I've been messing around with computers since the days of my Atari 1200XL (which i still have). At work, I spend most of my time in the world of Microsoft, doing netowrk management, server maintenance, and some database administration as well as wriing some server apps and web based intranet apps using SQL Server and C#. At home, I mostly play around with FreeBSD playing around with MySQL & PHP. I was first introduced to the world of open-source software back inthe late 90's when I grabbed a copy of RedHat 5.0 at Comdex. Back then, spare hardware to play around on was expensive to come by, the number of available desktop applications was limited, and it was a lot harder just to get things like sound cards to even work.
Most of my time playing with Linux was just getting a desktop operational, getting a browser to work, connecting to the file server with samba, and that was about it. Eventually you tried to install something new, which required a different library dependancy, and installing it would break something somewhere, and you fought with it until a newer version came out, and you just decided to reinstall everything. The company I was working at in the early 00's didn't have much of a budget for software, so we were using Sendmail on RedHat instead of Exchange. It would work for a while, and then there would be a security notice, a subsequent upgrade, followed by something breaking on the server.
About this time, I stumbled onto FreeBSD 5.0, and bought a copy (This was back in the days of dial-up,and $10 for the 4 cds was easier than trying to download them on a 56K modem). After playing around with it for a while, and getting comfortable with where everything was stored, I ran into another episode of RedHat's RPM hell, and switched over. Since then I've been compiling everything from the ports tree, and compiling all my updates, and my uptime went up and up and up. Using SendMail / Dovecot with Thunderbird on the clients was a little clunkier than Exchange / Outlook, but it worked well for us, and over the course of 10 years, it just ran.
I used to have a guide up for how I set up my mail server, but finding fans of SendMail that still docvument their work online is becoming harder and harder to find. Commands like portupgrade gave way to portmaster. Recompiling your kernel every update gave way to freebsd-update followed by a reboot. Fixes I found for issues ended up with security holes, like using stunnel for ssl on Sendmail. in the end, i rebuilt my mail server using the instructions for Postfix at purplehat.org. Although the tutorial is now two years old, I was able to get everythign up and running with only a few issues. Rather than repeat everything Idid top build the server, I'm only going to document what I did when I ran into any issues.