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Koolu: A D.I.Y. Asterisk Appliance?

There are so many Asterisk appliances around these days. Even so, some of us have DIY tendencies. I still stand by my recycled T5700 thin client as a host platform, but I accept that I couldn’t sell that to a corporate or even SMB user looking for an Asterisk solution. Then this morning I read about Koolu and specifically their W.E. Appliance. This looks like a great little host for Asterisk!

The appliance specs out as follows:

  • Processor (AMD Geode(TM) LX 800)
  • 512 MB of PC 3200 RAM
  • 80 GB Hard Disk (optional)
  • VGA port with up to 1920 x 1440 display resolution
  • 4 USB ports with printer, keyboard, mouse, and storage support
  • Full 16-bit audio with stereo; Microphone-in, and Audio-out/Headphone
  • Case (H x W x D: 1.4″ (35 mm) x 5.5″ (140 mm) x 5.1″ (130 mm))
  • Power Supply
  • Typically uses less than 10 watts, but this may vary according to options installed.
  • Price = $299 (with hard drive)

It comes in versions with and without a hard drive. The drive is supported by an internal IDE connector. It could easily be used to boot Astlinux from a memory card or 2.5″ HD.

It doesn’t have PCI expansion capability so no TDM cards. I don’t need these, and I expect that many people could get by without them or use external gateway devices. There are enough USB 2.0 ports to support the use of a Xorcom device. The on-board audio capability could be very useful in an Asterisk host.

From a price perspective it certainly compares favorably with the all-VOIP Asterisk appliances. It’s a bit little more than an ALIX board, but more polished in its appearance. Although, with multiple LAN ports the ALIX board is a better candidate for use as a router.

To be clear, I think that this is a neat box that can easily be co-oped into Asterisk applications. The Pika, VDEX-40 or Digium appliances (amongst others) are built to a task and may have considerable advantages.

That said, the lesser of those should be looking over-their-shoulder for things such as Koolu that could eat their lunch in the low-end.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Interesting and insightful, thanks for pointing this out as a possiblity for a DIY appliance. As you note though, without TDM capability, preloaded OS with Asterisk, and finally a GUI installed, it would be a bit of effort to bring it to a fair comparison point with the appliances you mention such as the Vdex-40. Perhaps once the time and additional hardware investment were made to do so, the cost factors might very well be the same?

  2. David,

    We are agreed. For most installations the dedicated hardware appliances have significant advantages. Dedicated hardware, pre-configured, even support availability. All very important stuff.

    Those at risk from generic platforms like Koolu/Soekris/ALIX are those whose appliances are for one reason or another not significantly differentiated from such generic hardware. Or those whose middleware/GUI are sub-optimal.

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