Setting up an Asterisk

I was curious if anyone could give me some information on what i need to setup a home based Asterisk system? I assuming i need a VOIP card, and likely some other hardware, but could someone run me down what is best to use for a home based system, which will at most have 10 phones on it at any given time?

I was planning on running a Dell 9020
I7 2.8GHZ
16GB DDR3 1600MHZ
4TB 7200 Red WD Sata3
3 open slots for PCIe
1 PCI
LVL 6
Rob GMicrosoft Systems EngineerAsked:
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Ruel TmeizehOwnerCommented:
Hi! If you are going to be using only VoIP phone service then you don't absolutely need anything more hardware-wise than what you have. Just install Asterisk and configure it for your SIP provider.

However, if you want to use your analog phone line, then you will need either a PCI/PCIe telephony card with FXO port(s), or an ATA with an FXO port, such as the Obihai Obi110, which I highly recommend. If you have multiple analog lines, then you can buy multiple ATAs, but you will probably want to go the card route. Digium, Sangoma, and Rhino make good Asterisk compatible cards. I highly recommend Sangoma, as they will probably give you as a beginner the smoothest installation. You will want something like a Sangoma B600 or A200. Cost of the Obi110 is about $30-40. Used Sangoma cards can be had for under $100. (New they are several hundred.)

As for the computer you mentioned running it on---that system is pretty much overkill for telephony. The specs you list should handle 100 phones. You may want to use a lesser powered system for your Asterisk box and put that computer to better use elsewhere :-) You can support 10-15 phones very nicely on a 400MHz system with 512MB RAM and a small hard drive. In a home environment with normal usage you can get by with even less than that.

For your phones, you have three choices, or a mix of the three. Softphones, hardphones, and legacy analog phones. Softphones obviously don't require hardware since they just run on whatever computers or devices you already have. If you want hardphones, there are many good brands---a lot depends on personal preference. I like phones from Yealink, Snom, and Polycom. The only ones I do not recommend are Grandstream (they may be ok but in the past have had reliability issues), and Cisco. Cisco makes fine phones, but setting them up to work with Asterisk is not something you want to tackle when you are starting out.

If you want to use legacy analog phones (cordless, etc.) then you will need either FXS ports on your telephony card or an ATA(s) with FXS ports. (FXO ports connect to the phone company lines, FXS ports connect to analog phones.) There are more advanced options as well for FXS interfaces, such as Adit 600 and Adtran 6xx series of channel banks (a channel bank is a big ATA with lots of ports and options), but at this point you probably don't want to dive into something like that. The advantage of these units is that they give you up to 24 or 48 FXS ports on one unit.

I recommend you check out the O'Reilly book "Asterisk: the Definitive Guide". It is available for you to read free at www.asteriskdocs.org. It will help you with configuration and setup, etc.

Let me know if you have more questions or need any clarification.

Also, feel free to drop in and ask any questions you may have on the #asterisk IRC channel on Freenode.

Have a great day and a blessed Christmas and/or Hanukkah :-D
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Rob GMicrosoft Systems EngineerAuthor Commented:
Ruh,
Do you know where i can download a decent soft phone application to install virtually?
I am basically just trying to learn the software.. I really have no reason for it, just interested in getting it running..
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Ruel TmeizehOwnerCommented:
Not exactly sure what you mean by "install virtually."

For Linux, you can try Yate, Linphone, Twinkle, and SFLphone.
For Windows there is Bria x-Lite and Zoiper.
For Mac, there is Blink.
For Android csipsimple and Zoiper.
For iOS, Linphone and Zoiper.

There are others of course too but these listed should meet your needs for testing for now.
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Rob GMicrosoft Systems EngineerAuthor Commented:
Basically i am going to run desktops with softphones on a VM, or Virtual box, with either Linux or Windows, whatever i can get for free for testing purposes..

Thanks for all the help..

I will look into those..

Cheers!
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Rob GMicrosoft Systems EngineerAuthor Commented:
Ruh, provided me with the info i needed..
Thank you Ruh!
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