Wed Jun 4 15:06:43 PDT 2008

Systems Work: Saturday, June 7, and Sunday, June 8


I will be doing some systems work this weekend, June 7--8.

Work will probably begin around 11:00 AM on Saturday, June 7, and will continue for several hours. If necessary, additional work may be done on Sunday, June 8, within a similar block of time.

What Will Be Affected

The work will disrupt most of our networked services, including e-mail, file service, interactive sessions, and the web server for periods of several minutes to an hour over the course of the work.

I also want to make sure that all of our Macs are running the latest security updates, so will be updating these machines during this time period as well.

What You Should Do

If you're using a Mac or Linux system that mounts file systems from our servers, before you leave on Friday evening,

  • Save all open files;
  • Close all applications;
  • Log out;
  • Leave your machine running.


This work is necessary for us to ensure the security and improve the stability of the overall system. In particular, I am hoping that ongoing issues with our web server will be resolved as a result of this work.

I will do my best to keep as much of the system functional as possible for as much of the time as I can, but there will still be some outages.

Additional Background

Last semester we had some serious issues with interactions between the NFS support on our new file server and on our workstations and older servers, exacerbated by the HVAC failure. I was able to stabilize things, but we still see some flaky behavior (especially From the web server, which needs to be rebooted periodically).

On the Linux server side, I plan to update to the latest kernel releases and do some experimentation to see if everything will work together happily. I will need to reboot various servers and workstations an arbitrary number of times to explore all the possible interactions.

For Macs, I will install the latest updates, most of which require the machines to be rebooted. As Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) has problems when an NFS server disappears and reappears, these machines would need to be rebooted anyway.

Comments/Problems/Other Issues

As usual, if there are problems with the scheduling of this work, requests or any other comments, please let me know.

Updates/Status Reports

As usual, updates on the status of the systems and progress reports will be posted to the ``sysblog'', on our web server at>

Thanks for your cooperation!

Posted by Claire Connelly | Permalink | Categories: Mail, News, System Maintenance, Linux, Macintosh, Website, Amber

11.29.2004 14:21

Eudora Considered Harmful

Eudora is a terrible e-mail client.

I don't just mean that in an abstract sense. I'm not that fond of graphical MUAs in general -- remember, I use nmh, a slight update to an e-mail system invented by the RAND Corporation back in the seventies. But I did use Netscape's mail client for about a year when I was stuck running Mac OS 7.5.X and Mac OS 8 and survived okay. (Then I started running Linux on my Mac and went right back to MH.)

But I had to use Eudora at one of my previous jobs, and I hated it. Something about the whole interface grated with me, although I was never quite able to put my finger on it.

But now I'm having problems when I send mail to people using Eudora. My mail is totally RFC 2822 compliant -- it uses MIME, the right formats, the right headers, and so on. But Eudora doesn't like it. Eudora thinks that MIME parts are attachments. And if it doesn't recognize a particular kind of attachment, it whines to the user, warning them about the dangers of opening attachments.

In contrast, the same message opened up in a more reasonable, but similarly pretty, MUA, such as Thunderbird appears exactly as you'd expect -- the MIME parts are displayed inline when they should be (such as when they're plain text) and appear as clickable icons otherwise.

Oh, yes, and then there's the fact that Thunderbird is free, and comes with no ads, whereas the college has people using the ad-sponsored version of Eudora (???!!!), so there are issues with the ads being hidden.

Also, Thunderbird leaves the message alone -- messages in a mailbox are just as they were received. Eudora, however, rewrites the message -- it splits out attachments as separate files (stored separately) and rewrites the message into a sort of pseudo-HTML, with links to the attachment files. So good luck moving your mail from Eudora to another MUA without some hoop jumping.


Posted by C.M. Connelly | Permalink | Categories: Mail, System Maintenance

2004 Apr 29 1:24 PM

Training SpamAssassin

I've added some information on training SpamAssassin to our page on the SpamAssassin spam filter.

Posted by C.M. Connelly | Permalink | Categories: Mail

2003 Apr 28 11:23 AM

Spamassassin Installed

I have installed Spamassassin, a spam-filtering package, on the department's mail server. I've added some information about SpamAssassin to the e-mail section of the department'ssupport area.

Posted by C.M. Connelly | Permalink | Categories: Mail, System Maintenance, Linux

2002 Sep 14 10:59 AM

Mail Changes

Because the server has changed, your e-mail client configuration may no longer work. provides both POP and IMAP service. (SSL-protected access is in the works.)

The outgoing (SMTP) mail server is However, esme will only accept mail sent from the department's subnet. If you're planning to use a dialup connection, you should use your Internet server provider's SMTP server. If your ISP is Mudd, through CIS, you should use CIS's mail server, You should also use thuban if you're using a wireless card.

Posted by C.M. Connelly | Permalink | Categories: Mail, System Maintenance