Thursday, May 28, 2009


To do list (projects) for this weekend:
  • connect wake-on-LAN to Asterisk, see if the NSLU2 can wake up the server
  • configure Asterisk to turn on/off various services, including VirtualBox
  • debug the serial port (is it a bad cable?)
  • research what's needed to move the IPv6 connection to another gateway
  • look for Laconica service/site (will 757 host one?)

Somewhat of a busy weekend. I'm having a lot of fun, experimenting with Asterisk's system command!

Monday, May 25, 2009

NSLU2 and Asterisk

I spent a good chunk of this past Saturday building an Asterisk server on one of my Linksys NSLU2s. For those that don't know what that is, it's a very small computer, just a bit smaller than a paperback book. Its original, commercial purpose was to provide file storage for home networks. Its only interfaces are one Ethernet port and two USB ports.

In any case, this effort sprang from a conversation with Sparks, where he was looking for something to provide VoIP access without drawing quite so much electricity as the behemoth desktop computer that he built (I'm still drooling over it). He's interested in what I can build with the NSLU2 because it only draws 10 W, where his desktop monster draws 300+.

A few of the things that I've learned this weekend:

  • the native build environment DOES NOT include building kernel modules
  • the asterisk16 package in the Optware distro is borked (asterisk14 works nicely)
  • the Slug (the generic name for a NSLU2 + SlugOS) can supposedly only handle 4 concurrent calls
  • the Slug and my desktop system can't come to an agreement on the alaw codec, but they play nicely with the ulaw codec
  • a good bit of spit and polish has gone into SlugOS since I last played with it; it now boots and shuts down quite nicely
  • If, with a 1GB thumb drive, you build the OS, build/mount a 200 MB swap file, and install Asterisk, MySQL, screen, irssi, and a number of core utils, you'll have about 500MB of free space left.
  • building a cross-compile environment is not a simple task (I was trying to build two actually: one for the NSLU2, one for my Media MVP).

Even though I'm not going to have anything to show for my effort after Monday (when Sparks takes custody of the box), I feel that I've accomplished a great deal this weekend. That and two of my friends will _owe_ me (ahem, Sparks, zENGx!) (heh).

As always, the notes for installing Asterisk on the NSLU2 are in the wiki.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Meru Networks

It's nice to see that Meru Networks is still around, having had a nasty spat with Cisco and Aruba earlier in the decade. I attended the 802.11n Roadshow this past week, hosted by CWNP and sponsored by Meru. The training was interesting but the Meru demo was downright entertaining.

Meru's gear, back when they were only doing "b" was interesting. Now, when it's combined with 802.11n's MIMO, it makes other vendors' networks just look bad. Seriously, if you're looking to deploy a wireless network that will host streaming audio or video, Meru is the best choice (technically or financially). (This was my opinion 5 years ago and it hasn't changed.)

If the Road Show is coming anywhere near you, I recommend signing up for it. You'll get to meet a number of engineers who've been around the block a few times and the food is darned good also (the training (and the food) was at the Occidental Restaurant in DC, near the White House). I believe that it was in the Monument Room that the training was held.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

VirtualBox as a service

One of the nice features of Sun's VirtualBox is the ability to start headless VMs (i.e., runs without having to open a window to "see" the guest OS). I use it to run a Linux VM to host my internal wiki and web services. The advantage is that when I rebuild a system (and I do this more often than friends, family, & other users like), I don't have to restore the wiki. I only have to re-install Virtualbox, and start the appropriate VM (there are advantages in keeping your home directory on a separate partition).

VirtualBox allows for the use of multi-word names for VMs. One missing piece for VirtualBox is a script to start/stop headless VMs. Various people, such as Ross Peoples and Brendan Kidwell, have written scripts to fill this void.

I like Ross's script (you'll need to scroll down) but it didn't like my naming scheme, so I've adjusted it. My version of his script is in the wiki.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Installed this past weekend. Haven't had much of a chance to play with it yet. One thing that I've noticed is that, once again, (as with a number of the previous new versions) speaker detection in the meetme app is broken. Hopefully, (as it usually is) it'll be fixed in the next update.

I really need to brush up on my C skills so's that I can fix these on the fly.