Volume 21, Number 6 - June 2005
|Voice Over IP (VoIP) Round Table Discussion
Gil Kloepfer of UT Appled Research Labs
Thursday, June 16, 7:00 PM
The CACTUS Newsletter is a monthly publication, distributed to our members and other interested people. Visit the CACTUS Newsletter on the web at http://www.cactus.org/Newsletter/. There you will find archives of back issues, as well as instructions on how to subscribe to the e-mail distribution. We welcome newsletter submissions by our members. Please contact newsletter [at] cactus <dot> org for more information.
Gil Kloepfer will lead a discussion about Voice Over IP (VoIP) technology with an emphasis on the Asterisk Open Source PBX. Since Gil's last VoIP presentation in September, there have been frequent questions from CACTUS members about VoIP and how they can start experimenting with it. Some members have been wondering how to get started using Asterisk, including how to install the software. This presentation will focus on getting everyone the answers to their questions.
The first half of the presentation will be the installation and a very basic Asterisk configuration. The second half of the presentation will be driven by questions from the members. All CACTUS members familiar with VoIP are encouraged to help answer questions.
The next CACTUS meeting will be held on Thursday, June 16, 2005 at 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:30 PM for pizza and informal discussion), in the auditorium of UT Applied Research Laboratories. (See end of newsletter for directions to the facility).
There was no new organizational news for president Randy Zagar to deal with. He brought another CentOS DVD to give away. He mentioned that he had talked with InFlow about getting five gigabytes of backup for Bubba. Bubba's been working for about two months. It now has a test IMAP and POP mail server running over SSL. The MTA is Postfix.
The subject of high-availability e-mail services and the splitting of the e-mail client access from the system where the e-mail transport takes place was again resurrected. Gil Kloepfer reminded the officers that this topic was brought-up at the officer's meeting and it was decided that no further discussion would take place about it during the meetings as nobody was willing to implement it.
Some people want more SPAM filtering. Randy noted that Bubba uses YUM for updates. Brian Sinclair reported that YUM recently broke a courier/IMAP Postfix installation. Gil asserted that it's not YUM it's "yuck."
Randy Zagar reminded the membership that dynamic DNS is available for members, hosted on linux.cactus.org. He also noted that former president Lindsay Haisley was absent again because his musical career seems to be reborn.
Randy introduced the speaker for the evening, Conrad Geiger who is a Technical Architect with Sun Microsystems. Conrad began by giving us some background about Sun. Founded in 1982, he called Sun an infrastructure company. Sun's customers are the Fortune 1000--even IBM is a customer. Sun's many partners include Texas Instruments (TI) who manufactured the UltraSparc processor (18 years). They've partnered with Fujitsu for 20 years. In the last six months they have partnered with Microsoft. Gil characterized this partnership as a "deal with the devil."
Conrad mentioned that the model V220 was actually designed in Austin by NewIsys. Throughout the presentation Conrad asked trivia questions such as, "what does Sun stand for?" One CACTUS member responded correctly--Stanford Unix Network. Conrad threw him a T-shirt. He also gave away baseball caps. He brought CDROMs, white papers, and other literature, as well. Sun has over 140 billion dollar installed base. They ship more Unix systems than IBM and HP combined. Half of their investment is in software. He reminded us that Solaris is now open source and referred us to http://www.sunsource.net/. Eight per percent of SuSe code came from Sun. Sun has contributed eight million lines of source code to the open source community.
Conrad noted that masking the effects of slow DRAM is a key to performance these days since memory speed is not keeping up with processor speed. The UltraSparc IV, code named Niagra doubled database throughput over the UltraSparc III.
No Sun presentation is complete with Java. Conrad brought a bootable Java Desktop System. The desktop sits atop a SuSe distribution of Linux. His slide comparing the Java Desktop with MS-Windows had Duke sitting atop the Java Desktop and the guy from the Monopoly (TM) game sitting atop the MS-Windows desktop.
Gil Kloepfer couldn't help but saying that Sun's strategic alliance with Microsoft makes him nervous.
Conrad brought his desktop with him--a Tadpole Wireless SunRay. Sun seeks to "unleash security with mobility." His SunRay has been operating for six years without a glitch. It has no processor, little memory, no hard drive, no moving parts. He uses an identity card containing his profile that he can put in any SunRay to establish the same environment. Conrad claims that these desktops require only two administrators for every thousand users.
Finally, Conrad got around to telling us about Solaris 10. Solaris 10 contains six hundred new features. He mentioned that the Intel version is mostly the same code base. Two thirds of the Solaris 10 downloads are for the Intel version. Solaris 10 allows multiple operating systems to run on SMP servers. It has relentless availability with predictive self-healing capability. SetUID is deprecated with Solaris 10. One of the more interesting features is dynamic tracing built into the kernel. This makes it much easier to tune applications for performance. Solaris 10 also contains support for 10 gigabit ethernet.
Conrad also mentioned that Sun seeks to outperform Linux. If Solaris 10 Intel is found to be slower than Linux, it's a priority one bug.
Thanks to Conrad Geiger and Sun MicroSystems for the educational presentation, the caps, and the T-shirts.
[Ed. Note (Gil): No mention was made in the above minutes regarding our discussion about Special Interest Groups (SIGs) mentioned in last month's newsletter. While the response was not overwhelming, there were some members who thought having SIGs would be a good idea. Unfortunately, many members did admit that it would be difficult for them to commit to additional CACTUS time each month. Gil also emphasized that the whole concept of SIGs would be lost if the meeting degenerated into one or two people getting "all the knowledge sucked from them" with no recriprocal exchange. Gil said that he would help create a new mailing list (which, alas, hasn't been done yet) and publish its existance to the newsletter list.
It should also be mentioned that Gil has not yet completed updating NTP on the CACTUS systems yet. He will be completing this by the July meeting. ]
There's good news and there's not-so-good news...
The good news is that our dual-opteron system, Bubba, now has a DVD-RW drive. It works great. I was able to successfully make a backup of the home directories on Bubba using growisofs. Right now, the home directories on Bubba take up about 1.5-GiB and I was able to burn that to DVD in less than 15 minutes (at 8X).
Making backups is still a manual process at this point, but I am working on a script that will write incremental backups (a la 'dump') directly to a DVD.
The not-so-good news is that it looks like one of the hard drives in Bubba is trying to fail. From the sounds coming out of the system, which I can hear over all the other noise in Inflow's data center, it sounds like the spindle bearings are starting to fail.
As things stand right now, the system is operational and there is no risk of data loss. The system is configured for RAID-1 mirroring, so the loss of a single drive is not a big problem, and we have backups.
The only thing that could cause problems is that the system will no longer boot without an on-site operator. The raid controller spits out a warning at boot-up, and waits for someone to press <ENTER>.
The silver lining in this cloud is that the drives are still under warranty, so getting a replacement isn't going to cost us anything.
Here are a few small items that are noteworthy:
VoIPing, LLC is a Central Texas privately owned and operated partnership specializing in IT Consulting and Services, with a strong emphasis on converged networks, Unix operating systems and Voice over IP (IP Telephony). The company is owned and operated by its partners, Lenny Tropiano and Brian Sinclair. With well over 40 years of combined experience, they've accomplished world class data center design, implementation and operations from the ground up in several local high-tech companies. They've put their expertise together to bring state-of-the-art converged networking (voice, video and data) to businesses. Projects done on time, on budget, and with strong return on investments (ROI) in mind.
Contact: (512) 698-VOIP 
Brian Sinclair, (512) 426-9346, brian [at] voiping <dot> com
Web site: http://www.voiping.com/
We wish to thank John Fusselman, Michael Shaw, Eric Jones, and David Crow for renewing their membership.
To renew your membership, please send check or money order payable to CACTUS ($30/yr for regular membership and $100/yr for corporate sponsorship):
PO BOX 9786
Austin, TX 78766-9786
You can also pay in person at the general meetings. Please direct any inquiries or address changes to membership [at] cactus <dot> org.
CACTUS meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Applied Research Laboratories (ARL) in the JJ Pickle Research Campus (JJ PRC). We'll meet in the main auditorium located directly behind the guard's desk and main lobby.
Please do not show up earlier than 6:20 PM on the specified day. Enter through the main entrance at 10000 Burnet Road for ARL. Tell the guard that you are here for the CACTUS meeting. You will be required to sign a log book, but not required to wear a badge. The guards will direct you to the auditorium entrance. Limited parking in the front of the building is available, but more extensive parking is available in the large parking lot just north of the ARL building. After 6:30 pm, all entrances to JJ PRC, except for the Burnet Road entrance, are closed and locked. You can still enter the parking lot in front of the ARL building. No parking tags are necessary after 6:00 PM (but you will need to inform the guard in the booth that you are attending a meeting at ARL). See map for further details.
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As always, please leave the facility as you saw it when you arrived.