It’s been a while since I blogged here, mostly because my other site is taking up so much time to keep everything up to date. The latest development is that I’ve got a Mac Mini in the datacenter. You can read more about it on my other blog. This site has moved now as well.


I’m working hard on the spamfilter setup using DSPAM got a basic setup working and some people are currently testing my documentation for inconsistencies or errors. When they are finished checking it all I’ll make it publicly available.

I’m a bit stuck with getting the Web GUI to work, well not exactly, it works but to know which user is using the web interface he/she needs to login. The preferred way in this setup is to use the Apache authentication methods. I tried to use mod_auth_imap which I got working on one mini but can’t get it to work on another. I really liked to use this one as it promises all the users of my server to be able to use the same user/password combination for all the services. I’ve tried mod_auth_mysql to use the postfix admin database username/password but it looks like the md5 hash encoding of the password that’s used is not the normal md5 hash one would expect. It’s not compatible with the PHP5 md5 function or anything. Courier-auth is able to handle it, I’m wondering why. If anyone has any suggestions how to tackle this issue I would be happy to hear about it.

As a bonus, I found some nice blog posts where people switched from POP3 to an IMAP mail server. Read PC World, Geir’s blog at Codehaus and Rourke McNamara’s weblog. I always liked IMAP as it stores all your email in a central location accessible from anywhere using any mail client or Roundcube.


I need your help in a creative process. I’m tired of all these remarks and emails in which people are telling me that “ISP in a box” is not a proper description. An ISP provides people the actual internet access which I don’t. I just explain people how to build a proper web and mailserver on which they can multiple domains for friends or family. Although I’ve got some small design/hosting firms which use this setup as well for hosting their client sites and email addresses.

I knew when I started this that the title wasn’t 100% correct, but when I started this documentation process Ward Mundy gained a lot of attention with his blog where he launched his ISP in a box series which basically did the same as I’m doing but in a more simplistic manner. Without giving it too much thought I copied the title for my own use.

I’ve decided to change the naming of the documentation series. Even though this might cause some confusion and it will change some of the URL’s in the future I’m willing to give it a try. But I’ve been struggling for some time to come up with a better title that covers all the topics discussed and properly addresses the audience. The series is targeted at Mac users, even though I’ve found out that people using a different OS have found some of the documents very useful it is still only targeted at Mac users.

So a title like “webhosting in a box” just doesn’t do it for me. It’s missing the mailserver component and does not define the target audience. I kind of like “DIY hosting” as it is a Do It Yourself exercise but it misses the Mac audience. Calling it “DIY hosting on a Mac” just doesn’t have that same ring to it.

Or should I just drop the effort to find a name/title that covers what I’m doing and use a name that doesn’t mean a thing and is possibly hard to pronounce but has a great logo to go with it ;-)


Well, finally it’s all done for now. As I told you Sunday in the previous post, it’s taken much longer than I initially planned. Mostly because of MySQL and the Intel migration. But I’m very happy that all the testing and compiling is finally over.

The V2 version of the documentation is finished and ready for use. It has instructions for Intel and PowerPC based Mac’s and is tested on both platforms.

There already servers on the internet live running this version as documented in V2. They are the result of people requesting my assistance in setting up their new server, done together or just by me, depending on the needs and experience of the owner. I’m considering offering the service to setup your server for a small fee to cover time spend and expenses. The people I helped until now where very pleased with the service I provided. The only drawback is that it is a service I can only provide in my spare time as I’ve got a normal day job and a family that wants to spend some time with me as well. But if you are not in a hurry, it can be done within a few days.

Next on the agenda is a How-To document to help people that don’t know how to manage the upgrade from V1 to V2. Where the difficult part is the upgrade of the MySQL database. Because the internal formats have changed this isn’t just a plain copy and paste exercise but a true backup restore action. Even my own server is still running V1 as upgrading is a tedious and precise task what shouldn’t be taken lightly is you don’t want to be off-line for long. One thing I noticed is that you can upgrade other components very easily, it’s just MySQL that’s making it difficult.


Google AdwordsI’ve received a flyer in one of the magazines I read that said I would get a 50 euro budget for free when I sign up for Google AdWords. It has been lying on my desk for a few weeks while I kept wondering what I could do with 50 euro. This week I thought why not give it a try, never really expected I would get it as I’m not usually lucky in getting stuff like this. But to my surprise today I got an email that my request has been accepted and I got a personal code for 50 euro when I signed up. So I directly signed up for AdWords to see if it worked and now I’ve got a AdWords marketing budget of 50 euro !


Allright, I’ve checked everything and re-installed on a clean installation to iron out all the bugs. There where some issues, specially on the PHP5 installation but it’s all checked now and you can build it yourself with the current instructions. Still need to provide the necessary configuration files and installation scripts as indicated previously but the instructions are functioning as they are. The added files would just make life easier.

So a complete MAMP installation which you can compile on your own. Hope you like it. Next up is adjusting the mail server configuration and installation to make it work with this new layout.


Just a quick word. I wanted to let you know that the OS X Security Update 2006-001
won’t be any problem and you can apply it to your server setup (if you followed my instructions). Although there is an update in it where the apache_mod_php is replaced, we are using another PHP module which is located in a different place. The server logistics package is still at 4.3.9 and is still a security issue. I’m looking into compiling a version myself and help you compile it yourself without to much problems.

I’ve also upgraded my Blog to WordPress 2.0.1 last night, I was still using 1.5 and felt that I needed to upgrade. You might have noticed postings disappearing and appearing double in the RSS feed. Something went wrong during the upgrade but I made a backup !!! Which enabled me to try again successfully…
The Roundcube webmail project has made 2 patches available that solve two ugly bugs. One prevented from saving the language selection in the user preferences and the other completely omitted mail headers when having no smtp server configured.


It always happens when you are not expecting it or when you aren’t ready at all. It does in my case anyway. As you might know I’m documenting my own efforts in using my Mac mini as an internet server for hosting websites and taking care of the mailing needs of myself, family and friends. Before I got it a stage where you would end up with a decent setup and wanted to carefully ask around what people thought about it I got hit bigtime… (more…)


Just a quick tip on how to set the root (or System Administrators) password. I’ve had some questions from people reading the ISP in a box articles on how they could do this. Because after compiling the sourcecode you need to install the software as root user to get and set all the right privileges. During the installation of Mac OSX or when you first power on your new Mac there is no possibility to set the root password. As a normal or power user of a Mac you don’t really need the root password. You will be able to do all the things required by using an account that has administration rights.

To set or reset the System Administrators (or root for short) password yuo need the original Mac OSX install disc. Insert it into your drive and restart the computer. During the boot sequence (just before the boing sound) press the ‘C’ key on your keyboard and keep it pressed untill the spinning icon has dissappeared from the screen.

It will look like you are about to re-install your system but don’t panic. There is an item in the menu bar called Utilities, which contains an item ‘Reset Password’ in the drop down list. Select this menu item and a new window will appear.

It will show all available bootable discs connected at this time to your computer. Select the disc you are going to use for your server. Then in a drop down box beneath that you see all the configured accounts on that disc. Select the ‘System Administrator (root) from the list and type in the new password. You’ll have to enter it twice for confirmation and to make sure you typed it correct. Press the ‘Save’ button and your done. Quit the reset password utility by closing the window or select Quit from the menu.

Then close the installation screen and select the restart option. The computer will reboot and the root user will have a known password.


I’m very exited, after finally finding a reasonably good and easy to understand document explaining how to create your own CA (certification authorithy) on Mac OSX (workstation not a server) on, I couldn’t resist. I was working on the documentation of my project but it still kept itching. I wanted to get Postfix to use TLS. So I got down and started finding the correct command line to compile with all the options I wanted enabled. It took me quite some time as I found out after a few hours of testing and compiling that my binaries and libraries were not updated. They compiled allright but were not copied in the correct destination directory. When I found this out it was easy. I’ve got it working now, next step, tweaking the configuration parameters and find out what actually is going on so I can write a proper document describing the process to you so you can do it yourself and unerstand what you are doing…

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