Round about mid-November, email sorta blew up here. It took a good weekend of not so spare spare time to get it sorta back working, including some horrific hacks that really shouldn’t be necessary and turned out to have subtle bugs that would do things like drop paypal emails on the floor. And it all started because spamhaus put the entirety of slicehost into a policy block list. Slicehost is a virtual machine provider where people tend to start up a machine and leave it running, doing long term businessy or useful stuff until the need arises for something bigger. That’s ok, except that mail comes into my slice, then gets forwarded to a place that uses that policy black list. PITA really.

And after all the effort to go through and fix that, now I needed to update that slice from oldstable to current debian stable because clamav (the virus scanner) basically blew up on an update and wouldn’t run in daemon mode. So, it forks a process for each incoming mail, which kills the performance and makes Slicehost send me nasty emails about swapping and heavy disk access. So, I need two things: currentish code and updates and more memory. And the best way to add memory is to use less of it. And the image size of the programs that I’m using is a lot smaller (1/2-1/3) in the 32 bit distribution vs the 64 bit distribution. This is something that other people have noted with Slicehost vs other virtual private server providers.

So, Upgrading Etch (x64) to Lenny (i386). Or shall I say, how to install 32 bit Lenny on a 64 bit slice. The adventurous could likely do this on one slice, I’m building a new one so that I don’t kill services while I twiddle with things. There’s a really useful wiki article that covers the majority of what needs to happen. The only real changes are to use arch=i386 in the debootstrap command, and make sure that lenny is the distribution that you select anywhere there’s an etch in that article. Also, you need to delete the existing lib64 directory when you blow away the initial install.

After that, the important bits of making athe mail server play nice include merging all the old configs, which basically works. The Clamav user needs to be added to the amavisd group and clamav-daemon restarted. I also had to set rw permissions on /dev/null for everyone, I’m not sure if that’s a bug in the udev bits or in the copying of the devs over to the new system.

If I need more memory, I may move the one website off that machine and onto Dreamhost, as I see that they have started doing WSGI now, and that would make it reasonably easy to host this pylons site.

(edit: and then, just to make sure that I was paying attention, Dreamhost decided to deliver additional copies of all email in my pop account every time I checked starting 24 hours after I did this.)

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