Sunday, July 25, 2010

The no-desktop experience

After seeing a couple of posts about the concept of working on a computer without desktop being an active clutter space. I'm going to try running my Fedora 13 desktop with the nautilus desktop disabled.

It is very simple to do, just open gconf-editor and choose

/apps/nautilus/preferences and uncheck the show_desktop box. So I'm going to see how this works for me and if life feels uncluttered afterwards.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Asterisk PBX - Adventures in building a home PBX

We have a lot of phone lines here that are really a mess to manage. So I've been experimenting with Asterisk. Luckily Fedora has Asterisk in its repository. So I decided to take the plunge and try it out.

The first thing I wanted to do, was to get basic callout working. I found and setup their sip server so I could make US tollfree calls from my Asterisk server. I used Linphone and Ekiga on my desktop to connect to the Asterisk server. Setting up accounts on the Asterisk server was harder than expected due to trying to use one of the guis and all of them having particular limitation. I eventually dumped the GUIs and just modified the .conf files. I got my desktop connected to the local Asterisk server and then called a 877 number. It actually worked. So I had the proof of concept working.

The next step was to get callin working. As I already have several phone lines, I didn't want to add another line via SIP so I looked into an FXO device. These devices allow you to plug a standard phone line into the Asterisk server and have the server accept the calls. I wanted to be cheap about it, so I got a X100P adapter off eBay. I Figured $20 was not bad for a test. I installed the card in my server and for some reason the drivers would not find it. I found that the card required that it have its own interrupt.. geesh, I thought we were done with dealing with interrupts when the ISA bus died. Anyway, I disable the parallel, serial and firewire ports as I don't use them anyway and after that the card drivers started loading correctly. I have simplified this alot, I spent several hours getting this stuff to work and a lot of missteps so far. Challenging but fun at the same time.

Once the drivers were working, I had to configure Asterisk to respond to incoming calls. So I following the directions for editing the extensions.conf file and then I called the system and got prompt to select an extension. I dialed on and my desktop rang. I then setup the dial rules to call the extension I wanted and it worked automatically.

The next step is to get a OpenVox A800P card and configure all my incoming lines properly and make the system work the way I want it to. At $200 for the device it is a significant cost to make this work for a project. But it should make things work better. I also have purchased a couple ATA devices a Linksys SPA1001 and a Linksys PAP2  for adding phone extensions around the house. The one SPA1001 device works great so far. So I might pick up a few more on eBay.

So more to come with adventures in home PBX...