Friday, July 25, 2008

Another PBX option and Network Mangement

I run a couple of Trixbox systems at work and try to keep up with what is going on in the open source PBX world. In a March post, I indicated I was leaning away from Trixbox due to some company decisions they made. It appears Fonality may be making additional poor decisions if this is true: Why Does Fonality Choose to Deceive You?

When I came across that link I also noticed a PBX comparison:
Trixbox vs PBX in a flash vs Elastix

Elastix was a new one for me. The limited reviews I have read are very positive. I may want to put that into consideration.

Network monitoring is going to be a by-product of running this server. I have never really looked at what the monitoring options are but as it turns out there are a plethora of options. What started this? I saw this headline popup in my RSS reader: Network Monitoring with Zenoss: A Reluctant Administrator's Guide

It looks like OpenNMS, Zabbix, Hyperic, Pandora FMS, Argus, Collectl and Opensmart are just some of the solutions. All I know is I want something simple to install and use.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Got It All Started

One of the things that got me interested in rolling my own server was a review I came across over at about a very small and low powered home server called Bubba from a company call Excito.

After doing a little research, it become pretty clear getting my hands on the Swedish Bubba Server would not be easy since they did not have a United States distributor and the currency exchange rate made purchasing a unit from a UK based supplier prohibitive. After learning this it begged the the question, could I make something similar at a lower coat and learn something in the process?

Today I was reviewing what applications the Bubba Server is running and learned they are now selling the second generation of the Bubba which unimaginatively is named the Bubba Two. Specs have beefed up:

Downloader (HTTP, FTP, TORRENT) yes
Itunes music streaming (Firefly/DAAP/Soundbridge) yes
UPnP media streaming (Mediatomb) yes
Squeezebox Streaming (Slimserver/Squeeze center) Future firmware upgrade
File server (HTTP, Samba, FTP, SCP) yes
Web server yes (Lighthttpd)
Webmail client yes(Horde)
Email Server (Dovecot, Postfix) yes
Fetchmail Server (Fetchmail) yes
Printer Server (Cups) yes
SSH connetion to internal Linux yes
Linux 2.6 + Debian Etch yes
Router yes
Wireless access point
DNS server yes
DHCP server
RAID 1 support with external eSATA disk(s)

Internal hard drive up to 1TB SATA
Internal memory
256 MB DDR2
333 MHz Power PC
Network connectivity
2 x 1000 Mbit/s
USB 2.0
2 x 480 Mbit/s
Yes, 2
Power consumption** 7-12W (disk dependent)
Kensington lock slot

For a turnkey solution the new Bubba looks compelling but at $452 USD for the 1T version it is still out of my reach. I guess I am going to have to keep learning how I can put something together for myself and that is just fine with me. I relish the learning experience.

For the same amount of money I will be able to put together a much more powerful and flexible system that is nearly as thrifty with electricity. The only real drawback will be the lack of Bubba's consolidated web based configuration and management tools.

Monday, July 21, 2008

5 Reasons Why You Should Use VirtualBox Over VMware Server

I read a very concise post over at MAKETECHEASIER that outlined five reasons why VirtualBox is better than VMware Server. His five points were:
  1. File size - 20meg vs. 102meg (small is beautiful)
  2. Easier install due to pre compiled package available for download. (not a big deal for me)
  3. Speed Boost (faster is better)
  4. Remote File Sharing
  5. Integration with Host OS via ‘seamless mode‘. With this mode on, you can access the applications from the guest OS from the host’s desktop. (interesting from a system management point of view)
I wondered if anyone else had done a comparison recently and I came across a link to this article: Virtualization smackdown: Sun xVM VirtualBox 1.6 vs. VMWare Server 2.0 Beta 2

This was a much more in-depth look at the two virtualixation solutions. The overview at the end really struck a cord:

VirtualBox has the widest range of host system support and has the lightest hardware demands, and excels for single PC personal virtualization needs, but requires more UNIX/Linux command-line skills when used as server virtualization solution. VMWare 2.0 has an excellent web-management UI with the lightest client payload, but this comes at the expense of heftier hardware requirements for good performance and a fatter software drop on the server.

Friday, July 11, 2008

List Mania Continues

mOnOwall - Security
Smoothwall - Security
pfSense - Security
IPCop - Security
Endian - Security UTM
Comixwall - Security UTM

GeeXboX - Frontend Only

File Server
CentOS Server (roll own)
FreeNAS - File Server
Debian Server (roll own)

Web Server

Virtual Box

  • Ubuntu Servier was eliminated becuase it was twice the size of a Debian net install.
  • Took Yvatta off the list because it is a little over the top for SOHO use IMO. mgrave while making a response to a Smith On VoIP article about the new Netgear WGR614L wireless router summarized what I has been thinking about Yvatta:

mgraves // Jun 30, 2008 at 9:01 pm

You are exactly right about this. It will attract very few. However, Vyatta while interesting and truly open source, is totally over-the-top for the kind of application suited hardware such as this. M0n0wall or pfSense are more in line with the target market. Also, pure open source. Well proven and very well supported.

  • I need to see if a web server was added to FreeNas in a recent release. For some reason I think I saw something about this new feature. The website says "Add generic webserver service" under FreeNAS 0.69b1. Hummmm.....................................

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Long VOSS Hiatus - I'm Back

I pulled the plug on the blog for awhile. I love technology but between tech at work and then more tech at home I was a little burned out. In fact I used the occasion to simplify my life and get rid of all my rigs except 5 of them. The normal person at this point is saying why the hell do you need five computers and is that really simplifying? For those reading this blog I fully expect you to understand.

So what did I do with the other 5+ rigs? I fixed them them up, loaded up linux (Puppy Linux 4 - Dingo to be specific), put a I want you linux sticker on the case and pushed them out to the local Goodwill where I hope they find happy new owners.

I have been fighting the urge to bring any new toys homes. Of course now that I have paired down my toy collection all these great Craigslist opportunities keep coming up........

I haven't been a total tech prude at home. I have been playing around with Madriva and I must say I am pretty impressed with it. I have never been a big fan of RPM based distros but the Spring 2008 version is very polished, has good hardware detection and a some well thought out software selections which have made me take a second look.

I also did a few Debian net installs and got comfortable with the process of installing various packages and figuring out which ones had the least amount of bloat.

After spending sometime mulling over my previous posts I made some decisions about which direction I want to go. I decided big monolithic solutions are not what I am after. They require lots of resources and install lots of features I do not have a need for nor do I want them cluttering up my system(s).

Power consumption and the physical size of the solution are still very important to me. Over the last few months a few pieces of hardware have caught my eye. The first one is the Chenbro ES34069 Mini-ITX server case. It looks great and has some very nice features:

ES34069 Specifications
(w x h x d)
260 mm x 140 mm x 260 mm
10.24" x 5.51" x 10.24"
Hard Drive Bay 4 x 3.5" SATA HDD (hot-swappable)
1 x 2.5" notebook HDD (internal)
Optical Drive Bay Slimline CD/DVD drive
Expansion Slot N/A
Front Access 2 x USB 2.0
SD/Mini-SD/MMC/MS card reader
Power button
Reset button
Cooling System 2 x 70 mm fans (rear)
1 x 60 mm fan (front: optional)
Power Supply Built-in 180W DC board
External AC adapter (brick)
Input AC 100 ~ 240V
Output DC 19V @ 9.5A

The second item of interest is the release of numerous low power components. I am particularly interested in the dual core version of the Intel Atom CPU that should be released sometime next month based on a recent article posted at DigiTimes. Initial reports on the single core version of the Atom processor have been mix at best but it will be interesting to see what upgrades occur over the next month or two.

I have also been looking at small fast web servers and I am interested in evaluating Cherokee and Abyss.