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Re: how does Hotmail do it?



On Tue, 13 Apr 1999, Matthew Hixson wrote:

> Hey, while I'm figuring out how to handle way too many email accounts, does
> anyone know what sort of setup Hotmail is using?  I remember hearing that they
> were using Sun boxes and then after MS bought them they tried running it on NT.
> NT couldn't handle it so they went back to Sun.  Are they using PAM on those
> machines, or do they just have a whole farm of machines big enough to handle
> the accounts normally?   

I don't know how Hotmail does it (btw they also use FreeBSD for their web
servers). But there used to be a nice article "Scalable E-Mail Using Open
Systems" at the Earthlink web site, describing their setup. It's gone now,
but basic highlights:

 a) they used a NetApp to store the mail spool (actually multiple NetApps)
 b) multiple SMTP servers (running stock sendmail and a modified /bin/mail
    program) to do delivery
 c) multiple POP3 servers to handle users
 d) POP3 authentication via DBM file (they chose not to go SQL to
    eliminate one more point of failure)
 e) I forgot what modification they did to the local mail delivery agent
 f) no UNIX accounts for the mail users

The setup they described was their own as of mid-1997, when they had about
600,000 subscribers.


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