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Asterisk 17 (mail-archive.com)
79 points by SimonAC 16 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 34 comments

It's funny to me to see "was cool" and "amazing this is still alive", because I absolutely love Asterisk. I cut my teeth building Freepbx boxes at a small/mid business voip provider in college before moving on to a different field.

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.

I use Asterisk to tie a bunch of my shit together. I even have little burner phones that can do all sorts of cool things thanks to modern SIMs and VoIP tech.

What's your podcast? I'll bookmark it for later.

That's awesome. I've been toying with the idea of setting up things like that. My next little project is setting up sms support so folks can text in.

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!

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/accidentally-fasting/i... https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/accidentally-fasting

It's amazing this project is still alive and kicking. Back in the day, early 2000s, I was employed by Takeaway.com to automate a large part of their outbound callcenter work (after faxing an order for a Pizza, sometimes an error occurred due to paper jam etc and our callcenter had to verify the order arrived).

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 amazing this project is still alive and kicking.

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.

Like many of the commenters I heavily used asterisk 10 years ago. Seeing comments like “can’t believe it’s still around” leads me to believe something better came along. Did something better come along? I’d like to play around with something new. Ps - still running my home PBX on Asterisk/FreePBX.

Phones have evolved to the point where we no longer have to make phone calls, we can instead use them to send tiny letters to each other.

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 think this is definitely a bit of self-selection.

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.

Asterisk is still cool. I think a lot of people are now using FreeSWITCH. I have more experience with the former but using the latter more lately I am seeing the appeal. FreeSWITCH seems a little less hacked together, imho.

Yah, I think this is the right answer. FreeSwitch is a great deal newer than asterisk and has a more logical configuration system imho. The big one is FusionPBX which is web based and runs on top of FreeSwitch - I suspect this is the main driver for do it yourself deployments these days.

I haven't used FreeSwitch and wanted to see a brief comparison between it and Asterisk. Here's what I found for those interested https://www.whichvoip.com/articles/freeswitch-vs-asterisk.ht...

I looked into FreeSWITCH ~5-6 years ago, while I started a complete re-write of some answering service software I had written with PHP and Asterisk back in 2007. Asterisk has the AMI (Asterisk Manager Interface), which would give me realtime information about calls, which I could use to capture all the stuff I needed and popup windows on screens and all that jazz. FreeSWITCH didn't have anything that gave me all the info I would have need to replicate that. Of course, this might have been updated since then.

Yes it has ESL now that is kind-of similar.

I read those comments as, "the longevity of this project is amazing!" and not "I can't believe people are still using this instead of X, Y, or Z."

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!

It has been commoditized, you can buy a cheap IP-PBX just almost like you buy a SOHO router.

If anyone wants to play around with VoIP, FreePBX is a Linux distro that has packaged things up nicely for this purpose:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FreePBX

The guy who runs Crosstalk Solutions has a good YT channel on VoIP (not affiliated), amongst other tech-y stuff:

* https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVS6ejD9NLZvjsvhcbiDzjw

+1 for FreePBX. No affiliation, just a happy user.

Fantastically easy to set up a PBX at home in under an hour, with no prior Asterisk experience.

Definitely. FreePBX was an amazing way to get a fully featured PBX with very little time investment.

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

Asterisk 17 is not an LTS release, which means it won't receive backported security fixes when 18 is out. The latest LTS release is Asterisk 16.

Asterisk was amazing fun, in one place we had it hooked up to a big chunk of Python -- everything driven by a program connected to the manager API, with events percolating through to a pre-websocket, pre-AJAX ColdFusion app (we used long polling, I think) that put up a popup with the customer's info as your extension rang. The preferred extension to ring was pulled out of the customer's call history, so they'd always get the same agent if possible.

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

Brings back memories of debugging by making a phone call to hit my breakpoints.

So weird to see these comments, aye. My gig uses Asterisk heavily, and Astricon just happened in Atlanta (went there).

It's quite alive.

AstriCon was last week in Atlanta, and had 300+ attendees. Fred Posner wrote about it in https://www.fredposner.com/2243/astricon-2019-thoughts/

I never did it, but many years ago had an idea to run an Asterix box with extensions for everyone in the extended family, spread over cities/countries.

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.

It wouldn't be extremely difficult to configure, but I think security would be a hassle.

I just brought up a fresh version of Asterisk. There is definitely a lot of terms to get use to but for someone who has some background it isn't too bad to pick up.

However I can see how confusing the world of telephony can be with all the crazy acronyms.

Every few years I hear about Asterisk and think to myself that it would be neat to set up at home, but I never got around to trying it out.

Is anyone running it at home? What is your setup like?

I read this as Asterix and got excited about a new book. Alas it’s not.


Be careful, new Astérix are not as good as the old ones. The one with the Swarzenegger Superman is even awful.

Why would a book have a number like 17.0.0 anyway?

I read as Asterix 17 which might be the total book count but I could be wrong.

AllStarLink (https://www.allstarlink.org/about/about.php) is software for linking ham radio repeaters that's based on Asterisk.

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