Practical Asterisk: Installation and "Hello World"
Some newcomers to Asterisk say it takes at least two days of studying web pages and documentation before you can get an Asterisk server to do anything at all. If you don't like delving into the theoretical underpinnings of a complicated piece of software like Asterisk and would rather see something practical and working as soon as possible, this chapter is the place to start. In contrast to the rest of the book, this chapter should be read, and the examples followed, in sequence.
For the purposes of this introduction, it doesn't matter whether you install Asterisk 1.4 or 1.6. All the basics described here apply to both versions. For production installations, the more stable version is recommended, so these examples feature Asterisk 1.4.
2.1 Installing Asterisk on the Server
As to which Linux distribution or Asterisk version to choose, opinions differ (as is so often the case in the open source world). Some stick with distribution-specific packages (e.g., .rpm or .deb), whereas others compile Asterisk from source code. For the examples in this book, it is best to install from source code. The reasons are simple: The versions found in distribution packages are almost never current, 1 and packages often use nonstandard configurations.
Refer to Appendix A, "Installation Instructions for Asterisk 1.4," and install Asterisk 1.4.x on a fresh install of Debian Linux or even KNOPPIX. For practice, you might consider doing this in an x86 virtual machine (e.g., VMware). In either case, be it a physical server or a virtual machine, the system should have a sound card and an output device (e.g., speakers) so that you can make test calls to the console to determine whether your system is working.