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Best Linux Distro for Asterisk

Posted on 2009-07-03
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I would like to get some feedback on what you guys think is the best OS for asterisk.  

Debian?
Centos?
Ubuntu?

Why do you think your choice is the best distro for Asterisk?  Hopefully this will spark a good discussion / debate amongst Experts.  Thanks
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Question by:jkockler
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glenthorne earned 200 total points
ID: 24773290
While it is true that Asterisk will run on almost any flavor of Linux, I personally prefer CentOS.   Asterisk itself was not the reason I chose CentOS, but because of the applications that I wanted to install with Asterisk.  Like:  HUDLite.  
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by:Michal-Drozd
ID: 24773312
and what about AstLinux http://www.astlinux.org/ ? :)
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by:Ron Malmstead
Ron Malmstead earned 200 total points
ID: 24773527
I like CentOS....

Though Asterisk will run on most distro's...
I was told by an Asterisk instructor that it is the recommended flavor of linux for Asterisk....per Mark Spencer.

The O'Reilly book and lab manuals are based on the CentOS setup as well....
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by:jkockler
ID: 24773640
xuserx, you met mark spencer?  Pretty cool.

Well I am about to switch to centos... I have had problem after problem the last few days with ubuntu.

It is sort of my fault really, because I decided to upgrade to ubuntu 9.0.4 ... I installed a backup server on it, and I found the NIC settings were more stable etc.... So I made the jump.  Well now Asterisk will not start on bootup, gets a permission error when hitting //var/run/asterisk.pid ..... the backup box which was stable until I last night, this morning was not able to connect to the CLI.... I tried reinstalling Asterisk multiple times on the backup box, but was buggy.  I completely reloaded ubuntu 9.0.4 on the backup box now, and installed  / compiled Asterisk , only to find that the CLI lacked all SIP and DIALPLAN commands.  So I am recompiling one more time, with some extra options unchecked this time, and I will see what happens.
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by:Ron Malmstead
ID: 24773693
NOOO.... I never met Mark Spencer... I wish...

my instructor CLAIMS he did... and that was a question he posed supposedly...

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by:Ron Malmstead
ID: 24773701
I had problems getting it going on Ubuntu as well....

I'm not a linux professional by any means...but I think it has something to do with the newer Ubuntu distro's using user account control similar to how Vista works...  where you don't actually logon as root.

To make it work I had to do a workaround so I could logon as root...but it was a long painful process for Ubuntu.  It worked eventually but I kept having issues so I dumped it.
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by:Ron Malmstead
ID: 24773714
btw - my problem was the same as yours... Asterisk couldn't run because of permissions..."//var/run/asterisk.pid"

very annoying...right ?

I'm sure people who are very familiar with ubuntu could figure this one out quickly.... i'm not one of those people so for me it was a trial and error....but mostly error.
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by:jkockler
ID: 24773906
Yes, very very annoying... In addition to other permissions issues across the board on the asterisk install.  I have no access to any of the //var/spool/asterisk files ... and on the backup server, I have no access to the //etc/asterisk files....And the fact that the permissions are different for the same application, on the same OS, but different compuers, is also discouraging.  Consistency is key.

 I can copy the files out, and then change the permissions with chmod, but that is aggravating at best, just for the purpose of seeing what is in the directories, or backing them up manually to an external drive.  I am sure changing the permissions on the actual directories would cause even more problems.

Well now I have running 1.4.21.2 on the backup, and 1.4.25.1 on the primary.  Both seem to be up and stable but neither will start Asterisk on boot up....

I ended up just installing asterisk on the back up through apt-get install asterisk, and that resolved the missing commands problem.  It should not be that hard to deploy Asterisk onto a computer.

Can I sign onto a Centos box as root?  I am assuming that Centos is much easier to manage in the way of permissions.  
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by:Ron Malmstead
ID: 24773932
On CentOS you sign in as root.
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by:Ron Malmstead
ID: 24773956
CentOS is much easier.

If you are using CentOS... you can follow the O'Reilly book word for word and it works every time.
I haven't tested to many different distro's though.... so I can't say if it wouldn't be just as easy on something else.

I just prefer CentOS because that's what I was trained on, and i've never had an issue with it.... so why switch ?

In the O'Reilly book, it proclaims that you can even put Asterisk on Mac OSX.... I just don't see why anyone would want to do that unless it were just for experimental purposes.
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by:jkockler
ID: 24773959
Oh that is so key.  I am new to Linux, and never in my life have I ever used a computer as anything other than a user with full  "administrator" privileges.   I know thats Windows talk, but this is more than aggravating.

I can understand the theory behind not being root, as not to compromise the whole box in the event of an attack, but I will take my chances any day over this garbage.

And at the high risk of getting flamed here in the Linux zone, I would say that Vista's security scheme, that is somewhat similar to the Ubuntu problem, is more logical and easier to work with.  I mean you can turn user account control off with a couple clicks, and you don't need a password every time if you decide to leave it on.  
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by:Ron Malmstead
ID: 24773985
Yea...

I don't want to be flammed either...but Linux comes in many flavors, so it's not always "geek friendly" no matter how geeky you are.  It's both the advantage and disadvantage of open source.

I have no doubt it works just fine on Ubuntu or any other flavor, but i'm not a linux programmer...i'm a network mgr..  Therefore I have to rely on others to make it easy for me to setup.  CentOS.
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by:jkockler
ID: 24774040
What version of Centos are you using?  I downloaded version 5... stable?
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by:glenthorne
ID: 24774409
I'm using CentOS 5 on my servers.
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by:Ron Malmstead
ID: 24774427
I'm running 4.7
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by:jkockler
ID: 24774592
Does the install medium really require 6 cds or a DVD, for Centos?


I think i downloaded the wrong thing.  It looks to be just the Live CD.  It fits on one CD.

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by:arnold
arnold earned 50 total points
ID: 24775015
If your system has direct access to the net, download the net-install iso and after boot of the system you can install the OS by pointing it to one of the mirrors.

Not sure, but even if you downloaded the Live CD, you might be able to still install the OS on the drive. After that you could add packages as you see fit using yum.

 
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by:diepes
diepes earned 50 total points
ID: 24776301
To look at a system as root on a Ubuntu system.

$sudo su

As root you can also add a password and then you will be allowed to login as root, but it is not the recommended way.
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by:jkockler
ID: 24777190
I found a fix that worked for me, for the asterisk not starting on boot up in Ubuntu..... Followed the steps on the last post of this link....

http://www.voipuser.org/forum_topic_3621.html

Worked on the first reboot... Will try again to make sure, but that looks to be it, if anyone else has the problem out there.
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by:darrickhartman
ID: 24781896
For future reference, Astlinux (http://www.astlinux.org) , mentioned above, is a Asterisk centric distribution.  There are many functions that are optimized to improve Asterisk performance and allow it to run on low powered hardware to create a system with no moving parts.  You CAN install it on a full hard drive if you want, but most people install it on a compact flash drive.

To get optimal performance on many mainstream Linux distributions, you really should recompile the kernel to use the 1000khz interrupt timer (unless you are using a Zaptel hardware card).  Failing to do that may result in timing issues with meetme conferences.

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by:jkockler
ID: 24781932
Thanks darrickhartman.

I looked briefly at the distro.  Is this in an Asterisk "GUI" type setup?  I have tried a couple of the GUI distros, such as Tribox, Freepbx, and of course AsteriskGUI, and I found them buggy.  I also prefer to use Asterisk without a GUI, as you tend to have more control of the platform, and a better understanding of how it works.

Either way, thanks for the information.

As for an update on what I have done.....I have 2 servers up so far on CentOS, and a third on it's way.  Asterisk has been solid as a rock so far.  We shall see.

I also found this very helpful article on Asterisk install, that blows the O'Reilly instructions out of the water.  If anyone else out there is interested or having issues getting Asterisk installed, check this link and follow it to the T, if you are using CentOS.

http://www.voip-info.org/wiki/view/CentOS+5+and+Asterisk+1.4.x+installation


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by:darrickhartman
ID: 24782050
jkockler

You don't have to touch a GUI with Astlinux.  There is a web interface for several of the OS functions, but you don't need to use it.  The configuration is a bit different than most Linux distros, but we have most of it documented on the website (if I didn't mention earlier, I'm one of the project developers).

You can optionally use Astlinux as your network gateway/firewall.  We use Arno's IPtables firewall and have contributed several plugins for traffic shaping.  There's also IPsec and openvpn support.  

In later releases, we have included the Asterisk-GUI (2.0 branch), but I have not used it and cannot recommend using it to others at this time.  Some users are using it though with minimal issues.

The biggest way Astlinux differs from mainstream distros, is it's image based and uses unionfs for writeable storage.  Makes it super easy to upgrade.  Adding your own binary programs may be more difficult though because we use a cross-compiling development environment and link against uClibc instead of glibc.  We are looking at moving to eglibc if we can maintain similar binary sizes.
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by:jkockler
ID: 24782263
Well I spoke too soon... Getting errors installing Asterisk on my 3rd server.... Details are this link, if anyone wants to help!!

http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Linux/Q_24545476.html

darrickharman... I will make a go at installing Astilinux on one of my boxes after I get this other server up.  Sounds like a cool distro.  Thanks for the info!
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