With all the great open source appliance software available for free such as Asterisk PBX or IPCop/Copfilter, it doesn't do you much good if you don't have a box to run it on. You can certainly use an old and noisy desktop computer or even build a cheap computer yourself, but rarely will you find something sleek and silent like an old or refurbished Dell OptiPlex PC. Dell is very good at keeping their machines silent. With all the testing and building I've done, I can tell you it isn't easy or cheap to build something small and silent.
Since I'm looking for a cheap appliance for Asterisk and IPCop/Copfilter, it's just my luck to see this deal on a refurbished Dell OptiPlex PC. You'll note that the listed price is $47.91 but I've added the $12.95 for the memory bump to 256 MB and the $31.95 FedEx ground shipping to come up with a rounded up $93 figure for the title of this blog so I don't deceive anyone about the price. This is a 700 MHz Celeron which is plenty fast for building your own VoIP server with Asterisk and your own gateway level antivirus scanning system using IPCop and Copfilter. Some of you may have noticed how much I despise desktop antivirus solutions because they pose their own security risks and slow you down like crazy and this is the perfect cure for anyone who hates a slow PC. Gateway level protection protects all your PCs at the same time and it caches websites which accelerates Windows Update like crazy.
Sure this isn't as nice as a tiny fanless appliance which is the ideal solution for something like this, but this is three times cheaper. The only other option is running a virtual IPCop/Copfilter machine within a powerful media center PC that also serves as a gigabit terabyte file server. Since there are free versions of VMware Server and Microsoft Virtual Server, this has become a very feasible option as well so long as you don't mind the dependency where a reboot of the media center PC also takes down your gateway.