Help for a newbie

Ours is a small 4 person OS-X office with 3 phone lines (1 for fax). We would like to make and receive all calls via the Macs (2 G-5 and 1 G4 iMacs and 2 G4 PB) What hardware do we need to make this happen and can we share the asterisk software? I haven’t read any docs (hey what do you expect, I’m a Mac user) but would like to do so. Any help for a neophyte will be greatly appreciated.

Bill Fisher


First- read the book Asterisk- The Future of Telephony. It’s available from O’Rilley or as a free creative commons download from . I recommend reading it, it provides a solid introduction to Asterisk and what it can do.

Any other info you need is on the Voip Wiki at

If you want to use your Macs and headsets to make calls, you will need a piece of software called a softphone. Many are available, search the Wiki.
That said, I highly recommend against a softphone unless you know you are going to be wearing headsets 24/7.

For hardware, you will need a dedicated computer to run Asterisk on. This could be one of the Macs but i don’t know if zaptel cards work with Mac. Otherwise any old $30 PC will do- for 3 lines and a LAN (ie, no compression/encoding) (leave the fax alone) all you need is an old P-200. You will want a Digium TDM400 series interface card for you lines with at least 3 FXO (red) modules. this may help-
FXO (red module) connects to a phone line, FXS (green module) connects to a PHONE and provides a dialtone. You can buy hardware at

Hope that helped.

I use a Mac too, actually about 85 of them, but I have read the book.

Anyhow, you can use anyish G3 and up Mac to host the Asterisk server. Depending on what your phone lines will/do look like to the PSTN (pure VoIP or POTS lines) If it’s pure VoIP you can run * on top of OSX. If you’re gonna be connecting to your phone lines (Ma Bell) You’ll need a Digium card, which will not run under OSX, no drivers. There is a group working on them, but you’d be best to run Yellow Dog Linux ( ) on your Mac. The Digium cards and drivers will work under that platform.

Check out: this site , the wiki, and read the damn book. This isn’t a hunt and peck application. You’ll need some solid grounding to get up and running, and it’ll assist you in getting help when you really need it.

You might be able to make Asterisk run on OS X but it’s an enthusiast project IMO. I checked out this route (Have OS X, didn’t want to necessarily add a lone Linux machine) but quickly realized it’s far less painful to use the platfom Asterisk is built on. I just didn’t feel like tweaking scripts etc. to make it compile and to configure it on OS X, with the added penalty of having to go through it again when installing a new version of Asterisk. I might tackle it now - now that I know what’s essential and work inside out. Finally, you’re much easier helped if you do not have to qualify your questions with "I’m running Asterisk on OS X …"
If you’re comfortable with the Unix shell and did configuring and compiling (using make) on your Mac’s below the GUI’s surface, you should feel at home in Linux after a few days of orientation. And the said tools you’ll have to deal with anyhow.
If you need analog or ISDN or other outside lines, you’ll need a PCI Mac to host cards like Digium TDM400, so you might as well get an Intel PCI machine which would have the same footprint… and, well, with no drivers a PCI Mac is pointless in the first place.
I run the XLite softphone on my Mac and would not recommend it for daily use. Most frustrating are the need for frequent restart because it somehow loses (part of the) connection to Asterisk. Might be specific with the particular Mac, might be general… Just a problem you don’t want to deal with…
I found the book “Asterisk, the future of telephony” very helpful to get me started and not have to go around in circles in blogs and forums.