I just finished setting up dovecot this morning to aggregate my various email boxes and make them available via a single server.  Dovecot seems to be a server from the new golden age of Unix services.  It’s easy to set up and has reasonable defaults for getting a server up-and-running without much effort.  Note that this is in contrast to sendmail configuration, which is as cryptic as could possibly be.

My ideal “unix service” - mail, web, ftp, etc - is a drop-in application that tries to work with your current configuration, rather than reinventing the wheel each time.  It should use PAM for authentication whenever possible, pick up system configuration from shared files and “just work” when you start it up.

So far, I’ve managed to get my home network up and running with the following services:

  • Windows domain (via Samba)
  • DHCP with static addresses assigned per MAC (via ISC’s dhcpd)
  • DNS, including integrated dynamic-DNS with DHCP (via bind)
  • Single-source, aggregating IMAP email server (via dovecot, fetchmail and procmail)
  • Spam filtering and anti-virus protection for above (via spamassassin and clamav, respectively)
  • Networked printing (via CUPS)

To run all of these services off Windows Server 2003 would cost me approx. CDN$1,200 for the basic serverlicense (and five CALs).  I’d also have to add in the basic Exchange package for another CDN$1,200.  Spam filtering might still be possible via spamassassin on Windows and I could probably use the free version of AVG anti-virus for email protection at the client level (versus the server).

Note that my current solution would likely scale up to a medium-sized, single-office solution by upgrading the hardware (no additional effort).  I’d probably be looking at more than CDN$10,000 in license fees to pull this off legally in Windows 2003.

Grand total amount of time to set all of this stuff up: six hours.  To do it again would probably take about two hours.

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