NinerNet Communications™
System Status

Server and System Status

NC036: Migration update 17

7 June 2018 09:12:19 +0000

We continue to track the intermittent connections in Zambia. They simply don’t make sense. For example, some MTN customers have no problems connecting, but some do. And some people can connect on MTN, but not Realtime/HAI, or they can connect on Paratus, but not MTN.

But we are slowly managing to narrow things down with a resolution in mind.

We did receive a call from a client who has talked to at least one ISP up on the Copperbelt, and they informed him that they allow some connections but not others, and they allow some connections intermittently such that it works one minute and stops working the next. This is exactly the behaviour our clients are seeing, and it seems to be intentional on the part of at least one Zambian ISP! Now, these are very vague statements, but our client asked us for an email explaining how our system works and is configured that he could send to them. Herewith a copy of our email:

Thanks for your phone call. As I said on the phone, this mail server operates in exactly the same way as the old mail server. There is simply no way to operate a mail server on the Internet that does not conform to the same interoperability standards as every other mail server on the Internet. Sure, the are minor variations on how some things are done internally on all servers, but for server A to talk to server B and deliver an email — or for a personal computer or phone to get that email to server A in the first place — they all have to be talking the same language.

Also, I find it very difficult to understand an ISP saying that they allow some standard behaviour and disallow other standard behaviour. And it’s even more bizarre that they say they allow some behaviour intermittently; what’s the point of that?!

With that editorial out of the way, this is the configuration of both the old and new mail servers:

SOFTWARE:

  • MTA (mail transfer agent, i.e., mail server software, SMTP): Postfix
  • MDA (mail delivery agent, i.e., POP and IMAP): Dovecot
  • Web server (control panel and webmail): Nginx

PORTS (all TLS/SSL):

  • POP: 110/995
  • IMAP: 143/993
  • SMTP: 587
  • Web: 443

This is a 100% standard configuration, and as I’ve said before, is exactly the same as it was on the old server … EXACTLY the same.

Any ISP is welcome to contact me directly, by email or phone, to explain why users on our system should be subject to some sort of arbitrary blocking of anything. And they’re welcome to contact me just to ask questions or for a friendly chat. Everyone in the world (barring repressive dictatorships, which I don’t think Zambia has become just yet) uses these same port numbers and configurations.

Please keep me informed. Thanks.

Craig

NC036: Migration update 16

7 June 2018 05:43:46 +0000

Are you wondering if our mail server is really up or if we’re “having problems”? We could be lying, but this third-party service will uncover our lies:

https://downforeveryoneorjustme.com

Every time we check, mail.niner.net and webmail.niner.net are up. Please check for yourself. In fact, we suggest contacting your ISP and asking them why you cannot reach a server that is alive and well.

You can also check the pop, imap and smtp sub-domains of niner.net, as well as the old pop27, imap27 and smtp27 sub-domains, all of which are working.

We actually do strongly urge you to contact your ISP about the fact that you can only intermittently connect to our mail server. They are the only ones who can help you with your connection to the Internet when it is not working properly.

NC036: Migration update 15 — Possible return of connection issues

6 June 2018 16:35:16 +0000

As happened on Monday, after initial success with setting up the new mail server, we’re again receiving reports from clients in Zambia (so far) that are starting to have their connections to the server dropped by their ISPs. This is incredibly frustrating, certainly for you, of course, but also for us.

If this is happening to you, you can help us help you by submitting what’s called an MTR report. MTR is a network diagnostic tool that gives us quantifiable information we can analyse and (hopefully) act on, showing where the network problem affecting your email lies so that we may possibly contact the organisation responsible for the problem.

If you’re running Windows, please download WinMTR. The file you will download is just a zip file that contains the actual program (32- and 64-bit versions). Read the “README.TXT” file for instructions on which version to use. All you need to do is double-click the appropriate file and the program runs; it’s not actually installed on your computer. Then type nc036.ninernet.net (yes, that’s ninernet.net, NOT niner.net) in the box as prompted, and select the start option to begin generating report data. Once you’ve gathered enough data, please use the copy or export functions to send us the report.

Please also send us the following information:

  • Your IP address.
  • The name of your ISP. If you have access to multiple connections, an MTR report from each ISP would be greatly appreciated.
  • If you have a reliable contact at that ISP, his/her name, position, phone number and email address.

Please email this to our usual email address, or send it via our contact form.

Thanks.

NC036: Migration update 13

6 June 2018 12:52:23 +0000

We will post a postmortem here in due course, hopefully with 24-48 hours, along with a thousand more apologies, but we are looking for feedback to ensure that all clients are able to connect to the server and download and send email, as this was not the case on Monday and Tuesday.

NC036: Migration update 12 — server back online

6 June 2018 12:28:04 +0000

The transfer of the mail spools has completed and server NC036 was brought back online at 12:12 UTC.

NC036: Migration update 12

6 June 2018 08:32:10 +0000

The transfer of mail data between the old and new data centres is still underway. Considering the transfer of the same amount of data took 50 minutes over the weekend, and we are now at the 5-hour mark, it was impossible for us to predict that this would take so long.

I can assure you that I understand the frustration that you are feeling with this situation, but given the network problems in southern and central Africa that necessitated this emergency move, we had no choice but to act immediately rather than forcing many clients to do without mail until the weekend.

My best estimate at this point, based on how much data has transferred so far (55%) and how much is left, is that the transfer will complete at approximately 13:00 UTC. Assuming this is the case, the server will be back online and accessible at about 13:30 UTC.

I sincerely and deeply apologise for this situation.

NC036: Migration update 11

6 June 2018 04:42:04 +0000

The transfer is taking significantly longer than we anticipated, likely due to the greater distance between the two data centres.

NC036: Migration update 10

6 June 2018 03:36:47 +0000

We’re almost done. Just waiting for the mail spools to finish transferring, then a few checks (double-checks) to ensure that all is in order, and we’ll re-enable all services. Then more checks to ensure that mail is flowing as it should, and then we await feedback.

NC036: Migration update 9

6 June 2018 01:22:20 +0000

We’ve finished planning this emergency migration of the new mail server (NC036), and will be shutting it down within the next five minutes.

NC020: Reboot

2 June 2018 07:02:10 +0000

Server NC020 was rebooted at 06:19 UTC, and was back online again at 06:22.

NinerNet home page

Systems at a Glance:


Loc.SystemStatusPing
Server NC020, Chicago, United States of America, OPERATIONAL.NC020OperationalUp?
Server NC023, London, United Kingdom, OPERATIONAL.NC023OperationalUp?
Server NC028, Vancouver, Canada, INTERNAL.NC028InternalUp?
Server NC031, New York, United States of America, OPERATIONAL.NC031OperationalUp?
Server NC033, Toronto, Canada, OPERATIONAL.NC033OperationalUp?
Server NC034, Lusaka, Zambia, INTERNAL.NC034InternalUp?
Server NC035, Sydney, Australia, PROVISIONING.NC035ProvisioningUp?
Server NC036, Amsterdam, Netherlands, OPERATIONAL.NC036OperationalUp?
Server NC037, Seattle, United States of America, INTERNAL.NC037InternalUp?

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General Information:

This blog provides information about the status of NinerNet Communications systems. Dates and times of posts to this blog are in the UTC time zone, and dates and times given for events are also in the UTC time zone, although conversions may be offered for some time zones common to our clients. Please use the World Time Server to ensure accurate conversion of dates and times to your own time zone.

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