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A SqueezeCenter Server For Under $100?

Some time ago I published a project about How To: DIY Music Server Using FreeNAS, SlimNAS and an H-P T5700. This remains one of the more popular items around here, generating over 6,000 page views in the past 12 months alone.

A couple of new posts to a related thread over in the forum at Small Net Builder points me to a new take on the project. Kevin Hanson has reworked it to address…How to: Building a Squeezebox Server for under $100… Yes, it can be done…

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News Flash: SSDs & VoIP Appliances

kingston-40gb-ssd-nowThis mornings attempt to get through my backlog in Google Reader turns up two interesting and kinda related news items. First, Kingston Technologies has introduced a line of low-end solid state disks (SSDs) called the SSDNow V Series. A 40 GB model in the 2.5″ laptop form factor retails for a modest $85, and of course the specs are much better than any comparable spinning magnetic media.

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Inspirational Hardware: The FIT-PC Slim & FIT-PC2

My roots in VoIP are closely intertwined with embedded systems. I really like the idea of small, quiet, lower-power hardware that just runs…and runs…and runs. That’s what drove me to my 2006 article about Astlinux on Soekris hardware and was in part the genesis of this blog.

When I saw the original FIT-PC I thought that it could be an interesting platform for Asterisk. However, with its 400 MHz Geode CPU it wasn’t that much different than the Soekris platform that I was using, so there was little motivation to make the migration.

fit-PC Slim-500

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Fit-PC Slim (pictured above) is now available on sale on Amazon for a mere $159.

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Easy Asterisk in a Box: Jazinga VoIP PBX Appliance Reviewed

Originally published in December 2008 at Small Net Builder.

It has been nearly three years since I first published an article detailing my experience setting up an Asterisk server on an embedded PC platform. That turned out to be just the start of a wave of interest in the embedded system or “appliance” approach to Asterisk. Since then, a number of companies have offered ready-to-roll Asterisk appliances.

Many of these Asterisk “appliances” are really just pre-configured servers running a bundle of software built around Asterisk. To meet my definition of “appliance” the system should have no moving parts. That means diskless, fanless, silent and reliable.

Preconfigured servers are very capable but they often have much of the administrative overhead of an old-school Asterisk installation. They usually require someone with Asterisk or telecom experience to plan and implement a working system.

I have deferred upgrading my own Astlinux server a very long time. I knew it had to be done, but also knew that it would be essentially rebuilding the system from scratch. When Jazinga offered to let me evaluate their new Asterisk appliance, I saw the possibility of deploying something simpler, with less administrative overhead.

jazinga-product-shot

In their flagship MGA120 PBX appliance, Jazinga set out to build a device that could be installed in a typical small business, home or home office by someone with minimal IT skills. It combines common networking and IP telephony functions with software designed to make installation and administration truly easy.

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