386 PC as mail server? summary of responses

Mike Van Pelt mvp at v7fs1.UUCP
Thu Aug 24 06:23:34 AEST 1989

OK, I think I've gotten a representative sample of responses now...

In article <476 at v7fs1.UUCP> I asked about a Unix to run on a 386 PC
as a mail server for a network of (mostly) Suns.

The winner is Interactive's 386/ix, with 5 recommendations, (two of
them for Dell's version of 386/ix).  Two were for SCO products, one for
Xenix, and one from SCO recommending the "to be released in late
September" product.  (Beware the first release, my son, and shun the
frumious 1.0...)  So it looks like it's going to be 386/ix.

Several people pointed out that sendmail neither knows nor cares
about sockets, streams, or whatever; sendmails connnect to each
other using their own SMTP protocol.  All they need is TCP/IP.

Guy Harris (uunet!auspex!guy) mentioned as possible compatibility
problems programs that depend on more than 14 character file names, and
programs that read the directories directly and expect them to be SysV
or bsd.  (I ran into this with netnews on a SysV that had bsd
filesystems once.)  He also mentioned that sendmail only needs TCP/IP
to talk SMTP.

Roger Fujii (...uunet!media!rmf), while recommending 386/ix, said:

"Well, Interactive's NFS is OK, but it still has some bugs (most
notably, 2.02's pwd barfs on an NFS partition in certain cases.
... Sendmail chokes on some large messages On a LOT of NFS IO,
the ethercard hangs, but I think this is more a driver problem (we have
an OLD 3M501 card) than an NFS problem.

"Some SysV program dies BIGTIME because of assumptions it makes about
the filesystem (programs that assume that "." can be opened and
read in are the most notable of the offenders)."

Paul Allen (paula%bcsaic%ssc-vax at beaver.cs.washington.edu) said
"You asked about NFS and sendmail for a SysV 386.  While it may be
possible to use a System V machine as the mail server for a Sun network,
I'm not sure why one would want to.  Wouldn't it be easier to just use
one of your Suns?  Everything's in place already on the Sun.  If you
put 3rd party TCP, NFS, and sendmail products on your 386, you're just
adding an unnecessary layer of complexity.  (To something that's already
complex enough!  :-) )  Perhaps I've missed something?"

True, but any Sun we get is going to be a workstation or a file server,
and the whole point of this exercise is to have the mail gateway
completely separate from any machine that has "good stuff" on it.

James Van Artsdalen (james at raid.dell.com) said
"Well, I'm not too keen on remote mounting mail.  You have no security
whatsoever, and anyone can read or write any mail files.  Equally
important, NFS doesn't always support file locking very well, so you
may have trouble with collisions (which would be rare but annoying)."

Somebody else mentioned the file locking part, but I can't find his
message.  This issue was brought up on Sunspots a while back, and as I
recall, the final consensus was yes, the file locking issue is a
theoretical problem, but in practice it is too rare to be a real
problem.  This was from a site with 200 Suns on their network making
heavy use of mail, and he had never seen it happen.  We have about 10,
and I don't expect to get up to 20 for some time.  So, I guess we can
live with it.

Currently, with our mail files remote-mounted from a Sun, I've got it
set up so the mail files are read-only-by-owner... It shouldn't be any
different when the Sun mail gateway is replaced by a PC?  (Getting this
to work properly required a bit of sendmail.cf hacking...)

Thanks for all the responses!

The powers not  delegated to the United States by the | Mike Van Pelt
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are | Headland Technology
reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.| (was: Video Seven)
U. S. Constitution, Ammendment 10.  (Bill of Rights)  | ..ames!vsi1!v7fs1!mvp

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