Asterisk VoIP News

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Asterisk 1.0.5 Released!

Asterisk VOIP


Better late than never (and I get to announce two things in one post), Asterisk 1.0.5 has been released and is available from the Digium FTP server as a .tar.gz compressed archive. Read Russell's 1.0.4* release email in the Read More.
*Note that there was a small bug in 1.0.4 so 1.0.5 was released shortly after. The libPRI libraries, Zaptel drivers and asterisk-addons are still labled 1.0.4. The asterisk-sounds package is 1.0.1.

Russell's email also includes the launch of the Asterisk Development Proxy. From the ADP^2 website:

Home of the Asterisk-Stable maintenance effort.

The Asterisk Maintenance Crew does tasks that may be considered mundane to the experienced developer, but are still vital to the project's success. The number one task of this development If you are looking for a way to start contributing to the Asterisk code base, but feel overwhelmed and are not sure of how to get started, then this group is for you!

Find out more about The Asterisk Maintenance Crew.


Version 1.0.4 of Asterisk, Asterisk-addons, zaptel, and libpri has been
released. The releases are available on the Digium ftp site.

I have also started a web site called "The Asterisk Development Proxy"
where I would like to start centralizing Asterisk development resources.
~ I am hoping that this will become valuable for those getting into
Asterisk development.

As a part of this effort, I have started a development team called "The
Asterisk Maintenance Crew" to encourage amateur programmers to get
involved in development. The number one job of this team is to help
with the maintenance of the stable branch. We will also help to
identify and complete some easier development tasks that can be
completed for CVS head. There is plenty of work to be done, and
programmers of any skill level can help. If you have any desire to get
involved in Asterisk development, but aren't sure how to get started,
please consider getting involved.

I would like to send a special thanks to Andrew Thompson for providing
the web hosting, and to Leif Madsen (blitzrage) for his early
contributions to the web site and the maintenance crew. Josh Colp
(file) has volunteered to help with the ChangeLog, which is going to be
quite a task for Asterisk 1.2, so someone please send him a muffin.

That's all for now. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

Russell Bryant

Monday, February 14, 2005

NIST report urges caution with VoIP security

VOIP Security

JANUARY 26, 2005 (COMPUTERWORLD) - A new report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology urges federal agencies and other organizations to take care in switching to voice-over-IP technology because of security concerns.
The 99-page NIST report, "Security Considerations for Voice over IP Systems, includes nine recommendations for IT managers to help them implement VoIP in a secure manner. "Lower cost and greater flexibility are among the promises of VoIP for the enterprise, but VoIP should not be installed without careful consideration of the security problems introduced," the report says.

"Administrators may mistakenly assume that since digitized voice travels in packets, they can simply plug VoIP components into their already-secure networks and remain secure. However, the process is not that simple," the report says.

The report, authored by NIST computer security experts Richard Kuhn and Thomas Walsh, as well as Steffen Fries of Siemens AG, appeared in draft form last June and was formally released in final form earlier this month. Today, NIST included excerpts from it in an e-mail newsletter.

Among its recommendations, the report calls for building logically separate voice and data networks where practical, instead of building a single converged network. It also calls for using VoIP firewalls and routinely testing them.

Another recommendation says that "if practical," VoIP softphones should not be used where either security or privacy is a priority. A softphone involves using an ordinary PC with a headset and special software instead of a typical telephone unit.

Many analysts and even VoIP hardware vendors have discussed VoIP security for years, but the predominant thinking seems to be that such systems can be installed in a secure way Many analysts believe that a bigger concern for enterprises weighing VoIP use is whether enough business-centered applications can be used atop a VoIP system to make it worthwhile, not whether the systems can be made secure.

One analyst, Zeus Kerravala at The Yankee Group in Boston, noted today that the report doesn't seem to have had much impact on companies deploying the technology. Many large enterprises and many federal agencies, some with tens of thousands of users, are already deploying VoIP systems effectively and securely, he said.

"Obviously it's important to think about security with VoIP, but to say some of what they've said, especially about softphones, shows a little bit of backwards thinking," Kerravala said. "I think, somewhat, it's written by Luddites."

Kerravala said that softphones can be made secure, depending on the desktop software being used. "I think that if you are the head of the CIA, you already probably have a secure desktop environment that will support a softphone," he said.

Vendors are beginning to treat VoIP phones as true computing devices, and Cisco Systems Inc. and other vendors have started installing digital certificates on IP phones, Kerravala said. "The more IP telephony becomes an appliance, you have to think it will be more secure," he said.

Ray Bjorklund, an analyst at Federal Sources Inc. in McLean, Va., said the report might be especially valuable for federal agencies involved in war or national security efforts in which network security is paramount. "If an operation overseas were suddenly relying on IP to transmit voice through a satellite or through the Public Switched Telephone Network with many places for potential failure, that's a particular problem for the national security community," he said.

Even a large corporation such as a bank might not have the level of security need that a wartime agency would want, he said. Some federal agencies are already deploying VoIP, at least within divisions or branches, he said. Included in that number is the U.S. Marine Corps, which is deploying combat systems that rely on Internet phones. The Defense Information Systems Agency is also developing a strategy for departmentwide VoIP usage, officials said last year.
Bjorklund said the NIST report is noteworthy if only because NIST is a government agency and independent of market influences. "This is worth noting, and not like a white paper from a vendor, which could be just a little biased," he said.

He agreed that VoIP can be made secure for most administrative and business applications, although he questioned whether it can be made secure with today’s technology for the most sensitive government needs. "Someday, vendors will get the technology so that government will feel comfortable with it, but that day's not here yet," he said.

One of the authors, Kuhn, said in an interview today that NIST provides advice on all kinds of technologies and nothing in the VoIP report is designed to warn people away from using the technology entirely.

"VoIP is moving ahead very, very fast" in the commercial and government sectors, Kuhn said. "We don't want to scare people away from this. But we want to point out that this is complex technology and there are a lot of security considerations that they may not have thought of. It's more than just moving data."

The range of security products for VoIP security is "pretty good" and has advanced appreciably in the last year since the report was started, he said. "You can get the security tools, and it's a question of finding the right vendor for your needs," Kuhn said.

Source: by Matt Hamblen

Friday, February 11, 2005

Version 0.19 of Flash Operator Panel Released

Flash Operator Panel

Asterisk has released version 0.19 of the Flash Operator Panel for Asterisk.

Here are the details of the changes:

*Improved call details, now there is a queue/agent information window and last call details window.

*Bugfixes and visual layout tweaks. You can set the highlight color.

*You can define a distinct style for each panel context. See op_style.cfg

*You can include files in op_buttons.cfg with the keyword include =>

*The swf client is compressed and much smaller.

When reconnects, it closes flash clients sockets to force a reconnect and update on the client status.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Switchvox PBX Introduced at Desktop Summit 2005

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Switchvox PBX Introduced at Desktop Summit 2005 - has moved - Click here

PBX Phone System

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Interview with Brian K West one of the developers on Asterisk

Asterisk Interview

An Interview with Brian K West, and his role on the development of asterisk which earned him a coveted spot to speak at the recent AstriCon in Atlanta, Georgia

Carlo Caparras: Hi! Brian, tell me about your background and what is your role here in asterlink ( that made AstriCon choose you are a speaker?

Brian K West: I'm 27 year old self taught computer enthusiast, I have a background in ISP Management, VoIP and QoS, Perl, C and PHP. Working with you to help build top quality PSTN/IAX/SIP/h323 product offerings. I have in the past contributed cdr_odbc.c CDR backend module for asterisk and many other minor patches and a few major ones I am also an IRC Op on #asterisk on, I help new users from time to time with problems. I'm also a bugmarshal on the asterisk project and founder of #asterisk-bugs on I'm also an avid bug hunter.

Carlo Caparras: Ok, more about yourself....

Brian K West: not much more about me I can think of… I didn't go to college.. hell I didn't even get to finish high school.. I had to take my GED 3 months early because I couldn’t stand school any longer. I love a challenge and school wasn't that I think VoIP is the next big thing and I am glad to be in the middle of the ocean before it fills up with sharks.

Question 1: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Well I'm 28 going on 12. I still feel like a kid at heart 90% of the time. I don't think I'll ever grow up... what's the fun in that? Self taught on just about everything. I learn quickly and can problem solve very rapidly. (Yet I did aweful in school.. downright aweful.. F didn't mean Fabulous)

Question 2: How long have you been working with Asterisk? What drew you to Asterisk?

Well I have always been interested in communication and phone systems. We were looking for a phone system to replace the kludge of cisco/pbx stuff we had setup that wouldn't drop or loose calls. I started playing with Asterisk about 16 months ago. Since then I have learned C and done more than I ever thought I could ever do.

Question 3: How do you find working at Asterlink?

I love it. It's a challenge and I love a good challenge.

Question 4: What do you see as your most important/useful contribution to the Asterisk codebase?

The very first thing I ever contributed to the code base was cdr_odbc.c, shocking it was the first thing I wrote in C and let me tell you ODBC is great but the documentation is worse than Asterisk docs. Since then I have contributed countless fixes. I'm number two in karma behind anthm. We both totally beat Asterisk silly on a daily basis.

Question 5: Do you have any fun pet projects at the moment?

I have so many ideas it's just a matter of making the time to bring some of them into reality. I would rather work on making the software more stable first.

Question 6: What do you think are Asterisk's main strengths?

It's Open Source.

Question 7: Do you have favourite telephony hardware for use with Asterisk?

Personally I would use DELL PowerEdge servers on all jobs if possible. I have had extremely good luck with dell hardware.

Question 8: What is your favourite distro for running Asterisk on?

Gentoo... it's not just for ricers ya know. I like the fact that I don't have to focus on dependencies when installing anything on the system and I can focus more on working with asterisk or what ever task I might be doing at the time. It just works(tm)

Question 9: Where do you see asterisk going in the next couple of years?

I see the project dropping the PBX and just being called "*" Or the PBX formally know as "Asterisk".

Question 10: What's your opinion on the various hardware integration projects out there?

Hardware integration should focus more on things like DS3 cards, DSP Hardware code translation boards and echo canceller... and if someone will bring to life an SS7 stack for asterisk we could level the playing field in the telcom world.

Question 11: Do you see Asterisk being more like an appliance in the future?

I think of Asterisk as a box of Lego(tm) bricks. You can make it do ANYTHING.

Question 12: What things do you think would be important in an Asterisk IDE?

All you need is emacs the only REAL editor out there.

Question 13: How do you find the Asterisk community?

It's more like a family.

Question 14: Did you have a good time at Astricon?

I had a blast... you'll have to ask about my keynote address. THIS GUY RIGHT HERE... I'm sure I'll never live that down, but it's ok I did entertain everyone (bkw_ + jager = FUNNY). It was also my first time to ever do any public speaking so I was nervous a bit. AND NO I didn't imagine the audience nude. THAT JUST AIN'T RIGHT!!!

Also did I say bkw_ + jager = FUNNY? ;)

Question 15: Do you find you have much work keeping people in line in #asterisk?

Ah its all fun... some people thing I'm this huge prick, but really I'm not. I only have a few small rules that need to be followed and the very first one is that you MUST say Hi before busting in the channel and asking questions or demanding support. It's just rude ya know.

Question 16: What is your favourite food/drink?

Chocolate and Dr. Pepper... Chocolate is a food isn't it? Did I mention jager?


Asterisk PBX Seattle

Monday, February 07, 2005

Interview with drumkilla AKA Russell - Asterisk Stable Branch Manager

Asterisk Interview

Source: SineApps

He maintains the stable branch of Asterisk - a thankless job. With his work, Asterisk can be used in production running stable, while people add new functionality to head.

Question 1: So, you maintain the stable branch for Asterisk at the moment, what does that encompass?

My main job is to make sure all bug fixes make it into the stable branch of Asterisk, Zaptel, and libpri. Most of the time, patches are submitted for CVS head. Usually, they will apply to the stable branch without any changes, but often I will manually port the fix to the stable branch.

Some fixes that are done by the most active developers go directly into CVS without going through the bugtracker, so I have to make sure I catch those as well.

Question 2: Where do you work from?

I work from all over the place. I'm writing this from Charleston, South Carolina, where I am from originally.

Most of the time I am in Clemson, South Carolina, or Huntsville, Alabama. I go to school at Clemson University, but every other semester I work at ADTRAN in Huntsville as a part of the Cooperative Education program.

Since all of the work I do with Asterisk is done in my "free" time, I usually work from my apartment. When I am in Huntsville, I also spend a lot of time working with Mark Spencer and Josh Roberson (twisted).

Question 3: Does Asterisk tie in with your Major?

My major at Clemson is Computer Engineering. I am about half-way done with my degree at this point. Asterisk is a perfect fit to go along with my education. I am able to work with advanced programming concepts while working closely with hardware as well.

When I get to my senior year, I hope to do some research on an Asterisk related topic. I will take every opportunity I can to find an excuse to work on Asterisk!

Question 4: How long have you been working with Asterisk?

My first semester at ADTRAN began in January of 2004. My first experience with Asterisk was when I helped set up a couple of systems to help test QoS features on their routers. We had a quad-T1 card in each machine. We used a bulk call generator to generate calls and analyze their quality while Asterisk put the calls through our network by VoIP of multiple

Question 5: What do you think drove you in the direction of Asterisk?

After I was introduced to Asterisk, I started reading a lot of the documentation that was available. I set up a system for myself and immediately became addicted. It is perfect for my personal use since I have to move around so often.

The more I learn about Asterisk, the more I fall in love with the technology. I see myself working in this industry for a long time to come.

Question 6: Are you going to continue maintaining the stable branch?

When Asterisk 1.0 was first released, a lot of people said that they were "sorry that I got stuck with this job." I don't look at it that way at all. I am honored to be trusted with this responsibility. I am very excited that I am able to contribute something to the project.

Since Asterisk has become a very mature product, I think that it is important that we can have official releases and a source tree that people can rely on. I feel that I am also helping the more experienced developers by giving them more freedom to do agressive development without having to worry about stability as much as before.

Question 7: Do you work on things in head as well as stable? If so, are you working on anything at the moment?

While maintaining the stable branch is my number one priority, I do development on CVS head with as much time as I can find. My latest patches to go in CVS head were timezone support for the IAX date/time information element and temporary greetings for voicemail. Currently, I am working on some new features for MeetMe and MeetMeAdmin.

Question 8: How did you find Astricon?

Astricon was absolutely amazing. It was my first real conference that I have attended, so I think it may have spoiled me a bit. I had a great time talking to people about all of the different things that are being done with Asterisk. It was very inspiring that people came from all over the world to celebrate how Asterisk is making an impact on the telecommunications industry. I think Jon Hall was right with his predictions about the future of open source VoIP. The Asterisk community is amazing, and I think there are many more great things to come.

I hope that I will be able to attend Astricon Europe!

Question 9: Do you have any plans for the future with Asterisk (i.e. functionality, work etc)

Step 1: Maintain the stable branch of Asterisk
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit!

I started working on Asterisk in my time outside of school and work purely for pleasure. My involvement in Asterisk has provided me with some amazing opportunities. At this point, I am concentrating on finishing school before deciding where I want to go with my career. Ideally, I think I would like to run my own company, but I have a while before I can make moves in that direction.

As far as future functionality goes, I think it would be fun to write some more games for Asterisk. Mark, Josh, and I had a funny discussion about playing games while waiting in a queue to compete for a better position. I would also like to develop some games and other interactive features that could be used while on hold.

Question 10: Favourite Food/Drink

I think the most accurate answer to this question is eating and drinking anything with close friends and family. They are the ones that make the eating and drinking worthwhile.

Asterisk Provider Seattle

Astricon Training

Asterisk Training

Asterisk™, the Open Source PBX, is taking the world by storm. Asterisk makes a complete business- or carrier-class PBX out of an ordinary Linux computer, integrating with the telephony network as well as the new world of voice over IP and Internet.
However, Asterisk is not easy to learn or administer. This five-day training class will give you the knowledge and insights you need to get up to speed with your Asterisk implementation and make it production ready in no time.

dCAP - Asterisk Certification by Digium!

In addition to the new training, we are also launching a certification programme for Asterisk. The new Asterisk certification is named dCAP, Digium Certified Asterisk Professional. To get the certification, one has to go through a 150 question exam as well as a practical exam, where the student builds and configures a PBX. The certification will be given by the Astricon team under license from Digium

Introduction to Asterisk

The "Introduction to Asterisk" training class starts with installation and covers the most common features in Asterisk: Integration with the PSTN, the IAX2 and SIP channels for VoIP telephony and how to build a dial plan with applications like follow-me, voicemail, conferencing and call queues.

Teachers are Steven M. Sokol and Olle E. Johansson, the founders of the Astricon conference and active Asterisk developers and integrators.

For More Information: Astricon Training

Thursday, February 03, 2005

VoIP and open source, the next great frontier

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VoIP and open source, the next great frontier- has moved - Click here

Asterisk Integrator