March Linux Journal: Asterisk, VoIP and Muni Internet

The March Linux Journal is chock full of good things.

This issue is a virtual encyclopedia of knowledge about VoIP, especially Asterisk. Travel a lot? We show you how to set up Asterisk to know where you are and handle incoming calls differently depending whether you’re likely to be asleep. We demonstrate how Trixbox makes it easier than ever to create a full-featured PBX. What do you do if your NAT-based home network is interfering with your VoIP communications? We have the answers. We also show you how to hook into Asterisk with Ruby, and even how to build your own embedded Asterisk system.

Marcel Gagne’s column is all about Ekiga, the former GnomeMeeting, which is the open source videoconferencing application. And Doc Searls’ column has a discussion of Do It Yourself Internet Infrastructure which contains a great Q&A about fiber to the home, municipal internet connections and the relationship between the telephone and cable companies and our connections to the internet. Quotes:

Q: How have the carriers crippled our Internet Service?

A: The Internet was designed originally as a symmetrical system. That means the “upstream” and “downstream” speeds should be the same. That’s the kind of Internet connectivity we find in universities and inside large companies. But it’s not what the telephone and cable companies provide to our homes and small businesses. What we get is asymmetrical—much higher downstream than upstream….

… The problem is, these asymmetrical lines relegate everybody to a consumer role and prevent us from becoming producers as well. The limitation is compounded by what are called “port blockages”. This is where our phone or cable company prevents us from setting up our own Web server or running our own mail server. Again, they have some good reasons for blocking the ports on our computers that those services could run on. Spammers, for example, can take advantage of open mail server ports on our computers. But these port blockages also prevent all types of uses, including the ability to set up home businesses of many kinds.

So, instead of, say, offering services that aid in the development of small and home businesses, the carriers just shut off possibilities to avoid hassles that might distract focus from their core phone and cable TV businesses.

Unfortunately, this very important article is behind the subscription barrier, but if there is anything to encourage you buy a subscription to LJ, this article should be a good candidate.

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