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The state of simple Linux fax server software

A cus­tomer asked me to im­ple­ment for him a sim­ple fax serv­ing so­lu­tion.

Here's what he want­ed:

  • A cen­­tral re­­ceived fax re­pos­i­­to­ry.

  • A way to send, as sim­­ple as pos­si­ble (the clas­sic fax-print­­er sce­­nar­i­o).

I vague­ly re­mem­bered know­ing that Lin­ux could do that, so I said yes. Then I start­ed try­ing to fig­ure out how to do it.

The 500lb go­ril­la of lin­ux fax soft­ware is of course Hy­lafax. And it's just about as pret­ty and cud­dly as a 500lb go­ril­la, too!

Put it sim­ply: waaaaaay too much soft­ware for the goal.

Hy­lafax is a very com­plex soft­ware pack­age, and while it does have some tools to make man­age­ment sim­ple, it would prob­a­bly have forced me to sup­port this thing for­ev­er. And that's not mi idea of fun.

Not to men­tion that I could­n't find Cen­tOS/RHEL4 pack­ages (not too big a prob­lem, but an­noy­ing).

Then I spent 10 hours try­ing to make it pick up the phone. And I start­ed be­ing an­noyed.

So, I start­ed look­ing for sim­pler stuff, and the sec­ond go­ril­la seems to be mget­ty+send­fax.

The more I read about it, the more I liked it, and I fi­nal­ly im­ple­ment­ed us­ing it.

The good news:

  • It's re­al­­ly sim­­ple. I was re­­ceiv­ing fax­es in 5 min­utes.

  • It was way less fid­gety about mo­­dem set­up than Hy­lafax.

  • The fax qual­i­­ty was very good (prob­a­bly not their mer­it, but it was nice).

Now, the bad news:

  • It's old soft­­ware. Check the we­b­­page and look at the bro­ken links and an­­cient re­leas­es.

  • The win­­dows client sup­­port was pa­­thet­ic.

How pa­thet­ic: ok, here is how you make it work:

  • Set­up mget­­ty+send­­fax enough that you can make it send from the CLI.

  • Set­up sam­­ba enough that you can do a shared print­­er from the win­­dows side.

  • The shared print­­er should print to print­­­fax.­­pl (look at the ger­mglish page).

  • On the win­­dows side, start re­spond and then when you print to the fax, the fax serv­er hooks to the clien­t's port 5555, and re­spond show a huge pop­up ask­ing for the num­ber, re­­cip­i­en­t, and sender.

  • Ex­­plain to your client that where it says "name" he should put his email ad­­dress. There is no way to save that ad­­dress so it's not asked again.

  • Af­ter the fax is sen­t, the us­er gets an email (if he filled the form cor­rec­t­­ly) with the re­­port.

  • The al­ter­­na­­tive no­ti­­fi­­ca­­tion mech­a­nism is win­pop­up. Which is­n't there in XP any­­more any­way.

Amaz­ing­ly, it does work fair­ly well, and the client is not ter­ri­bly an­noyed. I would be, though.

So, what can be done:

  1. Now that there is a PyQt4/Win32 I may write a re­spond re­­place­­men­t.

  2. Maybe print­­­fax.­­pl can be ex­­tend­ed/re­­placed to give re­­port in­­­for­­ma­­tion to that re­spond re­­place­­men­t.

Sounds like a nice fun projec­t... NOT! But it is a fair­ly sim­ple, nec­es­sary one.

So I will prob­a­bly do it. Or else, I may have to learn how to prop­er­ly use Hy­laFax.

IUP/Qt: Timers and images

Well, timers are done, in­clud­ing the idle timer, and im­ages are kin­da there.

It is much sim­pler to add stuff now that the prop­er OO skele­ton is in place.

How­ev­er, I am not mak­ing progress in the iup­con­trols li­brary. Then again, I have the flu.

Further IUP/Qt advances: Canvas

I keep work­ing on it, which is nice. I have fin­ished the skele­ton of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a Qt driv­er for the CD can­vas.

I had it kin­da work­ing with the gener­ic X driver, but it sucked a bit to have this lar­gish chunk of Mo­tif code I did­n't un­der­stand in the mid­dle of it al­l.

It has on­ly the most ba­sic stuff im­ple­ment­ed, and the scroll­bar stuff is not there, but it does draw and set col­ors ;-)

So, right now, the next step is get­ting the iup­con­trols li­brary up, but that should­n't be too hard, I think.

But, we'll see.

PS: If any­one reads this and wants to check it out, just email me, I can ship it.

El mundo es un pañuelo

That's an ex­pres­sion ("The world is a hand­ker­chief") I have of­ten heard, and of­ten found true. It means the world is a very small thing and it's hard for some­thing (or some­one) to get lost in it.

Here are two ex­am­ples:

I went to school with this guy. We were nev­er friends or any­thing. I had com­plete­ly for­got­ten about him. One day, I was walk­ing to the bus stop af­ter teach­ing, and some­one calls me.

It's him. This was rough­ly 15 years af­ter the last time I saw him.

So, we start talk­ing: he worked 2 blocks away from where I did. And 550Km away from our school, and in a 12 mil­lion peo­ple city.

He had lived un­til three weeks be­fore in an apart­ment around the block from my own.

He usu­al­ly went to the same cafe I did, in the cor­ner of our street­s, but he did so 90 min­utes ear­li­er than I did.

And we had nev­er seen each oth­er.

Then we did. On a third place, which was not re­lat­ed to nei­ther of our jobs or home­s.

Sec­ond ex­am­ple:

I met Rosario on May 25th 2004. Ex­cept I al­most met her in 1995 (or so).

I was telling her last night about an af­fair I once had with a girl that lived a ridicu­lous dis­tance away from me (800km or so) and how I had last seen her in a con­gress of the FUA (Ar­genti­na's stu­dents or­ga­ni­za­tion) that took place in San­ta Fe, where I was born.

That con­gress had one par­ty (where I broke up with this girl) in my uni­ver­si­ty's law school.

Well... Rosario was there. I don't re­mem­ber her, but know­ing the place where that par­ty took place, I could not have been the whole night with­out pass­ing 10 feets away from her.

In fac­t, I can't get out of my head a false mem­o­ry of a girl look­ing re­mark­ably like my wife sit­ting on a planter with a wor­ried look in her face (she had had some is­sue that day), with a drink in one hand and a cig­a­rette in the oth­er.

I know I did not see her be­cause I did­n´t re­mem­ber this yes­ter­day, but... I end­ed leav­ing the par­ty with an­oth­er wom­an (o­h, be­ing 24, rash and pret­ty stupid... that wom­an was trou­ble). What would have hap­pened if I did­n't, and start­ed talk­ing with the wom­an sit­ting in the planter?

Where IUP/Qt is right now

It has a de­cent back­end, even if it's lim­it­ed.

Not all wid­gets are im­ple­ment­ed, but they are easy to ad­d. Not all at­tributes are im­ple­ment­ed, but they are even eas­i­er.

And it can show rather com­plex win­dows, too:

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