The world may revolve around the Internet, but pity the poor company without a fax machine. Although e-mail may be king these days, a Linux-based fax server can still come in handy from time to time.
HylaFax 4.0 is based on a client/server architecture that supports multiple fax modems and can even send messages to pagers using the Simple Network Paging Protocol (SNPP). We tested the version bundled with SuSE 6.3 because it also includes susefax, a Java-based GUI client for HylaFax.
While the standard HylaFax interface uses command-line applications to control every aspect of fax jobs, there are also a number of friendlier clients available, like Jeremy Lublin’s KHylaFax (http://owsley.further.com/~jlublin/khylafax/) for KDE.
We found HylaFax to be extremely powerful and flexible, but its vast array of features and configuration options can make configuring and testing complex, particularly for multiple-modem installations. Its configuration scripts did a great job with the basics and allowed us to set up a single-line fax server for several users in an afternoon. We used an external 3COM 56K Voice Faxmodem Pro, but almost any fax modem with Class 1 or Class 2 fax support will work.
HylaFax’s faxsetup program prompts the user for scheduler and fax-server details like area code, dialing prefixes, and the maximum number of pages per outgoing fax, and it configures the hfaxd server to run when the system reboots.
The faxsetup software also runs the faxaddmodem program that configures the interface for an individual fax modem. This configuration includes the local identification string and adaptive answer support, which allows the fax line to be used for data calls, among other things. The faxaddmodem program is used when adding new modems or reconfiguring existing ones.
It took a bit more reading and editing of configuration files to get access to the advanced features, like ignoring junk faxes and routing of incoming faxes via e-mail. Although the HylaFax server does not handle direct dial or DTMF (Dual Tone Multi Frequency) routing, it can route incoming faxes on the basis of caller-ID and TSI strings. The TSI string is the text printed across the top of a fax page that usually includes the phone number of the sending fax machine.
Sending faxes via e-mail requires configuration of HylaFax’s faxmail program, which can work with sendmail, among others. faxmail can handle attachments in text, PostScript, or TIFF format and translate them into an appropriate form. To fax through e-mail you simply send the note to HylaFax with the recipient’s phone number in place of the user’s name.
Facing the Fax
In a Nutshell
* Client/server architecture works in heterogeneous networks
* Character-mode configuration
* GUI and Web client support requires third-party components
In testing, our users had a choice of using the susefax or KHylaFax graphical programs, or the numerous com-mand-line applications that come with HylaFax, which include: sendfax for sending files, sendpage for sending messages to pagers, faxstat to show server status, faxrm to remove a job, faxalter to change job attributes, fax2ps to convert a fax file to Postscript, and faxcover for creating Postscript-based cover sheets.
Because susefax is written in Java, it requires installation of the Java runtime package. We used it with the default SuSE JVM as well as the version 1.2.2 JVM from Blackdown with no problems. susefax’s interface is easy to use, although its use of buttons is inconsistent.
KHylaFax comes in source form, making installation slightly more complex than a binary program distributed in an RPM file. The results were worthwhile, though, and many KDE users will prefer the KhylaFax interface to susefax’s.
Setting up HylaFax for more than a basic configuration requires considerable reading, but it’s nothing the average Linux system administrator can’t handle. Users should have no trouble with the program once the client software is set up.
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