Build a Skype Server for Your Home Phone System
One irritating feature of Skype is that it must be running on a computer for you to make and receive calls. That is, when your computer is off, Skype doesn't work. Moreover, when you run Skype on the computer you use day in and day out, Skype's performance (call quality, reliability and so forth) can suffer if you are doing other things that deprive it of the runtime resources it needs.
My solution was to build a Skype server that provides 24/7 phone service with the minimum of hassle and fuss. By dumping your regular phone company and taking back control of your home phone wiring using a Skype server, you will have not only a phone system with nearly the same capabilities as before—indeed, in some ways better—you will also save a bundle of money! In my case, I save a little less than $700 US each year (this year, next year, and the year after that, and so on), or about 82% off of my old phone bill.
Using a Skype server plugged in to the existing copper phone wiring of your home means that you can lift a receiver anywhere in your home, at any time, and get a regular dial tone. Incoming calls either from Skype users or regular phones ring all handsets throughout your home. Basically, you can make Skype behave like a regular phone line, but at a tiny fraction of the cost.
You have three choices when building a Skype server: buy a new computer, build a new computer or convert an old machine you have conveniently at hand. This article shows you how to build a new computer from scratch to act as a Skype server. However, whichever path you take, the configuration is the same and is covered in this article.
Skype is not an all-or-nothing proposition, as you can mix and match Skype with your existing phone system, and run the new alongside the old in parallel. That way you have the comfort of having a regular land line and, at the same time, reap the benefits of Skype, such as free Skype-to-Skype calls, and long-distance and international calls at very low rates. This is the approach this article takes, and the configuration you should be aiming for should look something like that in Figure 1. Keeping one of your regular phone lines neatly sidesteps issues such as 911, 411, regular fax and alarm system monitoring (make sure the regular phone line you keep is the one used by your home alarm).
The setup shown in Figure 1 also simplifies the configuration of your Skype server a good deal. Indeed, making multiple instances of Skype run under Linux to support multiple phone lines is another article in itself!
Whether you buy, build new or piece together a Skype server from computer parts you have at hand, you must first make sure that what you end up with will meet Skype's minimum software and hardware requirements, which are:
Fedora Core 3 (Skype also supports SUSE 9, Mandriva 10.1 and Debian 3 or newer. However, Linux support for Skype add-on hardware is presently extremely limited. In the case of the SkypeMate software used in this article, it is limited to Fedora Core 3 only).
128MB of RAM.
10MB of disk space
OSS-compatible sound device (or ALSA with OSS-compatibility layer enabled).
Broadband Internet connection.
Pay particular attention to the fact that these are minimum hardware requirements for a single phone line. If you scale these requirements in proportion to the number of phone lines you want your Skype server to support in the long run, you won't go far wrong. You might even want to build in some margin for future expansion. Skype is advancing at a phenomenal rate, with each new release bringing new features and improvements to existing features. All of this new functionality must surely come at the cost of increased hardware resources.
For my Skype server, I decided to build a new machine that would be small, both in terms of its physical size and its power consumption (as it runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year). The specification, and cost, of my Skype server is shown in Table 1. Remember, a Skype server needs no mouse, keyboard, monitor, CD-ROM or floppy drive—other than at the time of its configuration.
Table 1. Typical Cost of Building a New Skype Server from Scratch
|IN-WIN BT610P.180BFU2 Black steel MicroATX computer case, 180W power supply||$39.99|
|BIOSTAR M7VIG400 MicroATX motherboard with AMD Duron 800 mobile CPU||$69.00|
|OCZ value series 512MB (2 x 256MB) 184-pin unbuffered PC 2700 DDR SDRAM||$43.75|
|10GB Hard disk drive (used—salvaged from an old system)||Free|
|Skype-to-Phone USB adapter (Figure 2)||$43.90|
|Linux operating system||Free|
Building your Skype server requires that you assemble it from the parts. I won't cover the nitty-gritty details as there are plenty of on-line resources to help you in this task; for example, there's a step-by-step guide to building your own PC at PCMechanic.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
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|Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!||Jul 19, 2016|
|Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)||Jul 18, 2016|
- Stunnel Security for Oracle
- The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- Google's SwiftShader Released
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- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide