The Microsoft goliath moves in


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Thread: The Microsoft goliath moves in

  1. #1
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    The Microsoft goliath moves in

    Hey guys,

    Over the past few years, I've been slowly replacing the Windows servers in our server room with Linux servers to the point where the only Windows machine left are the domain controllers.

    Recently, our company was purchased by a large Fortune 200 company that has annual revenue around $14 billion. Suddenly, we've been added under the umbrella of their 'Microsoft agreement' which basically means we can have anything we want at no additional charge (well, to us at least).

    *sigh*

    Gone now are our test Ubuntu laptops (my test group said they wished they could keep them), my plans for a 2 Terabyte Samba server, and hopes of deploying OpenOffice throughout our main office.

    I've managed to put the breaks on any upgrades to Vista at least but I'm staring at a mass migration to MS Office 2007, SharePoint and a push to have us use *shudders* ... Exchange.

    Now I'd put my little Redhat qmail server up against Exchange any day of the week. Its been up since late 2004 and has processed close to 3 million emails so far. Alas, its days are numbered as one of its RAID 1 drives finally failed last week so I'm going to be demoting the hardware to a backup role.

    Anyway, sorry, just venting a little. For non techies, price has always been a primary motivation I've used to convince people to give Linux a try. It's going to be a lot more difficult for me to add additional Linux systems in the office now.
    Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?
    (No trees were killed in posting this message. However, a large number of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.)
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    Debian user since Potato
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  2. #2
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    Give them this then: Exchange 2003 Standard corrupts some emails at random, and doesn't work right with OWA and URLscan. Or at least, it corrupts some mails in our setup, but that may have something to do with all the Symantec crap that was on that box at one time. (Sigh. It should have been nuked and paved, but no, getting it up and running RIGHT NOW is worth wasting months of time later. )

    On the first: Once in a while, a user will get a mail into their inbox, but when they try to read it, their mail client hangs for about ten minutes and then silently gives up. This is Obviously Not Good. I have no idea why it happens, but my best guess is that something is corrupting the Exchange information store. (Oh, did I mention that the information store is ONE FREAKING HUGE FILE? No? Well, I should have. It's ONE FREAKING HUGE FILE, shared among ALL your users. Worst design EVER. I don't care that with one database you can create indexes: that's what the filesystem's design is for.)

    On the second: Exchange includes its own webmail setup, called OWA ("Outlook Web Access"). But, the piece of crap that it is, they decided to use each mail's SUBJECT LINE as its unique identifier. Bunch of complete morons! You NEVER use information that was provided by an untrusted party as an identifier for ANYTHING!

    Anyway, since they're using the subject line as the mail's ID, the HTTP request to open a mail item must contain the item's subject line in the URL. (Well, I suppose it wouldn't have to, but this is actually better than providing it some other way.) The problem is URLscan, which Microsoft recommends enabling on any IIS box (for what are probably obvious reasons: it stops a few widespread web-app vulnerabilities that probably won't ever be patched, because nobody upgrades their web apps on Windows). The problem is, URLscan denies access to any URL with "suspicious" characters in it, including & and % -- and guess what's in most the subject lines in one heck of a lot of emails? That's right, & and %. Sigh.

    Also, it may help to show them exactly how much time is spent adminning the mail server that you use now (hopefully none), compared to how much time would be spent learning all the crap that Exchange pulls on you. And all the time that you'd spend taking care of it. (Trust me, it's non-trivial. We probably spend 10 man-hours a month just coddling it.)

  3. #3
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    Hehe thanks, Bwkaz. That gives me plenty of ammo. Yeah, I've heard quite a few nightmare stories about Exchange.
    Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?
    (No trees were killed in posting this message. However, a large number of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.)
    ----------------------------------
    Debian user since Potato
    Syngin: Web Portfolio

  4. #4
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    Hey, I think your post may have swayed my manager away from Exchange. Thanks for the very specific problem list, bwkaz!
    Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?
    (No trees were killed in posting this message. However, a large number of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.)
    ----------------------------------
    Debian user since Potato
    Syngin: Web Portfolio

  5. #5
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    I've seen more downtime with exchange servers then any postfix based server...I have no idea what people see in exchange that makes it so good,
    expensive...check!
    buggy...check!
    unstable...check!
    bad default settings...check!

    There's a reason exchange admins make good pay...they are always working on it. The one file is great, it only takes one bad email index to take the whole thing down...instead of the individual mailbox.

    I can get you a exchange guru to counter argue us if you want, I know of one and he doesn't sleep much

  6. #6
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    Better make friends with the eseutil command.
    I equivocate, therefore I might be.

    My Linux/Unix Boxes:
    Home: Slackware 10, CentOS 5.3, RHEL 5, Ubuntu Workstation 9.10, Work: RHEL 5, CentOS 5

  7. #7
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    The one possible reason I can see for going with Exchange would be all the non-email stuff that it does -- shared calendars, meeting requests, task lists, etc. (Funny: the only reason to use this mail server is because of its non-mail features. Typical.) Lots of that stuff can be done with programs other than your mail client, but if your user population is already using LookOut (er, oops, I mean outlook ), then they may expect that stuff to be part of their mail client.

    (And I haven't looked in a while, but does anybody know the status of the Mozilla-based calendar project? I assume that can do the meeting-request and calendar tracking stuff -- if that's true, and it's stable, then that makes a pretty good case for eradicating both LookOut and Exchange at work. I hope the project didn't die.)

  8. #8
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    Is PHP a viable option?
    - Ryan "Boxxertrumps" Trumpa

  9. #9
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    Its really not that bad. Last I heard Office 2007 is hands down the best office productivity package around. Sure openoffice is a very good replacement, but in the end, its development is geared to trying to be as good as Office.

    As far as exchange, I don't think its too bad. In large corporate settings it rules because of the nice groupware type features. I am stuck running Domino on Linux, and thats even worse. Where you should be upset is if things like apache,oracle,tomcat have to go to windows. I am a Linux/VMware admin so I'm not a M$ guy, you just need to keep an open mind. For pure productivity nothing beats Windows XP on a laptop, for most users at least.
    JC

  10. #10
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    In large corporate settings it rules because of the nice groupware type features.
    Oh, let me dispute you on a few points. Its groupware functionality is almost nonexistent, compared to Domino/Notes. Sure, you can share your calendar but I have actually written full blown Domino/Notes applications. Try that with Exchange/Outlook. Microsoft finally threw in the collaboration towel by actually spinning those pieces where Domino/Notes excels into separate products like Sharepoint and Live Communications Server. On December 21, 2005, I ended up doing a seven terabyte hard repair of corrupted stores, for a law firm in the Northeast. It took days...Merry Christmas to me!!! I am an Exchange 2003 admin in addition to administering a hundred or so Linux and Solaris boxes and I can tell you Exchange is a beast, compared to the biggest Unix issue you can have. Yes, as someone stated earlier Exchange admins are paid well. We work very hard keeping MS crap running.
    Last edited by klackenfus; 06-14-2007 at 01:52 PM.
    I equivocate, therefore I might be.

    My Linux/Unix Boxes:
    Home: Slackware 10, CentOS 5.3, RHEL 5, Ubuntu Workstation 9.10, Work: RHEL 5, CentOS 5

  11. #11
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    Well no system is perfect, I personally have had large issues with postfix and sendmail in the past. I have yet to see a great Domino application, 100% of the time its been horrid, along with that horrid email client.

    To each his own I suppose, for the most part I love Linux , but M$ has its place.
    JC

  12. #12
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    I have yet to see a great Domino application, 100% of the time its been horrid, along with that horrid email client.
    Blame the carpenter, not the hammer :-)
    I equivocate, therefore I might be.

    My Linux/Unix Boxes:
    Home: Slackware 10, CentOS 5.3, RHEL 5, Ubuntu Workstation 9.10, Work: RHEL 5, CentOS 5

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by klackenfus
    Blame the carpenter, not the hammer :-)
    lol, very true.
    JC

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