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Interview with drumkilla AKA Russell

Author: Matt Riddell
Daily Asterisk News
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So, this interview is with drumkilla. He maintains the stable branch of Asterisk - a thankless job. With his work, Asterisk can be used in production running stable, while people add new functionality to head.

Question 1: So, you maintain the stable branch for Asterisk at the moment, what does that encompass?

My main job is to make sure all bug fixes make it into the stable branch of Asterisk, Zaptel, and libpri. Most of the time, patches are submitted for CVS head. Usually, they will apply to the stable branch without any changes, but often I will manually port the fix to the stable branch.

Some fixes that are done by the most active developers go directly into CVS without going through the bugtracker, so I have to make sure I catch those as well.

Question 2: Where do you work from?

I work from all over the place. I'm writing this from Charleston, South Carolina, where I am from originally.

Most of the time I am in Clemson, South Carolina, or Huntsville, Alabama. I go to school at Clemson University, but every other semester I work at ADTRAN in Huntsville as a part of the Cooperative Education program.

Since all of the work I do with Asterisk is done in my "free" time, I usually work from my apartment. When I am in Huntsville, I also spend a lot of time working with Mark Spencer and Josh Roberson (twisted).

Question 3: Does Asterisk tie in with your Major?

My major at Clemson is Computer Engineering. I am about half-way done with my degree at this point. Asterisk is a perfect fit to go along with my education. I am able to work with advanced programming concepts while working closely with hardware as well.

When I get to my senior year, I hope to do some research on an Asterisk related topic. I will take every opportunity I can to find an excuse to work on Asterisk!

Question 4: How long have you been working with Asterisk?

My first semester at ADTRAN began in January of 2004. My first experience with Asterisk was when I helped set up a couple of systems to help test QoS features on their routers. We had a quad-T1 card in each machine. We used a bulk call generator to generate calls and analyze their quality while Asterisk put the calls through our network by VoIP of multiple

Question 5: What do you think drove you in the direction of Asterisk?

After I was introduced to Asterisk, I started reading a lot of the documentation that was available. I set up a system for myself and immediately became addicted. It is perfect for my personal use since I have to move around so often.

The more I learn about Asterisk, the more I fall in love with the technology. I see myself working in this industry for a long time to come.

Question 6: Are you going to continue maintaining the stable branch?

When Asterisk 1.0 was first released, a lot of people said that they were "sorry that I got stuck with this job." I don't look at it that way at all. I am honored to be trusted with this responsibility. I am very excited that I am able to contribute something to the project.

Since Asterisk has become a very mature product, I think that it is important that we can have official releases and a source tree that people can rely on. I feel that I am also helping the more experienced developers by giving them more freedom to do agressive development without having to worry about stability as much as before.

Question 7: Do you work on things in head as well as stable? If so, are you working on anything at the moment?

While maintaining the stable branch is my number one priority, I do development on CVS head with as much time as I can find. My latest patches to go in CVS head were timezone support for the IAX date/time information element and temporary greetings for voicemail. Currently, I am working on some new features for MeetMe and MeetMeAdmin.

Question 8: How did you find Astricon?

Astricon was absolutely amazing. It was my first real conference that I have attended, so I think it may have spoiled me a bit. I had a great time talking to people about all of the different things that are being done with Asterisk. It was very inspiring that people came from all over the world to celebrate how Asterisk is making an impact on the telecommunications industry. I think Jon Hall was right with his predictions about the future of open source VoIP. The Asterisk community is amazing, and I think there are many more great things to come.

I hope that I will be able to attend Astricon Europe!

Question 9: Do you have any plans for the future with Asterisk (i.e. functionality, work etc)

Step 1: Maintain the stable branch of Asterisk
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit!

I started working on Asterisk in my time outside of school and work purely for pleasure. My involvement in Asterisk has provided me with some amazing opportunities. At this point, I am concentrating on finishing school before deciding where I want to go with my career. Ideally, I think I would like to run my own company, but I have a while before I can make moves in that direction.

As far as future functionality goes, I think it would be fun to write some more games for Asterisk. Mark, Josh, and I had a funny discussion about playing games while waiting in a queue to compete for a better position. I would also like to develop some games and other interactive features that could be used while on hold.

Question 10: Favourite Food/Drink

I think the most accurate answer to this question is eating and drinking anything with close friends and family. They are the ones that make the eating and drinking worthwhile.


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