I was feeling under the weather this weekend and found myself confined to my bedroom and basement. With all the idle time I spent a few hours setting up Asterisk. I was looking at two goals, first examining the basic functionality that Asterisk provides and the second was testing the integration between Asterisk and a Nortel i2002 IP phone using the UNIStim (chan_unistim) protocol driver.
For anyone that isn’t familiar with Asterisk; Asterisk is the world’s leading open source PBXi, telephony engine, and telephony applications toolkit. Offering flexibility unheard of in the world of proprietary communications, Asterisk empowers developers and integrators to create advanced communication solutions…for free.
I started by building a CentOS 5.2 server within a VMware environment which was easy enough. I then downloaded the latest Asterisk release (1.6.1-rc1) and compiled the source files. Within no time I had the basic Asterisk installation up and running. I hacked away at the unistim.conf, and extensions.conf file and before long I was making test calls across my private branch exchange between two softphones (X-Lite) and two Nortel i2002 IP phones.
Asterisk is an incredibly powerful solution and can really empower SOHO and small Enterprise networks. The feature support within Asterisk is very impressive and includes voice mail and conferencing. Digium actually manufacturers a number of telephony products based on Asterisk and are very appealing to some businesses. There are also a number of growing service providers which can be used to connect Asterisk over the Internet to the PSTN network without the need for dedicated hardware. I was very impressed with the solution.