Archive for the ‘servers’ Category

Review: Helm Personal Server gets email self-hosting (almost) exactly right

December 4th, 2018
The Helm Personal Server, <em>in situ</em> in my office during the review.

Enlarge / The Helm Personal Server, in situ in my office during the review.

Specs at a glance: Helm Personal Server
CPU Quad-core 1.6GHz ARM Cortex-A72 w/TrustZone crypto module
RAM 2GB ECC
Storage 128GB NVMe SSD w/256-bit AES-XTS encryption
Connectivity 802.11ac/a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB-C 3.0
Dimensions 111.1mm x 180.9mm x 130.1mm (4.375" x 7.125" x 5.125")
Price $499.99 at the Helm store (plus $99/year subscription, waived for first year)

As Ars security-meister Dan Goodin noted in his initial write-up back in October, the Helm Personal Server is a small-ish ARM-based email server that sits in your home and does for you what Gmail or Outlook.com or whomever your current email provider does for you. It’s a full-featured, single-domain (for now) MTA in a box that you can use with an unlimited number of email addresses and accounts, and it gives you 128GB of space to use as a mail store for those accounts. It also gives you CalDAV calendaring, notes, and CardDAV contacts, and it does it all with open-source applications that are chosen and configured in a way that demonstrates a solid bias toward individual security and privacy.

And I like it. I like it a lot. I didn’t think I would, but after spending a week with the device, I’m almost ready to spring for one—almost. And that’s high praise, coming from a paranoid email self-hoster like me.

Based on my short time with the Personal Server, the praise is properly earned. The Helm team based its product mostly around the same mail stack that I personally prefer and use—the holy trinity of Postfix for SMTP, Dovecot for IMAP, and SpamAssassin for keeping things clean. The device properly uses SPF, DKIM, and DMARC—and handles all the DNS stuff necessary to make those things work. End-user data is smartly encrypted at rest and in flight. Clever use of tunneling to AWS-based gateways transparently works around common ISP blocks on email service ports. And, perhaps most importantly, you don’t have to know what any of that stuff means to use the device securely—casual folks who maybe just want to lessen their reliance on Google or Microsoft will find the transition to Helm relatively painless, and there aren’t many ways to screw it up and make yourself less secure.

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Posted in Ars Approved, e-mail, e-mail hosting, helm, helm personal server, home server, review, servers, taking back e-mail, Tech | Comments (0)

Microsoft wants Azure to be the multiplayer server solution for every platform

November 14th, 2018
<em>Sea of Thieves</em> is a game already using Azure for its server hosting and scaling.

Enlarge / Sea of Thieves is a game already using Azure for its server hosting and scaling. (credit: Rare)

Microsoft today launched a preview of PlayFab Multiplayer Servers, a new Azure-based service giving game developers dynamic, on-demand scaling of multiplayer servers.

Microsoft bought Seattle-based PlayFab earlier this year with a view to using it to expand Azure's reach in the gaming world. PlayFab is building all the cloud-based infrastructure needed for today's games: matchmaking (using the same algorithms as Xbox Live to try to group players of similar skill together), leaderboards, server hosting, player identity/profile management, commerce, and so on. Broadly speaking, the intent of PlayFab is to let games developers focus on their games, taking care of the server-side work for them. PlayFab's services are platform agnostic, and Microsoft has preserved this aspect: there are SDKs for Xbox, Windows, PlayStation, Switch, iOS, and Android.

At the time of the purchase, PlayFab ran atop Amazon's AWS. Some parts still do, but others have moved to Microsoft's own Azure. The Multiplayer Server feature, released in preview today, is one of the services on Azure. Microsoft has more Azure data centers in more parts of the world than Amazon or Google, which in turn means that Azure servers should generally be closer to where the players are. This should ensure lower latency and a better gaming experience for games on those servers.

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Posted in azure, cloud, development, Games, Gaming & Culture, microsoft, Multiplayer, Nintendo, playfab, PlayStation, servers, Sony, Switch, Tech, XBox | Comments (0)

Sony keeping Warhawk, other PS3 game servers live through January [Updated]

October 23rd, 2018
The tank is Sony. The explosion is <em>Warhawk</em> players' hopes and dreams.

Enlarge / The tank is Sony. The explosion is Warhawk players' hopes and dreams. (credit: Sony)

[Update (Nov. 2, 2018): Following the publication of the report below, Sony appears to have extended the server shutdown dates for the affected games through January.

Reddit user Ember_Rising says he received an e-mail from Sony saying, "We wanted to update you on a planned service shut down, which impacts online access for Warhawk, Twisted Metal, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, and Sound Shapes. This has now been extended to January 31, 2019 at 12:00 AM PT."

The changed timing isn't yet noted on the US store pages for those games (or Sony's public decommissioned servers list) but some European PS Store pages are now showing the revised shutdown dates. We've reached out to Sony for any further comment on the apparent move.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, servers, Sony, Warhawk | Comments (0)