Well, I’ve completed the migration of Brockmann.com from Joomla and Mac mini to WordPress hosted on a LunarPages.com server, after about six months of no service.

My web and email service architecture, since 2006 with the advent of my first consulting client, Sendio , required having a data center in my house to house the Sendio Email Security appliance, an email server and a web server. Over the past nine years, I’ve been using various versions of the Mac Mini and every rev (except El Capitan) of Mac OS X since Leopard. This is a computer that I’ve constantly raved about being grossly under appreciated.

Well, it was the software that finally did me in.

Originally, I used the Apache server built into Mac OS X Server (10.5 was my first rev – stable, happy, awesome) to host this site using the built-in in MySQL and the mail server, which was part of the Mac OS X Server. But then things changed as Apple began to decide what a workgroup server.

After about five years of faithful service, I decided to upgrade the Mac mini and go with solid capabilities, compared to my first Mac mini, purchased in 2006. My latest Mac Mini Server (Late 2012) came with i7 processor, 2 x 1 TB drives and 4 GB RAM. Over the past three years, I’ve had no end of troubles, mostly grinding my enthusiasm for the ‘littlest’ Mac, down.

The migration from 10.5 Leopard server was unpleasant and lost all user accounts and data since it was cheaper to do this than to migrate to Snow Leopard server and then to Lion Server. OK, not the end of the world, but painful. Fortunately, I only have a half dozen user accounts, so not the end of the world. Only time consuming and annoying that every one’s email accounts started with nothing.

One drive has been replaced under AppleCare due to HDD defects. Every time I boot the Mac Mini, I get the dreaded progress bar. Mac OS X Server, grinds the Mac mini into dust.

It was recommended by AppleCare, after many hours of frustration with trying to reinstall from backup, to start from scratch, again. Sigh.

Apple removed MySQL as a built-in capability of Mac OS several years ago (Mac OS X 10.7 Lion in the fall of 2011), but the user could install their own. MySQL is a requirement for effective open source Content Management Systems like Joomla (my fav until recently exhausted by hacker frustrations). So, I installed it myself. Hours of frustration later, I figured it out and got the site up and running.

Earlier this spring, in trying to do a 10.10.4 -> 10.10.5 update, the server froze during the process. I shut it down and restarted, which kept the server at 10.10.4. Then it would happily take 3 days to pass an email from the server to my Mac, only 18″ away. I joked, sarcastically, that I could have printed the emails from the Mac Mini and mailed them using USPS to myself faster. 

This update broke the MySQL installation, so I tried to reinstall it. This never came back whole. Literally, I gave up (I really do have other things to do, goals to achieve, clients to serve for example) and left our web visitors with a MySQL server connection error message for the past six months. Arghhh. Sadly, but probably a good thing overall, my business has changed quite a bit in the past five years and Brockmann.com is not the core revenue platform it once was.

But it was email service unreliability that brought it to a head. When David and Erika both complained about steve-the-server in the same day, and recognizing that I was going to have to eventually purchase and install an TLS Certificate for my email server (self-signed certificates are the bane of iOS 9 developers), I realized that nonperformance of this server architecture has began to affect my personal life, and I realized that I had to do something but exactly what?

  • OPTION 1: Hire the consultant Mark from Southborough, who had helped me with the original setup, to get MySQL installed properly. Maybe he could also help with the mail server issue. My notes on server changes yielded an email account. No response was ever received. Sigh.
  • OPTION 2: Keep the Sendio appliance – processing our incoming emails, but use LunarPages.com’s built-in email service. LP has lowsy spam filtering capabilities. To do this option, the Sendio appliance needs to accept all incoming email destined for brockmann.com, and then the email server needs to deliver all outbound emails to the Sendio appliance so it can add those addressees to the ‘ACCEPTED’ list. Sadly, this is not a supported service on my ‘basic’ lunarpages.com plan. $100/month upgrade to a dedicated server and this problem could be solved. Too much $.
  • OPTION 3: Abandon the Sendio appliance, sigh, and go with Google-for-work for email processing. $50/user/year. Migrate the site to my Lunarpages.com account. Ditch the dedicated IP address from Charter.net, pay less for less service and maybe even upgrade the internet/TV to FIOS, locking in some switching service provider discounts.

Well, option 3 won the prize. Email has been migrated (I smell another post coming), and now the website is in production. Next, clean up the Mac mini, so it can go on eBay and call Charter to save on the service.

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