Voice over IP

I’ve been encountering more and more references to VOIP – Voice Over IP – lately. Supposedly I can pay a company a little bit of money (relative to my current phone bill) and set up a computer system at home with VOIP software, resulting in substatial savings on my phone bill along with improved options in my phone call handling. Heck, AT&T has VOIP with unlimited long dist and local for $29/month, and $19 for unlimited local… voip.net has even better rates, plus killer international rates – 2 cents/min to London?!? Wow. Almost makes me want to send the kids to boarding school with the Brits…

One link I came across lately is http://www.softwink.com/papers/Installation_Securing_VoIP_With_Linux/, which talks about an installation on a Linux machine. I’ve got a couple of other links I’ll post eventually when I find them.

Personally I can’t do this yet b/c my wife won’t let us change phone numbers, so I don’t have a driving need to read about it as much. But one day we’ll add a kid’s line, and it’ll come in handy. (Oldest is 10 and on the phone all the time these days).

A friend of mine at work is implementing it – he makes calls to Vietnam fairly often to talk to family – this will be much cheaper for him, plus he can work in conferencing options, all for MUCH cheaper. Hmmmm….

Might be a consideration for some of my side businesses….

DNS Slave Issues on Fedora

I recently updated one of my servers to Fedora Core 2, and one of its jobs is to provide DNS slave service. I could not for the life of me figure out why I was getting the following message when sending zone notifies:

Oct 11 17:11:44 saturn named[30297]: received notify for zone 'guyton.net': 
                not authoritative

The main problem was that I didn’t follow convention with ns records, so I fixed them up. Still nothing fixed, but I got things in better shape, theoretically.

It turns out that Fedora’s named runs chrooted to /var/named, even though there is an /etc/named.conf file. That’s misleading – you really need to edit the /var/named/chroot/etc/named.conf file. That in itself didn’t fix things, however:

Oct 11 21:45:47 saturn named[31267]: transfer of 'guyton.net/IN' from 
                failed while receiving responses: permission denied
Oct 11 21:45:47 saturn named[31267]: transfer of 'guyton.net/IN' from
                end of transfer

I had to chgrp named /var/named/chroot/var/named; chmod g+w ... so that the replicated zones could be written as the named user.

Problem solved, but it took some tinkering. I found a couple of other items that were improved upon in the process, so it was not a bad thing. I also softlinked /etc/named.conf to /var/named/chroot/etc/named.conf so that it would remain obvious.

Double-Network Linux Installation

Wow, Linux installations have come a long way in the past few years. I won’t dredge up the past, but the present certainly needs mentioning:

  • I downloaded Fedora Core 2 ISO images
  • I mounted them as loopback devices and dumped the contents all to one directory
  • I set up that directory for NFS export
  • I burned disc one for initial boot
  • I booted the new server with the CD with this command:
    linux vnc askmethod

    This did nothing at first, but eventually asked me the type of install I wanted – NFS to the server I had already set up.

  • Then the cool part – it started a VNC server on port 5901 for the gui choices.
  • I went downstairs to my laptop in front of the TV, grabbed an alcoholic beverege, and proceded to choose packages on my remote (wireless) network display.
  • Currently as I type, my remote display is telling me that the new server is pulling install files off the older server and installing Linux.

That’s so cool! I view my display over the network to the new server, which is pulling packages over the network from the NFS server.

For what it’s worth, it’s not a big box – just a 450 MHz P-II with 256 MB RAM. But it’s got two new 80 GB drives mirrored – nice again – the Linux install was able to do software RAID and LVM on everything.

I love being a geek.

Hosted Servers

I’ve been looking at hosted servers to house a project or two of mine that should make a little money, but since they won’t make that much money, at least not at first, I am looking for cheaper prices.

I was originally looking for mirrored disks, but that seems to cost a lot, especially since even double disk setups are not provided as mirrored, I have decided that I will just use MySQL replication to my home server and do backups there. The main static program will be rsync’ed from my home server to the remote server.

First I saw Server Beach, and would have signed up with them if my project was ready – about $99 a month. Fortunately I also found ServerPronto for only $30 a month, though I have read they are not really all that “pronto” and hackers may get to it before you do. Still, it seems to be the way to go. I just need to finish the project, and work out the details of replicating everything. Just as well, neither site is running Fedora Core 2 yet…