Microsoft’s Monopoly, Bad for them and Bad for Us

I read a great article on the New York Times website today.  The article was mainly about Microsoft’s failure to capture the mind share of young developers and entrepreneurs.  The evidence provided was the success of FOSS(Free Open Source Software) amongst start-ups like Twitter, Google, Facebook and a multitude of others…

Finally mainstream journalism is starting to get wise to the negative effects that the Microsoft monopoly has on Microsoft.  It’s what I’ve been preaching to my loyal fans for years.  Microsoft has bet the mother-load on maintaining an unsustainable monopoly.

They have bought their way out of anti-trust suit after anti-trust suit for years.  Microsoft has been sued by every State in the Union and many foreign governments.  Every time they quietly cough up Billions to local state governments, of which many are desperate for the cash.



How to setup automatic Polycom provisioning for the Asterisk 2.0 GUI

Recently we covered the installation of Asterisk 1.6 + Asterisk GUI 2.0.  In this article we will talk about the details necessary to enable Polycom provisioning from the ‘Users’ tab of the Asterisk 2.0 GUI.  By default auto-provisioning will not work out of the box.  You would think when the GUI is installed that it would be setup as well, considering that you have the option to enter a MAC address in the user extension creation process.

Nor are their docs related to configuring this in the source packages(that I could find).  Online forums and tutorials were of no help either.  There are many post online claiming that you need to set up DHCP, ‘option 66’ for Polycom provisioning to work.  This is true of TFTP provisioning from AA50 appliance, but not from the Asterisk 2.0 GUI that relies solely on HTTP.  At least as far as I can tell.

I think Digium is being vague on purpose about this because they do not want to undermine their Asterisk Appliance product.  While I understand this line of thinking, it’s not consistent with the Open Source business models that have succeeded.

Open Source depends on reaching vast amounts of people due to the low cost.  When my customers have to choose between a Avaya system(running Linux) that cost $45,000 /w phones or a Asterisk system w/ Polycom phones for $19,000; it makes the lesser known Asterisk product attractive.  Over time the base builds up and Digium collects on hardware and support fee’s.

So from my perspective, any Asterisk installation helps Digium’s bottom line eventually.  Even if Digium doesn’t see money from every Asterisk user, simply the presence of those users makes Asterisk a more credible product.  Bringing more and more Enterprise and Government contracts to everyone, thus more money and investment into Digium.

Alright my tirade is over, back to business!  This post assumes you have installed a recent version of Linux, Asterisk 1.6 and the Asterisk 2.0 GUI installed.  If you do not, read my post:How to setup the Asterisk 2.0 GUI with Asterisk 1.6.

The Goals of this Post:

-configure phoneprov for Asterisk 2.0 GUI



Richard Stallman on the Rampage Again – this time against Mono

I was reading Slashdot today and came across an interesting post about the Mono project.  Richard Stallman of GNU/FSF fame is blasting the Mono project.  His argument is that because Mono is developed in C# the project itself is compromised because the threat of future patent litigation.

That is a reasonable concern, but as he points out in his blog post there are other implementations ‘.NET’ framework being developed by GNU.  The point of the Mono project is to create a compatibility with Microsoft’s .NET framework.  If Richard Stallman can bring closer integration without the possibility of infringement then do it!  The Open Source community welcomes the competition. Here is a quote from a July 2009, Stallman post:

Debian’s decision to include Mono in its principal way of installing GNOME, for the sake of Tomboy which is an application written in C#, leads the community in a risky direction. It is dangerous to depend on C#, so we need to discourage its use.
The problem is not unique to Mono; any free implementation of C# would raise the same issue. The danger is that Microsoft is probably planning to force all free C# implementations underground some day using software patents. (See http://swpat.org and http://progfree.org.) This is a serious danger, and only fools would ignore it until the day it actually happens. We need to take precautions now to protect ourselves from this future danger.

Okay, so this is a reasonable opinion.  In a different post he starts making personal attacks against individual developers,


Red Hat Fights Software Patents at the Supreme Court


Thank God, there is at least one company under the Sun willing to fight software patents.  Red Hat has petitioned the Supreme Court to review the legality of software patents.  I read about this on one of my favorite web sites: Groklaw.net. Click on the link for the full article.

Here is an excerpt:

RALEIGH, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced it has filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court. In the brief, Red Hat explains the practical problems of software patents to software developers. The brief, filed in the Bilski case, asks the Supreme Court to adopt the lower court’s machine-or-transformation test and to make clear that it excludes software from patentability.

Written code is already protected by copyright law.  Software patents cost millions of dollars in the most ridiculous litigation you can imagine.

Remember Amazons ‘one click’? Patent trolls sued for that.  Then there is the classic suit, of NTP vs. RIM over “Single Mailbox Integration” patent.

Here is brief description of the patent:

Using this patented technology, Blackberry integrates seamlessly with a user’s existing e-mail account providing a wireless extension of the user’s regular e-mail mailbox. The user can read, compose, forward, or reply to messages from their mobile device while maintaining their single, existing e-mail address and mailbox.

This is patentable???  It’s so obvious, has anyone heard of IMAP…?  How could anyone get a patent for this?  Delivery of email regardless of how many mail boxes should NOT be patentable.  Software patents are an attack on FOSS, Free Open Source Software.  United States patent law gives a distinct advantage to gigantic corporations whom can extort money from smaller companies that are less capitalized and likely to settle.  It’s bullshit and it is stifling innovation and competition.  The real losers are the citizens of the world, of whom pay a hidden tax in patents and monopolies.


Microsoft and Novell bring Silverlight to Linux

I recently visited a local radio station kirotv.com(to hear the Mariners game) and the web site required Microsoft Silverlight to be installed for streaming audio.  It also noted that Silverlight was available for Apple OS X, Windows, and Linux.  Say that again?  Microsoft making multi-platform software?  Giving customers choice?  It sounds crazy, but it’s absolutely true.  Sorta, they are releasing the Linux version via an ‘Agreement not sue’ for downstream Novell customers.

The project is called, ‘Moonlight’.  When I went to download Silverlight from Microsofts website I was redirected to the Moonlight front page.  Moonlight is a part of the mono project.  The mono project is the Open Source version of ‘Active X’ sponored by Novell.  Microsoft has a sizable investment and co-marketing agreement with Novell, of whom is the distributor of SUSE Linux.

What is stange is that Microsoft doesn’t give an explicit agreement or license to use it’s ‘silverlight’ technology, instead it posted a covenant not to sue customers of Novell.  I’m not a lawyer but this seems odd to me.  Not to mention, that nobody really uses SUSE or Novell Linux; at least in terms of users and worker bee’s.



Asterisk Appliance AA50 firmware upgrade

I got an Asterisk Appliance from VoiceIP Solutions for the purpose of writing up some labs.  I just got my hands on the unit and the first thing we are a going to do is upgrade the firmware.  I’m going to start by plugging my laptop’s ethernet into the LAN port on the Asterisk Appliance.

The unit I’m working with is AA50.  You can only get the firmware by registering with Digium.  Which is inconvenient.  Not a very open policy for an open source product.  In any case you must obtain the current AA50 uImage- image for browser upload.  Which I won’t lie… it is not easy.  There is a clearly marked drop down for documentation on the Digium support page.  I easily found the PDF, but there was no link to the firmware.  I ended up using their built-in search bar to find a page with a link to the AA50 firmware. I then accidentally downloaded the CD ISO image first.  I did eventually find and download the firmware.  I logged into the appliance and chose the update tab.



Simple Bash script that copy’s a directory of files and renames them with a Time Stamp

NOTE: I myself am a novice with BASH. I hate scripting, but hey, it’s necessary part of most sysadmin jobs. I came across several hurdles (like changing a name and adding a time stamp in the same loop). I hope this document helps. Please click on my adds, they help pay for the hosting. Thanks and enjoy.



In this scenario I have a customer that I did a custom Asterisk(Open Source PBX) installation for.  They want the capability to backup all voicemails for management to review.  So naturally I made a cron job that copied Asterisk voicemails to a web directory that was htaccess protected.   It seemed to work except I forgot that asterisk copies messages in the format ‘msg001.wav’.

The problem is that if a user erases the messages in his/her mailbox, then the next new incoming voicemail is named ‘msg001’ again. Next, the voicemail gets copied to the web directory and overwrites the original ‘msg001’.  So my challenge is to create a cron job, that copies the new messages and then renames them on the fly with a new name and an appended time stamp.

Every minute the script copies Asterisk voicemail accounts to another arbitrary directory.   Two loops are run on the contents of that directory matching the pattern ‘5???/mess*'(or in Asterisk syntax 5XXX/mess.).  In the case of my customer their VM boxes are all 5XXX(5001,5002,etc..).  The first loops adds a time stamp from when the voicemail was originally created.  The second loop strips ‘message??’ and replaces it with ‘voicemail_’. The result being something like: ‘voicemail_2008-09-15-03:14:09.wav’. I have to change the messages part because if I dont the first loop will add a second time stamp to previously stamped files.

At the end of the script we want to delete the message00?.txt file, because it is not relevent to simply downloading voicemail and may confuse some users. Also we have to change the owner/group to apache so the web server has permission to host the files.

The voicemail are protected with ‘.htaccess’ file, but with some additional work we could make user access based on PAM, LDAP, or MySQL.

Avaya sells voicemail auditing servers for $40,000 per server. But with the Open Source Asterisk PBX and a simple BASH script we can create a comparable system for under $1,000. However this script can be re-purposed for copying and renaming files for any task. Take care.




#set -x

# Variable containing array


# copy files to web directory

#rename those files with a time stamp
for i in $AUDIT ;

do mv $i $i$(date -r $i +%F-%T).wav ;



#strip the ‘messages’ part of the name and replace w/ ‘voicemail’
for i in $AUDIT ;

do mv “$i” “${i/msg????.wav/voicemail_}” ;


# remove any msg????.txt files

rm -rf $MSGFILES

chown -R apache $DIRECTORY2
chgrp -R apache $DIRECTORY2

With Apache, Asterisk and this simple BASH script we have just created a web accessible way to check and back up voicemail!