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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How To: DIY Music Server Using FreeNAS, SlimNAS and an H-P T5700

Originally published July 21, 2008 at www.smallnetbuilder.com

By: Michael Graves

Date: July 21, 2008

From my first exposure to Slim Device’s original SliMP3 back in 2003 I was taken with the idea of streaming music throughout my house. The designers approach to this task I found very interesting. They literally give away an open source media streaming software intended for use on a file server. Then run their business by selling a dedicated hardware device to interface the music stream to a traditional stereo system.

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Refurbished HP Thin Clients

I routinely buy refurbished items through the HP Business Outlet for refurb’s & overstock. Last time one of their sales staff started sending me his daily list of available merchandise. There’s usually a handful of HP thin clients being offered as shown in the following screen shot.

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T5700 SlimNAS with 1 GB RAM

I just tried a little test in response to some questions about how the unit might perform with more RAM. I had a 1 GB SODIMM of PC2700 (DDR-333) on hand so I tried that in place of the stock 256 MB of DDR-266.

It doesn’t boot at all. It seems that the BIOS can’t handle more than 512 MB of RAM. I’ll get a 512 MB stick and try that tomorrow.

How To: DIY Music Server Using FreeNAS & A T5700 Thin Client

I’ve written up this most recent project of mine for the folks at www.smallnetbuilder.com. It’s a complete How-To that describes running FreeNAS, SlimNAS & SqueezeCenter on a recycled HP T5700 thin client. I also modify the T5700 by adding a 250 GB 2.5″ IDE drive installed internally. The result is a music server supporting my Squeezeboxes that consumes only 14 watts.

Update -the article went live this morning at http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/30522/77/