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

Selecting hardware appropriate for a particular Asterisk installation has been a topic of discussion ever since the emergence of Asterisk. This typically centers around choosing hardware to handle n users or x concurrent calls. Often the focus is on how to scale up to the greatest number of users for a given server. However, there can be different but related considerations as we consider ever smaller applications.

In various circles I’ve lately witnessed a minor spike in interest in small form factor Asterisk systems. I have found it curious to survey the various hardware platforms that people are considering when creating their own DIY Asterisk Appliances. To establish some perspective on this I recently posted my own history of using Asterisk my own little Asterisk retrospective.

There are quite a range of small computing platforms available to the enthusiast seeking to tinker with Asterisk. It seemed to me that an overview of such hardware and related resources would be helpful.


For my purposes I’ll only consider generic platforms suitable for a DIY project , not the commercially offered embedded Asterisk devices, of which there are many. These small host platforms tend to be in the $50-$300 range which makes them approachable for hobbyists, home users and some small businesses.

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A History Of Asterisk In My Home Office

I’ve recently been reflecting upon my history as an Asterisk user and the evolution of my preference for embedded systems (aka appliance) approach to Asterisk servers.

The path that I’ve followed is probably typical of a lot of people in many ways. Perhaps by sharing my experience I can help some people avoid some of the problems that I have faced, and understand how I arrived at my personal definition of an “Asterisk Appliance.”

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SkypeKit: The Next Step In Skype Everywhere

Earlier today Skype announced the pending launch of a beta program for an SDK called SkypeKit. SkypeKit is intended to allow hardware developers to embed Skype client functionality into their devices.

SkypeKit seems to be a logical next step after having recently partnered with LG, Samsung and Panasonic to build embedded Skype clients for their newest HDTVs. I mentioned this previously.

There’s a bunch of coverage of the SkypeKit launch available at various places online. Engadget has their say and some nice pics of the Grandstream GXV-3140 Media Phone running Skype. Also a Litl webbook that looks like it’s running Skype with video.

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Deal Alert: San Disk Cruzer Micro 4GB $8.95 @ BUY.COM

I can hear you now. “What! Why would Graves be recommending a plain vanilla USB memory stick? Not especially cheap nor especially large? He must be mad!” That may well be true, but it remains comfortably beside the point.

As you may know we do like our Polycom SoundPoint desktop phones around here. In fact, the IP650 has perched upon my desktop longer than another other single device. One of it’s great conveniences is the software option called the Polycom Productivity Suite, which I purchased for all my IP650s.

This software includes the ability to record calls locally on the phone with just one or two button presses. This has been tremendously useful for podcasting, technical and normal business applications.

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