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D.I.Y. Asterisk Appliances: A Question Of Scale


This is by no means a complete survey of the possible platforms available for a DIY Asterisk Appliance, but it should serve to help you decide what might best suit your needs. Clearly some of the platforms described remain more appropriate for hobbyist and experimental applications than production use in a home, home office or small business. Even so, it’s easy to see how for a modest amount of money…say $150-250…you can assemble an Asterisk system that will serve your needs reliably over the long term, and even accommodate growth over time.

There is some merit in trying to determine where you’d draw the line between something that’s suitable as an inexpensive platform for experimentation vs a production system. In my mind this defines what would be considered an acceptable solution if recommended by a consultant or reseller for a small business or home office.

My sense is that the last three classes of hardware considered are completely acceptable solutions to real-world installations. I think that the thin clients, embedded PCs and net-tops are sufficiently polished and capable to be relied upon for everyday use. They don’t give the impression of being experimental or hack-ish.

In contrast, the other platforms may actually be better suited to experimental applications. The very fact that such inexpensive, even inconspicuous hardware can be used to host a PBX suggests that there are many opportunities to communication enable previously silent aspects of our daily lives…learning something and having some fun along the way.

In closing I just have to ask, what’s you’re favorite little Asterisk platform?

This Post Has 6 Comments
    1. boerner,

      I’m aware of these devices. However, at the start I made the conscious decision not include commercially available Asterisk appliances. There are many such devices available. I wanted to keep a decidedly D.I.Y. approach in mind. Further, I suspect that all of the commercial offerings are more costly than the platforms I wished to consider.

      I must admit that part of the appeal of the thin clients is that I was recycling hardware that was headed to the dumpster. It was at least a little green-ish.

      I do agree that David Rowe‘s work is awesome. We even had Steven Song from the Shuttleworth Foundation / Village Telco as a guest on a VUC call late last year.

  1. Another plug for the IP0X series, especially the very low cost IP01s & IP02s.
    They are so cheap that they are a good choice for the hobbyist / home enthusiast that wants to try out Asterisk.
    Here in New Zealand, we pay less than NZ$300 for an IP01.
    One nice thing about them is they include everything you need.

    On a related note, I once tried getting Asterisk working on a Linksys SLUG (the NSLU2) It was a royal pain.

    I love the idea of an appliance to run Asterisk – no hard drive and no PC power supply to fail. And no noise and very low power consumption.

    My challenge is that I really like “HD Voice” (G.722) so want to run Asterisk 1.6 on an appliance – that has enough grunt to trasnscode G.722 to G.711 etc. Only need to support 3 or 4 concurrent calls at max though.

    1. Andrew,

      Almost all of the platforms that I described will run Asterisk v1.6 and support the use of G.722. Certainly the last three types described (thin clients, SBCs and net-tops) all have more than enough power to handle such matters.

      I know that the latest release of Astlinux uses Asterisk v1.6 and runs happily on the Fit-PC or and older Soekris Net4801. I’ve done both myself.

  2. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he really bought me lunch simply because I discovered it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

  3. Hey Michael,
    Excellent writeup. As I said, your site’s almost as addictive as Wikipedia. A note on REVO 3610.. I am using it as a media center, running regular Ubuntu Lucid with XBMC, playing Hi-Def content with barely getting into 20% CPU usage (720p). It’s a very powerful platform, that runs very little juice. For a proper office setup, you can easily use the Sangoma USBfxo unit, which (according to a quick ebay check) runs for about $125. The manufacturer offers driver source code for download. I haven’t tried working with it yet, but it’s a very interesting option for a hybrid setup.

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