GNU telephony software released

The GNU free software project has released the first complete version of its platform for telephony services applications, the group announced Tuesday.

On the new software platform, called GNU Bayonne, Version 1.0, developers can write open-source applications for phone system functions in an enterprise such as call direction, voice prompts, voice mail and automated order processing. Although it was developed with enterprises in mind, carriers also can use it as the basis for applications such as customer voice mail and prepaid cell phone services, according to David Sugar, head of the GNU Bayonne project. Sugar also is the chief technology officer of Open Source Telecom Corp., which has provided commercial sponsorship of GNU Bayonne development.

"Any type of voice application that requires application programming logic can be (created with) Bayonne today," Sugar said.

The GNU Project is a volunteer effort by developers around the world, sponsored by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), to create a full operating system that can be freely distributed. GNU makes its software available under the GNU General Public License, which lets developers view and modify the source code of the software as long as they make their modifications freely available to other users. GNU Bayonne is part of GNU Enterprise, a subset of the GNU operating system, which is based on the Linux kernel.

Free software not only saves enterprises and service providers money but also allows them to adapt a piece of software to their own needs, a big benefit in telecommunications, according to Sugar. Currently, many telephony applications run on proprietary hardware and software platforms.

Support for telecommunications platforms based on free software and standard, interchangeable hardware components is coming from several quarters. Earlier this year, vendors including Intel Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. announced a working group to develop and promote a version of Linux that meets service providers' reliability standards. In addition, an emerging new version of the Compact PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) hardware interface may make it possible for users to mix and match telecommunications switch and server components. The developers of GNU Bayonne paid attention to the emerging carrier-class Linux code as they developed the telephony software and intend to make it compatible with carrier-class Linux, Sugar said.

Development versions of GNU Bayonne already are being used by government agencies, mobile operators and corporations around the world, according to Sugar.

He sees free telephony software following in the footsteps of popular open source Internet platforms such as the Apache Web server.

"At this moment, a good portion of the Internet is served by free software solutions based on GNU/Linux. Similarly, we believe that free software solutions will be the dominant solutions for telephony infrastructure," Sugar said.

The Free Software Foundation, in Boston, provides source code, mailing lists and other resources to the GNU Bayonne project, which is based in Bayonne, New Jersey, according to Bradley Kuhn, executive director of FSF.

GNU Bayonne can be downloaded now from ftp://ftp.gnu.org/gnu.bayonne/. More information about GNU Bayonne is available at www.gnu.org/software/bayonne.

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