Introductions

Welcome to my new technology blog and thank you for visiting!

In this article I’d like to outline the main purpose of this blog, as well as list a few ideas for future articles I have. This will serve both as a reminder for me and as a commitment to you, to keep things motivated.

My name is Mike and I’ve been passionate about computers and technology as long as I can remember. I’ve been working as SysAdmin and Network Engineer for a number of Telecomm companies and Internet Service Providers and currently I’m working for British Antarctic Survey as Wintering Data Manager – which is a mixture of SysAdmin and Software Development jobs, but in a very unique place.

This blog is intended to serve two purposes. One is simply a place to document all sorts of issues (and hopefully, solutions) so I have somewhere to refer back to if I ever run into a similar issue. Purpose two is for me to give back to the community. I’ve been a long time “consumer” of the wealth of experience and knowledge people share on their blogs, in mailing lists and on forums. All this experience and the knowledge contributed to my success, so now it’s time to give a little back.

I’m sure a lot of the information I’ll present here is duplicated somewhere else, but there’s always something that makes my experience unique and I’ll try to cover what I learn when I go through these.

So without further ado, here’s a list of articles I will be working on initially:

  • An ideal Linux Workstation setup. I’m a long time Mac user for personal stuff, but my work only uses PC’s. I do however have a choice of my own operating system there and as a result I have recently gone through installing Ubuntu on my work laptop – and I’d like to share the good, the bad and the frustrating!
  • I host my own email, my own cloud, my own blogs, my own photo galleries, and my own version control system. All this is running on several Virtual Machines, physically located in two separate countries and hosted by two separate service providers. I have recently been going through several migrations of stuff that was long overdue to be updated / modernised – this includes my photo gallery and my email setup to name a few. I have also deployed new stuff from scratch. I think my environment is different than what I think is mainstream today (although I can be wrong – do let me know if you think otherwise!), which should make those articles a bit more interesting. To give you a few clues, here’s what I have in mind:
    • My OS of choice for servers exposed to the Internet is OpenBSD. I’ll cover setting up email server with OpenSMTPD, spamd, SpamAssassin, and bgpd. I’ll throw in some pf and a backup MX configuration into the mix. I’ll share some of the information I’ve learned that’s either not very obvious in the documentation, or which took me a while to figure out for some other reasons.
    • Back to OpenBSD, I’ll cover my setup for hosting a WordPress blog on a server running OpenBSD 5.7. It ended up running on nginx, but I will also cover setting it up using the new in-house httpd and the issues I came across with it.
    • Finally I’ll cover my OpenBSD router/firewall setup, including the PF configuration, virtual routing tables and so on.

If all the above seems interesting to you, then please stay tuned! And if you’d like to read about something I haven’t covered, do please let me know in the comments below, or using the contact form on my About page!

8 thoughts on “Introductions

  1. What tech stacks are you using for paid work down south?

    Do you ever weep over how truly terrible virtualization support is in OpenBSD?

    What is the benefit of running WP not under mod_php? Is the wscgi/fastcgi performance on par, now?

    1. Hi there!

      As it happens we (as in, the organisation I work for) don’t use OpenBSD for anything, as far as I’m aware. Certainly this is the case with data management or scientific data acquisition. Vast majority of that uses various Linux distributions and most of those are running on bare metal.

      With regards to virtualisation support in OpenBSD, I really don’t find it a problem at all. I’m running quite a few VM’s for my personal projects, and I’m really happy with them. Granted, they are not the busiest systems in the world, but for my needs they are great!

      And finally, regarding running WP not under mod_php – I decided to try out nginx and using fast_cgi is the easiest option. It pretty much works out of the box. Performance is really not an issue at the moment, but I’ll revisit the setup when I have that problem.

      Best Regards,
      mike

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for your feedback. You’re right, your web browser will complain about the SSL certificate – this is because I’m using a self-signed certificate on this site. It’s still very early days and it’s only my personal project so it makes sense for now. When the time comes, I might consider using one coming from a browser-recogniseable CA.

      Best Regards,
      mike

  2. Hi Mike,
    Came to this blog post from next post, liking what I have read so far.
    In reference to a CA, letsencrypt.org has come online and offering free certs.
    When the time comes.
    Keep up the good blogs,
    Victor

    1. Hi Victor,

      Thanks a lot for that – I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog. I do intend to keep it up, even though it has been going a little slowly recently. I have a few things to deal with first and will be back on it.

      I know about letsencrypt.org and have actually started using them for this blog, but thanks a lot for the tip!

      Best Regards,
      mike

    1. Which hardware platform are you using? Are you sure that the mirror you’re using to install packages from has the packages for 5.9?

      On my host (amd64):


      southern:~$ pkg_info -Q spamassassin
      claws-mail-spamassassin-3.13.2
      claws-mail-spamassassin-3.13.2-ldap
      opensmtpd-extras-spamassassin-201602042118
      p5-Mail-SpamAssassin-3.4.1p2

      and on i386:

      aegir:~$ pkg_info -Q spamassassin
      claws-mail-spamassassin-3.13.2
      claws-mail-spamassassin-3.13.2-ldap
      opensmtpd-extras-spamassassin-201602042118
      p5-Mail-SpamAssassin-3.4.1p2

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