5.3 (because that's the latest distro I have
> CD's for) unless anyone has a good reason why not.

5.4 is out, but you can easily install from your FreeBSD 5.3 CD's and upgrade.
6.0 is also worth taking a look at, if you have time to test it and make sure it
works with the software you want to run.  Most people are wise to be cautious
about adopting a .0 release, but 6.0 is solid.

> I'll be installing Sendmail, mimedefang/spamassassin (somewhat CPU
> intensive), bind (for  a caching name server), Qpopper, procmail. We
> currently have 500 - 600 mail accounts on the current server, and plan
> to move these to the new server plus use the new one for growth (I don't
> know how quickly new mail accounts will be added, but say 20 to 50
> accounts per month.
> What would you folks reccomend as far as hardware goes? Hard drive size,
> CPU type,  amount of RAM, etc.?

If you're buying new hardware, pretty much anything has enough CPU to handle the
reader side; the spamfiltering and virus scanning will be more CPU-intensive.
Dual-3GHz Xeon's with 2GB of RAM?  Your normal candidates, Dell, HP, IBM, all
have reasonably similar models (PowerEdge 28x0, HP DL370/380, etc) which will do
just fine for this sort of thing.

If at all possible, it would be nice to seperate your MX box which does SMTP,
virus scanning, and spam-filtering, and have another machine which is a reader
box which runs your IMAP/POP daemons and has the filestorage to handle your
mailboxes.  As to storage:

  100 MB per user * 1000 users == 100 GB of space

If you want to give your users more room, buy more disk, but you should be
looking into RAID-1 or RAID-10 configuration, preferably also using maildir
rather than mbox style mailboxes.


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