the djb way


Hi, you have found the development site for something called the djb way. It's mostly about setting up and running a set of network services with the collection of software authored by Daniel J. Bernstein (and "friends").

And not just a few programs either, like the ever-popular qmail and djbdns. This project is about the whole damn enchilada. We take as much of the incredible Bernstein archive as we can download, building and administering complete solution servers with djb software in the aggregate.

By working with the full collection of djb software, and some careful attention, we think a server may truly approach "perfection". And here you get to define perfection however you like. Choose from: security, reliability, performance, portability, scalability, flexibility, platform-independent consistency, ease of use and administration, cost-effectiveness, and/or all of the above.

In "the djb way" we will be trying to get at a couple of things. On the one hand, we hope to convey an overall sense and appreciation of the philosophy and style embodied in djb software. It's "different", and you may find yourself entering into it like going to a foreign country for the first time. This means learning some new customs and idioms than you may have grown up with, while taking in the look and feel of a new landscape. This may all seem unfamiliar and uncomfortable at first, but before too long you'll be wondering how you ever lived anywhere else.

At the same time, we are also merely describing a djb way: how we generally install and use an aggregate of djb software for our own network projects. This site serves as the whiteboard, training manual, and system documentation for our own servers. To the extent it makes any sense for you, this site can also be the whiteboard, training manual, and system documentation for your servers.

We believe the installation and maintenance of a good server is a skill marked by craftsmanship. Developing this skill takes patience and practice over time, a certain passion for excellence, enjoyment in what one is doing, a determination to improve one's craft with effort, and pride in professionalism.

Of course there are countless others ways to build a server that don't bother much with skill or craftsmanship...

But that ain't us. We are djb enthusiasts here and make no apologies. We choose the djb way because we can, because we can handle it. If our approach means a little more time and consideration, it's because we think it's worth it.

We take our djb straight, no chaser. And you can too.

This is a work in progress. All the usual ugly bold disclaimers:

NO WARRANTY, use at your own risk, etc.

Contact us at:

about this server...

News, September 2004: We are back in the Yew Ess of Ayy!

This site is now running on a couple of the small and excellent single board computers produced by Soekris Engineering. If you are looking for the perfect hardware for the perfect small server, these boys get craftsmanship.

Installed with:

Bandwidth now through a decent Qwest DSL connection in Portland, Oregon, provided by those good folks at guinix international.

For reference, this is where we just came from:

We are serving from the far end of a 32K leased line in Kampala, Uganda. That's the Pearl of Africa, Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile. Uganda is lovely, yes, and it is rather amazing that we are online here at all, considering this would not have even been feasible just a short time ago.

But we are certainly a long way from broadband...

And yes, the downtime. Disruptions are frequent, we seem to go dark every 4 days or so due to power failures in Kampala. Ironically, the municipal power supply in Kampala is pretty good for Africa, much better than when we lived in Guinea, West Africa, for example. But because the electricity is fairly reliable here, offices aren't in the habit of using their own generators so much.

While the office here does have its own backup generator, it is small and noisy and doesn't get turned on automatically. Especially when the power goes off at night, it will probably stay off. The longest uptime we have managed so far in Kampala has been only 16 days.

All this is to suggest: the performance you may experience when visiting this site should not be taken as an indicator of the performance of the software running on it.

Yes, we should probably host elsewhere, and may soon do so. But this is where we are right now. And the djb way was both conceived and then born in Africa; Africa is the reason for our being.

In fact, the challenges of Africa do provide a unique environment for demonstrating the virtues of the djb way. Yes, the connections are slow, but our servers make the best of the bandwidth we do have. Yes, power failures take down our servers frequently and unexpectedly, but email is never lost or corrupted. Yes, resources are scarce and access to technology is limited. But we can build efficient and powerful networks on inexpensive hardware and minimal budgets, and serve the world.

If it can handle Africa, the djb way will work anywhere you can imagine.

This server:

Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, Wayne Marshall.
All rights reserved.

Last edit 2004.09.03, wcm.