How to use the telephone (Phone Etiquette, or How I Learned to Love the Mute Button)

Many of us spend a lot of time on conference calls. Dan Smith and I recently put together an internal wiki page with some helpful information for our fellow conference call attendees. Dan wrote the instructions and I provided some additional visual aids.  Here is the content of that page. Feel free to share this information with anyone that you feel may benefit.

How to use the telephone

  1. Dial the number you wish to call
  2. Press the mute button
  3. If you wish to talk, place your finger on your mute button and press it, but keep your finger poised over the button
  4. Speak
  5. When finished speaking press the mute button before you return your finger to your keyboard
  6. If the call is continuing, go to step 3
  7. If the call is finished, hang up the telephone

Additional Tips

  1. Try to avoid using soft phones. They’re horrible and they often introduce echo and/or noise for everyone else on the call
  2. Try to avoid using cell phones. They’re horrible and they often introduce echo and/or noise for everyone else on the call
  3. Use a headset. Speakerphones aren’t as good as you think they are. If you have to use a speakerphone, be even more vigilant about your mute button.
  4. Stick to landline or proper voip phones whenever possible. Always use your mute button when you’re not actually speaking.
  5. If you’re using something that resembles but poorly emulates a real telephone, use the *6 mute feature as it mutes all the audio coming from your line, something that your emulated phone may not do well.
  6. Keep track of your mute status. It’s not that hard. It’s either on or off. Don’t announce to everyone that you forgot whether you were muted or not. If you need help determining if you’re muted or not try the following procedure below.
  7. Hold is not mute. Don’t use your phone’s hold function in any way when you’re connected to a conference. Your phone or phone system may play music or beep periodically into the conference, making it unusable until you return.

Steps to determine if you’re muted

  1. If you’re not talking right now, you’re muted (see step 3 in the How to use a telephone instructions)
  2. There is no step two. If you messed up step one and think you need a step two, review step one.

 Helpful Images

A phone

Note: This is a Polycom IP 335. Your phone may differ.



Location of Mute Button

It’s the single big red button.  Note that your phone should remain black and NOT turn grey while locating the mute button.



Light On While Muted

Note that the phone should remain black while muted.  It will not turn grey.



Automated Testing of Matahari in a chroot Using Mock

While I was at Digium, I helped build out some automated testing for Asterisk (posts on that here and here). We had a continuous integration server that did builds, ran C API unit tests, and ran some functional tests written in Python.

One of the things that we wanted to do with the Asterisk tests is to sandbox each instance of Asterisk. All of this is handled by an Asterisk Python class which creates a new set of directories for each Asterisk instance to store its files. This seems to have worked pretty well. One down side is that there is still the potential for Asterisk instances to step on each others files. All instances of Asterisk for all runs of the tests run within the same OS installation. One way to improve that that is a bit less heavy handed than starting up a bunch of new VMs all the time is to use a chroot.

Over the last week or so, I have been working on a similar setup for Matahari and wanted to share some information on how it works and in particular, some aspects that are different from what I’ve done before, including running all of the tests in a chroot.

What was already in place

Matahari uses Test-AutoBuild as its continuous integration server. The results of the latest build for Fedora can be found here.

When autobuild runs each hour, it clones the Matahari git repo and runs the script in the top level directory. This script uses mock to build both matahari and mingw32-matahari packages. Mock handles setting up a chroot for the distribution and version you want to build a package for so you can easily do a lot of different builds on one machine. It also does a lot of caching to make this process much faster if you run it multiple times.

To install mock on Fedora, install the mock package. You will also need to add the user that will be running mock to the mock group.

To do a build in mock, you first need an srpm. The script in Matahari has a make_srpm function that does this. Once you have an srpm, you can do a build with a single call to mock. The –root option specifies the type of chroot you want mock to use.

$ mock --root=fedora-16-x86_64 --rebuild *.src.rpm

The root, fedora-16-x86_64, is defined by a mock profile. When mock gets installed, a set of profiles gets installed, which can be found in /etc/mock/.

What’s new

While doing continuous builds is useful (for example, breaking the Windows build is not terribly uncommon), doing tests against these builds adds an enormous amount of additional value to the setup. Similar to what we have for Asterisk, we have two sets of tests for Matahari. We have a suite of C API unit tests, and we have a suite of functional tests written in Python.</P.

The first thing I did was update the setup to run the unit tests. I decided to modify the RPM spec file to optionally run the unit tests as a part of the build process. That patch is here. If the run_unit_tests variable is set, the spec file runs ctest after compilation is complete. The other aspect of this is getting this variable defined, which is pretty easy to do with mock.

$ mock --root=fedora-16-x86_64 --define "run_unit_tests 1" --rebuild *.src.rpm

Getting the Python-based functional tests running within mock is a bit more tricky, but not too bad. With the mock commands presented so far, a number of things are happening automatically, including setting up the chroot and cleaning up the chroot. To get these other tests running, we have to break up the processes into smaller steps. The first step is to initialize a chroot. We will also be using another option for all of the mock commands, –resultdir, which lets you specify where logs and the resulting RPMs from –rebuild are stored.

$ mock --root=fedora-16-x86_64 --resultdir=mockresults --init

The next step is to build the RPMs like before. In this case, we already have an initialized chroot, so we need to tell mock not to create a new one. We also need to tell mock not to clean up the chroot after the RPM builds are complete, because we want to perform more operations in there.

$ mock --root=fedora-16-x86_64 --resultdir=mockresults
--define="run_unit_tests 1" --no-clean --no-cleanup-after
--rebuild *.src.rpm

At this point, we have compiled the source, run the unit tests, and built RPMs. The chroot used to do all of this is still there. We can take the RPMs we just built and install them into the chroot.

$ mock --root=fedora-16-x86_64 --resultdir=mockresults --install mockresults/*.rpm

Now it’s time to set up the functional tests. We need to install some dependencies for the tests and then copy the tests themselves into the chroot.

$ . src/tests/
$ mock --root=fedora-16-x86_64 --resultdir=mockresults
--install ${MH_TESTS_DEPS}

$ mock --root=fedora-16-x86_64 --resultdir=mockresults
--copyin src/tests /matahari-tests

The dependencies of the tests are installed in the chroot and the tests themselves have been copied in. Now mock can be used to execute each set of tests.

$ mock --root=fedora-16-x86_64 --resultdir=mockresults
--shell "nosetests -v /matahari-tests/"

$ mock --root=fedora-16-x86_64 --resultdir=mockresults
--shell "nosetests -v /matahari-tests/"

$ mock --root=fedora-16-x86_64 --resultdir=mockresults
--shell "nosetests -v /matahari-tests/"

$ mock --root=fedora-16-x86_64 --resultdir=mockresults
--shell "nosetests -v /matahari-tests/"

$ mock --root=fedora-16-x86_64 --resultdir=mockresults
--shell "nosetests -v /matahari-tests/"

That’s it! The autobuild setup now tests compilation, unit tests, building RPMs, installing RPMs, and running and exercising all of the installed applications. It’s fast, too.

Final Thoughts

As with most things, there are some areas for improvement. For example, one glaring issue is that the entire setup is Fedora specific, or at least specific to a distribution that can use mock. However, I have at least heard of a similar tool to mock called pbuilder for dpkg based distributions, which could potentially be used in a similar way. I’m not sure.

There are also some issues with this approach specific to the Matahari project. Matahari includes a set of agents that provide systems management APIs. Testing of some of these APIs isn’t necessarily something you want to do on the same machine running the actual tests. To expand to much more complete coverage of these APIs, we’re going to have to break down and adopt an approach of spinning up VMs to run the Matahari agents. At that point, we may not run any of the functional tests from within mock anymore.

Mock is a very handy tool and it helped me to expand the automated build and test setup to get a lot more coverage in a shorter amount of time in a way that I was happy with. I hope this writeup helps you think about some other things that you could do with it.

Matahari: Systems Management and Monitoring APIs

I have been working at Red Hat for a few weeks now and have started getting some real work done. I wanted to share what I’m currently working on, and that is Matahari. Matahari is a cross-platform (Linux and Windows so far) collection of APIs accessible over local and remote interfaces for systems management and monitoring. What the heck does that mean? Read on, dear friends.


I mentioned that Matahari is a collection of APIs. These APIs are accessible via a few different methods. The core of the functionality that we are implementing is done as C libraries. These can be used directly. However, we expect and intend for most users to access the functionality via one of the agents we provide. A Matahari Agent is an application that provides access to the features implemented in a Matahari Library via some transport. We are currently providing agents for D-Bus and QMF.

D-Bus is used quite heavily as a communications mechanism between applications on a single system. QMF, or the Qpid Management Framework, is used as a remote interface. QMF is a framework for building remote APIs on top of AMQP, an open protocol for messaging.

The agents are generally thin wrappers around a core library, so other transports could be added in the future if the need presents itself.

Current Features

So, what can you do with Matahari?

Matahari is still under heavy development, but there is already a decent amount of usable functionality.

  • Host – An agent for viewing and controlling hosts
    • View basic host information such as OS, hostname, CPU, RAM, load average, and more.
    • Host control (shutdown, reboot)
  • Networking – An agent for viewing and controlling network devices
    • Get a list of available network interfaces and information about them, such as IP and MAC addresses
    • Start and stop network interfaces
  • Services – An agent for viewing and controlling system services
    • List configured services
    • Start and stop services
    • Monitor the status of services
  • Sysconfig – Modify system configuration
    • Modify system configuration files (Linux)
    • Modify system registry (Windows)

More things that are in the works can be found on the project backlog.

Use Cases

An example of a project that already utilizes Matahari is Pacemaker-cloud, which is also under heavy development. Pacemaker-cloud utilizes both the Host and Services agents of Matahari. Being able to actively monitor and control services on remote hosts is a key element of being able to provide HA in a cloud deployment.

In addition to providing ready-to-use agents, we also provide some code that makes it easier to write a QMF agent so that third-parties can write their own Matahari agents. One example of this that already exists is libvirt-qmf, which is a Matahari agent that exposes libvirt functionality over QMF.

Join Us

If Matahari interests you, follow us on github and join our mailing list.  Thanks!