[Opinions?] Start out with Asterisk@home or custom install

I would appreciate some opinions on the best way to start out with Asterisk. I’ve been experimenting with A@H on a spare system and I’ve now bought a more powerful box for a home ‘production’ system.

Question is: How best to start out: A@H or custom install?

From my limited A@H experience so far, it seems to be a buggy system, with frequent releases that all seem to break something. There’s a lot of system management just to keep things working.

Is it a more stable experience to just install, say, CentOS and then compile basic Asterisk on it? I have the background and confidence to manage the base system without the AMP/FreePBX GUI.

What do users here think?

Depends on…

Small home, quick install and never touch again ?

Wanna play with it, try new things and be creative and do “cool” stuff ?

Maybe try a debian sarge and a manual install.
Asterisk from the scratch means all and everything by hand.
No gui, no config tools, no nothing !
All by hand…

Don’t discount A@H so quickly!!! I have a 2.1 and 2.7 system that work just fine in our office with about 5 users and heavy incoming call volumes. if you make a few quick fixes following the nerd vittles recommendations, it should work just fine. There is even a virtual machine of A@H that you can put in your windows machine to test it. With nerd vittles, you can do some cool things with it too. All without doing it all by hand - he’s already done it for you!

Richard is right, it is all about what you are going to do with it. A@H is great for someone who whats to set up something great/cheap and then go on to their other main job. If I had more time to be a hard core guru or consultant, I think I would have a system at home with plain asterisk.

you can do all the ‘plain asterisk’ stuff you want on top of an AAH system. The issue comes when trying to upgrade AAH to a new release. The concept of upgrade doesn’t exist. However, nothing precludes you from upgrading Asterisk or other components if need be.

In all reality, AAH isn’t much more than CentOS with a bunch of foundation software, then Asterisk and AMP/freepbx layered on top. What most people see and think of for AAH is mostly AMP/freepbx. Of course there is a bunch of the foundation that needs to be layed down for the AMP/freepbx to run. (And don’t get me wrong, I’m not trivializing the integration work that AAH has done).

As far as what to do - only you can really answer that, but there is absolutely no reason you can’t do all the ‘raw’ Asterisk work you want to do on top of an AAH system. In some ways, you may even learn more since you need to undertand what AMP/freepbx is doing so you can work around and/or with it.


I’m going through the process of moving away from AAH to raw installs at the minute. I’ve had AAH running for a 3 - 5 user environment for a few months and it’s been a great introduction.

It’s a top bit of kit that is especially invaluable to someone like me with little to none telephony knowledge. One of the hurdles it has helped me overcome is the terminology (I should have known better than to underestimate the importance of knowing what everyone else was saying :-).

It’s a nice way to get your hands dirty while having a helping hand in the background to make sure it all runs smoothly. So I would say start off with AAH to get up and running with an insight into the abilities that * can offer. The big advantage of AAH is you pretty much have a guaranteed clean install (barring any hardware issues which in 6 months I’ve not come across).

You may find, as I have that once AAH has been in use for a while the work environment will start to take an interest and make requests for additional services. This is probably the point where you will want to look into raw installs to make sure you get what you want.

This is where having worked with AAH will really come into it’s own, because you may need that confidence check that it all really does work. I’m speaking from personal experience as a Linux user of only a couple of years and an * user of only a few months, but the raw install can be a bloody nightmare.

I’ve been through a few versions of Linux, even more on-line install documents and have used language that’d make a navvie blush. But…

…a lot of that was my own fault which could have been avoided by sitting down and planning out what I wanted to do and taking the easier paths first, EG. Would choosing Digium hardware over Sangoma have made for an easier first time PRI install?(I now believe that it would, but that said I’m a dab hand at setting up the Sangoma cards, after a few days constant work discovering what I’d messed up).

Ultimately I worked through all that I could and the places where I couldn’t I turned to the forum. I have to say that I’m a member of a fair few forums for various technologies and I have never come across one like this with such a strong technical knowledge available and and an unreserved willingness to help.

In summary I’d recommend the following

Install AAH and play around with it (Make heavy use of the Nerd Vittles site for inspiration)

Take the time to read through the * documentation (If you haven’t already)

Keep an eye on the forum

I doubt it’ll be long before you want to do things with * that will move it outside the AAH arena, write out a plan of exactly what you want, what you think you’ll need to achieve it and how you believe you can move it forward.

I’d personally go with Digium hardware. This isn’t a slur on anyone else’s kit (The Sangoma is giving me superb performance) but the install process is a lot simpler for initial set-ups.

Make lots of notes as you go along

Be confident that if you get stalled at any point someone on here will know the answer (I’ve been amazed at some of the things these guys know and are happy to take the time to work others through (If you ask in the right way that is. I’ve noticed that help is there for those who are happy enough to get their hands dirty working through error logs, trying out different configs etc)

Give something back on the forums.

Apologies for the long-winded reply and for any ‘teaching you to suck eggs’ parts. I’ve written this not only in reply to your question but also as an answer which i could have done with a fair months ago.



Thanks for the input, guys. Based on your advice, I’ve decided to install AAH for now and set things up as described in Nerd Vittles. I now understand that there is a lot of custom stuff you can do with AAH, so maybe there is no drawback regarding flexibility. It is also very appealing to have a working system 30 minutes after powering up the PC!!

As I learn, I intend to try to give back to the forum, also. I agree with that.

Thanks again. I am sure I’ll be back with questions.