When is BSD better than Linux?

When it gets the job done.

A few weeks ago, I needed to set up a mail server, pronto. A bigwig wanted the ability to send mail remotely, from his corporate e-mail account, without having to use the webmail system. Fine. It’s not my job to argue, it’s to make sure everyone else can get their work done.

While I could have set up a fancy VPN arrangement, I didn’t want to make things too complicated. Instead, I opted to set up Postfix with SASL authentication, which would only require a tweak or two to the user’s Outlook settings.

Since I was under a time constraint, I had to make do with whatever hardware I could scrounge up. I found an unused machine that seemed originally to have been a Linux-based firewall/router appliance. It had 512MB of RAM and a 300 MHz K6 processor. Not exactly a powerhouse by today’s standards, but certainly sufficient to relay an e-mail message now and then. So, I reformatted its mess of a hard drive and began installing Ubuntu. Unfortunately, after the install completed, the machine entered some sort of bizarre spin cycle of reboots. Something about this ancient hardware was throwing Ubuntu for a loop.

After a little bit of research, I realized that something was probably the CPU itself, and Ubuntu just wasn’t going to happen. Since I had already had FreeBSD running on some other pretty low-end hardware (almost identical, in fact) I figured it ought to work in this case, too. And it did.

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