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'[OT] Can old PCs be used to provide voice mail for'
2004\12\31@182043 by James Newton, Host

face picon face
I've had a request from a social worker friend (Dept of Veterans Affairs and
he is one of the ones who really cares, and does a lot of good) to look into
the possibility of recycling old PCs into voice mail servers to be used to
provide homeless people with a place for prospective employers to call and
leave messages.

If you think about it, one of the harder things for a homeless, or just very
poor person to do is get a phone call or any other communication related to
a job. You can't pay for a phone, or voice mail service, but you manage to
get a shower, clean up, and go on an interview. Now the business owner is
willing to hire you, but how will you ever find out? "Don't call us, we'll
call you" right?

Actually, it stops before that: You have to put down a phone number on the
application. You can fill out the form and put a fake address or the address
of a shelter, but the shelters will not (usually) take messages for you and
that assumes you are actually in a shelter. Anyway, the ability to get a
phone call is really a killer. You can even get an email account and access
it at the local library, but no voice mail.

So can I take an old P1 with a modem or sound card and turn it into a single
line, multi-box answering machine? Old PCs are now effectively free so
multi-line support is totally unnecessary. One PC per phone line. In fact,
there is no reason why they can't be hosted at local citizens homes. You can
get an extra phone line from COX cable for about $5 a month around here.
http://www.cox.com/sandiego/telephone/pricing.asp


On the surface it seems sure that this could be done. All the hardware is
there or cheaply added. The system only needs to do the following:

1. Ring detect (in the modem or a very simple circuit attached to the
printer port)
2. Switch hook (on or off hook via modem commands or again, a very simple
circuit on the parallel port)
3. Record / playback audio. (to / from the hard drive. Some sort of OS or
Disk Operating System is needed.)
4. Detect DTMF (Fast Fourier Transform analysis or a chip hooked to the
parallel port)
5. Some method of scripting all the above.

So far the best I could find in the open source world is:
http://interstice.com/drewes/answer/ but I just DREAD getting what ever
version of *nix he is using up and running. Oh 'jeeze, I just started
another OS war didn't I?

I was hoping there would be some FreeDOS or single disk bootable Linux that
would have the needed stuff? Win modem drivers would be awesome, but basic
sound card audio would be enough with some simple 'tronics.

Any ideas?

---
James Newton: PICList webmaster/Admin
spam_OUTjamesnewtonTakeThisOuTspampiclist.com  1-619-652-0593 phone
http://www.piclist.com/member/JMN-EFP-786
PIC/PICList FAQ: http://www.piclist.com



2004\12\31@193247 by Josh Koffman

face picon face
What a nice idea James. One thing you may want to look into is
Asterisk. It's an open source VoIP PBX. I've never set it up, but I've
heard it isn't exactly easy. However, it would have a ton of benifits,
especially in this application. I understand it will handle all
voicemail, just like a big professional PBX. You can set up an
automated response system (ie press 1 for XXX) as well. Then all you'd
need is VoIP service (Vonage is I think one of the biggest right now)
and a connection to the net. People could dial in and leave messages,
and others could dial in and check them. Since you don't need to
interface to any local telephones (ie a real POTS phone in your house)
you don't even need any special hardware. All calls coming in would
come over the VoIP number.

I think the real problem here is the setup/maintenance.

Josh
--
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something
completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete
fools.
       -Douglas Adams

On Fri, 31 Dec 2004 15:20:38 -0800, James Newton, Host
<.....jamesnewtonKILLspamspam@spam@piclist.com> wrote:
> I've had a request from a social worker friend (Dept of Veterans Affairs and
> he is one of the ones who really cares, and does a lot of good) to look into
> the possibility of recycling old PCs into voice mail servers to be used to
> provide homeless people with a place for prospective employers to call and
> leave messages.

2004\12\31@193903 by Aza D. Oberman

flavicon
face
<James Newton, Host, writes in part>

> I've had a request from a social worker friend (Dept of Veterans Affairs
and
> he is one of the ones who really cares, and does a lot of good) to look
into
> the possibility of recycling old PCs into voice mail servers to be used to
> provide homeless people with a place for prospective employers to call and
> leave messages.

What about using standard modem services to pick up the line and send a
message like "press 100 for Joe Jones, press 101 for Mary Smith, etc"?

I believe you can then use the sound card to read the DTMF tones and record
into an appropriate file for playback later.

I'm sure there are automated answering systems out there that run on stuff
as crummy as '386s.  Perhaps if you poke the usual suspects (eBay, junk
dealers, and telcom resellers) you can give these homeless folks access to a
pretty slick, professional sounding system on only one phone line for
peanuts.

Hardly a PIC adventure, but it seems like it would get the job done.

Happy New Year,

Aza D. Oberman

2004\12\31@200709 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 07:37 PM 12/31/2004 -0500, you wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Some of the fax programs (Winfax, Easy Fax) have this capability, when
used with a voice modem (under Windows).  I see some Winfax 10 supposedly
original disks on eBay for about $10, modem for a few dollars. Most of
the old computers will have Win98 or something like that installed already,
so aside from the O/S licensing issue, it could be pretty cheap.

I've never tried it so I don't know how well the voice mailboxes work.

Best regards,

Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
speffspamKILLspaminterlog.com             Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog  Info for designers:  http://www.speff.com




2004\12\31@200933 by Jose Da Silva
flavicon
face
Search for voice modem software.
These programs used to be DOS programs that came with a modem, so old
computers running DOS would work fine with them. You mention Pentium class
machines, but these programs have existed since the x286 and x386.

Today's computers may be a little trickier since most modems back then were
ISA slot cards versus today's PCI cards.

Doing a search, got this:
http://www.faqs.org/faqs/modems/ZyXEL/FAQ/part5/section-4.html

http://www.modemsite.com/56k/voice.asp

http://www.soft411.com/software/voice-modem.html

http://www.simtel.com/welcome.php  is a large reserve of shareware, freeware,
etc, and may also contain one or more versions of voice modem software.
(check the answering machine section)

Hope that helps.
Happy New Year!

On Friday 31 December 2004 03:20 pm, James Newton, Host wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2004\12\31@201201 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
>> I've had a request from a social worker friend (Dept of Veterans
>> Affairs and
>> he is one of the ones who really cares, and does a lot of good) to
>> look into
>> the possibility of recycling old PCs into voice mail servers to be
>> used to
>> provide homeless people with a place for prospective employers to
>> call and
>> leave messages.

I would have imagined that someone paying for capacity on an existing
commercial system would work out to be more satisfactory in the long
term. You swap dollars for labour blood and tears. If you have more
LBT than $ then maybe you do this. You still need phone line(s)
dedicated to the task. Arguably a person acting as receptionist would
provide a better result (first catch your receptionist). "I'm sorry Mr
Jones isn't in at present, would you please provide contact details
and a message and I'll .... "


       RM

2004\12\31@210952 by Randy Glenn

picon face
Asterisk - http://www.asterisk.org - should let you do that. Linux based, but
I believe there's a way to get it to run under Windows (under coLinux,
IIRC)

It can be used as a VOIP system, but it can also hook up to a standard
phone line through some voice modems, and the telephone line interface
cards made by the company leading Asterisk's development. Some of them
are rather reasonably priced, IIRC.

On Fri, 31 Dec 2004 15:20:38 -0800, James Newton, Host
<EraseMEjamesnewtonspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTpiclist.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2004\12\31@213959 by Dave VanHorn

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face

I've got a decade or so designing telco interfaces and modems, if that helps.

It sounds though, like a winmodem (gag-choke) might be best for this app.
Mostly because of the need to handle audio in.

Other than that, Dialogic makes cards that would do this, perhaps they
might donate old obsolete versions?


'[OT] Can old PCs be used to provide voice mail for'
2005\01\01@023028 by Matthew Fries
flavicon
face
You might look at VOCP.

http://www.vocpsystem.com/index.php?mode=component

I'll warn you right now, I have no discernable linux skills, and I haven't
even installed that package. I have been toying with the idea of setting up
a personal voicemail system myself though. (When I find some spare time).

I think your idea with the sound card to phone line is thrifty, but more
difficult to implement. Your local phone company might have something to say
about what you connect directly to their lines.
You would have much better luck using an actual 'voice-modem' which was
intended for exactly the purpose of acting like an answering machine.

The system I mentioned has the scripting capabilities that you want. It can
even receive faxes.
It can also do DTMF detection, and probably multiple voice mailboxes (i.e.,
"press 1 for Frank, 2 for Phil, etc..").



t 03:20 PM 12/31/2004 -0800, you wrote:
{Quote hidden}

>-

2005\01\01@214917 by Dave Lag

picon face
Dialogic got gobbled up by Intel a few 5? years ago....

Dave VanHorn wrote:
>
> I've got a decade or so designing telco interfaces and modems, if that
> helps.
>
> It sounds though, like a winmodem (gag-choke) might be best for this app.
> Mostly because of the need to handle audio in.
>
> Other than that, Dialogic makes cards that would do this, perhaps they
> might donate old obsolete versions?
>

2005\01\01@225127 by Dave VanHorn

flavicon
face
At 09:55 PM 1/1/2005, Dave Lag wrote:

>Dialogic got gobbled up by Intel a few 5? years ago....

Hmm.. That sucks.  Do they still do the same things, or did that vanish??


2005\01\03@015420 by Peter L. Peres

picon face

On Sat, 1 Jan 2005, Dave Lag wrote:

> Dialogic got gobbled up by Intel a few 5? years ago....

A good brand to look for with relation to good quality low cost voice
modems is Davicom (Taiwan). Notice that a voice modem does not need to
be 56k speed. Voice features were available on many 33.6k modems, which
can be picked up for a song. Drivers are available on the internet.
Almost all voice capable modems I ever saw had DTMF detection built in
and most came with a fax/modem/voice application on cd. Locating such a
deal on Ebay or at a local surplus dealer should not be hard.
Additionally all voice modems I saw had fax built in and the application
that came with it allowed both voice mail boxes (up to a few dozen) and
fax/faxback services as well as bbs style access (if needed).

Peter

2005\01\03@015447 by Peter L. Peres

picon face

>> Hardly a PIC adventure, but it seems like it would get the job done.
> so aside from the O/S licensing issue, it could be pretty cheap.
>
> I've never tried it so I don't know how well the voice mailboxes work.

They work well but they have the usual 'getting stuck' problems. A much
simpler solution under *nix is a program called voice which allows just
that (implementing a voice mailbox). It is very easy to script and
requires a modem with voice capability. A more complex solution is
mgetty which also allows fax-on-demand and other things. It is not so
hard to set up. DTMF detection is built in into most voice capable
modems. For use with *nix, only modems with controller should be
considered. Winmodems are a problem, only some work.

Peter

2005\01\03@035402 by Ben Hencke

picon face
Asterisk.org, I have been using it a lot recently and find it is
really nice PBX software. The config is a little weird at first, but
is really not that bad once you get used to it. It does full PBX
capability with voicemail, call routing, VoIP, etc, etc. Very well
supported by an active community.

It is Good Stuff. You will need to put linux or bsd on the old
machines. Depending on the vintage and available RAM, it could be easy
to install a newish distro on the old machines (just leave out the
GUI). Otherwise, Asterisk has only a few newish requirements that can
be built from source. IIRC bison was the one I ran into when doing it
on redhat 7.2. You should be able to install this on any pentium class
computer with 32-64m of ram and 500m-1g drive without any problems. I
run redhat 5.1 on an old laptop with 16m of ram, I bet it would run
Asterisk with a little work.

Check out
http://www.digitnetworks.com/store/
I bought 2 of their $30 OEM x100p cards. These are basically voice
modems, but do the trick. These are cheapo cards, but the only
drawback I can find is that they take one line per PCI slot -- not
much of a problem in this scenario. If you look them up on ebay, they
sell for even cheaper (2 for $40). They provide a CD with Asterisk and
some other stuff and install support for $5.

I use Asterisk with VoIP to make _really_ cheap long distance calls,
around $0.02 a minute. This might appeal to the homeless situation
where it is hard for them to keep in touch with family due to long
distance charges. Before I set up a softphone, I would dial into my
local Asterisk machine and dial from there, it then connects the call
through the VoIP carrier like a calling card.

Check out voip-info.org for a lot of really good info on VoIP as well
as generic Asterisk & config info.

I would recommend a 2 line system so that people checking their
voicemail would not block any incoming calls from employers. Also, if
they have access to computers, I have seen configurations that will
email voicemails as attachments when they arrive.

- Ben

PS I think this is an outstanding idea.

2005\01\03@155811 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
My main objection to the http://www.asterisk.org way was the cost of the
voice modems, but I guess $30 a pop isn't bad at all.

The modems I happen to have now, are all un-supported in Linux
http://free.hostdepartment.com/g/gromitkc/analog/ad1801.html 3COM 2526 with
Analog Devices 1801 chipset.
I have a bid in at eBay on a Zoom 2920 which is supported... Time will tell.

And there is also the http://www.vocpsystem.com and vgetty which seem more
"nuts and bolts" (thanks to Matthew Fries)

I'm also following up on some old DOS software, mentioned by Jose Da Silva,
but I'll do that in another post. For now, it looks like I have to play with
*nix again.

Sigh...

...oh I hate to ask this...

Is there a MINIMAL, boots from a CD and just does the install without me,
dist of *nix that supports asterisk's minimum requirements: WHICH AREN'T
LISTED... As far as I can find. This is classic; I can see it now: "Asterisk
will run on just about any *nix... Oh! Not THAT *nix."

Here is all I can find about what it needs: "Asterisk is primarily developed
on GNU/Linux for x/86. It is known to compile and run on GNU/Linux for PPC
along with OpenBSD, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X Jaguar. Other platforms and
standards-based UNIX-like operating systems should be reasonably easy to
port for anyone with the time and requisite skill to do so. Asterisk is
available in the testing and unstable Debian archives, maintained thanks to
Mark Purcell."

So what the heck is "GNU/Linux"? Googling for it comes up with
http://www.debian.org/ so I guess that would be the best bet? Is there a
minimal install of that? I only see

I would just as soon NOT support networking (not needed and prevents
hacking) and X (buggy, resource hog, etc..) but would want to provide really
complete, bulletproof support for the hard drive (defrag, surface checks,
etc...), sound cards, and for Perl scripting.

I should also note that there is an outfit that is trying to provide voice
mail for all the homeless people (thanks to Sean A. Walberg for letting me
know). They are called Community Voice Mail:
http://www.cvm.org and they are well funded (Paul G. Allen) yet, no one at
the VA knows anything about them. I requested a voice mail box, via email
and will see what they do. They have no real lists of what areas are
supported, although it looks like they have offices in most major areas.

The thing to note is that they expect you to be a local charity with about
$60,000 per year in funding or pledges. They will help with the startup, but
you have to prove you can cover the on-going cost.

---
James.



> {Original Message removed}

2005\01\03@164331 by Peter Johansson

flavicon
face
James Newtons Massmind writes:

> My main objection to the http://www.asterisk.org way was the cost of the
> voice modems, but I guess $30 a pop isn't bad at all.

When I saw that link I was very tempted to pop for one of the $30
cards myself.  Heck, I'd pay $30 just not to have to deal with eBay...

> Is there a MINIMAL, boots from a CD and just does the install without me,
> dist of *nix that supports asterisk's minimum requirements: WHICH AREN'T
> LISTED... As far as I can find. This is classic; I can see it now: "Asterisk
> will run on just about any *nix... Oh! Not THAT *nix."

You might want to try Knoppix.  If things work when you boot the CD,
there is an option to install the whole system to your hard disk.
Knoppix is far from minimal, but there are quite a number of Knoppix
derivitives that are quite minimal.

{Quote hidden}

The term GNU/Linux is a verbal concession to the GNU team.  "Linux" is
just the OS kernel, and represents only a tiny fraction of a "Linux
Distribution."  The GNU team raised a stink (rightfully so!) a few
years back when it appeared as if the Linux people were taking credit
for their software.  Of course, the Linux people never had any
intention of doing this, and things appeared the way they did only
because so few people actually realize where the kernel ends and the
rest of the system begins.

> I would just as soon NOT support networking (not needed and prevents
> hacking) and X (buggy, resource hog, etc..) but would want to provide really
> complete, bulletproof support for the hard drive (defrag, surface checks,
> etc...), sound cards, and for Perl scripting.

I've always been a big fan of Debian, but I generally don't recomend
it to new Linux users.  Partly because the "stable" release is so out
of date, and partly because the installer is rather arcane.  There
are, however, several other distributions built on top of Debian.
Knoppix is a good example of a system built on top of Debian.  I've
also heard good things about Mepis, which is another system built on
top of Debian geared more towards the Linux newbie.  (Though I've
never played with Mepis myself.)

If you have a machine you want to dedicate to Linux (i.e., no other
valuable data on it) it still might be worth giving Debian a shot,
especially if you don't plan to run x/windows.  The big advantage of
Debian is that it is one of the few distributions where you can get a
very minimal, very secure system out of the box, and then add just the
packages you actually need.  Download the latest network installer
(netinst) for your platform from:

http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/

Burn the 100 meg ISO to cdrom, boot it, and follow all the defaults.

If you get a bootable system, then log in as root and type:

# apt-get install asterisk

Then you should have a complete asterisk system ready for
configuration.  If not, well, you can worry about that when you get
there...

-p.

2005\01\03@224052 by Ben Hencke

picon face
On Mon, 3 Jan 2005 12:58:03 -0800, James Newtons Massmind
<KILLspamjamesnewtonKILLspamspammassmind.org> wrote:
> My main objection to the http://www.asterisk.org way was the cost of the
> voice modems, but I guess $30 a pop isn't bad at all.
>
> The modems I happen to have now, are all un-supported in Linux
> http://free.hostdepartment.com/g/gromitkc/analog/ad1801.html 3COM 2526 with
> Analog Devices 1801 chipset.
> I have a bid in at eBay on a Zoom 2920 which is supported... Time will tell.

It is a specific voice modem, there are many variants but others might
not work even if supported by Linux.

>
> Sigh...
>
> ...oh I hate to ask this...
>
> Is there a MINIMAL, boots from a CD and just does the install without me,
> dist of *nix that supports asterisk's minimum requirements: WHICH AREN'T
> LISTED... As far as I can find. This is classic; I can see it now: "Asterisk
> will run on just about any *nix... Oh! Not THAT *nix."

I have personally tested it with Redhat 7.2 (old) and Fedora Core 3
(very new). From what I can tell, Asterisk only needs a few outside
utils and does the rest in code. On redhat 7.2 I had to get and make
the latest bison.

Just scanning through the makefile I see support for these *nix:
ultrasparc, freebsd, netbsd, openbsd, linux, darwin

I would expect that you could use any resonable version of these and
upgrade the few pieces it complains about.

I have seen a Boot to install CD linux distro for Asterisk. It will
blow away the drive and install everything you need. I think it might
be in alpha or beta stage I don't remember. You can probably find this
on the voip-info.org site. If I have time and find it again I will
post it.


>
> So what the heck is "GNU/Linux"? Googling for it comes up with
> http://www.debian.org/ so I guess that would be the best bet? Is there a
> minimal install of that? I only see


GNU/Linux is the proper/elitist name for common Linux. Technically
speaking Linux is only the kernel, the rest of the OS is GNU.
http://www.gnu.org/gnu/linux-and-gnu.html


> I should also note that there is an outfit that is trying to provide voice
> mail for all the homeless people (thanks to Sean A. Walberg for letting me
> know). They are called Community Voice Mail:
> http://www.cvm.org and they are well funded (Paul G. Allen) yet, no one at
> the VA knows anything about them. I requested a voice mail box, via email
> and will see what they do. They have no real lists of what areas are
> supported, although it looks like they have offices in most major areas.

Glad to hear it.

>
> The thing to note is that they expect you to be a local charity with about
> $60,000 per year in funding or pledges. They will help with the startup, but
> you have to prove you can cover the on-going cost.

Then there may still be some use for this project ;-)

- Ben

2005\01\04@025906 by Peter L. Peres

picon face

How about a fax service instead of voice ? Is it inappropriate to leave
a fax number instead of a voice number for an employer to contact ?

Peter

2005\01\04@201707 by James Newton, Host

face picon face
I just found the page you were talking about
http://www.knopsterisk.com/ "PC to PCB in 4 minutes" sounds great!
http://www.automated.it/asterisk/ is free to download though, so I'll try
that first. Only 35MB! Cool!

The ZOOM modem is on its way and I've confirmed that this specific model is
support by at least some *nix versions. $25.50 including freight. I'd use
the asterisk.org source next time but there are some DOS options I want to
try out that require this modem. If asterisk won't support it (probably
won't but worth a shot) I'll buy the real one. This one is also the same
part number:
www.mycompustore.com/product_info.php/cPath/107_109/products_id/1746
$11.95

One problem with this modem system is that it requires these specific modems
to work and decreases the likelyhood that a given "old PC" will work. I
still think some hardware connected to the sound card and parallel port
could do the job in a more "hardware independent" way. But that is for
later... Eventually I'd like to be able to send out a little black box that
anyone could connect to the PC (without having to open it up) and a boot CD.
Then anyone could "recycle" the old PC into a voicemail machine for personal
OR public use (or both) and it would keep the landfills less toxic as well
as providing a usefull service. I really like what this guy did:
http://interstice.com/drewes/answer/ if that could be made to work with
asterisk...

BTW: the PC I'm using for this experiment is the original piclist.com server
that was purchased from donated funds (the very first one was my personal
workstation running personal web server <GRIN>) so there is a "giving back"
thing going on.


I got the reply back from cmv.org via Linda Frawley [RemoveMElfrawleyTakeThisOuTspamSYHC.ORG]: "At
this time I do not have numbers in the 760 area code that are not assigned.
Linda." Typical. They are not a REAL solution, but they suck up the funds
that would be used to actually do something because "this already exists"

I did confirm that they expect a local charity to come up with $60,000 per
year to run a system and then they will chip in with the equipment,
management and support.

Why not go to people and say, "I'll give you VOIP, full on voice mail,
etc... and you give me your old PC, and pay $5 / month for this extra phone
line... And it might help get a bum off the street" Then you put up $30 for
a compatible voice modem and take the time to install it...

---
James.



> {Original Message removed}

2005\01\04@215823 by Wesley Moore

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face
This sounds like just what you asked for, from http://www.xorcom.com/ :

"Xorcom Ltd., a contributing member of the Asterisk community, develops software and hardware for the open source Asterisk PBX environment. Our goal is to make Asterisk a friendly, easy–to–install and easy–to–use system, enabling fast and simple installation and configuration of PBXs of all sizes.

Our first product, Xorcom Rapid™, distributed as freeware, allows you to save time (and money!) when installing Asterisk."

"Xorcom Rapid is a Debian/Asterisk distribution program that features an auto-install for Debian Linux and pre-configured Asterisk. It quickly and effortlessly converts any PC to a functioning Asterisk PBX."

Wes

On 04/01/2005, at 7:58 AM, James Newtons Massmind wrote:

> Is there a MINIMAL, boots from a CD and just does the install without
> me,
> dist of *nix that supports asterisk's minimum requirements: WHICH
> AREN'T
> LISTED... As far as I can find. This is classic; I can see it now:
> "Asterisk
> will run on just about any *nix... Oh! Not THAT *nix."

2005\01\05@205602 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
They want your home phone.

---
James.



{Quote hidden}

> -

2005\01\06@084518 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
James Newtons Massmind wrote:

> They want your home phone.

But as I understand you, when they call, they get to a menu to leave a
message for a large number of people, and thus know that this is not a home
phone, right?

You can get a free voice mail number (however usually non-local) from j2
https://www.j2.com/jconnect/twa/page/pricingComparison

All you need is access to email (library? or nice people who do it for you
and let you know?) to receive the voice mail.

I generally give my j2 number as contact information and never had anybody
question me about the out-of-area area code.

Gerhard

2005\01\06@191727 by Nate Duehr

face
flavicon
face
Peter Johansson wrote:

>http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/
>
>Burn the 100 meg ISO to cdrom, boot it, and follow all the defaults.
>
>If you get a bootable system, then log in as root and type:
>
># apt-get install asterisk
>
>Then you should have a complete asterisk system ready for
>configuration.  If not, well, you can worry about that when you get
>there...
>  
>
Uggh.  You mentioned at the top of your message that Stable is generally
too old to work with right now but forgot to mention down here at the
end that if you do the above you end up with really old stuff...

Debian Stable asterisk version is older than dirt.  (0.1.11-3)
Testing "Sarge" asterisk is at 1.0.2-2
Tarball released version at http://www.asterisk.org is 1.0.3.

Testing/Sarge has serious security issues because gcc-3.4 is blocked
getting into it.

I don't recommend Debian for an Asterisk machine right now.

Nate

2005\01\06@233519 by Peter Johansson

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face
Nate Duehr writes:

> Peter Johansson wrote:
>
> >http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/
> >
> >Burn the 100 meg ISO to cdrom, boot it, and follow all the defaults.
> >
> >If you get a bootable system, then log in as root and type:
> >
> ># apt-get install asterisk
> >
> >Then you should have a complete asterisk system ready for
> >configuration.  If not, well, you can worry about that when you get
> >there...
> >
> >
> Uggh.  You mentioned at the top of your message that Stable is generally
> too old to work with right now but forgot to mention down here at the
> end that if you do the above you end up with really old stuff...

Bzzt.  Wrong answer.  Thanks for playing, we have some nice door
prizes for you.

The devel installer defaults to the testing tree.

> Debian Stable asterisk version is older than dirt.  (0.1.11-3)
> Testing "Sarge" asterisk is at 1.0.2-2
> Tarball released version at http://www.asterisk.org is 1.0.3.
>
> Testing/Sarge has serious security issues because gcc-3.4 is blocked
> getting into it.
>
> I don't recommend Debian for an Asterisk machine right now.

Would I install testing for a critical production server?  Not without
paying attention to the mailing list!  But I'd go that route before
*any* other Linux distro!  (I was sysadmin for slashdot for six
months -- I know a thing or two about security...)

For an Asterisk box, especially one that (1) isn't going to run X/win
(2) isn't going tobe on a public net and (3) is running on minimal
hardware Debian testing is an exceedingly reasonable choice.

-p.

2005\01\07@012802 by Nate Duehr

face
flavicon
face
Peter Johansson wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Ah, I didn't catch that you pointed him to the devel installer.

Why can't Debian just get their damn releases out more than one every
two years...?  Sigh.  Someone needs to whip that process into shape...
if stuff has to be left out, then so be it...

{Quote hidden}

And I used to run a few hundred servers for both an ISP and an ASP.  So?
 We could both be wrong.  ;-)

The "need to monitor the mailing list" junk is exactly why I said I
wouldn't recommend Testing.  If he's building a "set and forget" type of
service, Testing's not appropriate and never will be.  Active
involvement is always required with that version of Debian, and
according to last week's Debian newsletter, there's at least 30 security
packages being blocked from entering Testing right now -- it's not secure.

I love Debian but get nuts when people misuse the DEVELOPMENT versions
in PRODUCTION environments.  That's just not right and can lead to
disaster.  (Did you live through the Perl screwups that blew up every
Testing and Unstable machine that grabbed the packages a couple of years
ago?  It was uuuuuuugly... but 100% normal for development versions.)

> For an Asterisk box, especially one that (1) isn't going to run X/win
> (2) isn't going tobe on a public net and (3) is running on minimal
> hardware Debian testing is an exceedingly reasonable choice.

An Asterisk box doing this voice mail service may not need a public
address, but as soon as any desire/need to use VoIP services enters in,
it'll need a public address.

Testing (as Debian's official documentation points out) is simply not
appropriate.  A new release of Stable just came out, but you'd have to
build Asterisk from source or backported .deb source package to really
have a stable/safe machine.  Would probably be a piece of cake if the
gcc/glibc versions work without needing to update them.

Kinda neat to learn that Slashdot doesn't pay RH for RHEL.  ;-)

I guess RHEL is for those who don't like the standard Free Software
disclaimer that applies to our ENTIRE conversation here... "No warranty
given or implied."   :-)  One can always pay for a warranty and then
hope one never has to use it.

Nate

2005\01\07@025522 by Peter Johansson

flavicon
face
Nate Duehr writes:

> Why can't Debian just get their damn releases out more than one every
> two years...?  Sigh.  Someone needs to whip that process into shape...
> if stuff has to be left out, then so be it...

Debian is a 100% volunteer effort.  My philosophy has always been
pitch in or shut up.  (FWIW, I don't contribute, so I can't bitch...)

> The "need to monitor the mailing list" junk is exactly why I said I
> wouldn't recommend Testing.  If he's building a "set and forget" type of
> service, Testing's not appropriate and never will be.  Active
> involvement is always required with that version of Debian, and
> according to last week's Debian newsletter, there's at least 30 security
> packages being blocked from entering Testing right now -- it's not secure.

That's 30 of how many thousand packages?  I must admit I have *not*
been actively watching debian-devel of late, but the base package set
is *generally* pretty secure, especially this close to release.

Is debian testing a perfect solution for a critical, production, an
asterisk box?  Of course not.  Is it a *reasonable* solution?  Very
likely.  For testing and experimentation, it is *absolutely* a viable
option.  And testing will become stable in the next month or two, so
it's quite likely that by the time anyone is ready to go into
production, there will be a hot and fresh new stable release.

Those interested in a truely stable and secure platform RIGHT NOW
might want to consider FreeBSD or OpenBSD.  I've always prefered these
platforms to Linux for critical systems.  I happen to use Linux
because (historically, at least) Linux is the fastest route to a
solution.  The userbase is larger, so it's generally easier to find an
answer to a Linux problem than it is under one of the *BSDs.  And in
just about every case where I've been forced into admin work (I'm not
an admin, d*****!) it is been in a Linux shop and not a *BSD shop.

I suggested debian/testing to the OP because I've played with asterisk
on debian/testing and I know it works without much fuss.  It might be
just as easy (or easier) under *BSD, but this I cannot verify.

And as an aside, if anyone is confused by all these different versions
of Debian (I'd be surprised if you weren't) and wants to know what
this all means (as in, you care) just shout out and we'll attempt to
explain.

-p.

2005\01\07@034015 by Nate Duehr

face
flavicon
face
Peter Johansson wrote:
> Nate Duehr writes:
>
>
>>Why can't Debian just get their damn releases out more than one every
>>two years...?  Sigh.  Someone needs to whip that process into shape...
>>if stuff has to be left out, then so be it...
>
>
> Debian is a 100% volunteer effort.  My philosophy has always been
> pitch in or shut up.  (FWIW, I don't contribute, so I can't bitch...)

I tried, years ago.  Worked my you-know-what off to get GPG key
signatures from other developers and meet all the requirements just to
even APPLY to be a developer and finally realized the best thing I could
do for those guys was NOT to become a developer... they have enough
fingers in the pie already.

Every once in a while I participate in one of the "bug-fix" days and try
to find and fix a couple of bugs and find some friendly developer to
send the resulting patches to.  At one time I was very interested in
helping out with the documentation on the website for installations,
etc... but after learning what a mess that stuff is behind the scenes I
backed off a bit.

Lately I've been using Gentoo on the laptop and turning in a couple of
bug reports with (hopefully) good enough information to fix the bugs.
Recently a bug cropped up that affects my network connectivity using
ifplugd to watch for ethernet plug/removal events... the developer got
my bug report and fixed it "in CVS" but didn't release the fix even
though he admitted that his release from a week before broke the thing
to the point where it no longer works at all.

That kind of mentality drives me nuts... "Yeah, I broke it, thanks for
the bug report, I put your fix in CVS and I'll release it next year."
Argggghhh!

So generally I try to help out, but there's a lot of clueless developers
out there too... hard to force anyone to fix anything and without direct
upload or CVS capabilities for a particular distro -- sometimes it
doesn't seem worth it to send in bug reports!

{Quote hidden}

Uhh, ok... if you consider most of KDE, perl, xpdf, and the kernel not
part of the "base package".  :-)

Read for yourself: gcc 3.4 is screwing up a lot of stuff right now for
Sarge security packages.

And I've learned that "close to release" means absolutely nothing in
Debian... I've watched devels say they're "close to release" for over a
year before with both Potato and Woody, and I'd say Sarge is about there
again.

> Is debian testing a perfect solution for a critical, production, an
> asterisk box?  Of course not.  Is it a *reasonable* solution?  Very
> likely.  For testing and experimentation, it is *absolutely* a viable
> option.  And testing will become stable in the next month or two, so
> it's quite likely that by the time anyone is ready to go into
> production, there will be a hot and fresh new stable release.

No no no.  "Reasonable" solutions have security patches available.  From
the Debian Security FAQ:

Q: How is security handled for testing and unstable?

A: The short answer is: it's not. Testing and unstable are rapidly
moving targets and the security team does not have the resources needed
to properly support those. If you want to have a secure (and stable)
server you are strongly encouraged to stay with stable. However, the
security secretaries will try to fix problems in testing and unstable
after they are fixed in the stable release.

Q: How does testing get security updates?

A: Security updates will migrate into the testing distribution via
unstable. They are usually uploaded with their priority set to high,
which will reduce the quarantine time to two days. After this period,
the packages will migrate into testing automatically, given that they
are built for all architectures and their dependencies are fulfilled in
testing.

> Those interested in a truely stable and secure platform RIGHT NOW
> might want to consider FreeBSD or OpenBSD.  I've always prefered these
> platforms to Linux for critical systems.  I happen to use Linux
> because (historically, at least) Linux is the fastest route to a
> solution.  The userbase is larger, so it's generally easier to find an
> answer to a Linux problem than it is under one of the *BSDs.  And in
> just about every case where I've been forced into admin work (I'm not
> an admin, d*****!) it is been in a Linux shop and not a *BSD shop.

Absolutely 100% agreed here.  The BSD stable releases are rock-solid
take-no-names kick-ass servers that outperform Linux boxes, almost
always.  And yeah, they're a pain to set up usually.

> I suggested debian/testing to the OP because I've played with asterisk
> on debian/testing and I know it works without much fuss.  It might be
> just as easy (or easier) under *BSD, but this I cannot verify.

I just can't bring myself to *ever* recommend Testing for production
machines of any sort -- in fact, Testing is a giant kludge.  Debian
really should drop it, and learn to get Unstable to Stable faster by
forcing release dates.  DROP packages out of Stable that aren't ready to
GO on the release date... and postpone ever so slightly if a very core
package is wonked up.

They need a "Release Dictator" to keep things moving - rarely do they
have one and when they do (A.J. comes to mind years ago) he burns
himself out rapidly.

> And as an aside, if anyone is confused by all these different versions
> of Debian (I'd be surprised if you weren't) and wants to know what
> this all means (as in, you care) just shout out and we'll attempt to
> explain.

Oh that's easy...

http://www.debian.org/releases/

Nate

2005\01\07@120807 by Peter Johansson

flavicon
face
Nate Duehr writes:

> >I suggested debian/testing to the OP because I've played with asterisk
> >on debian/testing and I know it works without much fuss.  It might be
> >just as easy (or easier) under *BSD, but this I cannot verify.
>
> I just can't bring myself to *ever* recommend Testing for production
> machines of any sort -- in fact, Testing is a giant kludge.  Debian
> really should drop it, and learn to get Unstable to Stable faster by
> forcing release dates.  DROP packages out of Stable that aren't ready to
> GO on the release date... and postpone ever so slightly if a very core
> package is wonked up.

Don't get me started about all the problems with the Debian release
cycle.  There are scads even if you don't see the inner workings.
You'll get no argument from me there!

I'm an application developer and for the most part I don't really care
about what OS, kernel, or distro I happen to be running on.  What I do
care about is a machine that is solid, stable, and easy to maintain.
I went from an Apple 2 to an AT&T 3b1 through a few SGIs (during their
heyday) and didn't get to Linux until rather late -- 1998 with the
release of Red Hat 5.2.  I was very happy with RH 5.2, but 6.0 sucked,
I switched to Debian, and I've never looked back.  (As SGI started
going down the tubes in the mid '90s, I started using FreeBSD for
production server use and I've never really run any of the BSDs on my
desktop)

What *I* like about the testing stream is that I can update at just
about any time, and just about any package I install from testing is
going to be reasonably recent.  I'm aware of the security issues in
testing, but all the machines running it are non-production machines
running behind a firewall.  Point is, I'm convinced that
Debian/testing is the cheapest (from an administrative time
standpoint) system going the *IX route.

It should also be noted (and I don't believe I was clear on this) that
I'm only recomending testing to the OP because it is fairly close to
release, and if a rock-solid, secure production system is desired,
Debian will present one in rather short order.

My tack for server use has always been to use the stable release of
debian, and only to install the bare minimum packages.  All software
related to production use is then compiled entirely from source.
Occasionalyl there are some library conflicts, but I've never
encountered anything major in this respect.  But this is most
definitely *not* something I would recomend to someone who has never
even installed or used linux before!

-p.

2005\01\07@142707 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
Interesting... I'll forward this on to my friend as he may be able to put it
to use with some of his homeless.

The issue I would see is that on the form, you have to put your home phone.
The assumption is made that you will be living at the point where that phone
number rings. If you are applying for a job in the 760 area code, and your
home phone is in the 212 area code, the question of transportation to the
job becomes an issue of concern. Although many homeless people do have cars,
even those that do typically don't have terribly reliable cars, so the
prospective employer may question the ability of the applicant to get to
work without fail.

Also, I've had a fax number with a competitor of j2 and I know that a
special program was required to view the faxes they sent. The special
program was spyware. I'm signing up for the j2 voicemail to see if it is
possible to pick up and listen to the voicemail via a web based email
provider (yahoo.com) without installing any special software (ie: at the
library)

Thanks for letting me know about this...

---
James.



> {Original Message removed}

2005\01\07@150235 by Bob Axtell

face picon face
James, I've used J2 for about 6 years now. Not ONCE have I had a problem.

They provide a program for reading the fax  and/or voicemail, but other
programs
can do the very same thing.

If you get a FREE fax, the reader provides ADS, so MIGHT be a kind of
spyware.
I have a paid account, so no ADS are on mine.

--Bob

James Newtons Massmind wrote:

{Quote hidden}

>>{Original Message removed}

2005\01\07@181338 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
They send .gsm files and say: "This message can be opened using j2
MessengerR. If you have not already installed j2 Messenger, download it for
free: http://www.j2.com/downloads"

I've never heard of GSM, and neither has my Windows XP. Is there a way to
convert GSM to something else? Perhaps an online utility could be setup to
take forwarded emails and play them?

---
James.



> {Original Message removed}

2005\01\07@183651 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face

On Jan 7, 2005, at 11:27 AM, James Newtons Massmind wrote:

> The issue I would see is that on the form, you have to put your home
> phone.
> The assumption is made that you will be living at the point where that
> phone
> number rings.

I hope not.  The assumption should be that you're living at the address
you gave on the application.  It is not the business of the hiring
manager
or even of HR to decode area codes to try to figure out where the person
actually lives.  Cell phones already break this model, and I (for
instance)
regularly mix&match by business/home addresses and phone numbers, when
I want
something shipped to my home address but surely don't want to be called
there.

BillW

2005\01\07@191631 by Randy Glenn

picon face
The files are using the same codec as the GSM mobile phone standard
then. You might try renaming them to .WAV (Windows does have a GSM
codec, IIRC). You should also be able to find a conversion program - a
Google search for wav gsm convert turns up a ton of hits (many of
which look dubious, though)

On Fri, 7 Jan 2005 15:13:34 -0800, James Newtons Massmind
<RemoveMEjamesnewtonspamTakeThisOuTmassmind.org> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> > {Original Message removed}

2005\01\08@100527 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
James Newtons Massmind wrote:

> The issue I would see is that on the form, you have to put your home phone.
> The assumption is made that you will be living at the point where that phone
> number rings.

My number is so far out that they probably assume that it is some messaging
service, or don't care at all. But then I never apply for on-site jobs and
am not homeless...

> Also, I've had a fax number with a competitor of j2 and I know that a
> special program was required to view the faxes they sent. The special
> program was spyware.

I think the free version of j2 sends the voice mail as .GSM files. (With
the $15/month Premier account you can choose the format, for example .WAV.)
Their j2 Messenger plays these .GSM files. AFAIK it is not really spyware,
but it tries to call home all the time. When I used it, I just disabled any
network access for this program, and it still works for playing the files.

I'm not sure what other programs can play j2's .GSM files. It doesn't seem
to be a WAV file with GSM encoding. Windows Media Player can play WAV
files with GSM encoding, but it can't play the .GSM files j2 sends, even
when renaming to .WAV. I tried this with an old one though; it might be
worth it trying with a newer one.

So maybe library won't work. But maybe you can work out something with
j2... They could "donate" special free accounts that are pre-configured to
send voice mail as .WAV files (their servers have the capability already).
Since that is something they don't offer for free normally, they maybe can
claim it as donation and might be interested. Who knows.

Gerhard

2005\01\08@123431 by Peter L. Peres

picon face

On Fri, 7 Jan 2005, James Newtons Massmind wrote:

> Interesting... I'll forward this on to my friend as he may be able to put it
> to use with some of his homeless.
>
> The issue I would see is that on the form, you have to put your home phone.
> The assumption is made that you will be living at the point where that phone
> number rings. If you are applying for a job in the 760 area code, and your
> home phone is in the 212 area code, the question of transportation to the
> job becomes an issue of concern. Although many homeless people do have cars,
> even those that do typically don't have terribly reliable cars, so the
> prospective employer may question the ability of the applicant to get to
> work without fail.
>
> Also, I've had a fax number with a competitor of j2 and I know that a
> special program was required to view the faxes they sent. The special
> program was spyware. I'm signing up for the j2 voicemail to see if it is
> possible to pick up and listen to the voicemail via a web based email
> provider (yahoo.com) without installing any special software (ie: at the
> library)

You may also want to check out http://www.efax.com which sends faxes as email
attachments (no spyware, normal tiff files) and offers local numbers.

Peter

2005\01\08@180238 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Peter L. Peres wrote:

> You may also want to check out http://www.efax.com which sends faxes as email
> attachments (no spyware, normal tiff files) and offers local numbers.

AFAIK efax doesn't provide free subscriptions anymore, and in any case it
is owned and run by j2.

Gerhard

2005\01\12@135508 by Alex Harford

face picon face
A link to add to the discussion:

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/index.php?p=25

Quote:

"As the commoditization and open sourcing of operating systems and
applications continue to disrupt the software companies, telephony
vendors have so far enjoyed a relative calm in the closed and
proprietary phone systems market with substantial profit margins. That
could now all be turned on its head with the proliferation of open
source VoIP and PBX software. There are now a handful of these open
source telephony platforms such as OpenPBX and Pingtel, but one of the
most interesting is Asterisk, which even has its own communication
protocol IAX in place of SIP for unified signaling and data
transport."

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