Subject: NetBSD and my life...
To: None <>
From: gary rolland <>
List: netbsd-advocacy
Date: 09/10/2005 16:40:17
Hello NetBSD Team,

I have been using NetBSD for about two years on my laptop and never
had any problems. I use this laptop in work and at home. I knew NetBSD
was capable of much more, and I was hell bent on using it at work too!

The main reason for this email is to let you guys know what we mainly
use NetBSD for - supporting over 4,800 heavy users (some remote) and
counting. It's my story about what NetBSD has done for my life, and
how it has actually improved my personal life. I hope you will enjoy
it and that it'll offer further encouragement to continue the truly
excellent work.

I'll start off by introducing myself. My name is Gary Rolland and I
live in the United Kingdom. I work in a team consisting of three other
network admins. We all work for a large UK based company. Our task is
to keep the servers up and to do maintenance. We work on shifts and
can be called out at any time, night or day. We are not responsible
for the client machines within the buildings. Sadly, I am unable to
disclose the actual company name. I received permission to give you
information about what we use NetBSD for and that only (I begged
infact). Our network is mission critical - down time costs the company
mega money. I certainly would not want to foot the bill!

(Note: I have also been told not to disclose network infrastructure in
great detail. If you have any comments/questions, please do ask. I'll
try my best to answer them the best I can)

Currently, our network consists of 29 high end servers. They all run
NetBSD 2.0.2 and deal with extremely high loads. The servers handle:

- MySQL databases - This makes up most of our traffic/resource usage.

- Apache - Internal and external

- Postfix - Interval and external email=20

- Samba - Allow the 4,800 users to connect to the NFS.

(Note: Our file servers are connected to NetBSD. So it's like=20
Users->NetBSD->File server. Our file servers run Linux. Am not allowed
to touch them! However, the email and httpd data is stored directly on
the NetBSD servers. Just for your information, our file servers go
down more than our servers;-))

Data facts(avg. per day):

- NetBSD pushes over 870GB of data per day.
- NetBSD pushes about 1,200 emails per day (not always work related. I
have seen joke emails a while back with 12MB attachments! (12MB x 4500
- NetBSD during peak hours, our httpd servers can deal with 35
requests per minute(internal and external). The website is wrote in
pretty heavy PHP (and bad PHP, but that's not my call).

Originally our network servers used Windows, running on more older
hardware than we have now. We have recently been through an upgrade.

I can describe my admining of Windows as a complete f*cking nightmare.
I was constantly worrying over when they would fall over. Here is a
small story:

I had been promising my 12 year old daughter and her friend that I
would take them to Alton Towers. The night before we had planned to
go, I raced into the server rooms and checked everything was running.
I was happy things would be OK, because I was on call out the next day
and I couldn't let my daughter down again(this has happened more than
once). We was having a great time at Alton Towers and the worst thing
happened. My work phone starts to ring. My daughters face just
dropped, she knew exactly what was coming next.

Boss: 'Gary, servers have all dropped to their knees. I need you here now.'
Me: 'Sure, I'll be there in a few hours' (in a 'am going to kill
someone voice').

It really upset me to see my daughter let down again, including a
friend. They had been talking about going all week and Microsoft
Windows of all things messes everything up.

Here I am, speeding up the motorway. My daughter completely pissed
off, and for due reasons to. This has happened many other times
before. I was even getting abit ratty at home since I'd be thinking of
anything which could go wrong. This also lead to more arguments with
the wife (which leads to a decrease in other things... ;)

I knew something had to change.

After I had fixed the problem, I stormed into my bosses office and
explained we need more admins or need to change our servers. Cut a
long story short, he allowed me to trial test two of our servers on
NetBSD. He didn't know anything about it - just that I promised him I
could increase the stability by a huge margin without disrupting

That day I was in a mood to change things(pissed), and so I took two
servers home. One was what we call a 'MySQL' server and one httpd
server(the bosses go nuts if the httpd goes down).

I had no room to fail.

I was up till 4 AM in the morning installing and configuring things to
our exact needs.   NetBSD as always installed flawlessly and I
installed most required software from pkgsrc.

I roled these machines into the network in the morning. I knew I had
to wait now, until something crashed on Windows and to show my boss
which machines still stood strong.

That day, a few  MySQL machines just decided to go for a quick break,
and rebooted themselves a few times(MySQL queries began to be far too
slow). The boss was storming(due to the day before also). I showed him
which machines did not fall down. He agreed within two hours for me to
role out more NetBSD machines slowly.

I was happy.

At first it was hard. The other admins had no clue how to use NetBSD.
However, with the time we spent fixing the Windows servers, we now had
spare time. I began to show them how to configure things and they
actually took a personal interest. They installed it at home and began
to tinker with it, making sure they understood how to compile kernels
etc etc. You know the stuff am talking about! I even printed the whole
handbook out for us.

Our whole Network was now running NetBSD.

Things changed. I was not as busy as I always was. My relationships
where getting better. I had more time with my daughter to watch her
grow up. The rest of my team agreed - this had been the best move we
had ever made. The boss also agreed. He was delighted with our
improved stability. Infact, he was so happy that none of us are now on
call out of a weekend. We're allowed to admin from home using ssh(we
take turns per weekend).

My team and I are constantly working and learning. We're becoming more
and more efficient with NetBSD.

NetBSD changed my teams life for the better.

Last weekend I took my family to Alton Towers to finish what we
started. We had a fantastic time! During the way home, this time not
speeding, I has thinking about the people behind it. Those who put in
time, little or large to make the project what it is. I decided to
tell you guys my story, to show your work is greatly appreciated!

Once more, thanks again for the all the work. Please keep it up.
Please use this email in any way you wish. Post it on your personal
website or whatever.

Best Regards,
Gary Rolland.