To give an idea why I think it is so cool, my podcast offers neat things to folks who call in to leave a voicemail. You can listen to entire podcast episodes, explore a crude phone sound "museum", and if you're a subscriber to the podcast you are given the password to our party line, where you can talk to our hosts and other subscribers. I'm also building a choose your own adventure type game on our phone system using IVRs and things for our top tier subscribers to play.
We're not a phone-centric podcast, but it's super easy supplemental content to provide folks for cheap. It's also currently running in the raspberrypi specific release http://www.raspberry-asterisk.org/
There are other folks who absolutely rely on Asterisk for their shows, some that have been around forever, like the Phone Losers of America Snow Plow Show.
What's your podcast? I'll bookmark it for later.
My podcast is Accidentally Fasting. Again, not related to tech at all, but I get to play around with this stuff since it's such an open format. Thanks for checking us out!
As this was way before the day of Twilio, Asterisk allowed us to completely automate that process, thus reducing the work of our callcenter tremendously. I can only assume they use a service like Twilio for this nowadays, but they were fun times, it allowed us to save incredible amounts of money, and is a good example of how opensource software helps small businesses in their early phase.
It's not really amazing. It's the OpenWRT of phone systems. There are lots of commercial PABX systems out there that are Asterisk with a skin. VOIP providers often use if for instance.
It's "dial plan", which I guess was originally a list of phone number patterns mapping to instructions one how to handle them, grew into a fully fledged but absolutely horrid language, complete with function calls, variables, and macros and threads of execution. The addition of IAX, which is effectively a protocol that lets a dial plan running in one copy of Asterisk invoke functions in another dial plan running in another copy let you build distributed PABX's.
From a computer science language design perspective the this conglomerate of organically added features is truly ghastly. But that doesn't matter. What matters is it does allow you to build amazingly complex that can deliver any feature you care to name. I've built systems that with over 20 instances of Asterisk, most with no external SIP lines of their own, that to the users functions like a single PABX in the cloud. All the calls are logged to a central place so the organisation can track who is doing what. None of this requires stepping outside of Asterisk provides in the box.
When you have a system that powerful and flexible, and yet bloody horrible to configure, it's not surprising lots of 3rd parties base their own products on it. I have absolutely no doubt those 3rd parties would not let Asterisk die. They must know, understand and appreciate the power of the open source model, so if the current project died some of them would stand up and fork a replacement.
Nobody I know, and maybe this is self-selection, likes making phone calls. Nobody I know likes receiving phone calls. In fact, at home I never even though about hooking up a phone when I moved 5 years ago. At work, when we moved offices 3 years ago, we never even hooked up the PBX.
The number one voice use I have for my cell phone is the kids' school: 3-4 times a week, one of their computers calls and usually leaves me a voicemail, which Google (badly, but good enough) translates to text. In short: They are sending me voice SMSes. :-)
I loved Asterisk 20 years ago. It was insanely cool stuff. But I mostly live in a different world now.
I find phone calls are still better for conducting complex business - not everything can (or should) be scripted using a form, and a phone call sometimes is much more efficient than chat or email.
Video chat would be even better in some cases, but there's no standardized infrastructure for this. And even then, outside a corporate environment that has dedicated video conferencing rooms on both ends of the call, a phone call is often simpler.
Less people, I think, use Asterix directly these days simply because SaaS/PaaS offerings like Twilio (which is probably built on Asterix, for all I know) cover a lot of use cases. But that's only a guess!
The guy who runs Crosstalk Solutions has a good YT channel on VoIP (not affiliated), amongst other tech-y stuff:
Fantastically easy to set up a PBX at home in under an hour, with no prior Asterisk experience.
When I finally wanted to ditch the GUI and get to a bare-bones Asterisk years later, the concepts carried over. The hardest part was tuning the very full-featured default config down to only the features I needed for a simple home PBX! I probably only retained 5% of the modules and config files that were default enabled
For another customer it was a similar deal, only this time it was to glue an old school call center PBX system to Asterisk for reasons I can no longer remember. The PBX had its own management interface, so again a Python app connected to both interfaces and figured out call identities on both sides, which were dumped into a MySQL database for (I think) the web app used by the call center staff.
I talked to those guys a few years later and it was all still running. He told me it reliably hung once a week but he never bothered to report it because a shell script automatically restarted it in that case. Resourceful sysadmins! Good times
It's quite alive.
Not sure how easy/practical it is/was, but always thought it'd be a good experiment.
I wonder if anyone ever did something similar.
However I can see how confusing the world of telephony can be with all the crazy acronyms.
Is anyone running it at home? What is your setup like?