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Hylafax 6 on Centos 5

© November 2009 Anthony Lawrence

I'm doing another SCO to Linux conversion and this one used Vsifax. That's hardly a show stopper, but this customer wanted to use Centos and Vsifax says they don't currently support using Centos. We figured we'd try it anyway because they do support Red Hat, so not supporting Centos makes no sense. However, I couldn't make it work. It would queue up the faxes, but when it tried to send, it would always fail. So I downloaded a current tar-ball for Hylafax and did the ./configure as usual.

Unfortunately that failed pretty quickly. Unfortunately it also gave a dumb error explanation that sent me in circles for a while. Here's what it said:

... checking TIFF library version

Missing TIFF Library.

Compilation of the following test program failed:

#include <stdio.h>
#include "tiffio.h"
    printf( "header_ver=%d lib_ver=%s", TIFFLIB_VERSION, TIFFGetVersion() );


Verify that you have the TIFFINC and LIBTIFF configuration parameters
set correctly for your system (see above) and that any environment
variables are setup that are needed to locate a libtiff DSO at runtime
(e.g. LD_LIBRARY_PATH). Also be sure that any relative pathnames are
made relative to the top of the build area.

Unrecoverable error!  Once you've corrected the problem rerun this script.

You'd naturally think that something was wrong with libtiff or that you need to set an environment variable. Nope, you need libtiff-devel.

[root@localhost hylafax-6.0.3]# yum install libtiff-devel

After that, ./configure and "make && make install" ran without problems.

What's next? Having (*cough*) glossed over the documentation, I just tried "/etc/rc.d/init.d/hylafax start". That informed me that I'd missed a step:

/var/spool/hylafax/etc/setup.cache is missing!

The file /var/spool/hylafax/etc/setup.cache is not present.  This
probably means the machine has not been setup using the faxsetup(8C)
command.  Read the documentation on setting up HylaFAX before you
startup a server system.

Read the documentation? Why? I just ran faxsetup and was immediately able to start the init.d script and to run "sendfax" to queue my first fax. Wonderful! This is going to be easy.

The Hylafax documentation gods laughed at my optimism. I had queued the fax, but it just sat there in "faxstat -s", going nowhere, What did I miss now?

Honestly, I'm still not sure. I did find references to "vgetty", but we only need outbound faxes, so I'm not using that. Eventually I found that faxmodem ttyS0 would cause the fax or faxes to be sent, so I changed my scripts to always run that after "sendfax". I would have thought that this was a daemon and had seen it run during "faxsetup":

Should I run faxmodem for each configured modem [yes]? 
/usr/local/sbin/faxmodem ttyS0

But apparently it isn't a daemon? Very confusing - the answer is probably in the docs somewhere but as everything here happens through scripts I control, I can use this method for now. Chances are good someone will point out a better way minutes after I post this anyway.

The next problem involves some custom reporting that I'd done on SCO with the use of Vsifax "tags". For example, if we are faxing a Purchase Order, we use the PO number for the tag. This makes it easier to identify and resend any failed faxes.

Hylafax doesn't seem to have a similar capability, but it does have an "identification" string that can be added with a -i argument to sendfax. As I only need one tag, that will do, but at first I was at a loss to figure out how. I couldn't find the strings I had added in log files. Also, the log files have much more than I need - I wanted something like Vsifax's "vfxolog". Fortunately, I found that in "/var/spool/hylafax/etc/xferfaxlog". That has exactly what I need, including the identification string.

So, I have a little bit of work to rewrite my scripts, but it won't be a large effort. I've put that on hold temporarily as the main application vendor is having trouble with the non-fax modems used for backup credit card processing, and we may end up switching to Red Hat anyway, which would mean they could use Vsifax and I wouldn't need to rewrite my scripts. So I'm in "wait" mode.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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-> Hylafax 6 on Centos 5


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Tue Nov 24 04:36:51 2009: 7606   vonskippy

Why would it work with RedHat and not with CentOS? CentOS is a BINARY clone of RHEL.

Tue Nov 24 06:13:07 2009: 7607   TonyLawrence

I have no idea - that's why we went ahead and tried it.

Tue Nov 24 14:31:58 2009: 7608   BruceGarlock

I have been able to get around software (most notably, HP's linux integration stuff), by simply modifying /etc/redhat-release to that of a RedHat version, instead of a CentOS version. All of HP's linux stuff would fail under a default CentOS install, but changing /etc/redhat-release to that of what is on a real Red Hat install proved to allow the software to install without issue. Then, I would change it back to the CentOS text, so that upgrades could continue..

Tue Nov 24 14:45:52 2009: 7609   TonyLawrence

Good idea, though not relevant to this - Vsifax installs fine and even worked up through queuing the faxes. It's during actual sending that it fails.

It very well could be that their fax modem just doesn't work with the latest Vsifax or needs some special weaking - Vsifax is notoriously fussy about modems. That means it might have failed with Red Hat also. With Red Hat, though, I could call Esker (Vsifax) and get help. With Centos, no.

I'd rather see them use Hylafax anyway. It won't be a lot of work to change the scripts and from that point on they are better off.

Tue Nov 24 16:16:26 2009: 7610   BigDumbDinosaur

Good idea, though not relevant to this - Vsifax installs fine and even worked up through queuing the faxes. It's during actual sending that it fails.

It very well could be that their fax modem just doesn't work with the latest Vsifax or needs some special weaking - Vsifax is notoriously fussy about modems.

Vsifax is also fussy about serial interfaces and, in my past experience, has failed to send simply because it didn't like the interface. My Vsifax installations were always Equinox SST interfaces driving USR Courier modems and never had any trouble. I have not, however, attempted a Visfax installation on Linux.

Tue Nov 24 16:23:20 2009: 7611   TionyLawrence

Vsifax is also fussy about serial interfaces

Oh yeah - very fussy. I've always used COM1 and COM2 (ttyS0 ttyS1 Linux, tty1A tty2A on SCO) for just that reason.

Thu Nov 26 22:57:29 2009: 7652   anonymous

Instead of faxmodem, you need to run faxgetty from init.

Thu Nov 26 23:01:28 2009: 7653   TonyLawrence

As I explained, we don't want incoming.

So that's the way it works. Odd.

Mon Nov 30 13:29:37 2009: 7695   anonymous

For Vsifax, check your permissions on the serial port.

I think vsifax needs 666 to operate properly, but never really tells you what is wrong when it doesn't (not the best coded program out there).

I think there is an RPm for Hylafax 6 which steps you through everything. Both 32 and 64 bit install without a hitch that way (on CentOS) Besides, Hylafax's free is much easier to swallow than Vsifax's $1000+ price tag.

Mon Nov 30 13:38:05 2009: 7696   TonyLawrence

If the perms were wrong, the vfxsched can't run. This was failing while sending the faxes - it's not perms.

I couldn't find the RPM, but the install wasn't all that bad anyway. And I agree that for $1,000, I'd go with Hylafax. But it's their call.

Mon Nov 30 21:30:49 2009: 7699   anonymous

for future reference


We install these on all our default CentOS builds (just in case)

Mon Nov 30 21:36:36 2009: 7700   TonyLawrence

Thanks for the RPM link - we appreciate it!

Tue Jan 26 04:07:17 2010: 7951   bubba


Thanks to your post, I'm able to watch Sabres v. Canucks tonight, rather than searching endlessly for the answer to my problem (Hylafax Missing TIFF Library). I am eternally grateful.


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