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We decided to change the name because Asterisk has been so wildly successful that it is no longer an up-and-coming technology. This book was written for, and by, members of the Asterisk community.This book is intended to be gentle toward those new to Asterisk, but we assume that you’re familiar with basic Linux administration, networking, and other IT disciplines.“There’s more than one way to do it.” I’ve been working with Asterisk for nine years, and this motto becomes more true with each release, each added feature, and each clever person who attacks a telecommunications problem with this incredibly flexible toolkit. Then, I typically point the person toward the first edition of this book, , and set him loose.

Not everything over there is fully functional yet, and the internal links still point to this blog, and will for the indefinite future.

So all the old material will be left here for archival purposes, with comments turned off.

The depth and breadth of Asterisk is staggering—installations with hundreds of thousands of users are now commonplace. Asterisk scales up and down from individual lines to vast multiserver installations across multiple continents, but the way to start is to install the package, open up some of the configuration files, and start looking at examples.

I see Asterisk making deep inroads into the financial, military, hospital, Fortune 100 enterprise, service provider, calling card, and mobile environments. From the basic beginnings of a PBX that Mark Spencer coded in 1999, the Asterisk project, with the help of thousands of developers, has moved from simply connecting phone calls and has matured into a platform that can handle voice, video, and text across dozens of virtual and physical interface types.

Moreover, Asterisk can integrate with other business technologies in ways that closed, proprietary PBXs can scarcely dream of.

Asterisk can appear quite daunting and complex to a new user, which is why documentation is so important to its growth.In fact, there really aren’t any areas that I can think of where Asterisk isn’t now entrenched as the default choice when there is a need for a generalized voice tool to do “stuff.”Asterisk has been emblematic of the way that open source software has changed business—and changed the world. Emailing recorded conference calls to the participants? Integration of voice services into existing Java apps? The creation and growth of were the inescapable results of the convergence of the four horsemen of the proprietary hardware apocalypse: open source development ideas, the Internet, Moore’s Law, and the plummeting costs of telecommunications.My favorite part of any Asterisk project overview or conference talk is answering questions from someone new to Asterisk. Even hardware vendors who may be frightened of Asterisk from a competitive standpoint are using it in their labs and core networks: almost all devices in the Voice-over-IP world are tested with , making it the most compatible system across vendors. Asterisk is a mature, robust software platform that permeates nearly every area of the telecommunications industry and has firmly cemented itself as one of the basic elements in any open source service delivery system.As I continue to answer “Yes, it can do that,” I watch as the person’s eyes grow wide. At a recent communications conference I attended, the question “Who uses Asterisk? I tell people that it’s reasonable for anyone delivering services both via phone and web to want to add an “A” for Asterisk to the LAMP (Linux, Apache, My SQL, [Perl/Python/PHP]) acronym, making it LAAMP.The person starts to smile when he starts to think about new things to do that his old phone or communication system couldn’t possibly have done. (LAMA-P was another option, but for some reason nobody seems to like that version…I don’t know why.)The expansion of this book to include more examples is something I’ve been looking forward to for some time.This book will take you from a vague idea of doing something with computers and voice communication to the point where you’re able to stun everyone you know with your phone system’s sophisticated tricks.