Introduction: Newbie to Asterisk, feeling my way

Hello to all. I am a newbie to Asterisk. I have been aware of it for a while now, but am just getting around to starting a project to familiarize myself with it. Been reading the board, the FAQ’s etc. I am looking for a little mentoring. I am ordering the O’Reily book right away, and no doubt it will be a big help. For now I am looking for a little guidance on the best way to get my feet wet.

I have passing familiarity with Linux, having just brought up a MythTV system, and using a Ubuntu desktop part time. I have also extensively “hacked” a Tivo, which is also linux based, but I am much more comfortable with Windows. So please bear with me if some of the unix jargon misses the mark, as I am still learning. But here’s what I want to accomplish:

I want to set up a small Asterisk system for my home. The intent is that it should run on Knoppix, on the same system that is currently running MythTV. Has anyone integrated Asterisk with a Myth box? Are there any particular gotcha’s to watch out for?

As for functionality, I essentially want to combine a VOIP serice, replacing my existing Magic Jack, plus manage two POTS lines, one of which is mainly used for FAX (Yeah, antiquated Fax services. Some still use it, although it is thankfully, slowly dying out) and the other of which serves as my primary line. VOIP should be used for any long distance outgoing, at least mostly. But the primary line should support standard functions/features. Where I am trying to get is to have more-or-less the same feature set as a Way-To-Call box with a PC. But I also want to support several handsets in the household and allow for transparent selection of POTS lines and VOIP to any handset. Something like, pick up a handset, dial 9 for VIOP, 8 for line 1, 7 for line 2, etc. Incoming calls on any line should go to the handset, voicemail, or fax machine as needed.

I know that’s pretty general and simplistic. No doubt as I understand Asterisk better I will refine my ideas of what I want it to accomplish. Right now I am struggling to get my head around hardware options, what kind of interface does the PC need to support each service, etc., along with Asterisk capabilities.

At the moment this is mainly just an exercise in education. There is no intent to run a business or household on Asterisk, although as I get more comfortable with it I will migrate to doing so. Right now I am merely trying to educate myself.

Recommendations and comments from more experienced Asterisk users are most appreciated. As a bit of background, I currently have a generic voice modem in a PC, and am running some kludgey software that claims to be an answering machine and other functions, but which works poorly and usually crashes. I have multiple phones for different services (i.e. Magic Jack, vs the line which is nominally dedicated to the Fax machine, but which sometimes serves other functions) and figuring out which is what sometimes get a bit much.

The experience at hacking around with this convoluted mess has helped me progress to the point where I want to get my feet wet with a “real” system, hence my interest in Asterisk. Hopefully I can condense my varied requirements into one platform and make things much simpler all around.

Anyway, I just joined this forum and am posting to introduce myself and hoping to begin participating in the Asterisk community. Looking forward to making friends, and to learning how to configure and use what looks to be a very neat system.


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