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Posts about sysadmin (old posts, page 4)

Good experience with VoIP service: Metrotel

Try­ing to cre­ate a more se­ri­ous look­ing in­fra­struc­ture for my con­sult­ing busi­ness, I de­cid­ed I need­ed a non-­mo­bile phone num­ber, and a way to re­ceive Fax­es [1]. While I would use this as a sec­ondary busi­ness num­ber, it's just my home phone.

Since the costs for old-­fash­ioned phone ser­vice in Ar­genti­na are stupid [2] I start­ed in­ves­ti­gat­ing VoIP al­ter­na­tives.

On a sub­way tick­et, I found an ad for Metro­tel which is quite in­ter­est­ing.

First, there is the num­ber­s:

  • No in­­stal­la­­tion fee

  • $35 for 1000 min­utes

  • Cheap­­er long dis­­­tance ser­vice

What they do is pro­vide you a sim­ple Handy­tone 486 box, and you plug it to your In­ter­net-­con­nect­ed LAN on one side, and a phone on the oth­er.

You can al­so plug in your land line and use the phone to call on ei­ther one, and an­oth­er eth­er­net de­vice (ex­am­ple, a com­put­er o switch). If you have on­ly one com­put­er, you just stack it on­to your ca­ble­mo­dem or what­ev­er.

Ab­so­lute­ly triv­ial in­stal­la­tion... un­less they ship you the wrong gad­get, as they did to me, send­ing me one that was dis­abled. But that's ok, they fixed it in a cou­ple of days.

I have three small is­sues:

You have to sign a 12-­month con­trac­t. How­ev­er, if you take the small­est plan, the 12-­month con­tract is cheap­er than the con­nec­tion fee for Tele­fóni­ca de Ar­genti­na! And you still get 1200 free min­utes in that year!

You must use the gad­get. While it's a sim­ple SIP de­vice, they won't give you the us­er and pass­word, so you can't use a soft­phone or a re­al VoIP phone with this ser­vice (un­less you hack it, but why both­er).

Be­cause of that, it's kin­da tricky that the ads say you can use this phone line "ev­ery­where". I mean, it's true... if you have broad­band in­ter­net con­nec­tions with eth­er­net con­nec­tions "ev­ery­where".

How­ev­er, if you do your due dil­li­gence and fig­ure out what you are get­ting in­to, it's a very nice ser­vice, which works well, and has great cost ad­van­tages over the tra­di­tion­al al­ter­na­tive.

It's spe­cial­ly great if you want to have a Buenos Aires phone num­ber and work from some­where else (for ex­am­ple, labour costs in oth­er prov­inces are usu­al­ly be­low 75% of those in Buenos Aires).

I must be doing something right

Here are the two largest mail servers I man­age. They han­dle over 20K user­s, with full mail ser­vice.

[root@nmail ~]# uptime
 11:02:29 up 217 days,  3:09,  3 users,  load average: 1.54, 5.79, 7.40

[root@correo1 ~]# uptime
 11:02:25 up 227 days, 21:58,  1 user,  load average: 6.78, 4.61, 3.90

Ok, the load is a lit­tle high, but I know the rea­son and it's not a big prob­lem.

Why I use Arch Linux

I have been an Arch Lin­ux for a while now, and I am still lik­ing it.

Here's the good side of it:

  • It's small (one CD)

  • It's sim­­ple (it comes with very lit­tle)

  • It has a de­­cent pack­­age se­lec­­tion (if you con­sid­er AUR, more about that lat­er)

  • It us­es pret­­ty much un­­patched up­­stream soft­­ware

  • It's a bi­­na­ry dis­­tro (ex­­cept for AUR. Again, more about it lat­er)

  • It's pret­­ty sta­ble (no crash­es I can re­mem­ber)

  • It has rolling re­leas­es (un­­like, say, Fe­­do­ra or De­bian)

  • It's easy to keep up­­­dat­ed (like all of them nowa­­days)

  • It's not ide­o­log­i­­cal­­ly dog­­mat­ic, but prag­­mat­ic (yes, there are NVidia driver­s, and test-­­drive games, and what­ev­er)

  • It does­n't seem to be a one-guy joint

And the bad side:

  • Up­­­dates some­­times break things (about twice a year)

  • Ad­min tools are be­tween un­ex­is­­tant and dis­­join­t­ed

And of course, there is the very very good side: AUR

AUR is a co­mu­ni­ty repos­i­to­ry. And there is a rather large com­mu­ni­ty. And pack­ag­ing things for Arch is so easy, and putting things in AUR is so sim­ple, even I find time to con­trib­ute (my pack­ages).

And it's a calm com­mu­ni­ty, and pret­ty much, in­stead of com­pil­ing my ran­dom un­known pack­ages for my­self, I save the steps to build them and stick them in a PKG­BUILD and up­load them. Takes two min­utes for most things.

It's a throw­back to the old days of Lin­ux: qui­et, com­pe­tent (or learn­ing) peo­ple do­ing things, shar­ing, you use them, you give back­... I had not felt that way with a dis­tro for years.

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