… to the cloud!!!

… to sound cliche.


So, my precious VMWare node, running on an old Dell 1850 died a couple weeks ago. I lost a drive. I had it set up with RAID0.  Yes, I’ll admit I was over confident. I was surprised how quickly that drive died, but I lost everything. I lost years of work: my SVN repositories, my Asterisk configs, my DNS records, the list goes on.

A good friend of mine said, “It’s time to go to the Cloud; It’s awesome.

He was right. In recent months, I’ve relied heavily on DropBox and more recently on Box.net, and even more recently on Microsoft’s Skydrive, but what was I going to do with my other services?

… back in my day…

It’s been so many years since I’ve run a server in my basement. Even before my kids were born.  I was one of the first people to get aDSL in Atlanta: this was when the phone company still did a truck roll to their customer’s house.  I ran a FreeBSD box, (I think 4.5), that did PPPoE with a really old 10Mbit switch.  Ever since then, I had a box in the basement doing things.  I used to run mail servers, web servers, media servers, network drive, internal DNS, and even an Asterisk PBX.

Continue reading

Hello my dear friend! I’m a pure student…

This cracks me up.  I have been getting a ton of spam comments from the .ru TLD, and it always begins with either:

Hello my dear friend! I’m a pure student…


Interesting CMS. What software do you use?

Or some variant of the above.  C’mon, guys, if you are going to try and trick me, you got to do better than that. At this point, I am almost insulted at this feeble attempt.  But that’s not really what I wanted to write about.

Tonight I’m sort of reflective. So much as happened since I last posted. Certainly some of it is good, some of it is exciting, and some of it has certainly been a challenge.  I spent the last 30 minutes trying to find a Youtube vid that represents my mood, but unfortunately, I think the risk of misunderstanding is too high, so therefore, I refrain.

I usually post about technology or funny things, but so much has been queuing up, it’s hard for me to decide where to begin.

  • I am still madly in love with my T-Mobile G1, the Google/Android based phone.  I saw that Google had an Éclair delivered to their office: Each release of the Android OS has been named after pastries: Cupcake, Donut… Éclair is rumored to be Android 2.0…
  • I actually had my first Corny Keg experience with my homebrew in anticipation of our neighborhood Oktoberfest.  Pics and vids to follow, (it’s this weekend).
  • I’ve been rehabbing a rental house in my spare (but limited) time.
  • I’ve been learning Python, (but had to use Perl in a recent pinch).
  • More and more people are asking me for help with Trixbox and Cisco SIP phones.
  • I’ve been to HP HQ in Houston, TX for an executive briefing; I was blown away and met some really cool people.
  • I am meeting with Cisco regarding their UCS offering.
  • I’ve been meeting with Microsoft (and attend the ‘Technical Decision Makers Launch’ of Window 7, Server 2008, and Exchange 2008.
  • I am planning on attending the VMWare Users group event in Atlanta on November 5th, 2009.  Maybe I’ll see ya, there?
  • I’ve been enjoying Google Wave! (Sorry, I haven’t been able to send out invites, yet… so don’t ask!)
  • I have a new WinCE based GPS that I am hacking, (oh yeah, I forgot about this, but it’s a big ‘un!).

So I’ve been busy, but it’s been good. Any of the above items could be a separate blog post.

I’ve been really impressed with Google Wave.  It ain’t perfect yet, but I see the potential of it.  I might even go as far to say that it could be Email 2.0 but I probably need to elaborate on that.  Along the same note, I wonder if Twitter is the new USENET.  <- If you don’t get that, don’t worry about it. But if you want my highly entertaining, hand waving monologue on this, let’s meet for a beer!

VMware, Trixbox 2.4, and Viatalk

As I promised, I’d update more often about some of the things I’ve been working on.  In my other posts, I’ve been playing around with VMWare ESXi in my basement on an older Dell 1750.

I had a couple of goals.

  • Update my Trixbox (Asterisk) installation
  • Run SpaceWalk
  • Run ZenOSS
  • Have a linux utility box
  • Screw around and push VMWare’s ESXi until it cried for mercy

Update my Trixbox (Asterisk) installation

I still get a lot of traffic to my site since I have some detailed instructions for setting up ViaTalk with Trixbox.  Some time recently, my current server, version 2.2 stopped working reliably.  The Tin Foil hat crowd pointed their fingers at Comcast but I couldn’t buy that in my hearts of hearts.  Sure enough, ViaTalk updated some of there settings and I could get my Trixbox installation working about 50% of the time.

So, version 2.4 has come out.  So I started fresh.  All my VM’s are 2 CPU’s with 4GB RAM.  ESX|ESXi does a great job of abstracting the amount of memory so even thought the OS sees all 4GB’s, the VM is really only taking up about 150MB’s on the hypervisor; YMMV.

After screwing around (the back up and restore method DID NOT work), I finally got a “golden image.”  I got in the habit of snapshotting my VM image so I could always roll back if need be instead of suffering another complete install.

I have my VM’s to have their filesystem on the drives in the 1750, but the swap is actually served off NFS on my Freebsd box, (you might ask yourself why I did this.  Remember, I wanted to see the breaking points of the VM’s so I did some things intentionally that would create some overhead).

I got everything set up and it worked great… except on tiny thing.  Now, I have to have:

Allow Anonymous Inbound SIP Calls?

Setting this to ‘yes’ will potentially allow ANYBODY to call into your Asterisk server using the SIP protocol

It should only be used if you fully understand the impact of allowing anonymous calls into your server

set to “Yes” in order to receive calls.  Otherwise, callers get “This number is not in service” when they ring our number.    It took me awhile to find this.  It’s in the General Settings.

I have to say that it is working MUCH better.   I tried to run Trixbox under Microsoft’s Virtual PC about a year ago and it sucked.   Granted, the Dell 1750 is much different than my powerful, homebuilt WinXP desktop, but I must admit that I was a little skeptical.

Even setting up my Cisco 7960 was easy.  I did have to refer to my older posts trying to remember how to unlock my phone.

The Rest… more to come…

The rest of the items I mentioned will come in other posts, otherwise I might be here all night.

multiple updates on various junk

I’ve been busy. It’s been good and I see progress being made. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. So, this post is going to be a mini-update to a bunch of stuff I got in the hopper.

Tmobile Wing

Man, I love this thing. Today I put new skins on it, and installed some really great apps. I’ll provide a more detailed post on it. Going from PalmOS to WM6 was painless and easy. I almost don’t even think of it. I miss on flash card program but other than that, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a Palm-based phone.

XMBC on the Xbox

My brother-in-law is really happy with his hacked Xbox. We watched all sorts of international TV this weekend. I found this after poking around. Why hadn’t I found it before?

I found some great games I am playing on my Xbox. ChessMaster was really hard to find:


I am getting a lot of hits on my website for Trixbox related things. I hope you guys are finding it helpful. I’d love to hear some feedback.

Continue reading

trixbox update to 2.2, part II

If you read my post last night regarding my upgrade to Trixbox 2.2, you’ll see that I was back up and running before going to bed.  It was late, and at first I thought that my upgrade went well, but I was a little disappointed to see that my UI didn’t look exactly like it did in the video.  Something didn’t look right, but I didn’t get any errors.  Upon a re-read of the forum, I realized that it looks like I upgraded the OS to the latest version, but not the UI and who knows what else.

From the forums, it appears that there are a lot of successful installs, and the degree of success depends on exactly what version/build of Trixbox you were running.  For what ever reason, I have to run the following commands to get completely updated:

  1. yum clean
  2. yum make cache
  3. yum install -y tbm-GUIcore.noarch

Now, everything looks like it should in as compared to the video on the Trixbox website.   I’ll do a reboot just to be safe.
Alas, now I am getting errors when I try to load the packages list.  This is also reported in the above mentioned thread.

Warning: fread(): Length parameter must be greater than 0. in /var/www/html/maint/includes/functions/genYumArray.php on line 21

Warning: fread(): Length parameter must be greater than 0. in /var/www/html/maint/includes/functions/genYumArray.php on line 196

A bug and fix were submitted.  Sure enough, I was missing three of the files on this page:

That indeed, fixed it.

Time to upgrade Trixbox to 2.2 tonight

I’ve mentioned recently that Trixbox released their final 2.2 version. I’m running 2.1 and have been enjoying a great amount of success with that version. If it ain’t broke, do I need to fix it? I’ve always been on the bleeding edge of things so my gut says yeah, I need to upgrade. It’s a real problem for me. I always need to try the latest firmware, software, version of whatever I have. Sometimes it has gotten me into trouble, (with my wife), but it will just gnaw away at me until I do something about. That’s the case with the recent release of Trixbox 2.2. I’ve been watching the forums and I believe tonight is the night to make the jump.

(gawd, I hate that Rhapsody’s Comcast client takes FOREVER to load; don’t they know I am trying to stuff while listening to some ‘tunes!?!?!?)

So, anyways, here’s what’s new in 2.2:

Some of the things I like is the “dashboard” that is the first thing you’d see when logging as ‘admin.’ The UI looks pretty sweet. On my existing system, I catch a memory leak from time to time that affects my system’s performance, so I like being able to see that sort of info on the front page. The Web UI to administrate the network will help a lot of people who may not know how to configure network interfaces. My setup isn’t typical for most home users. You can read about it here.

The update instructions can be found in the Trixbox forums:

You can NOT run trixbox-update.sh to upgrade to 2.2!!!

Upgrade via the package manager by installing tbm-GUICore or by running yum update at the command line.

I picked the “yum update” route. Man, I wished I made a backup before I started. I had to update 177 packages at 225MB.

You see, here’s my problem. I can really only work on this stuff at home when everyone is in bed. It’s already midnight and if the family wakes up to an inoperable phone system, we might as well put in the order for a new land line; shudder! But, the downloads are flying by, this may not be too bad. Might be time to refresh my Vodka. In case you are interested, I use VNC to admin my boxes from my WinXP system upstairs; the UNIX and Linux boxes are in the basement.

While this is continuing to download, I feel like we finally have a chance to talk. You know what pisses me off? Here’s a list (unrelated to the the actual update):

  • People who don’t put shopping cars back into the cart coral at supermarket parking lots. You are one lazy mo-fo.
  • People talking on cell phones in high speed, high density traffic. Get a headset, dumbass.
  • News reporters (on TV) who use their hands too much when giving a report. By the way, does it really make a story more interesting if you are standing outside of closed office of something you are doing the piece about? Lame.

I could go on, but the downloads are almost finished. Let me refresh my drink while it finishes up. Oh man, 385 packages are now being updated! How painless will this be??? The updates are done. I am going to make the assumption that I need to reboot. I hope it comes back up!

It came up, but if I went to a web browser, it looked like the older version. What did I miss? If I go to Asterisk menu, I am getting MySQL errors like the password is wrong. However, if I go to the “Asterisk Info” page, it appears with the UI seen in the video.

[nativecode=Access denied for user 'asteriskuser'@'localhost' (using password: YES)] ** mysql://asteriskuser:XXXXXXXXXX@localhost/asterisk

This requires more investigation! I had changed the default password when I initially set all of this up, but I can’t remember what the original password was for the user.

I couldn’t find it anywhere on the web and I couldn’t log it, so I tried installing phpwebadmin, specifically tbm-phpmyadmin.noarch. I was able to reset the password to the one I had specified in:

  • /etc/asterisk/manager.conf

I rebooted once I reset the password. After the reboot, I was able to call out okay, but it was too late to try calling in, (and risk waking up the boss). So far so good.

I had installed Munin manually last go around, but now when I tried to access it via the TB interface, I got a spewload of errors. Small potatoes. I’ll worry about it later.

I’m wiped out so off to bed… and more later as I delve into this project.

EDIT: Part II of this can be found here: Trixbox Upgrade part II

cisco 7960 and trixbox

I’ve been able to borrow a brand spankin’ new Cisco 7960 SIP phone to play around with with my Trixbox server. This appears to be a really nice phone with a lot of features and a quality product. The phone seems to be pre-provisioned with my company’s settings and I am trying to figure out a way to “unlock” it to use with my Trixbox server.

I would consider this an advanced topic for myself since I don’t often get a chance to get my hands on cool hardware like this. The Trixbox server has some tftp files pre-installed but nothing really specific or the required provisioning files for my situation. The Cisco phone wants to phone home to the preconfigured tftp server. Sniffing the traffic and spoofing DNS is trivial but still a lot of work that I don’t need to do if I can figure out how to unlock this thing. I did find these links that appear to be useful, at least initially.

Obviously, I need to get into the details, but as I do, I’ll post my results.

ViaTalk, Trixbox, and your IVR

I set up a quick page on my ViaTalk setup. You can access the link via this page:

ViaTalk and Trixbox

Like I said before, this is a really slick setup. I have a different “time condition” for the weekend that will give the caller a chance to call our cell phones if we don’t answer the main line within 30 seconds. The trial and error paid off since I have a much better understanding of how it’s all glued together.