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?