Quick Start Guide for Asterisk

Asterisk is a complete open source software-based IP PBX solution that runs on a variety of platforms. It supports VOIP in several protocols, and can seamlessly integrate with almost any standards-based telephony equipment using relatively inexpensive hardware.

This guide is a quick-start set of notes that should help you get the Asterisk service up and running with the web-based graphical user interface. Much of this was taken from the various README files that come with the software download, but I thought it would be nice to have the directions all in one place so that I don’t have to search for them in the future. I did this on a new RHEL 5 install. I would imagine that the same procedure should work on most Linux distributions.

Configuration and implementation of Asterisk is fairly complex and is beyond the scope of this document. I should also say this this guide does not include directions for installing and configuring other Asterisk related software that is required to integrate with telephony equipment.

Enough disclaimers… Let’s get started.

  • Download the latest source package of Asterisk, untar it and CD into the newly created directory.
  • Run “make
  • Run “make install
  • Run”make samples” (Doing this will overwrite any existing config files you have, so don’t do it if you are upgrading or something like that)
  • Run “make config” (This creates the `/etc/rc.d/init.d/asterisk’ file so you can crontroll the
  • asterisk service with chkconfig and service.)

You are now done installing Asterisk. Now let’s install the GUI.

  • Download the latest source package of the Asterisk GUI client, untar it and CD into the newly created directory.
  • Run “make
  • Run “make install
  • Run “make samples” This installs the sample configuration files. Again, don’t do this if you are upgrading because it will overwrite your existing files.

Now let’s configure it.

You need to edit a few Asterisk configuration files to enable the GUI

1) In /etc/asterisk/http.conf:

        enabled = yes
        enablestatic = yes
        bindaddr=xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx (The IP address of your Asterisk server)

2) In /etc/asterisk/manager.conf

        enabled = yes
        webenabled = yes

3) Create an appropriate entry in manager.conf for the administrative user

        secret = YourFavoritePassword
        read = system,call,log,verbose,command,agent,config
        write = system,call,log,verbose,command,agent,config

4) Run “make checkconfig

Look for the following lines… They will tell you how to get to your GUI.

  * GUI should be available at
  * http://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:8088/asterisk/static/config/cfgbasic.html

  * Before using the GUI, Please visit the install page at
  * http://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:8088/asterisk/static/config/setup/install.html 

5) We should be all set Let’s start or restart asterisk:

Run “/sbin/service asterisk restart

6) Lastly, grab a web browser and go to your install page. It should look something like this:


Configure it up and have fun with your new Asterisk server.

Say “Credit” to Protest

If you’re like me, you pay for most everything with your debit card. The companies I frequent, of course, would rather I run the card through as debit to avoid the 3% service charge that Master Card imposes on purchases that are made using the credit option. To me it makes no difference. The money comes out of my checking account either way, so I have started to make the decision on how I run the card based on the degree to which I like, or don’t like the company or store where I’m shopping.

Since I live in rural New England and my choices are limited, I sometimes have to shop at places I don’t like, so forcing these establishments to run my purchase through as credit has become my way of protesting them. Since I tend to prefer small, locally owned businesses to large, box stores like Home Depot, there is also the added benefit of giving the little guys an advantage over the large, National chains. Will it make any difference in the end? Most likely not, but if I can cut into Walmart’s bottom line by 3%, all the better in my mind.

So, should you find yourself shopping at a place you don’t like, say “credit” rather than “debit” when you check out and knock a little off their annual profit report.

Is Blogging Like Sex?

Bloggers tend to interact a lot with other bloggers. Particularly the use of features like trackbacks and pringbacks encourage sites to to link to blogs because the favor can be returned with a link exchange. The purpose of this technology, as well as the use of comments, is to facilitate topical discussion between blogs, which it does quite well… Just look at how many blogs have sprung up lately.

Rosevibe points out that this interactive behavior is very much like sex. She writes:

1) Sex – better when someone else is interacting with you, blogging – better when someone interacts with you.

2) Sex – there’s always someone claiming to be an ‘expert’ telling you that ‘this is how you do it, these are the tools you need.. There’s books, videos, you name it and someone’s writing about it.. Oh wait, was that sex or blogging I was talking about there..?

Certainly no argument here. Getting a comment or an incoming link is always much appreciated, and we’re constantly kicking around ideas to make our blogs better. Her point is mostly that blogging about blogging is similar to sex.

I mean C’mon! People are making money blogging about blogging – does this make them the porn stars of the blogosphere?

I don’t know if I totally buy into that, but the interactive discussions and link sharing certainly have some resemblance. It’s an interesting point anyhow.

Another Used Sun Fire T2000 For Sale

We have another used Sun Fire T2000 server. Since the first one was sold in less than 24 hours, I thought it would be nice to offer this one up to this site’s readers as well. It has never been used in production and is in like-new condition.

  • Sun Fire T2000 Server
  • 8 core 1.0 Ghz UltraSPARC T1 processor
  • 16GB DDR memory (16 1GB DIMMs)
  • 2X 73GB 10,000PRM disk drives
  • 1X DVD-ROM/CDRW drive
  • Serial Number: 0639VB0053
  • Starting Bid: $13,000

If you are interested, or would like any further information, please leave a comment or visit this link. Our university campus policy states that big ticket items like this must be sold using an auction style bidding system. I should add, however, that most items in the surplus system are sold with only one bid, so please don’t let the process discourage you if you are at all interested.

VMware Fusion Evaluation

Since much of my job involves rolling out Linux solutions I’ve been experimenting with VMware Fusion Beta for the Macintosh in my development environment. Given that the product is still in beta, I have very few complaints about its actual stability. Most of the features work reliably as advertised, but there are some basic points of functionality that I feel the software is lacking. More on that later.

First, let’s take a look at exactly what VMware Fusion is. At its core, the package allows the user to create and run virtual machines on the Macintosh. For those who are new to virtualization, it is a way to run multiple virtual computers on one actual computer. The hardware resources are abstracted and shared to the virtual machines through the virtualization software — in this case VMware Fusion. A complete description on virtualization can be found here.

Previous to Fusion, only VMware player was available to Macintosh users, so it is nice to actually be able to create virtual machines locally. The snapshot feature is also very nice for development purposes since you can instantly roll back to a previous working state should you corrupt the software on the virtual machine.

Perhaps the problem that annoyed me most, however, was the fact that there is no clear way to delete virtual machines from within the software. I actually tried to get rid of one by deleting this folder:

/Volumes/Macintosh HD/Users/myaccount/Documents/Virtual Machines/Mymachine.vmwarevm

But I just ended up breaking the “Virtual Machine Library” application and having to uninstall and reinstall everything from scratch. The process detailing how to delete a virtual machine did not exist anywhere in the VMware Fusion FAQ or documentation as far as I could tell. Granted, it’s beta software, but I would think this should be a core feature of any virtualization product. At least they provide an “Uninstaller” script.

VMware Fusion is a basic piece of software that succeeds in fulfilling the most fundamental of virtualization requirements. If all you want to do is be able to run a virtual machine or two on your Mac, it will most likely work for you. If you are looking to deploy it as part of an enterprise solution, I would suggest letting the product mature a while and using something like Parallels instead.

Charges for Making Faces at Police Dog Don’t Stick

Last July Jayna Hutchinson of Lebanon, N.H was arrested for making faces at a police dog following a heated debate with a Vermont police officer who refused to take down her report of being assaulted. Citing that she smelled of alcohol, Vermont State Police Sgt. Todd Protzman agitated Hutchinson when he told her that he would only take her report after she had sobered up.

This tuesday, only two days before Hutchinson was to go to trial, Orange County State’s Attorney Will Porter decided to drop the charge, after viewing a videotape of the incident. The subsequent charge of “resisting arrest” was also dropped because prosecutors did not think they could get a jury to convict her without the “cruelty to a police animal” charge.

Since she never even touched the dog, I tend to think the charges were more about her having challenged police authority than about hassling the police K9.

Microsoft Redesigns the Apple iPod

The music is annoyingly reminiscent of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, but this video about what might happen should Microsoft re-design the iPod box is pretty funny. Apple, more than any other company I can think of has mastered the “out of the box experience”, which makes unpacking its products a truly wonderful and unique experience. If this has been a major factor in the company’s recent success is hard to say, but other tech companies like Dell and Microsoft have totally failed to match Apple’s design aesthetics.