Putting server on the internet or not

Justin Willmert justin at jdjlab.com
Thu Dec 15 23:13:33 UTC 2005

Edward Dekkers wrote:

> For the first time ever, with my new account I will get a static IP 
> address and high bandwidth (no more dial-up finally!!!).
> I've purchased a domain which is waiting to have IP addresses tied to 
> it (currently parked).
> The question is - is it worth pointing the IP addresses directly at my 
> server, and hosting my mail and http directly from this server, or 
> would it be considered smarter to have everything hosted at the ISP 
> still?
> Bear in mind my web-site has always been hosted at my previous ISP, 
> and I've always fetch mailed and masqueraded sendmail via my ISP's 
> SMTP server before. This direct way would be completely new to me.
> In the benefits I see that I have full control over my mail, adding, 
> subtracting users, forwarders, auto responders, scripting, etc. that I 
> never had before. However on the other side of the coin I guess I'd 
> have to batten down the hatches for hackers.
> With the web site also, if I hosted this myself, I could finally do 
> some dynamic web pages (php, mysql, whatever...), whereas previously 
> I'd be stuck with standard .html pages at my ISP.
> How easy is it for me to set up? I've never done this before. I know I 
> need to set up (reverse) DNS, MX records from reading this list over 
> the years, but I have absolutely no idea how to actually DO it, and 
> what steps to follow.
> Most important question - to me it seems worth it, but is it unsafe 
> for someone of my experience to do?
> Regards,
> Ed.

My two cents would be to go for it. My piece of advice though would be 
to read everything you think is reasonable to lock down the service 
before opening your firewall to the service. I'm only 15 and I've set up 
a family server running DNS, all of my family's email, a website, and an 
internal file server. It's a great experience: you learn so much beyond 
just how to set up something; you learn lots of odd tidbits and tips and 
the history of many things.

I will say the toughest thing you'll probably have to tackle will be the 
DNS...it's such a *PAIN* if it doesn't work right. I still haven't 
really found a good way to debug what's going on. That's why once I got 
it working, I've pretty much left it the way it is.

You ask for some steps on how to get started. Well, any time I think of 
starting a new server, this is the first place I head to for all my answers:
It has had at least a basic knowledge of what I've wanted to do, and for 
the most common services it's usually very complete.

I wish you best luck on your new adventure,
Justin Willmert

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