Installing a Linux system for Asterisk & File Server

I’m completely a Newbie.
I have some parts lying around which I want to make a system for Asterisk and also a file server for my movies
a) Asus P5PE-VM motherboard
b) Pentium D 805 2.66GHz
c) 1Gb DDR ram
d) 160GB HDD for OS
e) 2x Sillicon Image 3114 SATA pci adapters
e) Linksys PAP2 voip adapter

4 systems + 2 laptops (WinXP) + xbox must be able to access the files in the server.
Asterisk needed to create and connect phones in various locations in and out of the country.

Which Linux should I install? hopefully I can install Linux with desktop interface like Xandros.

I’ve 8 x hdds in NTFS fully loaded need to be installed into the system. Can I just plug them in without deleting the files inside it?

I need someone to give me a head start. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.

Not a ton of help here on the Asterisk side since I’m a noob here as well.

If you’re looking to have this central server “stream content” to the pc’s as well as the xbox etc. take a look at the tversity project . Best part is it’s free, the bad part is it doesn’t run on Linux (runs on XP or Windows 2000 only). It is able to stream content and transcode on the fly (i.e. change the format to an acceptable one on the device it is streaming too). You could, in theory, then run Asterisk in a VM (virtual machine) for the telephony side. Keep in mind transcoding is very CPU intensive, so I really wouldn’t recommend doing that. Best case scenario is run two separate machines, one for Asterisk and one for the media server.

As far as your hdd with NTFS, you are in luck. Linux can read/write them so you should be fine, for more details look here:

Which distro to install, I’d recommend Ubuntu as it is very easy to install, has a good gui, and you can find a ton of help in their forums. Head over to Also, if you only need to share the media files over the network (no transcoding), you could load Ubuntu (and Asterisk) and then set up an SMB share which would then be mapped to a drive letter on all your other desktops and laptops. Problem is that leaves the Xbox out in the cold…

Good luck!


Thanks Lyle.

I’m using xbox not xbox360. Currently I’m able to watch movies from my XP systems through network using Media Center installed in my xbox.

Should I choose CentOS or Ubuntu?

I’ve read about KDE. Is it an independent linux os or I need to install basic linux os 1st.

Okay couple of issues here.

  1. running an Xserver GUI with asterisk is a VERY bad idea. Call quality will suffer greatly TOTALLY NOT WORTH IT.

  2. you can only attach 4 IDE hard drives per card (or port for SATA drives) so you would need 3 SATA ports if they are all SATA or 5 IDE ports for non SATA drives

  3. you would be much better off seperating the two systems. For home use an old desktop P4 1+GHz system with 256MB ram would be more than enough to run Asterisk.

  4. if your a linux noob and want Asterisk I would suggest you start with AsteriskNOW as the linux portion of administrating the server is taken out of the equation and managed by the Asterisk GUI.

Ok, gotcha on the xbox equation.

As I and swaterhouse mentioned, best to separate the two server functions into two totally separate machines.

CentOS is a “RedHat Enterprise” based distro (only free!) and a lot of Asterisk distro’s are built around it. Ubuntu is more of an easy beginners distro - in your case I’d choose neither and go with a prebuilt Asterisk distro. KDE is the “gui” that goes on top of a given distro. For example, Ubuntu’s base gui is Gnome so if you want KDE instead, you’d download and install Kubuntu. (Yes I know there are ways to install KDE without choosing the other distro, just trying not to confuse things too much).

I know I’ll get flamed for this, but you could also try a full distro that is already configured with Asterisk etc. like Trixbox or Elastix. If you’re new to Linux that is the way to go to get your feet wet. I’ll leave the url find for those projects to the reader. Download the iso’s for either of those and burn them to cd. Toss them into a pc with a hard drive you don’t care about getting overwritten and you’ll have a working system in short order.

Elastix (for instance - and fyi that is what I run right now), puts a CentOs based Linux distro on your machine with a lot of nice gui’s like Freepbx and their own web interface, that makes it pretty easy to get started. These gui’s are all browser based that you get too from any other machine on your local network (the Elastix box will come up in text mode). Configure a couple extensions, setup some phones (either “soft” ones on pc’s, or physical ones), and start playing.